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The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes Paperback – October 14, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 150 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Beth Hensperger is an acclaimed San Francisco Bay Area-based food writer, cooking instructor, and bread maven who has written articles for Cooking Light , Shape , Bon Appetit , and Family Circle magazines among others and pens a weekly baking column in the San Jose Mercury News .


The Bread Bible

Reviews From:

Publishers Weekly


Columbus Dispatch

Sacramento Bee

From: Publishers Weekly

Longtime San Francisco resident, cooking instructor and author (Bread for All Seasons) Hensperger offers a compelling and innovative collection of bread recipes for contemporary home bakers. With a significant nod to classic yeast breads, her extensive repertoire includes basic white, whole-wheat and rye loaves, sour starters, savory main-dish breads, even dessert and quick breads--just to name a few. Staunchly adhering to her philosophy that "breadmaking is nothing more than a series of sequential steps executed in a predictable order," she presents step-by-step instructions with great finesse and clarity. Where applicable, Hensperger provides useful addendum notes, divulges invaluable "Baker's Wisdom" baking tips and offers creative recipe variations (e.g., Cornmeal Brioche and Basic Pizza Dough). Taking into account busy schedules and state-of-the-art baking equipment, Hensperger devotes two end chapters to breads made with food processors and bread machines. For those who feel daunted by the prospect of baking bread, Hensperger encourages and inspires with a "breadmaking is for everyone" ethos and easy, vibrant prose infused with obvious passion for her craft.

From: Booklist

The mark of any good cookbook is its "clippability." How overwhelming is your desire to photocopy or bookmark several recipes? Hensberger's latest cookbook deserves a positive answer to this question. Just waiting for adept (or even amateur) baking fingers are 300 recipes, each meticulously crafted to ensure success. In fact, the entire book is intended to soothe anxious minds. A slew of "baker's wisdom" tips explain techniques: re-heating homemade tortillas, for example, requires only 30 seconds of microwave time. Lead-ins to each recipe also instruct on specifics; in one, the best Yorkshire pudding demands room temperature ingredients, a very hot pan, and instructions followed to the letter.

From: Columbus Dispatch

The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger is this author's sixth book on the subject. She recognizes that for the "the connoisseur who doesn't want to get flour on his counter," bread machines "are revolutionizing the age-old art of yeast baking." The heart of his well-thought-out volume, however, lies in the need to knead by hand. Her chapters begin with back-to-basics white breads such as French, White Mountain, Farm-Style With Cardamom, and Buttermilk Honey. This knowledgeable author's step-by-step instructions, presented in a clear and concise manner, contribute to easier and more enjoyable bread-making, even for the longer, more complex recipes. The Bread Bible is a learned volume packed with hours of enjoyment for baker and consumer alike.

From: Sacramento Bee

In a market crowded with specialized bread books, Beth Hensperger has gone her own way. In her latest book, The Bread Bible, the subtitle, "300 Favorite Recipes," tells the real story. Hensperger, the author of five other books on bread, invites readers to take a peek into her recipe file and try the ones she likes best. A page that will get sticky and dusty over the years in my kitchen is the one with a recipe for farm-style white bread with cardamom. The recipe makes four beautiful, shiny sandwich loaves. Though there is a relatively large amount of sugar in the dough, it balances perfectly with the cardamom. As you eat it, the cardamom flavor builds in intensity and yet is never so strong that you would hesitate to pair the bread with other foods. (It was delicious spread with goat cheese.) Publishing a collection of favorite recipes is actually the old way of cookbook writing. The Bread Bible is a sound and pleasant revival of that approach.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; Reprint edition (October 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811845265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811845267
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #440,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is the first of two books by the same name `The Bread Bible' written by Beth Hensperger and published by Chronicle Books in 1999. The second book with this title, written by Rose Levy Beranbaum and published by W. W. Norton & Company in 2003 I have reviewed earlier, before I discovered this title.
This occurrence is actually a rare good fortune, as it gives us a chance to compare two essays of exactly the same subject and pick that effort which does the better job on the subject. Both authors appear to have ample credentials for the chuzpah required to write a book with such a pretentious title. Ms. Hensperger has written five other books on bread baking and Ms. Beranbaum has written three other large, well received books on baking, two of which are also `bibles' on their topics.
Ms. Hensperger gives us 473 pages of text and 21 pages of index at $32.50 while Ms. Beranbaum gives us 608 pages of text and 21 pages of index for $35.00. Ms. Hensperger gives us 25 very useful introductory pages on equipment, flour, and general techniques. Ms. Beranbaum gives us 62 pages of what I considered to be a model of culinary writing on the ten essential steps to making bread. This is the first sign that Ms. Beranbaum is aiming at a much more sophisticated audience than Ms. Hensperger.
Ms. Hensperger gives us no color photographs or diagrams illustrating techniques. The few line drawings seem to be primarily for decoration. Ms. Beranbaum's book provides four sections of full color photographs of the baked products essayed in the book. She also provides many pages of expertly done line drawings illustrating baking techniques such as the `business letter fold', layering foccacia with herbs, and making sticky buns. Other line drawings give very good pictures of baking equipment.
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Format: Paperback
This book is just wonderful! I have been baking bread by hand for several years now and have thouroughly enjoyed it, but this book has helped me to stretch beyond the recipe and try some new things. In the past 2 weeks, I think I have made 7 recipes out of this book. I just can't seem to stop. The Bulgur Oatmeal bread, I think, is the best bread I have ever tasted. Absolutely AMAZING! I also made the Sesame Burger Buns, Whole Wheat Long Rolls, Vienna Bread, Pain Campagne and Farm-Style White Bread with Cardamom. I have probably 200 cookbooks and this is my new favorite! A must read!
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By A Customer on July 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I LOVE this book. It has lots and lots of recipes for whole grain breads, white breads, rustic breads, quick breads, flat breads, etc, etc. However, what sets her book apart from other "comprehensive" books is the quality of the recipes. I am constantly picking up my copy of the Bread Bible to try something new, and I haven't been disappointed in the results yet. She also gives great pointers on ingredients and methods, and tells you how to convert "by hand" recipes to recipes for either the food processor or bread machine. The book doesn't have photographs in it like some, but frankly, if they had to make room for photos there wouldn't be so many great recipes, so that suits me just fine. It's beautifully designed and easy to read. It's a pleasure to own this book.
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Format: Paperback
The book seems to have some errors. I am an experienced bread baker. After having made a black bread by the author (which I got off the internet - and found it delicious) I bought the book. At first I attributed the poor quality doughs to the weather, improperly measuring flour, me in general, but then I used another book for a couple bread recipes and LO the bread turned out well. So back to the drawing board with this book. I weighed the flour this time. Still problems. Too sticky (sourdough). Then I decided to make the Hungarian Nut Rolls and discovered an actual mistake. Apparently you only have to proof the yeast and do not have to actually put it into the bread. I have read it and reread it several times. The yeast addition to the bread is MIA. I did not notice it when I preread (three times) the recipe before embarking. I think my mind assumed it. It almost did as I was making the bread. It was only my wariness of the recipes that forced me to be ever so exacting with her recipes that lead to the discovery.

I hate writing bad reviews especially for cookbooks because I know how hard it must be to edit them, but you cannot publish something called a "bible" of something and have so many errors. I can only imagine a person just starting to bake dealing with these problems. It is untenable. I am not saying all the recipes are faulty (they are not and some are quite good), but this many problems (IMO) are just unacceptable. There are better bread books out there. My go to seems to be Beatrice Ojakangas.
7 Comments 51 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I have looked at this title many times and talked myself out of buying it repeatedly until I finally caved in and treated myself to a copy. It's a respected title in the field of bread baking and I was eager to try out several of the recipes therein and to compare results with breads made from different authors' methods and formulas. While the results are usually outstanding, this particular cookbook suffers from some editing issues that make it feasible for experienced bakers but not so good for beginners.

I have made several of the loaves described in this book and each time the final product was well worth the effort. My favorite thus far has been the Oatmeal Potato Bread which is a good daily loaf and is suitable for gifting. Although the author does not subscribe to the mindset of slow-rise bread baking the resulting loaves are usually full of flavor and have good crumb.

There is a problem, though. Each recipe I have tried has been flawed in one way or another. For example, the very first recipe in the book (White Mountain Bread) requires quite a bit more flour than specified - more than can be explained away by changing measuring method - and bakes up better in 8"x4" bread pans than the specified 9"x5" plans. This is minor but will result in disappointment for the baker just starting to work with breads. A more glaring error occurs in the Oatmeal Potato Bread recipe, which calls for chopping and boiling a potato and THEN peeling it to remove the skin. It also calls for 9"x5" pans when 8"x4" pans result in a more attractive loaf after baking.

I have been baking breads for my family for close to 15 years and I have learned a lot about the process. I know how to adjust on the fly and I know how to deal with imperfect recipes and instructions.
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