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Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day Hardcover – October 27, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
With "no-knead" bread recipes all the rage now, expert baker Reinhart (Whole Grain Breads) has come back with a process that is slightly more involved but much more productive than the limited classic no-knead method, yielding all manner of sweet, savory and sandwich breads. He introduces a "stretch and fold" technique that, combined with a slow rise and without the lengthy prefermentation that his and other artisan bakers' recipes usually require, means more freedom and less active work time, but still a very flavorful product. To make French baguettes, for example, only one brief knead is required; then, after an overnight or multiday rise, the dough is ready for shaping—much better than being shackled to the kitchen for an entire morning for multiple rises, as is usually the case in baguette making. Other great breads, such as focaccia, soft cheese bread and even panettone, get similar preparation makeovers. Reinhart occasionally calls for a starter, but his carefully constructed, nonintimidating mother starter method should encourage the wary. For bakers who have come to bread through the no-knead route, Reinhart's thorough, detailed recipes offer a perfect way to expand their repertoire without getting their hands too sticky or giving up too much of their time, while those who are already fans will appreciate having a little more room in their schedule while still producing terrific breads. (Nov.)
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“Peter Reinhart is the Leonardo da Vinci of bread; his recipes are foolproof, his research exhaustive and yet a delight to read and follow, and his hunger for knowledge and technique is boundless and infinite. He is without a doubt the definitive source of true style and information when it comes to all things baked and delicious, and my go-to guy for all things leavened and sandwichable”
--Mario Batali, author of Molto Italiano
“I’ve been using Peter’s overnight pizza dough technique religiously for years--mix, knead, chill overnight, shape, bake. So simple, and minimal planning is required. In this book, many of the recipes use a similar approach–no poolish or pre-fermenting. From pain au levain and pretzels to panettone and pizza dough, all the greatest hits and every day favorites are covered.”
--Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Cooking
“Peter Reinhart’s thoughtful, steadying presence combined with his matchless teaching skills and down-to-earth approach make reading and using Artisan Breads Every Day a great pleasure. His information demystifying the preparation and use of sourdough starters is both much needed and superb.”
--Nancy Baggett, author of Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads
“For most cooks, artisan bread baking is close to metaphysics. And each succeeding book about it only tends to deepen the mysteries and make trying it even more unlikely. Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day is one of the first books of its kind that actually made me want to stop reading and start baking.”
--Russ Parsons, author of How to Peel a Peach
Top customer reviews
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I'd say the book is ideal for either beginners or "experts" like me, as long as you are willing to throw away (or at least forget for a while) everything you know about baking bread. In my years of baking, I learned that you can't freeze dough, yeast likes warm places, and the longer you knead dough, the better. Reinhart has a different opinion, and he seems to be correct.
The Good Points
* So far I have made baguettes, sourdough and pizza using recipes and techniques in the book. All turned out excellent. I can now bake "crusty" baguettes on demand, and can produce that micro-thin, slightly stretchy pizza crust in a kitchen 3000 miles from New York (although with slight additions to Peter's recipe).
* I always "knew" you couldn't freeze dough, but following Peter's advice, I now regularly freeze dough for pizza, and it turns out great. Combined with premeasured bags of frozen sauce, fresh hot pizza is now a "freezer" item. Awesome, except for my diet.
* I learned new techniques for working with dough, and for the most part they seem to work great. The book organizes the basic dough techniques (stretching, proofing, etc) in one section at the front of the book so you can find them easily. (More on this below).
* Subject to some issues described below, the instructions are reasonably easy to follow. They are written in easy-to-understand terms, and Peter avoids the usual pedantic language often found in higher-end cookbooks. Nothing worse than needing a dictionary and a translator to make soup.
* Reinhart doesn't try to convince you that you need to go out and buy $1000 worth of proofing pans, proofing boxes, special cloths, etc. Just use what is in your house already.
The Bad Points (Note first paragraph in review)
* The directions can get a bit carried away with themselves. Personally, quantities like 3 3/8 teaspoons of salt drive me nuts. I might breakdown and use an actual measuring spoon instead of a teaspoon, but there is no way I am not going to eyeball the last half teaspoon.
* The directions are written in a narrative format rather than a list of items typical in recipes. As a result I will often end up re-reading the whole recipe numerous times just to find the next step. This can be a bit of a pain, because many of the recipes have quite a few steps. Typical will be mix for 2 minutes on low, wait 5 minutes, switch to a dough hook, mix for 3 minutes on medium, wait 5 minutes, fold and stretch dough, wait for 10 minutes in an uncovered bowl, stretch again.... You get the idea. For every step, you will end up re-reading most of the recipe. A little indenting/change of fonts/highlighting/bold/etc in the layout would do wonders for the book.
* The directions can get overly detailed, but yet unclear-forcing you to interpret multiple directions to be sure you know exactly what Reinhart meant. Not a real big deal, but something one more round of proofreading should have caught.
* Basic techniques such as kneading and proofing are in a separate section of the book, and then referred to by individual recipes. Except when they are not-some recipes include the details, some refer you to the front of the book. Since the directions are already somewhat bloated and poorly formatted, I'd prefer to just have references to a single section.
* At least one of the recipes (sourdough mother starter) has all the quantities in cups, until you get to the final steps when everything is now in grams. I don't have a metric (or even English) scale in my kitchen.
* Some of the steps are explained in agonizing detail, and them some are skipped over. It takes 5 pages to explain how to make the sourdough starter, but then the "how to refresh the starter dough process" is skipped over. List the quantities of old starter, flour and water (see above), but then makes no mention of what to do with it- proof at room temp? immediately return to the refrigerator? How long does it need to refresh?
* Mom always taught me that you can't really measure flour-you have to add it to the dough as needed. The reason for this is that flour can have a vastly different moisture content, so what works once might yield overly tacky/dry dough the next time. Reinhart doesn't seem to subscribe to this theory, at least not in all his recipes. After mixing up a batch of the gooiest pizza dough on the planet, I'd say Mom was right.
* Some of the baking times listed are suspect. I suspect they are worse case time for very large loafs, not typical times for baguette sized creations. Caveat baker.
* None of the recipes I have tried so far are for anyone in a hurry. Every recipe so far has taken days to complete. Not a negative...yeast will be yeast. Just something to be aware of.
A great guide to breadbaking-both for specific recipes and learning to update your artisan skills. I learned a lot from it, and have made a number of items, all of them unqualified successes. If you are looking to whip up a batch of bread as quickly as your bread machine, this is not your book. If you want to spend a few days working with yeast to get a baguette worthy of Paris (OK, maybe New York), this is your book.
When I started making bread according to the instructions, I found the recipes amazingly accurate and tasty too.
My family is very happy, every weekend I am spoiling them with a new kind of bread.
Till now I baked 5 different recipes (Lean bread, French bread, Biscuit, Cracker, Baguette) and planning to bake the Bagels soon.
The only downsize that I found till now is the vast usage of "Mother Starter" in the book and the lack of an alternative to it - since it takes lots of time to produce such "Mother Starter" I avoided it till now.
Its not that I am new to baking, but the simplicity of the book and the very detailed description of every step or dough condition makes it very friendly to use.
Attached are some photos :-)
I soon figured out that dough older than 4 days doesn't hold any shape, and is best used as a pre-ferment mixed in a new batch.
And I don't like volume measurements! I grew up with a cheap scale, simply dumping the ingredients into a mixing bowl on the scale, taring between measurements - so much faster and easier, and more precise, but not if the recipe doesn't come with weight measurements.
I finally 'upgraded' to Peter Reinharts 'Artisan Bread Every Day' book, and have been much happier ever since. Not only does it come with measurements in grams and ounces (and volume too, if you must), I also believe that the 'stretch and fold' technique helps developing a better crumb, and thanks to the great instructions in this book I have been baking with pure sourdough starters ever since.
Starting a wild yeast culture was really easy - only after baking happily with it for weeks I realized that many people online aren't quite that lucky with their 'catch' from the get go. Reinhart suggests to use pineapple juice to start the culture, or to try any acidic liquid like lemon or orange juice. I had an old organic grapefruit in the fridge that I had bought by accident, mistaking it for an orange, and used that for the initial mix, and plain orange juice on the second day. My seed culture broke all speed records in regards of foaming and bubbling from day one.
I have had this first culture in my fridge for 1 1/2 years now, refeeding it on average once a week, and it still works great. In fact, it is so active and leavening that even in the recipes that call for commercial yeast on top of the pre-ferment due to eggs or fat, I get away with just the sourdough starter - I haven't bought instant yeast in a year (but if you don't want to bake with sourdough starter, there are plenty of recipes that use store bought yeast only, too).
It still was a learning curve - it took me a while to ignore all the time cues and to just look at the dough. Living in an hot and humid climate like South Florida, I can easily cut all the proofing times stated in half. I ended up with tons of loaves flat and gummy simply because I always ended up over proofing the dough. Now I make sure that I proceed to the next step in the recipe after the starter doubled in size, the dough doubled in size, and the shaped loaf grew by 1 1/2 in size. If I let the shaped loaf grow any further, the yeast has nothing left to give in the oven for any oven spring. Best results always come if I stick the shaped loaves in the fridge and bake them cold the next day. But that is Florida, I might do it differently in a colder climate.
All recipes I tried worked wonderful, provided I didn't end up over proofing, and I feel I was able to take my bread baking attempts to a whole new level. 'Artisan breads in Five' was great to get me into baking to begin with, but real good bread takes a little more effort, more so in managing time, temperatures and techniques than hands on work - but it is so worth it!
(I uploaded a picture of crusty cheese bread, leavened with sourdough starter only, no yeast added)
Most recent customer reviews
Adult Daughter has appreciated using this book over and over to make us delicious breads.