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The Handmade Loaf: Contemporary Recipes for the Home Baker Paperback – February 15, 2008
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"As fresh and as mouth-watering as a loaf straight from the oven... the author's own step-by-step photographs are genuinely educational." Jenni Muir, The Independent Review "(Lepard's) supreme skill is his empathy with people who bake, from grandmothers using ancient ovens to cutting-edge chefs." Sheila Keating,The Times Magazine "It oozes knowledge, curiosity and love for its subject... I doubt a better book will be written on the subject for a few years to come." Tom Jaine, The Guardian
About the Author
Dan Lepard is the most talked about baker in Britain. He has baked for some of the country's top restaurants, including Locanda Locatelli, Zafferano and Alastair Little. He co-wrote Baking with Passion, the Baker & Spice Baking Book, published in 1999.For more information on Dan Lepard and the latest breadmaking trends from around the world, visit www.danlepard.com
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Top Customer Reviews
About me as a baker:
I have three books with bread recipes and frequently use online bread recipes. I've been baking for about six years now and bake at least weekly, often daily. Up until I bought this book, along with Hamelman's _Bread_, I had only baked yeast breads and had never used 100% whole wheat or rye (though I had done partially whole wheat breads). I bake by hand and I have only a glass Pyrex bowl, cookie sheets, a spritzer, a whisk, and a wooden spoon at my disposal. My goal when I bought these books was to learn to cook sourdough and with a variety of different grains, as well as to increase my general skill at bread baking.
What I liked about the book:
1. His instructions on how to build a sourdough starter are invaluable and worked perfectly for me. The pictures were a wonderful tool and hard to find elsewhere. You can see what it's supposed to look like as you go. He is very descriptive and clear.
2. His choice of recipes (breads from all over Europe and parts of ex-Soviet Asia) is delightful, in my opinion. Most, but not all, of the breads are sourdoughs, which are what most hand bakers in Europe and Asia use. There are some yeast breads including the good old Quick White Loaf. Between the 100% Rye, the Mill Loaf, the Rye with Coriander loaf (that literally got my husband's eyes misted over with memories of his school days in the Soviet Union), Brown Butter Picklets, and so on, I have staple and special breads to try and enjoy for the rest of my life.
3. His writing style is clear and you can tell he also writes for a living.
4. The pictures and narration of his travels and experiences add a lot to the book, in my opinion. I enjoyed hearing how and where he learned these recipes, and their history. The pictures of the bakers themselves are wonderful. I enjoyed the personal aspect of this book a lot.
What I did not like about this book:
To be honest, a lot of the recipes had to be modified to work for me. I had my oven professionally re-calibrated because some just were not working. I am not sure what it is about my personal idiosyncratic technique that does not jive with his, but while I get at least 95% of my new breads from Hamelman's _Bread_ and from the Internet right, I know that I'll need at least a couple of tries to get a Lepard bread right. This is tough because we bake bread to eat, not as a hobby. Some breads are very hit-and-miss for me, even now.
Sometimes, I had a hard time seeing how the recipe led to the picture in the book. For example (and I use this because the rye in particular did not work well for me in many instances, though it was amazing when it did work), his 100% rye picture shows a loaf with no evidence of having risen in flour. Yet, the instructions have the loaf rising in a floured cloth in a basket. I found that rising the loaf in a floured cloth dried out the crust prematurely and prevented oven spring. When I rose them in wet cloths, I found them to rise better.
I'm adding in a comment about the Dark crisp rye bread as well (p. 167). I was very excited to try this as we love knackerbrod. Despite my initial misgivings about the temperature and the bake time (425 F for 40 - 50 minutes), knowing that the light rye flatbreads were a mere 400 F for all of 25 - 30 minutes, I went ahead and followed the instructions to the letter, as I usually do the first time around. What a mistake. 30 minutes into the process, the bread was burnt to a crisp. It was black in several places. Now as I mentioned I've had my oven re-calibrated twice and I do not have this problem with other books. So if you do buy the version out right now, go ahead and lower the temperature and bake time on that recipe, and don't be afraid to tweak things ahead of time if they look a little off.
His method is VERY unique. He has decided (rightly, in my opinion) that a major mistake of hand bakers and new bread bakers is to end up using too much flour. Therefore, he has the baker kneading on a lightly oiled surface. This does NOT work out for me. Perhaps I'm too liberal with the oil, but it does seem to affect the formula, though I have gone so far as to wipe the surface clean after oiling, but before putting the dough on there.
He also uses a lot of short rests when preparing the dough, rather than one long mix and one long rest. This makes for some awesome results at times, but it is also difficult if you like to work in blocks. Of course, there are breads that can be prepared with fewer rests, but sometimes it is hard for me to do the knead, rest ten minutes, knead, etc. for the better part of an hour.
If you have improved your own technique as a baker and want to retain some of that knowledge, this will throw you for a loop in a good but challenging way.
I do wish I could give this book five stars, because it is so unique and invaluable. But I also think there are significant improvements that could be made. Until a newer version comes out, I would strongly recommend buying this one.
I asked the instructor what was the best book he would recommend and he said it was this book. It seems like every artisan baker has their own recipes, specific ingredients, and techniques that they swear by, (I guess that is why they call it "Artisan" Bread, (as there is no one way that fits all). But this author opened my eyes to methods that I truly did not know before and shows those methods with stunning photos and stories.
For those of you wanting to learn to create real bread (French, Italian, rye, sourdough, etc.) baking techniques, I suggest you try Peter Reinhart's books.
****Please note, this is a RE-WRITE after owning this book for about 9 months.
I love this book. The author went to the trouble of tracking down all these old ways of bread making and transferring their method into "by weight" and has made it as easy as possible to replicate their methods at home.
I have had GREAT success with the author's method for creating starters.
I had particular fun making the 100% sour rye bread. The gelatinized rye flour really works well for getting it to rise. What a great flavor-sliced thin and toasted, with good Brie!
My first review was totally unfair to the author and to the book distributor in the UK. My impatience with receiving my book quickly does not reflect at all on the book itself, a wonderful collection of easily reproducible recipes. It is obvious a great deal of hard work and attention to detail was required to produce this work.
If nothing else I have made Dan's method of kneading for several seconds, then letting the dough rest / repeat / my method. I have gone from depending on my Kitchen-aide to actually just getting my hands messy and using good technique. Thanks for all the tips, Dan, that I have made into my own repertoire!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Throw away those old bread making machines. ThIs is so easy.
And thoroughly satisfying.
It is highly recommended.Read more