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Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes Hardcover – September 3, 2004
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"...comprehensive illustrated manual..." (Food Science & Technology Abstracts, Vol 37 (7) 2005)
From the Inside Flap
The warm, complex aroma of a fresh-baked loaf of bread can be utterly tantalizing; the first bite, a revelation. In Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, award-winning master baker Jeffrey Hamelman presents the definitive, one-stop reference on the art and science of bread bakinga kitchen essential for seasoned home bakers and professionals alike.
Hamelman, a professional baker for nearly three decades, was a member of Baking Team USA,which represents the United States in the international Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, the bread-baking World Cup. Here, he shares this experience, putting world-class artisanal loaves within reach of any serious baker. Opening with a comprehensive overview of the foundationsessential ingredients; hand techniques for kneading, scoring, and shaping; the basic process from mixing through bakinghe lucidly guides bakers through all elements of this richly rewarding craft.
Bread contains 118 detailed, step-by-step recipes for an array of breadsversatile sourdough ryes; numerous breads made with pre-ferments; and simple, straight dough loaves. Recipes for brioche, focaccia, pizza dough, flat breads, and other traditional baking staples augment the diverse collection of flavors, tastes, and textures represented within these pages. From the delicate flavor and aroma of classic French baguettes to the mellow smoothness of Roasted Garlic Levain, a bread for every season and every palate is here.
Each recipe clearly outlines the key stages, with easy-to-use charts that list ingredients in both American and metric measures, quantities appropriate for home baking, and baker's percentages. Hundreds of drawings vividly illustrate techniques, and 35 handsome color photographs display finished breads. Sidebars accompany each recipe and section with valuable tips, from the subtle art of tasting and evaluating breads to the perfect fare to complement Vollkornbrot. A complete chapter on decorative breadswith instructions on techniques as well as a wide variety of exquisite patternswill inspire magnificent display creations.
Laced throughout the book, Hamelman's personal narratives offer a compelling portrait of a lifelong love affair with bread and vividly communicate this passion. For bakers seeking to finesse this time-honored craft or simply to learn the tricks of the trade from a real master, Bread is a resource to be consulted time and time again.
CHIHO KANEKO is a fine artist whose work has been exhibited both in the United States and Japan. She also works as a translator and interpreter. She is a native of Japan with a background in landscape architecture, agronomy, and art.
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There are no gimmicks here. Hamelman doesn't have some new method with each book (like Reinhart), he doesn't hold your hand (like Barenbaum). Just good core formulas and practical baking techniques. The critics are all correct when they note: the mixing times are for professional bakers and you have to double them for home; the moisture content can be off at home; the flour protein is not specified; you have to scale down for home use with a calculator; general hints are hidden in obscure places rather than highlighted for general use. He also leaves out many hand-holding steps he assumes you know. In other words, you pretty much have to make each of his recipes your own. That alone is why I can't recommend this book to the average home baker, especially a beginner. (Berenbaum's Bread Bible much better for beginner's.)
But for the experienced home baker who already knows their way around dough feel, knows how to adjust hydration. salt, and yeast and sourdough fermentation times, this book is rock solid. Many classic formulas here, and once you get his thinking you can extrapolate many more.
Most of the people I know who love this book end up adapting the recipes to their own tastes. In other words, Hamelman gives you an excellent starting point for many classic European breads. That is why I bought it. I have tons of recipes on my harddrive, but for a paper volume this was it.
It's important to note Hamelman's training and tastes lean heavily toward German breads. You wouldn't guess that from the title or that he works for King Arthur. So you won't get "irish soda bread" or "anaconda bread" or many American classics. Heck, he barely has a classic white sandwich loaf here! Instead you'll find Sunflower seed bread, flax rye, vollkornbrot, pumpernickel, scalded rye. He also favors multigrain whites, with six different recipes for that in different forms. Those happen to be my favorite types of bread; but I wouldn't call that typical.
Last criticism: not well bound. I already have pages falling out after a couple uses. No excuse!
In short: Good book for core formulas for European (especially German) breads. No handholding for beginners, and no complex discussion of dough handling for experts. For those purposes I'd recommend a couple other books to augment this excellent resource.
The only flaw is not one of the author's but rather a design one. It was not a wise decision to have "Baker's notes" and other informative pages and paragraphs printed on a mellow blue background with a thin font. The font may well be black but against that background it appears gray and is too difficult to read.
It's still worth every penny. Every one. Just don't buy it before you are ready.
The book details are phenomenal. Lots of info and techniques. Lots of details on the chemistry of the bread making. The recipes are precise and need to be followed. Do so and you will be rewarded with truly wonderful bread. The book is an outstanding guide.
PS: if your standards are not low and you want to make the average American white a little better than Walmart, as one critical reviewer said, don't bother trying to make bread.