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Customer Review

1,321 of 1,356 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some notes for sourdough/dense loaf fans, December 15, 2007
This review is from: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking (Hardcover)
This is a terrific book ... I've tried the basic approach and it is great. To make it more useful (for some) I'd like to add a few notes.

The book has an unfortunate, (for me) bias towards light, fluffy breads and breads that rely on "ingredients". So...

Sourdough breads: I've been refrigerating my dough for years to increase the sourdough flavor. This books opens the door to a very simple approach to sourdough.

As the book notes, the sourdough taste increases with time in the refrigerator. So simply keep two sets of dough running ... a "dormant" set and an active set. Start by making a batch of dough. Stick it in the refrigerator and don't touch it for at least a week. After a week or so, make a second batch of dough. (I would mix in a hunk of the previously mixed, week old dough to enhance the sourdough development.) Now put this second batch away and start using the first batch ... which will have started to taste like a sourdough. When this first batch is used up, make up a brand new "dormant" batch and put it aside while you start using the batch that's been sitting in the refrigerator for the past week or so.

In this way you can keep a sourdough going forever, without any additional work. (Since you only a new batch when an old batch runs out.)

Rye and whole wheat: The technique is IDEAL for rye ... which is a gummy, no-knead but extremely delicate dough. I would certainly use much more rye than any of these recipes call for and would use the sourdough technique I mentioned above to develop flavor.

It its also ideal for whole wheat. The big problem with whole wheat is not the crust, (I'll mention a technique to bring out a crust), but that whole wheat contains bran, which, when kneaded, cuts the strands of gluten/protein. That's why 100% whole wheat is so dense. But, since you do not knead this dough, the bran does not cut the protein strands and the dough is free to rise almost as much as a white flour.

Personally, I use 50% rye and 50% whole wheat and, using the books oven technique get a great rise.

Another technique that develops a very thick crust, no matter the flour, is to bake the bread in a preheated, covered oven pot or casserole pot at 450 degrees.

By the way ... to get actual pumpernickel, forget the powders, (coffee and chocolate ... yeesh!) and just use pumpernickel flour in place of rye flour. (Pumpernickel flour is nothing more than whole grain rye flour.)
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Tracked by 12 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 28 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 13, 2008 10:07:25 AM PDT
H. Cook says:
Thanks for the information. I will try what you suggest!!

Posted on Dec 30, 2008 2:59:00 PM PST
You are SUCH a great teacher-- giving so much great information in such a digestible way! Thank you for sharing.

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 3:06:09 PM PST
I have made numerous loaves of the pumpernickel using the exact recipe in the book and I love it. I didn't have to buy the chocolate or the powdered expresso as my husband uses them to make his much cheaper version of Starbucks Mocha Latte. Per Jeff's recipe, I make the crystalized sugar for the dark color and we love each loaf more than the last one. I couldn't find pumpernickel flour at my co-op - all they have is pumpernickel rye (and I'm not sure what that is), so I have been using rye and white as called for in the recipe. Maybe I'll try the pumpernickel-rye flour next time.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2009 3:58:01 AM PDT
N. Schultz says:
I do not cook or bake, but this review makes it sound so easy!
I think (but, I'm not totally sure) that pumpernickle is a form of dark rye. I only buy German rye or Lithuanian black bread (don't actually know what that is made of, though), but one Christmas I forgot to order it, so I went to the Polish store to buy some and without realizing it the black bread was all sold out and I grabbed "dark rye" instead. I believe that was pumpernickle - it tasted like a stronger rye bread but very dense (black bread has a totally different flavor).
Anyhow, using coffee or chocolate to color bread just seems nuts!

This book sounds interesting - I know that baking babka alone is an all day affair (and I have a sneaking suspicion that this version will not pass the test around my house). But, it would be cool to make some basic breads if it really only takes a few minutes. I'll leave the Old World European breads to the professional bakers!

Posted on Mar 21, 2009 6:21:01 PM PDT
Your advice made my day. Thank you.

Posted on Mar 21, 2009 6:25:44 PM PDT
Your advice made my day. Thank you.

Posted on Apr 12, 2009 4:31:04 AM PDT
drew says:
Your review was very helpful and convinced me to buy the book! I am wondering if you had to adjust the water when using 1/2 whole wheat? I have the book on order and would really like to use some whole grains rather than all purpose flour...

Posted on May 18, 2009 7:20:05 AM PDT
K. Bishop says:
RE: Kindle version
I am wondering about the Kindle version of this book. Do I need the actual book? Are there pictures that I need to refer to in the physical book? I've not yet purchased a cookbook in this format. Suggestions?

Posted on Jun 5, 2009 8:02:34 AM PDT
Lynn says:
Hi - great comments. Can you please explain the technique for a very thick crust some more?? I didn't understand. Thanks! Linda

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2009 8:47:57 AM PDT
R. Ellis says:
I bought a different book for Kindle that appeared to have certain pages "scanned" in. I couldn't read those pages because the print was too small. I thought maybe there was some trick to it that I was missing, so I wrote customer service about it. They didn't reply with any helpful hints -- they just deleted the book a few weeks later & refunded the cost. The new bigger Kindle is supposed to work well with magazines & cookbooks, according to their ads.
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