The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Library

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Morgon77's picture
Morgon77

My Library

Since there isn't an easily accessible school in my area, I've been building most of my bread knowledge from books. I unfortunately haven't managed to pick up any of the ones recommended on the site so far, but the ones I do have are:

The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book

This is an interesting piece of work, and only something to pick up if you're serious about bread baking. This book expects you to make mistakes and have failed loaves as you learn, so if you don't like that sort of thing, don't pick it up.

It also has masses of information on how bread works, Flemish Densim, and a variety of other very fascinating products. The tone is slightly fanatical, and it's very health conscious, but well worth picking up if you're really into bread.

The book that I actually get most of my recipes from (or that I adapt them from) is Beth Hensperger's "The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes", which has a full range of different breads, ranging from rustic yeast to muffins to pizza. Very useful, very dependable, but not a great deal of instruction.

Coming in the mail soon is the better known Bread Bible which many places actually use as a text book for their baking. I learned more from reading the first chapter of that book at the book store than i had in my entire time of reading and baking over the last year. Excellent stuff.

I'm looking forward to picking up the Bread Baker's apprentice eventually...the stories are great, and the pictures are excellent for self-instruction on how to shape better breads.

I'm hoping that through absorbing all of these different books, I'll be able to develop a definite style of baking. We'll see.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm sure there is a point where one hits a wall with self-instruction, but I certainly haven't hit it yet. As you know, there are a lot of excellent bread books out there, and the options to experiment with are nearly endless. And, happily, experimentation with bread is cheap! It seems like as good a way to learn as any.

Another thing to consider, if you are serious, is one of these baking bootcamps. The Bread Baker's Guide of America has one coming up this summer, and I know Peter Reinhart and other bakers do sessions like that from time-to-time. A buddy of mine who was a hobbiest and is now a professional baker went to one of these in San Francisco a few years back. I forget the name of the baker he worked with, but he said the trip was well worth it.

I have the Hensperger's Bible. I have mixed feelings about it... some good recipes, yes, but rather inconsistent. As Dorota mentioned, I figured I'd post my review of it on here in the next couple of days. I'd be interested in getting your feedback.

I've heard The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book is quite good. I haven't read it.

I'm definitely a fan of Peter Reinhart's books, and The Bread Baker's Apprentice is my favorite of them. As I've mentioned elsewhere though, I worked with him when I was in high school, so I may not be the most impartial judge. Other folks I talk to seem to like his books too though.

Morgon77's picture
Morgon77

My copies of "The Pie and Pastry Bible" and "The Bread Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum arrived yesterday. I may never emerge again. Heh. These things read a bit like text books at times, but man, so much great information.

Muhahahahahahaha

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Nice.

I'm pouring over Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Bread, which I found at the library the other day. It's a lot like Hensberger's Bread Bible in format but for some reason it doesn't annoy me as much. The guy seems more down to earth, including things like substitutions that I like to see. I've baked one recipe from it and am hoping to bake another today.

Morgon77's picture
Morgon77

It was interesting...I just visted the American Bread Guild page, and on their list of recommended reading, they have the Hersperger Bread Bible, but nothing by Rose Levy. I wonder if they feel she's too basic? All of the books on their list are ones which mostly assume you've baked before and know what you're doing. It says a lot about them, I think.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

The BBGA? Yeah, it is definitely a professional organization.

I haven't read the Rose Levy book. I'll have to see if I can find it at the library.

Cascabel's picture
Cascabel

First of all hello from a new member from Germany :-) Sorry for my mistakes - I can read english very well but writing...

I also started serious bread baking with the books of Peter Reinhart, Maggie Glezer and Nancy Silverton.

The latest book I bought was Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread - A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes. Every recipe I tried turned out absolutely great! He also has some really phantastic recipes with rye sourdough.

Some of them you can see in the bread section of my kitchen blog or on my bread homepage

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Your site is wonderful (and your English is very good... no apologies necessary). I added a link to it in the link list here.

(And just a warning: I put it under the category "Bread Fanatics." Dictionaries often say that the word "fanatic" has a bad connotation, but it can also be used positively to mean "someone who is crazy about something." I would consider myself a bread fanatic, and it appears that you are too.)

Cascabel's picture
Cascabel

Thanks for your kind words and the link - bread fanatic sounds good ;-)

tori's picture
tori

bernard clayton's book is one of my favorites.

i have been wanting to make a recipe from it that calls for malt syrup, and i can't find any. let me know if you find a local source.

Morgon77's picture
Morgon77

I found Malt Syrup at "Wild Oats", which is a large health/organic store in Little Rock Arkansas. You might also try Trader Joe's if there's one near you. It's not a common item, but it is out there.

If worse comes to worse, you could probably purchase it online.

tori's picture
tori

cool, thanks. we do have tj's here, and i shop there all the time - just never thought to look there.

we had "wild oats", but i think it was taken over by "new seasons" or something.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Wild Oats took over Nature's, which was started by the guys who went on to start New Seasons.

Morgon77's picture
Morgon77

Finally picked up "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" yesterday. It's been even better than I hoped it would be...packed with useful information, redefinitions...between this book and the Rose Levy "Bread Bible" I'm probably going to have most of my work defined fairly well. Though I'm drooling over "Crust and Crumb" now, which appears to be entirely useful as well.

Even if my instructors are only in books, the class is going to be wonderful.

tori's picture
tori

lol - hence my confusion.