The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread Book suggestions

eddieh70301's picture
eddieh70301

Bread Book suggestions

I'm new to the whole dough (bread & pizza) thing and I've been reading alot of informaion on the web. There's so much info out there that I'm beginning to get confused with various ways to make a certain bread. Right now, I'm making ciabatta and have looked at different recipes and they all do things differently. From techniques to ingredients, every author seems to do it a little differently.

I'm looking for a bread book that would contain some recipes but more importantly detailed information on techniques, such as mixing, folding, stretching, etc that would help a newbie get started in the right direction.

For those who have a favorite book, I would appreciate if the members could recommend a book and provide a little info as to why they prefer that book over the next.

I do have Artisan Bread in Five, the Fresh Loaf pocket book and Peter Reinhart's American Pie. They are good books but I'm looking for something more detailed.

All responses are appreciated.

johnstoeckel's picture
johnstoeckel

I started with the Fresh Loaf Lessons (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/lessons).    The first book I purchased, and one I still use quite often and would recommend, is Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice".   BBA is about 1/3 instructional material on ingredients, technqiues, and such.  The remainder of the book is recipes that cover a wide range of bread types and techniques.   The recipe instructions are very detailed (usually several pages long) and there are lots of photographs.   

I think one thing you will find is that there is no single approach.  So when you read different books, you'll find different techniques designed to achieve the same result.   Part of the fun is experimenting with various kneading and non-knead techniques, steam methods, etc. 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

You could go with a book that is available to the general public but seems geared more for professional bakers, such as Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread.

Or, you could go with a baking textbook that explicitly aims at teaching the why's and how's of baking, such as Dan DiMuzio's Baking Bread.

Each has a somewhat different slant but both provide much of the information that you are looking for.

Paul

eddieh70301's picture
eddieh70301

Thanks for the responses. I've checked all three books out on Amazon. I think I may order BBA today and maybe DiMuzio's book. I've heard that Hamelman's book is more geared towards professionals. I also looked at Tartine by Chad Robertson. Some of the reviews say they have had trouble with his sourdough starter.

I actually have a 30 day old starter that I feed once a week and is in the fridge. I've used it a couple of times and it seems to produce a good product but it's not quite tangy enough for me.  Maybe it's still a bit young.

johnstoeckel's picture
johnstoeckel

With regard to a more tangy sourdough starter, see 

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/1040/lesson-squeeze-more-sour-your-sourdough%20/o%20Lesson:%20Squeeze%20more%20sour%20from%20your%20sourdough 

Also keep in mind, that the flavor of a starter generally improves over time.   So your starter may have more taste as it matures. 

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

I'm really enjoying Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish. I like that he teaches you about the basics, then takes a lean dough and has you learn how bake make it as a polish, straight dough and sourdough bread with all the variations in methods but no fancy ingredients so that you can learn what tiny differences in each part of the equation can do. This allows a basic understanding of the process. He also helps you to learn to develop your own recipes.

if you're interested in whole grains, I have a few other recipe books but this is a good, basic learning book. Hamelman's book is also very good and I'm reading it for a third time right now. It's a bit more advanced in some ways, more of a school text book in others. It also has a ton of recipes, more than I'll ever have a chance to get through.

Jessica Weissman's picture
Jessica Weissman

I've been buying and using bread books for a decade now.  Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast is my new favorite.  

For general purposes and the least amount of fussiness while giving good clear directions and baking theory is the Hamelman book.  I've never had a failure with his recipes and he keeps the effort proportionate to the result.  I also use Maggie Glezer's A Blessing of Bread for Jewish breads from around the world, Anissa Helou's Sasvory Baking from the Mediterranean, and BBA.

Books that are wonderful and useful but predate the artisanal bread movement include Bernard Clayton's Book of Bread, Martha Rose Schulman's Great Bread, and Beatrice Ojakangas' book on Scandinavian baking.  I also like her book of whole grain breads when I need something off the beaten path and relatively easy to make.

eddieh70301's picture
eddieh70301

I bought BBA yesterday. I started skimming through the book and it seems pretty good. When I make dough, I always use grams. Thought that was the norm with bakers. In BBA, he uses cups and ounces. Guess it's not a big deal once I learn how to convert the ounces to grams.

I'll also check out Forkish's book. I saw it on Amazon and actually added it to my wish list so I may pick that one up next week. Does that book list the ingredients in grams or does he use ounces and cups as Reinhart does?

Jessica Weissman's picture
Jessica Weissman

Forkish gives grams and volume measurements.  It is easy to convert from ounces to grams: 30 grams per ounce.

My pet peeve is measurements like 7 grams.  My scale purports to measure in single grams, but I wouldn't want to vouch for its precision at that level.  So I use the volume measurements for small amounts of yeast, salt, sugar, etc.

-  Jessica

D. Commerce's picture
D. Commerce

I would like to know if anyone has used or reviewed the book "Bread Science" by Emily Jane Buehler. Any insight about this book? I saw it referenced elsewhere as a good blend of science with everyday explanations and instructions (but few or no formulas/recipes). I think it is self-published.

bigwave's picture
bigwave

Here's another vote for "Flour Water Salt Yeast"...   my current favorite bread book (and pizza book) by far....

-David

eddieh70301's picture
eddieh70301

Ordered it today from Amazon.

Made Reinhart's Ciabatta and did not really care for it. It was way too dense for me. Did not have the flavor I was expecting.Made the preferment Sunday and baked three loaves yesterday. Definitely need to work on my shaping abilities.

Anyway, I think part of the problem is I did not add enough water to the dough. I believe I was about 50-75 grams short as my calculations were messed up.  The color was good but working with a home oven leaves alot to be desired.

I also have AB in 5 and made Ciabatta with the master recipe. The dough fermented in the fridge for three-four days (can't remember) adn the flavor was much better. This one was also a bit dense for my liking but I contribute that to user error. Kind of intrigued by Bertinot's slap and fold technique and I can see how that may help with the light and airy crumb I am after. Might give that a try on my next attempt.

Greg D's picture
Greg D

I hope you post your experiences and thoughts re: the Ken Forkish book and formulas.  I live in the Portland OR area and have enjoyed Ken's Artisan Breads and Ken's Artisan Pizza (except for the 90 minute wait for the pizza - Grrrrr) but after owning the Forkish book for about a month and trying many of his formulas, I think I still prefer Reinhart's approach, EXCEPT that I am getting very good results using dutch ovens instead of the Reinhart baking tile + water pan system.

I was particularly put off by Forkish's recommendation that I use and then discard about  a pound of flour per day while building a wild yeast starter.  Must be my Scottish ancestors calling to me, but throwing away that much flour/starter seems like a horrible waste.

Happy Baking!

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

Forkish has a number of videos on youtube demonstrating techniques mentioned in his book. They're helpful, if just basically recapping the book. Just search for "kensartisan" or "Ken's Artisan" on youtube and you'll find them.

I agree his methods waste way too much for a home baker. It's terrible, and I can't imagine why he did it that way. The book is aimed at the home baker but the methods are sized extremely poorly. I've adapted them to fit my style and amounts. No way could I do what he suggests -- creating 1000g of starter and throwing away well over half of that. C'mon, Ken. That's inane. 

Nevertheless, I've baked a number of his formulas (BTW, I don't use the Dutch oven method) and like them. Especially the Field Breads.

jaywillie

eddieh70301's picture
eddieh70301

Jaywillie and Greg, had I known that about Forkish's book, I probably would not have ordered it. I bake mainly on the weekends and usually two or three loaves, which a typical recipe makes is really too much. And I agree that making 1000g of starter and throwing away half is insane. To be honest, not real sure why alot of these books seem to be based on a commercial setting vs a home environment. My wife says bread is too fattening so she limit's her intake. Then I'm left with 1-2 loaves of bread. Luckily I work with a bunch of scavangers (i mean that in a nice way) and my sisters never turn down bread so I have an outlet to unload the product without it going bad.

My shaping/forming skills suck, to put it mildly, so I've been trying to do a little baking every weekend. I know with practice, I will get better at it.

I've been baking pizza for about a year now and my pizza shaping skills are still not that great but they are getting better. I'm kinda interested in trying Forkish's pizza recipe as I find that pizza dough has more flavor than the bread I've been making. Living in South Louisiana, can't really get good flour other than GM and sometimes Wally World has KAAP but no bread flour.

Next bread step is some form of sourdough or a long fridge ferment. Haven't decided which way to go yet. And baking in a home oven that max's out at 550 doesn't help with pizza. If I can only talk the wife into a WFO.

Eddie

 

 

 

jaywillie's picture
jaywillie

I've found I can adapt Forkish's formulas using my own starter, and just getting it up to the weight he specifies. That leaves me with no waste whatsoever. If you don't have a starter, just search TFL and you'll find lots of threads about getting going with sourdough. Search for the pineapple method; that one worked great for me and my two starters (one rye, one white) have been going along for quite a while now.

 

Greg D's picture
Greg D

Eddie

Don't give up on the dream of an outdoor pizza / bread oven.  I built mine from this plan and it has worked for a few years now (with some seasonal patching due to the 300 days (+/-) of rain in my area).  I think I spent $80.00 for materials with the exception of the base, which can be as fancy or simple as you like.

http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/better-homes-gardens/diy/articles/a/-/5824770/pattern-sheet-wood-fired-oven/

Happy Baking!

Greg

eddieh70301's picture
eddieh70301

Thanks for the link Greg. That might be doable.

300 +/- days of rain a year? Wow, that's alot. That does not leave many days to bake outside.We don't get near that much rain, but have to deal with the hurricanes.

Eddie

linder's picture
linder

That wood fired oven looks great - now have to convince the hubby to build one once we move up North(Orcas Island, Washington).  I would love to have one big enough for a bunch of bread loaves.

Linda

pjkobulnicky's picture
pjkobulnicky

Three books:

The book that got me off and running was Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking Across America. In it she details the recipes and methods of a number of the most famous bread bakers/bakeries in the US. And, she incorporates a number of different techniques. I baked from it for the first several years of my artisinal baking journey. It is very motivating but somewhat less so instructional. If you follow the easy/medium/hard recommendations, you can learn and grow.

I have and love FWSY and most of my baking these days is the 1000gm flour,  dutch oven type recipes but if you stick to Forkish you only get that basic technique.  For all around instruction, Hammelman is a good choice but I find it technical rather than motivating.

bigwave's picture
bigwave

That is what I do as well. I use Forkish' recipes and techniques but not his starter. I use my own starter, at more or less the same hydration as he calls for, and just substitute. I read his section on maintaining a starter and found it puzzling at best, like many here. Other than that I really like it -- I've made some great loaves (and baguettes using his dough and getting steam via a cast iron skillet) and the best pizzas I've ever made.

 

eddieh70301's picture
eddieh70301

I have my own starter so I probably would not be using his. I'm more interested in his techniques, etc vs his recipes. That's not saying I would not try any.

This whole bread/pizza making thing is addicting. I sometimes feel like I need to be in rehab.

Eddie