The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Please help me choose between...

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npsmama's picture
npsmama

Please help me choose between...

Peter Reinhart's Wholegrain Breads

 

or

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

 

I own and use a grain mill but also like white loaves. I already have Laurel Robertsons' book, the KA Wholegrain |Baking book and The Handmade Loaf.

 

Please help me decide!!!

Floydm's picture
Floydm

They are totally different books. If you are into whole grains, Peter's book is the way to go. If you want to learn some quick, convenient techniques, Artisan Bread in 5 is the way to go. If you want to learn both, buy both.

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

This question is interesting to me, because I purchased both of these books at the same time, about 2 months ago.

Since then I have been bouncing back and forth between them, as far as baking is concerned. From Wholegrain Breads I have baked the basic recipe three times and a raisin and walnut version once. Both turned out well and I will do them again. From Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes I have baked the basic recipe several times, the Brioche once, and the Deli Rye once. Again, all turned out well -- the brioche was wonderful (!) but I would probably increase the amount of rye flour in the deli rye a bit, or pick another version. I feel I have learned a lot from both books, and will continue to explore both.

For your situation, since you have several wholegrain books already, I'd suggest you get the Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes first, to explore a somewhat different technique. I think you will find it rewarding, unless you are a person who loves to hand-knead. You don't knead in this technique at all, so it would be really frustrating for someone who loves the kinetic aspect of breadmaking.

Then, as Floyd points out, you could always get the second book later. Both are well worth having.

I am doing it all backward, having asked for The Bread Baker's Apprentice as a birthday present.

Whichever book you get first, you will enjoy it. Both are great, and as Floyd point out, very different.

Mary

npsmama's picture
npsmama

thanks for the replies.

i am currently baking the master recipe from 5 Minutes as I found it on TFL. Depending on how that turns out I might get the book.

i guess 5 Minutes doesn't seem like 'proper' breadmaking - i'm very sceptical!

 

I don't have time to handknead so i let my Kenwood Chef do it for me! 

npsmama's picture
npsmama

Well, I've just baked the 5 Minutes master recipe and I have to say I am really disappointed. It's just like a regulat white dough yeast bread. Granted, it's true that it required no kneading but it yields a loaf like those that supermarkets try to sell as 'artisanal'.

I'm wondering if I should try again though given that so many folk on this site have had seemingly great results with it...? 

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Well, it just goes to show that tastes (and tast buds) differ. We find that this bread is much better than anything we can find in our supermarkets. Maybe you are fortunate and have a different type of product available.

In this case, I would definitely recommend the Whole Grains book. It has a lot of good information in it.

Mary

mrpeabody's picture
mrpeabody

I've been using this ABin5 method alot lately as this technique has great flexibility in fitting into a very hectic schedule.  The minimal effort in active time has permitted me to more frequently make homemade bread for my family (for which they are very pleased).

There are a few tricks to it though and you may need to tweak the technique a little to make it work for you.  You should check out the website (www.artisanbreadinfive.com) as there is an Errata section that outlines errors/typos in the book.  Anyways, some of the things that I have found to improve things for me include:

1. Don't make the bread the next day.  The flavor improves as the dough ages in the refrigerator.  My family finds that there is better flavor after about 3-4 days.  The basic master dough (just all-purpose flour) is just OK, but if you start tweaking it I think it can be really good.  I now put in a touch of rye (1/2 cup) into the master dough and the flavor is much better to my taste.  I even recently began to improvise on the recipe to suit my tastes.  Recently, I added some kefir (a very sour fermented milk product) and it resulted in bread that had some sourdough-like qualities that my wife really loves.

2. Be very gentle in shaping the dough.  I found out that I was rougher than preferred.  In emailing the authors, they commented that this method is paradoxical in that inexperienced (nearly timid) bakers tended to shape the bread with the appropriate gentleness, while more experienced breadmakers tended to shape the dough too strongly (knocking out more of the gas/bubbles).

3. Let it proof at room temperature longer than recommended in the book.  The book recommends 40 min for a 1 lb loaf.  I find that 80-90 min worked better for me.

In summary, I like this method and it has produced nice bread for me.  The brioche is excellent.  I also really like the Challah.  I suppose that such a radical departure to the standard bread making methods require some getting used to.

npsmama's picture
npsmama

OK, Ill give it another chance!

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

I really think it depends on what you are looking for. Mr. Peabody sems to be looking for a way to provide bread for his family that they enjoy, at at what is to him a reasonable expenditure of time. I am looking for some "good bread" to share with my husband without driving the extra miles to a larger town with an artisanal source. From your dis-satisfaction with your first attempt, you may be looking for something more or something different.

Additionally, looking at the master recipe, we see just four ingredients, flour, water, salt, and yeast. Obviously, a large part of the "make or break" in such as basic loaf is in technique. How the flour is measured, how much the dough is stirred, how long it sits in the fridge, dough handling after it comes out of the fridge, the type of loaf formed, how long it rises (about 2 hours for me) the oven temperature and amount of steam, etc., etc., etc. You may be doing one or more of these differently that I do. And it also depends on what your "good bread" criteria are. Taste, texture, looks, or all of these??? And again -- compared to what?

I know that I am happy with what I get. I have been baking for over 50 years, off and on, and I have also had good bread in San Francisco, France, and Italy (and some not-so-good bread, too.) For us, this is good bread. Maybe not gourmet bread, but satifying bread. I also know that with a batch of the basic loaf in my refrigerator, I can make 21 different configurations, from a sandwich loaf to naan by way of fougasse, just to name a few of my bread favorites. I know this dough won't shine at every one of the 21 applications, but I bet it will be satisfactory for a first try, and the variety is fun to think about. I'll never be limited to "another loaf of that basic white bread" unless I want to be.

As I've said all along, it depends on what you are after. I don't think it's a short cut, I think it's just another way to make bread, and for me, it works. It's not the only bread book I'll ever use, but it's one I will continue to come back to, experimenting as I go.

Mary

 

mrpeabody's picture
mrpeabody

Part of my reasons to use the ABin5 method is largely dependent on fitting in bread making with my schedule.  But you know what?  The bread that is produced is very satisfying to my family.  Our family cannot simply buy artisanal breads at a good bakery because my boys have food allergies to nuts and sesame seed.  Bread, even the non nut or non seeded ones are a risk for cross-contamination of these allergens.  So, I'm thrilled at the bread that I've been producing using the ABin5 method.  It is certainly better than the supermarket ones (which we can't buy either because most have a sesame seed warning).  Now we wouldn't buy the supermarket "artisanal bread" even if we could because I got the ABin5 method to give us better tasting bread.  We do buy some basic sandwich breads (reading the ingredients list carefully every time) at the grocery store as these work fine for our boys sandwiches in their school lunch.

The flexibility of different bread styles with dough ready in the refrigerator is a great bonus.  For example, once I came home from work and my wife was already making a curry dish for dinner.  Because I already had some dough in the refrigerator, I whipped up some bread in a naan style.  The "naan" isn't authentic, but it went great with the dinner and it was readily available (my boys ended up calling it "non-naan").

Also, there are other styles that are really good in the book.  I've had good success with the brioche and challah.  I also recently adapted an older Russian black bread recipe to fit the ABin5 method (we really like this too).

My comment before can be distilled to simply that there are many places to tweak the technique and dough to suit your tastes (or at least getting it closer to what you want).  For me, part of it was more aging in the refrigerator and subbing in some rye to the master dough (and now I'm playing around with trying to get even more sour flavor with kefir as another wrinkle). 

Mr. Peabody

Oh...and just so you know, I do weigh everything when making bread.  As many people here have commented, how you measure the ingredients can greatly vary by volume.  I already have a scale so weighing is much more consistent and convenient for me.