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In Praise of Crust & Crumb

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

In Praise of Crust & Crumb

 


I made some banana breads tonight. They were delicious – better than ever before with some tweaking the baking temperature. As I was tasting it, I got to thinking about the book from which I got the recipe.



Banana Bread from Crust & Crumb



Banana Bread crumb


Peter Reinhart's Crust & Crumb was one of the first two baking books I acquired when I started baking again after a 25 year lapse. (The other was George Greenstein's Secrets of a Jewish Baker.) While my baking library now contains some two dozen books, C&C remains one of my favorites, and, as I look at it today, the reasons are clear. First, it contains a couple formulas I return to again and again – the best formula for San Francisco-style sourdough bread I know and the formula for Banana Bread.


This book was my introduction to so many basic concepts, including the orderly steps in bread baking, from mis en place to tasting, and the function of each in achieving “a loaf of bread that is rhapsodically beautiful and exceptionally delicious.” Reinhart's amalgamation of science, art, craft and philosophy, all expressed in beautiful and lucid prose, captured me. He emphasized the rigorous application of knowledge and technique but also the ultimate importance of “feel” for the dough, acquired through disciplined and reflective practice. That is the path he defined to become a “bread revolutionary.”


Crust & Crumb was published in 1998. Reinhart's introductory chapter is titled “The Bread Revolution.” It is of particular interest now, given our recent discussion of that topic. Reinhart's perspective is of special interest because of the role he has played in this phenomenon. He reviews the recent history of bread baking in America and the influences of various people and events and also delves into his personal history, albeit briefly. He concludes the book with a chapter on The Bread Baker's Guild of America and how it nurtured the young bakers who ultimately put the USA on the world bread map through victories in the Coupe du Monde, notably the second place finish in 1996 which included Craig Ponsford's winning first place in the bread division.


I love this book. Many newer books have advanced “the bread revolution” since Crust & Crumb was published, but it continues to have an unique place in my bread baking library, and I think it remains a valuable resource to anyone striving to make great bread.


Happy baking!


David


 

Comments

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Indeed, They do look Delicious, David! well done on the color of the crust..


Have you used ripe bananas? what flour mixture does it contain?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The flour is all AP. The dark color comes from brown sugar, bananas and eggs. Would you believe the formula has 125% sugar?


The bananas have to be rather ripe - soft enough to mash and ripe enough to lend a good banana flavor to the bread.


David

Mebake's picture
Mebake

125% Sugar? This is a cake..! Iam sure this is necessary, or else the Bread will be dense and Bland..


 

MadAboutB8's picture
MadAboutB8

Those look yummy, David.


Peter Rienhart also had a special place in my heart as well, given that my first bread book is BBA. Somehow I felt that he is my first teacher, a very good one too.


I never thought of buying Crust & Crumb as I thought it might somehow similar to BBA. Your post made me having a second thought.


Sue


http://youcandoitathome.blogspot.com

Syd's picture
Syd

Looks delicious, David!  Bananas, nuts, sugar... you can't go wrong.  Does it use yeast or baking powder?


Lovely bake.


Syd

ehanner's picture
ehanner

That's some fine looking crumb David. The walnuts perfectly placed in a soft rich dough. Beautiful image.


My first bread book was BBA and as Sue mentioned above, I never considered it looking back. Mr. Reinhart has had a significant influence on many of us in one way or another. I too appreciate his ordered approach to the subject. Thanks for the reflection.


Eric

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The banana bread is a "quick bread." It is not yeasted. Leavening is with baking soda, baking powder and buttermilk. Reinhart says this batter makes good muffins too, and I believe it.


Comparing BBA and C&C: BBA has more technical information. C&C has more history and reflection. It represented a shift for Reinhart from books about philosophy and religion, where baking was a means and a metaphor, to a book about baking per se.


C&C has a wider range of formulas than BBA and includes flat breads and quick breads, including an all-purpose muffin formula I must try, given how much I like the banana bread formula. Reinhart felt that BBA's formulas portrayed advances in his understanding of slow fermentation and flavor development. However, I also think he was trying to make the formulas even more accessible to amature bakers, so some compromises were made. I think his formulas for sourdough bread and rye bread in C&C are much better than those in BBA. His version of pain a l'ancienne in BBA, as good as it is, is not as good as the one he got from Gosselin. It's just a little bit easier to make. I wonder what his formula for miche would have been like, if he'd had one in C&C.


I hope this helps those re-thinking purchase of Crust & Crumb.


David

proth5's picture
proth5

So - the Coupe put American bakers on the world map?  That could not be as I am told America had great bakeries before that time and nothing so trivial as a global competition could change anything.


And the blind wine tasting in 1976 meant nothing because, well, there were many serious winemakers in California prior to that date.


Of course, both were huge turning points.  But only when certain people say they are.


"Formulas" - gee didn't we used to call them recipes?


All of my points perfectly illustrated in a couple posts.


But I am not bitter.


Nice (quick) bread.

EvaB's picture
EvaB

got my recipe from a food processor book, the processor is a distant memory now, but I use the recipe with every one I buy. It always comes out wonderful, the aroma when its baking has been likened to nirvana (hubby and son in law are so easy to bribe) and the loaves just don't last long. I've even bought bananas and froze them to be able to bake when I want! LOL


They look totally gross when frozen, but they sure mush up nice! Try a tiny extra dollop of molasses in the recipe and enjoy the taste. It gives a bit more of a deep flavour over the brown sugar which of course is simply not processed to death white sugar! I've even made it with demarra sugar when I didn't have either of the other two sugars in the house, different taste again.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder


the loaves just don't last long



I've had the same problem. My sister thinks there is an error in my recipe since the time I sent a loaf home with her and my nephew. She complained there was none left at the end of the 3 hour drive back to Oakland.


I assured her I have corrected the error, and, when I come over for brunch the weekend after next, I'll bring two loaves. I'm not sure that will be enough, but I have a back-up. Glenn's bringing "scads of scones," in case the banana bread gives out again.


David

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

My sciblings would scertainly look askance if I skimped on scones.


Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

We rely on you to uphold our mother's tradition of "enough too much."


David

EvaB's picture
EvaB

gotten 1 slice in two days! They just dont' stay around long enough for me to get another slice. I only eat it rarely, because of my diabetic issues, and by the time I want another slice, its gone. Same thing happens with my Xmas cakes, and those I bake by the dozens!

breadsong's picture
breadsong


Reinhart's amalgamation of science, art, craft and philosophy, all expressed in beautiful and lucid prose, captured me.




David, it seems you have the gift of prose, too.

em120392 has been baking and blogging about BBA breads; I've gone back to the book as a result of reading her posts, and enjoyed Mr. Reinhart's writing very much. I must search out Crust and Crumb.

Thanks, from breadsong (and your banana bread looks wonderful)

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Nice reflections, David.  BBA was my first baking book.  Reinart's writing (both the substance and the style) make it the only baking book I've read cover to cover.  I grabbed C&C the first time I saw a used copy, but I've only the tried its San Francisco Sourdough formula so far.


Professor Reinhart's books make it clear he's a really nice guy, as well as an exceptional teacher.  Seems like someone I'd enjoy having a meal with.  Hmmm, kinda like you.


Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I think you would enjoy reading the first and last chapters, at least.


His scone, biscuit and muffin recipes are hard for me to resist trying, but I'm holding up, so far. 


BTW, I had much the same thought about dining with PR. I bet it would be fun.


David

bnom's picture
bnom

David, your post on C&C's banana bread prompted me to pull the book off my shelf. I've had this book for years - in fact, I noticed it's a first printing - but it has never been a go-to book for me.  The sweet breads look great, but frankly I've never found the photos of Reinhart's baguettes, sourdoughs, and ciabattas very inspiring (the crumb seems relatively tight, the scoring's not great) and I don't recall every actually following one of his formulas. (For inspiration, I look at the photos you, Eric, TxFarmer, DonD, and others on this forum post!).


Anyway, I'm not writing this to throw a negative clang into the works. I'll have to to give Crust & Crumb a closer look.


-----------


Updated post. Last night I made a stab at the banana bread recipe. I say "stab" because I couldn't bring myself to use a full cup of butter, 2.5 cups of sugar, and 4 eggs. I didn't want something that rich. I used about 1 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup butter, and 3 eggs. Instead of walnuts I added pecans and some chopped fresh pineapple. It was moist, delicious, and plenty sweet.  I think this was the best quickbread I've ever made - the pineapple adds a lovely bright note.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

One of the things I like about C&C is that Reinhart's formulas in that book pull no punches. The banana bread is kind of over the top with enrichments, but it's just the best. I'm sure it's still delicious with some of the sugar and fat cut back.


BTW, I've always used canola oil rather than butter in it, and I think less sugar wouldn't detract from it. I bet it was wonderful with pecans and pineapple.


I'd encourage you to try the sourdough bread.


David

bnom's picture
bnom

I did try the SF sourdough today. I increased the hydration but otherwise followed it to a T.  A pretty loaf but with a denser crumb than I generally make -even with the increased hydration.  But I was surprised by the flavor (or lack thereof). I would have thought with a stiff starter accounting for 92.5% of the dough, it would have had a pronounced tang but it was pretty bland (more salt would have helped too).


I usually make SDs with liquid levain are stiff starters generally milder?


Here's some photos:


Reinhart's SF SD


SF SD Crumb

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You bread looks great. The crumb is pretty typical of what I get with this formula.


I am surprised you found the flavor bland. It's usually pretty sour. Hmmm ... I always use 10-20% whole grain (wheat or rye) flour in this bread. Did you?


David

bnom's picture
bnom

I always add some rye, wheat or both but I didn't here because I wanted to follow the formula.  It would be better with some additional grain and salt. I still don't get why it wasn't more sour, though I confess I didn't taste the final SD build (but my base has a fully develop sour tang). 


I'll play with this some more -- it was an incredibly easy bread to work with and, with a little more flavor, would be really good sandwich bread.  

Thanks for urging me on!

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Thank you, David, for posting your revisit of C & C.  I have a good collection of bread books and have checked more out of the library (including Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice) but had never seen Crust and Crumb.  So I checked it out of the library and then decided I had to have one.  Reinhart is truly a teacher at heart, and this is the book that covers all the basics and more, sourdough, sweet dough, quick breads--it's all there.  I'm initiating a bread club here in Santa Rosa soon, and this book will be an invaluable resource.


Joyful

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm happy you found my review helpful. It's a great read as well as having some wonderful formulas.


Good luck with your bread club!


David

AnnaInMD's picture
AnnaInMD

be part of such a wonderful family with so many varied talents. What a treat it must be to have these get-togethers.  The breads and goodies look awsome, I have bookmarked them for future inspiration !


Anna

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Though I have all the other Reinhart books, I never thought of buying the C & C because I thought it was kind of dated.


I'm just re-arranging my overcrowded bookshelves, the floor is full with piles of books, some are in the stairwell to be given to charity, some to be dumped, and some I sold at Amazon.


Maybe this is a sign from above that there's space for just one more book....?


Karin

joyfulbaker's picture
joyfulbaker

Thank you, David.  We're meeting for the first time tomorrow morning.  Looking forward to tastings and recipes and plans for future get-togethers.  I'm hoping we can visit some bakeries and also go to Central Milling in Petaluma if the group is interested. 


Joyful