The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Bread Builders

buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

The Bread Builders

Anyone have this book? Comments?


I have so many bread books and not so much "dough" so I would like all my purchases to be valuable to me.


It got some negative reviews with low ratings on amazon, then there were a bunch of 5-star ratings, but all the reviewers giving five stars either had only one review, or in the few cases where they had more than one review, all their reviews were 5-star.  So it was hard for me to get a sense of how the book is. 


So if you've got this book, any advice appreciated!  :)

sphealey's picture

Fascinating book. Tons of information if you have any thought of building a brick oven or starting a bakery business. Deep explaination of the sourdough cycle (although not quite as easy to understand as the authors think) - the appendix that has the interview with the German sourdough scientist is great info. Deep thoughts on the philosophy of life and bread.

If you are thinking about building a brick oven no question: buy it. If you want some deep reading on bread and life, it is a good book. However there are others I would recommend first for a beginner or someone building their recipe library.


rideold's picture

Ditto to sphealey's comment.  I do think there is some great info on bread that is not presented elsewhere but I'd check it out of the library first if you already have a bunch of other books.  You should be able to find a used copy fairly easily.  Abe books has some for under $30.   I do like the way he presents his routine of baking but that is a pretty small part of the book.  His info and history on bread/flour is similar to what many others have presented.   

As a side note...I just received Leader's new book for Christmas and am very happy with it.  I like how he presents his information and the tables for the ingredients are easy to use. I really like the sections he breaks his bread up into. 

Now that I own both I'd describe Leader's as a bread book and the bread builders as more of an oven book.

TRK's picture

If I had to toss all but 5 of my cookbooks, I would include this book. It is not a recipe book, but the information on sourdough is far and away the most useful and in-depth of any book I have read. The brick oven stuff is inspiring and I have dreams of actually needing to know where I need fire brick and where regular red brick will suffice. The most inspirational part for me was the descriptions of small (2-5 person bread businesses). The most interesting was the Q&A with a sourdough microbiologist in the back. It is an amazing advanced reference for building a brick oven and natural leavens. It is not a book of recipes. I would agree that getting it from a library or spending an afternoon in one of those chain bookstores with a coffee shop and giving it a good read would be a good idea before purchasing it.


edit:  Amazon has it in paperback for $23. 

cnlindon's picture

Very good book. Makes me dream of a nice woodfired oven in the back yard...



buns of steel's picture
buns of steel

Thanks so much for your helpful replies!  I think I should get it now!  Sold! 


Even though it's not in the cards in the near future, I too have fantasies of eventually having a wood fired oven, and the hubby has said we'll build one some time. :)  I was wondering if the book had other interesting info on natural yeasts and sourdoughs, so sounds like there's some info there I may not have picked up from other books.


TRK, now I'm curious what 5 you would keep!


TRK's picture

Now that is a hard question.  Off the top of my head:  Bread Builders, Bread Baker's Apprentice, Cook's Illustrated's New Best Recipe, Essentials of Asian Cuisine by Corinne Trang, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.


I think. 

rideold's picture

I too have dreams of building a masonry oven but after reading Kiko Denzer's book "Build Your Own Earth Oven" I'm going to build a cob oven.  Simpler, cheaper, greener and I can do it now (well, maybe not now in the middle of winter).  As an aside his book as some good basic sourdough info as well.  Maybe I'll build a masonry one in the future but I figure I'll learn plenty with the cob oven and if I need a biger one I can just build a second!

jeanldw's picture

I'm thinking about a cob oven as well.  If you're interested, take a look at what these women are doing!

I'm going to try and find Denzer's book in the Library and maybe The Bread Builders too. I've had bread from a very elaborate forno in an acquaintance's backyard, but the costs of building something similar would be huge.  I'm looking for something simpler and lately the idea of a cob oven seems more realistic.

I hope, if you do build one, that you'll share the process on this site! 

cleancarpetman's picture

Dear Buns,

     I spent four years working in a chain pizza parlor where we made our own dough and rolled it out with a dough sheeter daily.  I baked bread at home for 20 years, even though I am no artisan.  My fire was lit many years ago with a Sunset magazine article on how to build an adobe oven.  Since then I have read Denzer, Scott/Wing, perused and and .  I recently ran across an amazing tool called a bricky tool, you can google it but I think it is just This tool gives me the confidence to attempt a brick oven since it reduces the "art of bricklaying" to assembly line precision for a novice like me.  It takes the cost of brick construction and reduces it by 80% (the labor) and leaves the 20% material costs. I plan to start my oven project in May 09.  Der Hinterhof Ofen-- translated backyard oven.