Customer Reviews: Bread Making: A Home Course: Crafting the Perfect Loaf, From Crust to Crumb
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on April 27, 2011
If you don't want to take the time to read up on the ins and outs of the science of breadbaking, choosing and storing flours, how to get the tastiest loaf, etc., this book is not for you. Nor is this one of the many 'no-knead' method books on the market, altho' there are a few of those in here too. I have about six other bread books where you follow the recipe, close your eyes, and hope for the best; the focus of those books are on turning out bread, along with some rudimentary information tossed in for good measure. There's nothing wrong with that, it was the way I got my juices flowing with this hobby, but this book takes it further in the information arena. The title is appropriate, "A Home course" on breadbaking. I have gained new and useful information despite the fact I have been baking bread over a 1 1/2 yrs, now having some answers to some nagging questions I have been holding onto. I made "ricotta bread" last night to use up the last 3/4 cup of ricotta I had leftover from Easter. It was easy, tasty, and straightforward. It is impossible to cite examples of why this book is useful, so suffice it to say, it's more of a reference book than a cookbook. If you have a question about bread and all that that entails, you will pull THIS book off your shelf to glean the info. There are simple straight dough and sourdough recipes in here, whole grain too. I have more recipes to try and will report back later. In summary, this book is not a repeat of the other books I have, it has its own unique reason for being. With that in mind, it's up to you to decide what you are specifically looking for when buying a breadbaking cookbook.
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on January 30, 2012
I received this book as a Christmas present and found it moderately useful for the more technical issues of making good bread. For this reason I would have given it three stars. Other books I have are more useful in this regard. But I recently tried a recipe from the book - the baguette with cornmeal. If I followed the recipe correctly (and I believe I did) then there must be a typo in it somewhere. The recipe made a 'dough' that was the consistency of cake batter. I had to add a *lot* more flour to get it to a workable consistency. By then I had no idea whether my proportions were correct. I did manage to salvage a few respectable loaves out of it, but I'm reluctant to try it again and waste a lot of time and ingredients. If others have tried this particular recipe successfully (suggesting I did something wrong) then I would give the book three stars. But until then, it's kind of disheartening to go through all that work and end up with a mess. I'm also reluctant to try another recipe from the book.
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on July 19, 2015
I checked this book out from the library as an e-book. After reading 35 pages and filling 10 pages of note paper with notes, I realized I needed to purchase this book! This is so much more than a bread cookbook. I've been baking bread for many years but want to branch out to making more artisan (i.e. crusty loaf) breads. This book covers the chemistry of bread making in a very easy-to-understand method. It's no wonder some of my attempts at baguettes failed miserably! Fingers crossed and floured covered book by my side, I shall prevail!
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on November 23, 2013
This book needs editing! I am in the midst of (hopefully) creating a sourdough starter from the recipe in this book. It is broken down into Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, .....segments. What could be easier, right?

Well on Day 3 I am instructed to discard half my starter, stir in more flour and water, cover it and wait for 24 hours. Then do what I did on Day 2, (discard half, add flour and water and wait 24 hours). The next step is Day 4. WHAT???? So Day 3 is a 48 hour day? How else could I have two feedings and two 24 hour wait times on the same day? Additionally, telling me to do what I did on Day 2 but giving me different directions from what was previously advised for Day 2 leaves me bewildered. I am new to sourdough, but I can certainly read and comprehend and this makes no sense at all.

Day 4 and beyond has me repeating what I did on Day 2 and 3. She says it may take up to a week for my starter to double in volume and be ready to use. OK, a few pages earlier she said it may take up to 2 weeks for it to be ready. I'm on Day 6 today. Am I going to have starter this week or next? Or ever? She has lost her credibility in explaining this process.

I notice other reviewers had recipe issues as well. That does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy about my starter.

I'm glad I checked this book out of the library before I purchased it. It would be a shame to lose my money as well as my time and energy.
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on June 22, 2011
This is the book that will probably get me to actually bake bread. I've just started playing around with yeast doughs, and have been thinking about making bread, not just pizzas. This book made me feel so empowered. It's got a ton of information, scientific and practical, but it's really, really easy to read. My eyes usu. glaze over w/ non-ficiton and scientific stuff, but this was really easy to read and friendly.

There's a great chart about protein content, terrific explanations for why you might choose one dough over another.

I haven't tried the recipes yet, so I'll update later if I can.
One note that I'm not thrilled about--all the recipes are for instant yeast. And my stash is active dried yeast. There's a substitution, so it's probably not that big of a deal.

The only thing I wish it had is this one encouraging thought: Making a bread that's enjoyable to eat is not hard at all. You can just jump right in, follow directions carefully, and the end result will be more than good enough to eat. Even if it could have been better, in an expert's eyes, you'll enjoy eating it. So absolutely you should try, and try again. That's how you get to BE good enough to say, "Oh, I'll try this with a higher-protein flour" or "maybe I rose for too long."

But this book provides lots of info that will empower you to become a thoughtful bread baker (the kind who says, "I think this new recipe would be better w/ bread dough"), without having to do quite so much work to get there.

I think I'll make it one of my go-to gifts for things like bridal showers.
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on February 7, 2012
This book offers wonderful insights to the art of bread-making. It is accessible to beginners, introduces the basics, and presents the considerations and trade-offs of the baker-artist. I am one of the few people who would have wanted more technical information about the chemistry of bread-making (e.g., specifically what kinds of carbohydrates does the yeast feed on, what combination of food source, salinity, hydration, and temperature encourages/allows/inhibits/stops yeast activity, what are the specific types and concentrations of acids produced by lactobacilli, how do you control EVERY variable of flavor and texture profile in the process of making bread--I could go on and on with hundreds of questions).
I got a KitchenAid for Christmas and this book got me jazzed about the prospect of making bread. I bought a baking stone, and decided to make a pain de mie, following the recipe in the book.
Like oldsaratogian, however, my only issue with the book is with the recipe. I followed the pain de mie recipe to the letter, and the result was WAY too salty. 1 tsp would have sufficed instead of the specified 1.5 Tbsp. The salt also curtailed yeast activity, so the result was a very dense, inedible block. I should have suspected a problem because of an inconsistency in the introduction to the recipe: it says to use all-purpose flour for the pate fermentee but the ingredients list calls for bread flour. Didn't anyone proof-read the book or try out the recipes before publishing them?
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on March 13, 2016
This book provides a good background into baking breads, and includes straight doughs, pre ferments, sour doughs, yeasted flatbreads, whole grain and break making recipes. There are some neat things like english muffins, lavash and bigneis There is an faq in each chapter which is especially interesting and useful. Treat this book as more of background information, not a recipe book (which I was hoping for). It has some decent recipes but they may be in a section you don't want (the only white loaf recipe is for a pre ferment, the only roll recipe is a straight dough) and there is no list of recipes.

All this could be forgiven if the recipes weren't completely wrong. For multiple recipes now the weights and volumes of ingredients don't match up, calling for a different volume and weight of the same ingredient. Other recipes "cornmeal baguettes" end up making a dough that is as sloppy as soup. The volume to weight table in the back puts a cup of flour at 128g, some recipes have 1cup=150g, King arthur has 1 cup = 120g.........

It was an interesting read and background but If you want to bake i feel as though there has to be better books out there.
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on April 19, 2011
I found Bread Making: A Home Course to be a fascinating look into the history, science, and art of making high quality breads at home. This is more than just a cookbook, it is an in depth look at the bread making process. The beginning section on ingredients is very detailed and informative. I never really knew how wheat became flour or that there were so many different types of salt! There are also sections on equipment and basic steps necessary to make bread. Each section ends in a Q & A which I found very helpful. The questions are sometimes complicated and sometimes simple but all things that beginning bakers would ask.

The recipes are broken down into sections based on the technique needed to make them. For example, all the sourdoughs are together, all the flatbreads are in one section, etc. Each of these chapters also has a similar Q & A section as described above that is very helpful. For example, it includes information on shaping a round loaf for extra 'pizazz'. There is an entire section on bread machine cooking. I never had luck with mine and got rid of it years ago but I am sure the newer models work much better!

The last section has resources for the new bread maker including a glossary, a resource section, etc. I like the glossary! I had never heard of the word poolish before and had to look it up! (it is a french pre-ferment by the way!)

This book is quite informative and a few helpful pictures are scattered throughout. I think I would like a few more pictures, especially of the recipes themselves. Despite this, I think the directions are easy to follow and the amount of information contained in this book is quite extensive! It is written in an easy to read format and does not come off sounding like a textbook.

Disclaimer: As per FTC guidelines, I received one copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.
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on November 14, 2011
For people who are interested in learning to bake bread, trying to learn directly from a book can be intimidating. The intricate directions and multiple steps in some of the artisan bread books are enough to make my head spin. This book is designed with the beginning breadmaker in mind. Lauren Chattman breaks down the process to remove doubts and firmly squash all fear, so you'll get the perfect loaf every time.

Bread Making is divided into nine chapters in two manageable parts. Part One is Getting Started and Part Two is Techniques and Recipes. Seems pretty simple, right? Take your time learning Ingredients, Equipment, and The Basic Steps (chapters 1 -3) in Part One and you will have absorbed everything you need to know to tackle the recipes. One thing that sets this book apart from others is the Questions and Answers segment that follows each chapter. It is reassuring to see the common problems that can crop up and helpful to see what the solutions are.

I loved that her breads were simple, but far from boring. Frequently, it seems that bread books will offer several recipes that actually turn out to be one dough that is shaped in many different ways. It is exciting to discover the doughs here are very different from each other. Cheddar Cheese Boule is a big round loaf studded with cumin seeds and bits of melted cheddar. To make the Rustic Flax Seed Rolls, you actually have to soak the flax seeds overnight so they can absorb the water. After reading about the health benefits of flax, I have been trying to work it into our diet more, and this is the perfect way.

For deeper flavors, the next two chapters offer recipes that rely on extra fermentation. Chattman provides Foolproof Sourdough Starter and day-by-day directions on keeping it alive. She describes creating your own starter as intensely satisfying, which really makes me want to try it. She clinched that by revealing that once your starter is well established, it is difficult to kill. If you aren't up for that level of commitment, try a yeasted pre-ferment, which boosts flavor with less time. You can then make Sunflower Seed Bread and Ciabatta.

Bread Making is an excellent introduction to the world of bread. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her explanation on the processes. Chattman truly believes that with a little experience, breads from a domestic kitchen can be every bit as good as those from a bakery. And this is the perfect book to help you gain that experience! For a book, I think this is the closest you will come to having an experienced breadmaker hold your hand while you try new bread recipes. It is helpful, knowledgeable and encouraging.

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on June 17, 2013
I have been baking basic bread for a little over 45 years. This book has been a wealth of easy to understand information, which proves that, even after 45 years, I am still learning.
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