The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

kawaiihime's picture

The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I have this book called "the bread bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I don't know if it's a good book since some of the recipes are not exactly easy to follow. I've borrowed BBA and The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger, I haven't tried any of the recipes from either books, but I don't know if the book I have is a book for a beginner/intermediate baker. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Floydm's picture

The Bread Baker's Apprentice is definitely the best of the three for beginners.  I think it is the best of three, period.

sphealey's picture

One point to consider is, what perspective does the reader bring to the cookbook? I have worked as both a test & measurement and industrial systems engineer. Rose Levy's stated goal in both The Cake Bible and The Bread Bible is to present recipes which, if followed _exactly_, will allow the home baker to achieve consistent results equal to those of a professional baker with a 95% success rate (keeping in mind the limitations of home ovens and proofing containers). In my opinion, she succeeds in achieving this goal. Particularly if you get a good scale [1], if you follow her instructions precisely you will get good bread exactly as described.


For me, with my background, Rose's book was exactly what I needed to get over the "fear factor" and power past my previous attempts at yeast bread which weren't too successful. After I had 3-4 months of consistent success, I branched out to other books and techniques, and now I think I understand the principles of basic hearth breads and can start adjusting/modifying based on experience without consulting references.


But - that was for me. Others might prefer a more intuitive approach from the beginning and find the Laurel's Kitchen or Mollie Katzen (Enchanted Broccoli Forest) better starting points. It all depends on your learning style and what creates the speedbumps in your personal learning curve.


Whatever approach you take, IMHO the best thing to do is just say, I will bake something at least once each weekend for the next 8 weeks regardless of my exact results. The first few tries might not be so great, but by the end of 8 weeks you will be consistently making something that is at least edible.


The other option is to take a class. King Arthur has free 2-hour classes on tour around the country this fall. Check their web site's ( ) Education section under National Baking Tour. Their Artisan Bread video is a good resource and suspect their in-person classes are great.


Let us know how you are progressing!




[1] I had always measured with cups and spoons, and I liked my 20-year collection of measuring stuff. But I finally ordered a MyWeigh i5000, and it has turned out to be one of the best and most cost-effective instruments I have ever used in my life. It has also made baking faster and easier.

sugarcreations's picture

 I agree. I have The Cake Bible and to date have made two of the recipes out of the book. Perfect Pound Cake and White Chocolate Whisper Cake and in both instances they have came out great. Like was said a good scale is a must!

Sylviambt's picture


I, too, began with The Bread Bible and found it's first 100 pages a great primer. The book helped me make the shift from measuring flour by volume to measuring by weight. For two or three months, I stuck to one or two breads in the book. I made them again and again, week after week, in an effort to gain a better appreciation of the whole process. Some loaves were triumphs, others were failures. All were lessons.

I now have been relying on Reinhart's Bread Bakers Apprentice for a few months and find it a treasure for the new baker. Every time I re-read a section, I get more out of it. I've been focusing on ciabattas for the last dozen weeks ...and still have so much to learn. My holes still aren't big enough!

I think you'll find BBA an invaluable resource. I certainly have.

Great baking!



In search of the perfect crust & crumb

cognitivefun's picture

Another book that I find invaluable is Van Over's Best Bread Ever. It has the food processor method that I find delivers what he promises. And I routinely convert most recipes into the food processor method as a result of that book. It is out of print but still available used and I can't recommend it enough.


I like the *other* Bread Bible by Beth Hensberger as it has alot of good recipes. Not so much for technique but for the recipes and odd things such as coffee cakes, upside down cake, and although I don't use them, bread machine recipes.




kimn's picture

I absolutely agree.  Van Over's book is invaluable.  I also routinely convert my recipes into the food processor method.  Great recipes and easy to follow instructions. 

breadnerd's picture

Just to confuse you! :)


In the very beginning, I used Hensberger's "Beth's Basic Bread Book" . It's smaller (and I think a little less intimidating) than her bigger books, but it has a few really excellent reipes and very good explanation and instructions for the beginner. I really started having successful loaves with this book, which caused me to move on to more advanced methods and books. BUT, I still go back abd bake several of those recipes to this day. Her "perfect whole wheat" loaf is an excellent sandwich bread, and I also make the oatmeal bread (with a few tweaks for fun).


I also learned a lot from "bread alone" by Daniel Leader and Judith Blahnik. This was a great introduction to preferments and got me going on my first SD starter--and using weights for measurement. I still use recipes from there that I know by heart :)


I of course like BBA too, but I think it would be a lot more challenging for a beginner. I borrowed the Berenbaum book from a friend and found some of the recipes seemed way off formula-wise--like the scone recipes (way more liquid than I've seen in comparable recipes). I didn't try too many so am not confident making a judgment on the book as a whole

I guess overall I feel it's good to start small and gain confidence!

cosmo's picture

My first bread book was Rose's The Bread Bible, I learned a lot from it that I felt like I had taken a year's worth of lessons from various culinary schools. The recipes are very precise, some a bit intimidating because of the strictness to it and the long process it involves, but one thing I find true in all her recipes, they come out exactly how she describes them and the taste ah heavenly.Len

KNEADLESS's picture

I find both of these books invaluable. If you have a problem, you can usually get an answer from one or the other. I have been borrowing them from our library all summer, but just bit the bullet and bought both at Amazon.



manxman's picture

Maybe you would like this version of BB cinnamon raisin bread at

Lots of pictures

This bread is awesome