The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur

beachbirdie's picture
beachbirdie

Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur

I borrowed this book from the library and have enjoyed it very much.  Have done a couple of recipes from it as well.  Though not for the novice, I loved it. 

I'd like to know if anyone here has used it and what you thought. 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I've owned this book for years, and the first sourdough I ever tried was Silverton's version with grapes.  Unfortunately, I found it too expensive to keep going and it had to be "put down" so to speak, but I do like her recipes and will go back to using them with my own sourdough starters.

2brownbraids's picture
2brownbraids

 

I know what you mean, Beachbirdie and PaddyL .  When I first bought the book in 1996, that's how I felt too.  I went through a lot without success.  But then, I freezed all the "discards" from those refreshings and added to other breads just to use them up. ( add extra flavour to all breads)  Later, I tried again, I was successful, her breads are wonderful.  I do stand by her and love her book.   I love her receipes.  I should say though, it is perhaps not for beginners and I agree, there is a lot of waste, but the book was published in 1996, price of flour was different then. If I had to do her starter again, I would do it in half the amounts in later feedings. I still have her starter in my fridge, I use it for just about everything.  I use RLB 's conversion table to interchange dry yeast amounts and starter quantities, sometimes there are minor adjustments, but works well for me. 

If you have her book, do not give up, give it another try. After all, all bread bakings are challanges,  When you have achieved a certain level, I think, you will welcome those new challanges ?

-2brownbraids

suave's picture
suave

I borrowed the book from the library and spent three weeks willing myself to bake something from it.  In the end I failed - it just didn't click with me.  It is certainly not on my shopping list.  The introduction is very interesting though.

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

Since deciding to back into sourdough in March, I've been going through Silverton's book quite a lot, mostly to find out as much as I can about sourdough.  I'll be trying more of her recipes, I suspect, now that I've got active starters in the fridge.

Windischgirl's picture
Windischgirl

Hi Beachbirdie:

 This is the book that got me started on sourdough.  I have to agree with PaddyL, the instructions for her sourdough are just too unwieldy for the home baker...not to mention the cost of flour, just to dump it.

I have tried a few of the recipes and enjoyed them, but again, the organization of the book makes the bread baking process intimidating.. .I have plenty of other recipes that take 2-3 days to make, but somehow the way they're written makes them seem do-able by a working person with a family.

I much prefer Dan Leader's Local Breads and Peter Reinhart's WGB.  I also have Jeff Hamelman's book because I think it's a good resource--kinda like the Joy of Cooking, only for baking.  But I took another look at it today and realized the recipes enable one to make a skid pack of breads.  I'm not quite there yet.  I guess I better learn how to do baker's percentages!

Windi 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Windi, there's an excellent tutorial on baker's percentages at Wild Yeast. She explains it all much better than anything I've come across in the bread books.

Windischgirl's picture
Windischgirl

Lindy, I so appreciate the link.  I am good at a wide range of things...unfortunately, math is not one of them.  If WY can spell it out for someone like me, I will be forever grateful!

Windi 

staff of life's picture
staff of life

I prefer my books to use regular table salt, and Nancy's doesn't.  Also, some of the salt amounts seem off: she has a honey wheat-berry sandwich loaf and there's so little salt in there it tastes saltless.  George's Seeded Sour also seems low.  It does seem that the book makes sourdough unneccesarily hard: I feed my culture twice a day, rather than three times.  She seems to think that if you can't feed it three times a day, then once is the only option.  And the idea of taking it with you to work to feed it is just a bit odd.

SOL

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

Beatrice Ojakangas uses too little salt in her breads too which tend to make them taste flat.  I do love her recipes, but I always up the salt a bit.  Another bread book I have, by Ellen Foscue Johnson, in the chapter on sourdough, says "Do not become a slave to your starter!"  I've never forgotten that, and rather than be constantly tending and feeding and throwing out bits and feeding some more, I tend to let starters do their thing.  If I miss a feed, so what?  I'm not on a clock here, any more than the starters are.  Mine now all live in the fridge, and I take them out once a week, if I remember, toss a bit out, and feed them, and if I'm not using them, they go right back into the fridge.  And as I discovered yesterday, they are very strong, very healthy, and very active.

ashier's picture
ashier

PaddyL - I'm new to baking sourdough, and my first resource was Silverton's somewhat daunting book.  I was very pleased with my first loaf, but I certainly became a 'slave to the starter' during the process (in the beginning, I did everything I could to adhere to three times a day feedings - eventually, I started feeding just once a day). 

I plan to put my starter in the fridge, since there is no way I will be doing sourdough all of the time.  And since you seem to have a good bit of experience putting your starter on lawaway, I wanted to ask: (1) does it matter when after the last feeding you refrigerate the starter (just after feeding, 8 hours after, 15 hours after???) (2) when you take the starter out of the fridge, do you feed right away, or wait for the temperature to come up? and finally (3) what sort of containers are you using to keep your starters in the fridge???

 If you ever see / respond to this post, thanks in advance for entertaining my questions!

yogajan's picture
yogajan

 

The only bread I buy is LaBrea Bakery, so when I saw her book, I was excited. I made the grape starter and it did get overwhealming, but the bread tasted great. I forgot to refresh the starter and it got moldy, so I had to throw it out. I think I will try a different and easier starter the next time. (my kitchen is being remodeled, so no baking right now).

yoga

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I'm not nearly as experienced as other people here are with sourdough starters, but I have two very active ones going, and I'm in the process of warming one up at the moment.  I take it out of the fridge, put it on top of the fridge to let it warm up, then feed it, occasionally throwing some of it away.  I keep one starter in one of those rigid plastic containers, the Ziploc or Glad, as it's on the small side; the other starter, the buttermilk one, had some dry yeast in it initially, and as it's much larger, I keep it in an empty ice cream container.  Since I use the buttermilk one once a week, there's no problems about wondering when to feed it.  I was unsure of what to do about the other starter (flour and water) and someone on another website told me that she takes hers out of the fridge, feeds it, and puts it straight back into the fridge if she's not using it.  That's what I do, and it's still active.  I hope this helps.

ashier's picture
ashier

PaddyL!  Thanks for the advice.