The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"Intermediate" book using natural leavens?

intewig's picture

"Intermediate" book using natural leavens?

Hi all,

I've spent several days going through the reviews and articles on this site and have shortlisted a few books. 

I've been a home baker for 3-4 years now, starting out with the bread machine, moving to kneading and shaping by hand, and recently moving on to natural leavens. I recently made my first sourdough in hot and humid Singapore. It was delicious, and I don't think I'm going back to commercial yeast!

Never read a single bread book (learned everything from here and Youtube), but I want to know more about the culinary science of breadmaking. I have a preference for European style breads using natural leavens.

With that in mind, I shortlisted Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf, Bertinet's Crust and Daniel Leader's Local Breads. Also considering Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice and Artisan Breads, but from what I read he uses more instant yeast in his recipes.

Did I miss out anything? Am I wrong on Reinhart? Would love to hear if you have any recommendations.

Many thanks!!

Ford's picture

I would recommend Mike Avery's "An introduction to Sourdough Baking" available on line at:

Plenty of free information about sourdough (natural leaven) on Mike Avery's web site.


cerevisiae's picture

I can't speak to Lepard's or Bertinet's books since I haven't read them, but I think Reinhart is a pretty good beginner-intermediate writer. He does use commercial yeast in most, if not all, of his breads, which I'm okay with. I think his Whole Grain Breads book has slightly more information on bread science and makes for a good read if you really don't know much about that aspect of bread.

Leader's book uses a lot of instant yeast as well, but I think there are some sourdough recipes. It's a book that I have, but haven't used much. I don't feel like I learned a lot about the science of bread, and there seem to be a lot of errors. There's an official errata page for it, but it doesn't cover everything. If you do get this, I recommend looking up info on a recipe before making it to be sure it's correct.

baybakin's picture

Leader's book is a great reference, but not exactly a beginner's book. I really enjoy the book however, it's travel-log like format makes it a great read.  Unlike other books where I use the formulas exactly as-is, Local breads acts more like a inspiration for me, where I use some of the formula precentages and craft my own recipe roughly based on a combonation of his writing and the written recipe.

lepainSamidien's picture

Emily Buehler's "Bread Science" is a little bit advanced---lots of technical science behind bread-baking---but it makes for a pretty compelling introduction into many of the whys and wherefores of bread making.

I've also really enjoyed the French Culinary Institute's "Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking." A lot of the recipes are designed for somewhere between commercial and home production, but they can be quite easily scaled down. 

intewig's picture

These are great recommendations, I hadn't heard of Buehler's or the French Culinary Institute's books previously. Checking them out now!

davidg618's picture

Depending on how deep you want to explore the science of bread-making the WWW is awash with scholarly food science research manuscripts in general, and bread-making science in particular. Many of them are difficult reading, and some require a fee paid to get past the abstract to the writing itself. Nevertheless, if your passionately curious there are many reasonably readable and free manuscripts on the web worth digging for. Over the past four years I've found a number of gems that have satisfied my curiosity, and helped me improve my baking also.

One tip: If your searching for research results include ".edu" in your search tags.

Here's a couple of examples, one found nearly four years ago, the latter found only last week.

Years ago I set early Sunday morning (6 to 8 AM) aside for my alone time to do the NY Times Sunday crossword. I've continued doing so long into my retirement years. Now I use the time to surf the web, of late for bread-baking information.

David G