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Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers Hardcover – August 17, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Leader's new bread-baking book is distinguished from his earlier classic Bread Alone by its focus on regional specialties, from the Alsatian classic pain au levain to Tuscan black olive puccia, from German laugenbrezeln or pretzels to the dark Silesian rye of the Czech Republic. The book opens with 50 pages of well-written and thorough instructions on everything from ingredients to equipment. The most helpful part is the explanation of the basic steps of any bread-making process, which serves as a primer on the procedural elements that are universal across the various European traditions. Leader, who founded the heralded Bread Alone bakery in Woodstock, N.Y., is most interested in teaching holistically, so that his readers will feel comfortable becoming apprentices and then experts themselves. One can't help imagining, however, that bread baking is best learned in the flesh. Leader advises that the only way to figure out if the dough is ready is through experience, and a hapless home baker might agree. Still, the book is an excellent primer on the best breads of Europe, and the traveler who has returned home with a longing for the Roman specialty pane di altamura might be satisfied with a mouth-watering trip down memory lane. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
After perusing the remarkable recipes in Leader's compilation of the best of Europe's artisanal breads, only the most resolutely self-controlled baker will be able to resist marching to the kitchen to reproduce one of these captivating loaves. Leader explains how to create a sourdough from airborne yeasts, and he uses that starter for many of these breads to yield superior, deep flavor and thick, crunchy crusts. Ranging from baguettes to chocolate croissants, from Italian ciabatta to dark Silesian rye, and from Czech country bread to potato pizza, these recipes give access to bread bakers' highest art. For those lacking the courage and patience to ferment a real sourdough starter, Leader offers several different shortcuts to success. Line drawings guide the novice, and full-color photographs render ideals for Leader's students to emulate. Question-and-answer sections throughout the book succinctly clarify potential problem areas. Leader's Auvergnat blue cheese rye rolls alone make this book a must for devotees of the baker's art. Knoblauch, Mark
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Top customer reviews
With Leader, it is different. He has really tried to duplicate the actual process of making artisan breads from several countries and doesn't try to accelerate the process. In fact, some of his recipes are agonizly Loooooonnnnnggggg! in kneading, and rising times. Also, some of his poolish, biga, and levain recipes need retardation with refrigeration -- and most of us just don't have big, empty spaces in our fridges for entire trays of proofing loaves.
Then the other shoe drops: the recipes make mistakes in weights and proportions over and over and over again. An experienced baker like I am can spot the mistakes almost right away and adjust for them. The results, in most cases, are very good. But if you are a novice artisan bread baker (and not a Betty Crocker "Wonder Bread" baker), you can be misled repeatedly in abject failures, be terribly discouraged, believe that it is YOU that is the problem, and not the book.
But it is the book. Leader took on a project that was just too complicated for a lone baker to accomplish with a sidekick writer and small potatoes publishing house.
So read the book, be energized, try recipes and ADJUST, ADJUST, ADJUST after failures -- don't give up! And use Hamelman as a guide as well, but don't slavishly adopt his processing times. They are too short.
One final note that is of baseline importance that I have seen stressed by only one author in the numerous bread books I have read over the years: Do loaves coming from large batches of dough using the exact same ingredients and proportions bake better and taste better than one or two loaves made from a small amount of ingredients, geared to the home baker!! YOU BETCHA!! Hamelman and Leader and many others never acknowledge this. But Ken Forkish does: he points out that the bread in a 3 kilo loaf tastes better than the same exact recipe made in a smaller loaf.
Of course. The complex acids, esters, aldehydes, and other flavor components propogate better in large batches of bread dough. That's why when you buy an artisan loaf from a really good bakery, as in parts of France and Italy, the taste is superb in large part because the quantity of dough for any given batch is large by orders of magnitude from what we bake at home.
That's why when I bake, I use batches of dough that are as large as I can handle and fit into my home double 36" ovens. I give lots of bread away, and i freeze lots of bread. There is absolutely no doubt that the loaves from my larger batches of dough taste better than the small dough quantities in Daniel Leader's recipes.
So scaling down to reduce commercial bakery quantities, using the very same ingredients and proportions, such as Hamelman does in the two editions of his book, will NOT produce the same loaves as, say, a 250 lbs. batch of fermeted, shaped, and baked dough.
Most recent customer reviews
Daniel Leader's books are excellent and this is one of his best, IMHO.Read more