Customer Reviews: Advanced Bread and Pastry
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on May 12, 2008
This is without doubt the largest, most informative, most inclusive bread and pastry book in existence. Just imagine the 'Professional French pastry series' and the 'Special and decorative breads series' in one huge tome.The book does not have 880 pages as stated in the description, but 1043 including the indexes.
Mr Suas has created a comprehensive, easy to follow textbook for advanced baking and pastry. The book uses the French tradition in baking/pastry apprenticeship and includes both American and French products. Mind that this is not a coffee table book but a student's guide to advanced baking/pastry. So the author approaches the reader as a teacher would approach the student. There are explanations for every single detail and at the end of each chapter there are questions. A word of caution; this is a book strictly for professionals. One cannot just open it and start measuring cups and spoons to make a cake. Anyone lesser than an apprentice will probably get lost in the plethora of information. So if you are not a professional or a very knowlegable amateur, don't blow your money.
The book starts with a history of bread and pastry making and is divided into three main sections: Bread, Vienoisserie and Pastry. Each section is then subdivided into many others. The chapters are:
a) History
b) Food safety
a) Baking process and dough mixing
b) Fermentation
c) Advanced flour technology and dough conditioners
d) Alternative baking processes
e) Bread formulas
a) Cookies
b) Quick breads
c) Pastry dough
d) Pies and tarts
e) Cake mixing and baking
f) Syrups,creams,custards,egg foams,icings
g) Mousses
h) Classic and modern cake assembly
i) Petit-fours and confections
j) Frozen desserts
k) Plated desserts
l) Advanced decoration
m) Chocolate
There are photos throughout, including procedures and most of the products, the paper is glossy, and there are tables with information interspersed between the text. All formulas are given in Metric, Baker's percentage, US decimal, and Lbs and Oz. Also there are instructions to sites in the internet where one can expand on what is in the book and get additional information. These are throughout the book and in all the sections.
In the bread section, all the different breadmaking procedures are discussed, including the straight dough method, retarded dough method and sourdough method. This is the only book I know that in some products uses two different sourdoughs to produce a bread. Another innovation is the inclusion of a whole program for breadmaking on a professional scale, with days and times for each procedure spanning several days. There is also an extensive discussion on par-baked goods which are being favored lately by many bakers.
Bread products include: Baguettes, ciabatta, San Francisco sourbread, challah, rye breads, naan, tortilla, pita, pan de los muertos and many other European and American breads.
The Viennoiserie section is one of the most comprehensive and inclusive and can be only compared to the ones in the 'Traditional and decorative breads'. All the known products are here, including croissants, danish, kugelhopf, brioche, panettone. Different methods are given for the production of the same product eg retarded croissant, sourdough croissant etc.
The pastry section is larger than the bread one by 200 pages. The theory is divided between the chapters, as each family of products has its own technology and science, besides the basic science that goes for all pastry.
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of products in this section. Most of the classics are here, as well as modern pastries. Too many to mention.
On the downside. Some recipes (not many) use shortening, a blasphemy against both health and taste. I also noticed a few typographical errors in some of the recipes and the temperatures, eg 375F is given as 96C in one recipe, while it should be 196C.
These faults though, are a drop in an ocean of excellence.
To conclude, at this low price this book is a give away. Just think that for the same money you can only get one tome of the 'French pastry series' with 200 pages and here you get more than a thousand pages.
Top quality, top price, the best money can buy.
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on July 20, 2008
This book is written mostly for "the trade", but the home-chef (like me) can get a lot out of it. Apart from Bread and Pastry, it has extensive chapters on cakes, icings, cookies, chocolate(confection), ice-cream and quick breads (banana bread, scones, muffins) amongst other things. It is very comprehensive. The science can be understood by almost everyone, and the book is well illustrated (pictures of how to shape a baguette, etc). There are no "stories" from the author about how he first made this and that, and learnt this from there - and so forth. It reads like a school book. Very informative!

I was at first worried that this book had 1000's of recipes, but it says on the back that it has just under 300, which means there is a lot of theory in it (which I think is good). I has 2 Pannetone recipes and about 4 Croissant recipes. It has sachertorte, and black forest gateu, chocolate truffles and loads of other stuff. The carrot cake recipe is the best I've ever tried, and I've ended up using ALL the sections in the book (except for the ice-cream chapter), even though I only bought it for the Bread/Pastry initially.

For me there is one problem: I don't have a Mixer. That makes it hard to to follow the bread formulas (recipes) 100% accurately. There is enough science in the book, that you might find a "do-it-yourself" way if you experiment (at least I hope so).

In each bread formula in the book the author will specify what type of mix method to use: Short, Improved or Intensive (which basically is the 3 diffent speeds of the mixer kneading the dough).
- "Shortmix" is almost like kneading by hand, however quite few recipes call for a short mix.
- "Improvedmix" one can almost replicate by hand (but one might need to experiment with longer fermentation times and yeast amount to compensate and get a stronger dough).
- However I am more sceptical about for instance Pannetone and Brioche which call for an "Intesivemix", which is difficult by hand. Luckily there are quite few recipes that call for this mix method. Only bread with a lot of butter/sugar/eggs. But there is a "handmix" recipe for croissants.

When it comes to Ovens there is no discussion on how to compensate for lack of steam (the book is as I say, written for the apprentice/prof. in mind).

One last thing: I've had no problems with quantities in the recipes, because he always gives a so-called "test" amount (in OZ). But you can also divide the grams and kg. by 5 to get the right "home" batch if you use the metric system (I live in Norway, so i do).

Conclusion: I would recommend this book to the home-chef, but be prepared for a challenge :)
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on October 6, 2009
ASTOUNDED ! What a great book for SERIOUS learners of bakery
and experienced bakers who did not get the opportunity of
going to a bakery school.

Amazon must be proud of selling this book : this is the Flagship
book on bakery. Make no mistake : it is a classic.

It is definitely a TEXTBOOK on bakery as a craft and as a science!

1 041 pages , glossy paper with color photos and drawings and tables
charts with 22 chapters, 3 appendixes on Conversions, Baker's percentages,
Temperature conversions . To complete : a Glossary, a Subject index and a
Formula (recipes) index.

It would be TOO long to enumerate the 22 chapters but let us say the book
consists of 4 parts : Part one is the Introduction on the history of baking
and on Sanitation; Part two deals with Bread making as a science and craft;
Part three in 100 pages is devoted to Viennoiseries; Part four , the last one,
revolves around Pastry in more than 500 pages going into decoration and
chocolate work.

Mark my words, this book will establish the New Standard in Bakery Textbooks
for serious bakers.

I would have given 10 stars if it was possible. Get it if you are a serious
baker , if not give it to the baker in your life.
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on June 19, 2008
Although dense and designed for the professional (experienced) baker, I learned a great deal from this book, which is as deep as Hamelman's book on Bread, and yet covers pastries and other sweet goods for the second half. A wonderfully informative and well-researched book for the price!
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Michael Suas has created the comprehensive text for bakers - "Advanced Bread and Pastry." This work is a beautifully crafted textbook which can be used in both schools and, if you are a serious baker, in the home. Further, it is lovely enough to be used as a coffee table book, if that is the type of thing you do when decorating your home. It is not a work for the casual baker or for an individual who does not have the time to sit down and read through the chapters.

Suas has used an extremely logical format; he starts with the history of bread and works through to sample formulas. Each chapter ends with a chapter summary, list of key terms, and review questions. Important words and phrases are bolded throughout the text. Excellent photographs are used to highlight important techniques, as well as to show the results of improper application of these same techniques. I thought this work was done much more thoroughly than Calvel's "The Taste of Bread."

I did choose to purchase my book from the San Francisco Baking Institute so that Michel Suas would autograph it. To my great surprise, he also inscribed it to me personally. If you are looking for a priceless gift for the serious baker in your life, you should consider this option. The book is a bit more expensive than here and you do pay postage, but as a gift to someone else or to yourself, it is well worth it.
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on December 9, 2010
This review will cover only the Bread portion of this book. Which really is the reason I bought it in first place.

Ths is a BIG book with comprehensive coverage of bread and pastry with many technical terms..The language is a little bit academical but that didn`t bother me. This is an ADVANCED Bread and Pastry after all...
It is clearly not for the beginner, but don`t let that discourage you.
The recipe presentations are clear to follow and most importantly to the point.
That`s the strength of this book, it goes straigh to the point. NO nonsense knowledge.
Every phrase has its place in conveying the meaning. Most of the explanations are intended to be focused more on proffessionals bakers but are easily adapted in home environment.
Also the recipes are given in bakers percentages and could be easily increased or decreased.
The recipes give excellent results which is a truly gratifying experience. I mean they really work and give good results and tasteful bread.

The book fails though to emphasize the importance of having the right equipment that really makes the differrence.

Not so many words about baking stones about steaming equipment and the effects the have on the end product (which is quite noticeable)..

Mixing chapter is good but i would recommend to complete by reading the mixing chapter of Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective of Daniel T. di Muzio.

I would have liked to have more details about differrent ovens and their advantages (Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective -- does a great job on this).
I would have liked to have better pictures for each of the bread instead of showing 5 breas in one page --- i guess is more economical.
I would have liked to see more pictures or explanations for some of the end products that are not so easy to follow.

I would deffinitely would want a dvd with some videos to some dough in the making.

Like the other reviewers before me I would agree that this is not for the beginners and the info it provides could be intimidating, but once you get over it and go to the recipes you will end having excellent results..

This book makes me feel more confident and more in control about bread making process and together with Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective of Daniel T. di Muzio this book will give you more than enough tools and information to ``feel`` the art of baking and not only blindly follow the recipe.
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on April 21, 2008
i was so excited to get this book in the mail today. i cannot stop looking at it. the pictures are amazing. the steps and instructions are clear and concise. i have many other pastry books , this book does not repeat information, it informs you without boring you. . (as an added bonus Stephan Treand does the sugar work for this book from what i understand.) i would recommend this book to any aspiring professional baker willing to challenge themselves with new and exciting recipes.
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on July 24, 2008
I worked professionally as a baker before becoming an IT networking administrator. I have never lost the desire and passion to bake breads and pastries, whether they be croissants, danish, sourdough, etc. When you have a passion for something, you never want to give it up, so books like Advanced Bread and Pastry help to re-educate and light the brick oven of desire again for someone like me. Anyone can learn the art of baking and pastry, but you cannot be afraid to make mistakes. The formulas in this book teach the novice to professional key points of customizing their product by adjusting the percentages.

Highly recommend the book and the school where Michel Suas teaches, San Francisco Baking Institute. This is a bread dough of a winner.
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on June 19, 2008
It has been an absolute joy to have this book!! This is probably one of the most comprehensive, yet, concise texts i have seen in a long time, and for the price, its and absolute bargain! Whilst, this book is aimed at people within the trade, the author has done a great job in the way he puts his message across, also making it easy for the serious home baker. If you are passionate about baking, then this book is a must!
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on October 14, 2012
This truly is an "Advance" baking and pastry book. It is in essence a pastry text book, once you get right down to it and it cost like one too. You get taught about techniques in bread making,laminate doughs, cakes, chocolate, ice cream, custards, and more. I LOVE "Pastry Text" books. I find the science of baking and pastry work so interesting. I have a couple text books on baking, but this by far is my favorite. If you have the time and are up to the challenge, I would try the puff pastry recipe. Yes you can buy it at the store for cheap, but nothing taste better then the one you make at home. The only real con can be that it is an intimidating book for novices.
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