The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

News Alert: An easy bread book - for a change

CountryBoy's picture

News Alert: An easy bread book - for a change


I have the 6 major bread books that everyone usually references here.  I read and re-read and learn continually.  This forum is an excellent addition to that.

However, there is always the possibility that someone does not want to do Artisan bread; does not want to learn the complexity of it all.  But rather just wants to make a simple loaf of bread and not get sucked into the vortex of the rocket science of it all.

Well here is the book-Great Natural Breads Made Easy by Bernice Hunt. It is simple; to the point; and the major additional benefit is you can get on with your life.

The longer I bake bread the more impressed I am by "no fuss" bread baking.  And just think of it, Joy of Cooking doesn't use scales for its breads. Surely, that must tell us something....








JIP's picture

One of a zillion truly mediocre bread baking books out there.

gavinc's picture

In my experience, I've had many average loaves over the years. It wasn't until I observed attention to detail in the complexities that I produced great tasting bread with good crumb and consistent results. I don't get into the molecular level like some folk, but I do try and understand the principles of how certain processes give the results desired, and why baker's percentage is definitely the way to go.

I still roll out some of my old recipes when in a hurry (those that you can turn our in under an hour or two), but I am not usually satisfied with the results now that I know what is possible.



Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

CountryBoy was heard to mumble...

The longer I bake bread the more impressed I am by "no fuss" bread baking.  And just think of it, Joy of Cooking doesn't use scales for its breads. Surely, that must tell us something....


I started with the Joy of Cooking.  And I REALLY like the cookbook.  At least the older printings.  And I have to say that the book is a great way to learn a bit about many cuisines.


But not a good way to become expert in any of them.


I became a much better baker when I moved beyond the Joy of Cooking.  And got scales.





Pablo's picture

Ditto.  Scales changed my life.

For general cooking I refer to the Joy of Cooking to get started often and then take off from there.  It's the one cookbook in my kitchen that I really use frequently.  I love the optional (and cheap) binding that is a large white plastic spine so the books lays flat when open.  That way it just gets splatters and not actual gooey fingerprints.


PaddyL's picture

I think it's just called Great Bread, but I've made many of her recipes as it was one of the first bread books I owned.  There's a lot to be said about the 'simpler' bread books; they get you started, the bread recipes are terrific and very unfussy, and the bread you make is extremely good.  I've also got Rose's Bread Bible and Silverton's La Brea bread book, but I seldom if ever use them.  I've tried dozens and dozens of recipes, artisinal and "plain", and at the moment, the bread I'm making is either the buttermilk sourdough (once a week) or whole wheat Double Crusty, the latter from a book that can't be had anywhere.  Occasionally, when time allows, I'll haul out my other sourdough starter and make something different like baguettes or ficelles, and I've added to my repertoire with bread sticks and naan and lavash.  I sometimes wish I had the time and energy, not to mention the ingredients, for other breads, but it just isn't there any more.  I love Bernice Hunt's potato bread!

PaddyL's picture

For bread, I don't even measure any of the ingredients, and only use the scales when I'm following an Irish or British recipe for cakes.

Eli's picture

or we don't change. I cannot imagine baking without a scale for a consistent result. Thanks to all for suggesting one. The basics are great but it is nice to be able to create something a little more complex.


CountryBoy's picture

Kath, I think that it is a matter of different strokes for different folks. 

It could be interesting if someone started a thread for everyone suggesting the Simple Ways of baking bread.  In it there could be all the recipes and techniques for making bread simply.

Complexity is great. Most of the people here love complexity and the success of all the more complex books attests to that.  I have been at this for about 2 yrs. and I find that I really do enjoy simple.


berryblondeboys's picture

I am sticking with the fairly simple just so it "IS" something I do instead of buying bread. I found a really nice whole grain oatmeal bread that I can make start to finish in 3.5 hours for two loaves. We love it and it's something I can pretty much leave alone and let it take care of itself in the mixer while kneading, let it rise, shape it, let it rise and bake - LOVE the simplicity of it yet super yummy.

I want to get into other breads, but with two kids and no help around the house (DH is gone 12 hours a day and when he is home we have family time - not cleaning/cooking), commiting to artisan breads is too big a bite to chew at the moment.

But I am with you on scales. I bought one for all the European recipes of my DH's family, but found it's easier and more consistent results happen with weighing versus measuring - plus I dirty less things, so clean up is easier.


Pablo's picture

I'd like to jump in and wax philosophical a moment myself.  I'm totally with Melissa about selecting recipes and a style that works with your lifestyle.  Way better to do a simple bread that you can bake comfortably than a complex one that gets you stressed out and takes away from the rest of your life.  Bread and bread baking is for augementing our lives.

To me scales are intimately related to hydration levels.  Once I grasped the concept of hydration levels and how to achieve them, I was good to go.  It's just the right amount of science for me and gives a framework within which to go creative.

I'm quite new to this whole thing myself (6 weeks), but it's been like a duck to water.  I'm retired and have lots of time to play with this stuff.  

I'm into using local, simple ingredients.  I like the "flour, water, salt" approach.  Science provides the amounts via weighing and then it's art, or technique, that shapes the results.

Lately I've been doing fruit-fermented loaves (only 4 altogether so far - I said I was new) and loving it.  They're simple and unusual and delicious.  I live in an agricultural area, there are lots of apple, pear and peach orchards as well as cherries etc.  My fruit loaf recipe is evolving thusly:

Start with some fruit (e.g. 3 peaches given in gratitude by a hitchhiker), blend them up with some water and a few grams of honey (local) - I use an immersion wand blender.  Let it sit about for 5 days or so, until it smells nicely alcoholic and is bubbly.  Mix in flour and water and a scosh more honey and a bit of salt until you get a dough at a hydration level that you are comfortable with, do your fermentation routines (whatever combination of rising, punching down, folding, preshaping, shaping, etc. that you like), bake and be amazed!  No commercial yeast, nicely local, and awesome.

My vote for the book everyone should have: Bread Science by Emily Buehler.  Straight forward explanation of the process of making bread.  Only a couple of recipes, but lots of easy to read explanations of just exactly what is going on in the bowl.  Very friendly and calm and accessible writing style.  For instance she has a photo of nine loaves of bread illiustrating under, properly and over proofed on one axis and unscored, slightly scored and deeply scored on the other axis.  So, if you want to know what under-proofed bread looks like with deep scoring for instance - you just look at the appropriate picture.  She only sells it from her web site.  Her mom mails the books out.  It's carefully edited and obviously a work that she cared about.  No big glossy pictures, no triple-whip Parisienne dodads.  A great book for understanding what we're doing and getting a feel for the process. 


PS  I love this site!