The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

need a book suggestion for Dan Leader's books......

photojess's picture

need a book suggestion for Dan Leader's books......

I know there is a book section (but it isn't utilized muc), but am looking for a suggestion so I can get another book tomorrow.  I want one of Dan Leader's books next, so which would you suggest, his Local Breads, or Bread alone?  Would love to hear what you have to say, and if it matters, I'm interested more in whole grain baking, nothing really fancy as far as pastries and the such.


LindyD's picture

I think you should read

before making any purchase of "Local Breads."

There are a lot of errors in the formulas which the author has refused to address.  

Home bakers shouldn't have to pay to be beta testers.

BTW, which books do you have?

hansjoakim's picture

"Local Breads" is riddled with errors, and the publisher/author's reluctance to correct them, or even publish an erratum online, is pretty sad.

The book is supposed to be a source of recipes for "authentic" European style sourdough loaves. If you look at the recipes, however, most of them are merely variations upon standard pain au levains or Italian sourdough or biga breads that you'll find in a number of superior bread books.

If you don't have it already, buy Hamelman's "Bread". Equipped with that, you won't need either of Leader's flawed books.

SylviaH's picture

I don't fee l so bad now that my Jack Russell chewed up part of the cover a few days after I got the book..I'm happy I have Hamelman's 'Bread' like you say, Hans!


Pablo's picture

Amen to Hamelman!  It really grows on you. I love the way he gives baker's percentage as well as percent of prefermented flour when there's a preferment used.  I wouldn't mind if the home weights were given in grams as well as ounces, but that's easy enough to run through a conversion widget on the Mac.


MommaT's picture

I second the recommendation for Hamelman's "Bread".  This has been the #1 go-to resource for me.  Not only are the recipes pretty foolproof, but he describes some of the details (esp. in the opening bits) in a kind of scientific detail that I like.

With that said, I have always had luck with Leader's recipes.  I use "Bread Alone" often (mostly the opening learning loaf) and have been blissfully unaware of the errors in "Local Breads", which I open much less frequently.

I'd suggest going to your local library and withdrawing a sampling of the books (if you can) to test.  I did this before putting in my Xmas and birthday gift requests last year!


ericb's picture

I found the same to be true in Bread Alone. Many parts were difficult to follow, and I have suspicions about some of the formulas. It is one of the few baking books that does not rely on "baker's math," and most of the formulas seem dated. Whereas the current trend seems to be towards higher hydration dough and minimal kneading time, most of the recipes in Bread Alone are lower hydration and prescribe a full 14 minutes of hard-core kneading. I have made many delicious loaves with this book, but they are always improved upon by techniques I have learned here.



LeadDog's picture

I like "Local Breads" even if it does have errors.  I wish the errors were not there but still I'm getting a lot of use out of that book.

xaipete's picture

Me too. I just keep writing my notes and corrections in the book. Fortunately a lot of people on TFL, etc., have tried many of the breads and made notes on their experiences.


suave's picture

I would say Local Breads, especially now that the price of a good used copy settled below $10.  Bread Alone is not as interesting since most of the breads in there are variations of the basic formula, with fillers.  If you're a fan of such breads then it may be worth getting.  And yes, it also has errors.

photojess's picture

I didn't buy anything while I was out today, so I'm glad I waited after all.  I have Peter Reinhart's Whole grain breads, and have borrowed The Bread Bible by Beranbaum from the library.  I also have a few other clearance books from B+N bookstore.

I am currently reading Dan DiMuzzio's book, but I didn't realize it was geared towards students/bakery baking.  I think the information is very good, but it's not really a recipe book.  The recipes he has in the book are for teaching specific items.

Mustang 51's picture
Mustang 51

First I bought the Kitchenaid mixer (that a lot of people here seem to hate), then I had to find a use for it. I decided bread would be a good use for it, so I searched for a good bread book. At first, most of what I found was full of recipes with all kinds of stuff I was not looking for in them. One day by chance, I stumbled across "Local Breads" for $10 at an outlet store. It is a very interesting read. I have not used any of the formulae in it yet.  Apparently that is a good thing. It sounds like it would have been a bad first experience.

Fortunately I found this website. It is full of all kinds of good information. Has anyone noted which of the formulae are incorrect? Perhaps some of you could comment on which ones to stay away from. I was looking forward to trying some of them, now I'm not so sure. It really is a shame Mr. Leader has not addressed this. Maybe he just likes his bread that way. I suspect that if we were in a room together, some of you would actually like what I considered to be my failures and I may dislike your best creations. Is it a matter of taste or do the recipes just not work at all?


LeadDog's picture

There is a post here on TFL that documents some of the errors in the book "Local Breads".  I have been able to figure out the errors on every formula in the book that I have wanted to try.  For many people here Pierre Nury's Rustic Light Rye is a very wonderful bread to make.  Then within this last week there was a post and blog about "Classic Auvergne Dark Rye" which has the wrong hydration for the formula.  To make this dark rye will take someone to guess at a hydration to use.  The bread sounds wonderful but the baker will have a challenge to get it right.  Many people have posted their results of breads made from that book so maybe a search on this site will be helpful if the formula is ok or not.

photojess's picture

how do any of you like The Bread Bible by Rose Beranbaum?  I started thumbing through it today, and it looked like a good read.  I have company this week, and it's been hard doing any real reading.  But I like the illistrations and what I saw.  How are her recipes?

Paddyscake's picture

This is Marie Wolf's blog. She baked every recipe in the Bread Bible and is now baking all the cakes in Rose Levy's new cake book. You probably don't want to read 3 years worth, but it will give you an idea of the breads from an amateurs prospective. If I remember correctly, Rose gave Marie a KA mixer as a gift for all her trials.


photojess's picture

her site looks very informative.  I only took a look at her current ventures.