The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do I really need BBA?

expatCanuck's picture

Do I really need BBA?


To open, a confession. I have a nasty bread book habit. Really nasty.
Tho' I try to mitigate the malady by typically acquiring relatively inexpensive, gently used volumes.
And I do actually bake some of the recipes, too. ;7)

Over the past few years, I've acquired:

Hamelman's Bread,
Leader's Bread Alone,
Glezer's Artisan & Blessing volumes,
Reinhart's Brother Juniper

and the tragically out-of-print:

No Need to Knead (Dunaway) &
Village Baker (Ortiz).

So -- is BBA going to provide me with anything significant that I don't already have in my current library?

Thoughtful analysis, careless half-truths and outright lies all welcome.

- Richard

Floydm's picture

Do you need it? No.

Would you enjoy it? Probably.

caryn's picture

Yes!!!!!!  (I had to respond because I was LOL after reading your question.)

Of course, I own almost all that you have listed and then some, so I may be suffering from the same ailment.  Now I do not have P.R's Brother Juniper, but the BBA has the reputation that it is somewhat better.  Here is my suggestion- go to the library and try some of the recipes, and then decide if you need to buy it.  I do that a lot. And finding slighly used is a great idea- I have also acquired at least one of my books that way.

And put things in perspective, you could have worse habits!!!

expatCanuck's picture

Caryn -

Glad I provided some mirth -- that's often my intent.

It's probably noteworthy that used copies of BBA are currently pretty much non-existent.

Curiously, I enjoy Brother Juniper more for the 'philosophy' than the recipes.  It was around the same time I read that book that I migrated away from the machines to a simpler manual approach to bread ... I suspect that there was some cause and effect there.


 - Richard

JIP's picture

If you can afford to feed your addiction I think a god fix is in order.  Personally I think you can never have too many bread books and tis one in my opinion is particulaly good.  While I am not a HUGE fan of the reipes in the book I think the techinques presented are very good and the pictures are superb.  

expatCanuck's picture

> If you can afford to feed your addiction I think a god fix is in order. 

I do hope that you meant 'a good fix' ... 


 - Richard

browndog's picture

Oh, Richard, I thought that was simply a reference to Peter in his capacity as bread god.

expatCanuck's picture

lol ... don't get me started ...

Tho' I can see how some readers might come away with the impression that certain authors have a curiously heightened sense of self-importance.

PR was arguably more circumspect in the Brother Juniper tome.

- Richard

JIP's picture



breadnerd's picture

I mean, even if you don't *NEED* it to further your bread skills, it makes a really nice coffee table book. The first time I picked it up I said "it's bread porn!"

Though of course mine is now broken in with flour and dough stuck to some of the pages...

JIP's picture

Bread porn or useful text personally I think it is worth it either way......

Trishinomaha's picture

with so many of the people above. You don't "need" any bread book - you can get great recipes here and on the net but...that being said, as some one who loves to bake I can never have too many good bread books :-)

KipperCat's picture

I don't buy cookbooks that are just recipes, but I'll spend money on cooking books that are instructional.  Good bread books, like BBA fit that criteria.

I need to get started on my Christmas bread book wishlist! 

goetter's picture

Just finished reading BBA here.  I found it well-organized, and attractively illustrated (though not in an over-the-top food porn, dessert cookbook style).  It is primarily about yeast-leavened wheat breads, both sweet and savory: sourdoughs are relegated to a single master recipe (albeit a very well-developed, well varied one).  Its rye handling is not at the level of Hamelman or even Ortiz.

I haven't yet had a chance to bake from this book, and won't for a couple of weeks.  Upon reading it, though, my complaints are 1) weight measurements given in English instead of metric units (I prefer easier-to-scale metric measures) and 2) a funky baker's-percentage scheme that lists preferments separately from flour and water (which makes it difficult for me to divine a particular dough's hydration).  Both shortcomings are easily remediable with a pencil and a moment of attention up front before diving into the recipe.

The Big New Thing about BBA that appears in none of your (or my) other books is Reinhart's recipe for Gousselin's /pain a l'ancienne/, which promises a completely new fermentation protocol for direct-method yeasted white bread.  This could be significant.  I'm looking forward to trying it.