The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Advanced Bread and Pastry - Received

colinwhipple's picture

Advanced Bread and Pastry - Received

"Advanced Bread and Pastry, A Professional Approach" by Michael Suas 

 I received the book this week.

They are not kidding about the word "Advanced".  If you want to use this book you very much need to have some baking background (probably more than i have), and you must read the sections on techniques before doing any of the recipes.

I haven't read enough to comment extensively, but I will give a couple of examples:

There is a recipe for San Francisco Sourdough Bread on Page 201.  The mixing instruction say "Improved mix (medium consistency)".  That's it except for giving the DDT of 75-78 F (I think that DDT  means Desired Dough Temperature).  I assume that Improved Mix is defined somewhere in the techniques sections.

The same recipe has a Levain Formula that calls for "Starter (stiff)".  I have looked through the book and through the indexes (there is a Glossary, a Formula Index and a Subject Index) in the back, I can't find where Stiff Starter is defined.  I am thinking it means 50% hydration.

The book has lots in it.  It is over 1000 pages.

Part One has a chapter is on the history of bread and a small section on bread baking today.  The second chapter is on food safety and sanitation in the bakery.

 Part Two has 5 chapters on bread baking techniques and a chapter on formulas (recipes).

Part Three is about Viennoiserie.

Part Four, is over half of the book and covers pastries, with 13 different chapters. 

There are appendices on Conversions, Bakers Percentages, and Temperature Conversion.

It is a very serious book, written for the serious baker.


GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture

Please keep us posted as you venture on your journey through this treat.  I'm seriously interested in learning via your adventures.

colinwhipple's picture

This book is beyond my level.  I am going to keep at it, but I don't know how much I will be posting.


suave's picture

The only place I've really seen the tem "improved method" is the "Taste of Bread".  There it means mixing with autolyse.

colinwhipple's picture

San Francisco SourdoughSan Francisco SourdoughSan Francisco Sourdough

ehanner's picture


It sounds like you have been fair in your evaluation. The needs of even quality bakers are different when you get to doing production unfortunately. Your SF Sourdough looks good.

I would like to see the formula if you don't mind. There are many variations of that recipe by as many bakeries. In the end I suspect that time and temperature are the important differences and of course selecting the right flour.


colinwhipple's picture

The pictures in the preceding post are the crust and crumb from the San Francisco Sourdough recipe in the Advanced Bread book.  I must have guessed right about the Stiff Starter because it worked pretty well.  I started it Friday night and finished it (after an overnight retardation) Sunday morning.


suave's picture

"Is it really good?"

colinwhipple's picture

but I have been so busy today, including eating out both lunch and dinner, that I only had time to eat a small portion.

The recipe called for the final proofing to be for 12-16 hours at 48 degrees. That temperature is not one of my choices, so i left it in the refrigerator overnight, and then pulled it out to room temperature 3 hours before baking.


colinwhipple's picture

and it was good.  It did not have the strong sourdough flavor I was looking for, but it is very good bread.  I don't know if that was because the proofing temperature of 48 degrees was something I could not provide, or some other reason.

The author of this book was not writing for home bakers.  His target audience is professional bakers and baking schools.  He is quite clear about that at the beginning of the book.


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Colin. 

Those breads look delicious, both crust and crumb! 

I'd ask for the recipe, but my copy of the book should arrive early next week. 


hansjoakim's picture

Has someone else read the Advanced Bread and Pastry book by Michel Suas? If yes, what do you think about it?

I'd be most interested in the "Bread" section of the book, and I'm currently wondering if I need another one of these books, as I already have a well-worn copy of Hamelman's "Bread". Could you give me an idea on how these two books compare when it comes to breadbaking?

Thanks in advance :)

Hans Joakim. 

dougal's picture

Its a textbook, with everything that implies.

I haven't read it all. Really, one couldn't.


And its a textbook for commercial, rather than 'artisanal', baking students. Additives feature prominently. "Product quality" appears to me to be used more in the sense that a supermarket would use it rather than the way a three star Michelin chef would use it.

And its written exclusively for a US readership.

I think its aspirations are very different to my own.

I keep wanting to ask 'why?' instead of shutting up and learning to replicate (tempting to say regurgitate) the material. One example: WHY does the "improperly scored" baguette have seven slashes and the "correctly scored" one have five? (As photographed) I know the main point being illustrated is the correctness of non-vertical cutting, but WHY confuse the issue? Especially when other authors (Bertinet for one) insist that seven (no more, no less) slashes are required by French law if the name "baguette" is to be used. Its just a bizarrely unnecessary and unexplained complication. Which I thought was the sort of thing best avoided in textbooks.

There are 'first edition' screwups. A chocolatier pointed out that the fundamentally important chocolate tempering temperature graph, actually gives different temperatures in the descriptive text, the table and the graph itself! (And also some of the Fahrenheit temperatures have the wrong Centigrade conversion given.)

And the publisher's editor hasn't helped either. There's a contorted explanation of using a "ppm blend" to measure additive addition. Its rendered almost incomprehensible by the editor's decision to translate the illustrative quantities into Imperial units. It might have helped if the editor had noticed that it wasn't mentioned that ppm means Parts Per Million. And that its a proportion, not a "concept". Still, go ahead and mix 0.4 oz of Vitamin C with 34.7 oz of flour and add 0.1% of the total flour weight of this "ppm blend" to get 10ppm Vitamin C into your flour. Its not actually wrong, but its a bad explanation made worse by not leaving the quantities as 10g and 990g so that we can see that all we are doing is diluting the additive 100x, then using the dilute additive one part to a thousand of our flour, so as to get 10 parts additive to a million of flour.

IMHO its easier to dissolve Vitamin C in a measured amount of water, then measure the addition of that solution to control the quantity added. 1 standard tablet with 500mg Vitamin C in 500g of water. For each 1mg of Vitamin required in the dough, use 1g of solution. Simple? Too simple for this book.


The book looks very impressive indeed. But in those places I've scratched beneath the surface, I've been disappointed. It even needs a much larger index.

I'm not sure its actually as authoritative as it should be. Lots and lots of stuff is covered. But the bread section is only 300 pages out of the 1000. Where there is detail, its not always useful or interesting detail. Sometimes it just seems like examination-answer bulletpoint detail.


Trans fats get a passing mention in the early chapter on regulation, but when the benefits of 'partially hydrogenated liquid shortenings' to cakemakers are being explained, there's no linkage with that different topic of "trans fats" and zero concern expressed about their usage, instead here's 'how-to'... Its strange and uncomfortable.

It does seem as though the different chapters were written independently, without linking in and cross-referencing. One reason a fuller index would help.


Its quite possible that there was some brilliant source material, but that its now buried by the broad scope of the book and the editing concentrating on hammering it into standard textbook format rather than helping to elucidate the wisdom within.

The editing certainly seems to have removed any passion that might have been there.


This book is nothing like Hamelman's. IMHO, the breadmaking is actually less advanced. Unless your interest lies in "improving" quality with additives.

SteveB's picture

It's the best bread book in my collection... and I've read it cover to cover. 


kanin's picture

It's not necessarily my best bread book but it definitely ranks high. The bread formulas I've tried produce excellent bread once you get used to the book format.