Artisan Breads at Home Hardcover – Dec 23 2009
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From the Inside Flap
There are few joys in life as simple yet profound as taking that first bite from a lovingly baked loaf of bread, the crust crackling between your teeth. Maybe you've dreamed of baking a boule, a baguette, or a brioche yourself, but assumed it would be too difficult. Well, fear not. You do not need to be a baking expert to make fine artisan breads at home. All it takes is the knowledge of ingredients, equipment, and techniques found inside this book.
Backed by The Culinary Institute of America's expertise, Certified Master Baker Eric Kastel takes you by the hand and gently guides you through the mysteries of bread baking. Beginning with a thorough discussion of ingredients and equipment, Chef Kastel explains everything from how to shop for flour to how to use a shower cap during the dough's rise. From there, he outlines the twelve steps of bread baking, describing each one in detail. With these steps in mind, you'll be set to mix, shape, and bake anything from ciabatta to rye bread, challah to pizza dough. And once you've mastered these basic breads and are inspired to try something more complex, Chef Kastel will demonstrate advanced techniques such as how to build a sourdough starter from scratch, which you can then use to create more than a dozen varieties of sourdough.
Packed with tips, troubleshooting advice, and step-by-step photographs, the chapters include:
Basic breads and rolls: Using little more than flour, water, yeast, and salt, you can bake Kaiser Rolls, Rustic Rye Bread, Whole Wheat Bread, and the most deliciously simple White Bread you'll ever taste.
Enriched breads and rolls: Made with butter, eggs, sugar, or other additions for a softer crust and a more tender crumb, these recipes include Ham & Provolone Rolls, Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread, Cottage Dill Buns, and even several coffee cakes.
Flatbreads: Lightly leavened with yeast, puffed up with steam, or rolled as thin as parchment, these old-world favorites include Lavash, Paratha, Grissini Breadsticks, Pita, and Tortillas.
Advanced artisanal breads: Learn to make and use starters like pâte fermentée, sponge, biga, poolish, and sours to bake Peasant Bread, Apple Cinnamon Epi, Fougasse, Bagels, and more than a dozen varieties of sourdough.
Advanced enriched breads: These rich, complex breads include Panettone, Focaccia, Hot Cross Buns, Gugelhopf, and a spectacular six-braid Challah.
Whether you're a beginner or already an accomplished baker, Artisan Breads at Home with The Culinary Institute of America provides everything you need to bake a perfect loaf of artisan bread.
From the Back Cover
The ultimate guide to baking exquisite loaves, rolls, and flatbreads at home
"Most home bakers don't have a fancy brick oven, and many people stiffen up at the mere mention of the word 'yeast.' The words 'sourdough starter' can make the blood run cold. Maybe you are one of those people thinking, 'Who, me? I can't control yeast. And besides, who has time for that?' . . . Or maybe you used to bake bread and want to get back into it again and, say, try your hand at that elusive sourdough. You can do it! Have a good time. The last thing baking bread should be is stressful or onerous. There are too many things in life that are not fun, and bread baking should not be one of them. Let the process of baking and breaking bread add enjoyment to your life."
—Eric W. Kastel
Inside This Book(Learn More)
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Top Customer Reviews
For example, the water in the plain white bread is measured as 19.6 oz, 556 g, or 1 cup 2.5 tbps. That's totally wrong, it should be just over 2 cups. (1 cup is 250 ml which is always 250 g). The other measurements for the other ingredients are off as well.
Some recipes have the correct volume measurements but enough are wrong that I would have to warn away anyone who uses volume based measurements.
The first chapter covers the basics of equipment, ingredients and basic bread making. You'll learn why we knead, what is a good or bad dough, how fermentation works, etc. Then, you're ready to go on to basic lean dough, for breads and rolls. You then have basic enriched dough for breads and rolls, which involves slightly more ingredients. This part involves soft rolls made of heaven. This was an absolute hit when I served them at Christmas. It also covers the classic sticky buns and raisin and cinnamon bread. But fear not, all the recipes are not sweet. Ham and provolone loaves or even herb, pepper and cheese buns also await in those pages.
Next, basic flatbreads. There is an amazing recipe for pizza dough in there, which is the first recipe I tried out in this book. It came out fantastic, and I had only ever made bread once before. It also shows you the secret behind naan and grissini ! Then, on to advanced breads and their preferment. There are a lot of breads I didn't know existed in this section, like bialys, but oh my do they look tempting.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Whether you are just beginning to explore the craft of bread baking or, like me, have been baking bread for more than forty years, you will find a lot to like in the pages of Artisan Breads at Home. Nearly identical in size to Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, Eric Kastel's new book is much lighter on theory and offers a wider selection of recipes. Wherever you happen to be in the world, this will be a book that you can easily put into immediate use. All recipe measurements are given in grams, ounces, US volumetric (measuring cups) and baker's percentages. (See my update!)
Kastel teaches at the Culinary Institute of America and that comes shining through in the pages of Artisan Bread. You'll find lots of explanatory notes, helpful pictures and an invaluable section in the back that illustrates a number of braids and knots useful for specialty breads like Kaiser Rolls and Challah. If you're looking for a gift for a beginning bread baker, you would not go wrong with Artisan Breads at Home - and I suspect that my youngest daughter will find one on her doorstep quite soon.
So, why did I give this book 4 stars instead of 5? (Now reduced to 1 star - and it should be no stars!)
* The typeface is too small for my older eyes. While I can read most things other than the fine print on the back of bottles easily, I spent 30 minutes or so hunting for the reading glasses I use for fine sewing in order to make heads or tails of this.
* Kastel gives only a lick & a promise by way of explanation of baker's percentages. If he was not going to explain them fully, then he should have left them out entirely.
* The shaping directions for Kaiser Rolls just quits rather awkwardly in the middle, leaving us with a 14 inch piece of dough in our hands.
* Kastel's explanation of diastatic malt is directly contradictory to Peter Reinhart's and a number of others readily available online.
Nonetheless, Artisan Breads at Home is an invaluable addition to any cookbook shelf, one that will be going to work in my kitchen this very afternoon!
UPDATE: I decided to make the Sticky Buns/Cinnamon Rolls from Artisan Breads at Home for Sunday Brunch, so I started on them last night, as the dough needs to be refrigerated overnight. The first thing I noticed in working with the recipe is that the volumetric measurements - standard US "measuring cups" - are at best awkward. Instead of 1 cup of milk, the recipe calls for 3/4 cup plus 2.5 tablespoons. Of course most US measuring spoon sets have no "1/2 tablespoon" measure, requiring the cook to measure 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon. And then there are the eggs - 1/2 cup. That's nice - except that to get 1/2 cup of eggs you must beat the eggs, measure and then throw away whatever happens to be left. Even at that, the dough was extremely soft.
Now it is 6:30 in the morning and I'm getting ready to fill, shape and bake the rolls, which require 1 cup of cinnamon filling and 6 ounces of Pan Smear for Sticky Buns. In reading through the recipes I note that the Cinnamon Filling requires 1/2 cup of cinnamon (this would be an entire jar of the sort common to the average household!) - for a recipe that supposedly makes 11 to 16 rolls. Close examination reveals that the Cinnamon Filling recipe yields 32 ounces of filling - four times the amount required for the Sticky Buns or Cinnamon Rolls. The Pan Smear is no better - that makes 2 pounds for a recipe that requires only 6 ounces, so more than 5 times the amount required!
And then there is the whole question of just how many rolls this recipe makes. The author states that one can expect 11 to 16 rolls. However, he instructs us to roll the dough to 9 x 26 inches, yielding a roll 26 inches long to be cut into 3/4" pieces. I know it has been a long, long time since I took a math class, but the last time that I checked 26 divided by 0.75 was a whole lot more than 16!
All in all - some yummy ideas, but little or no thought or care has been taken to make this accessible to the average home cook. The math is wrong, the science is wrong, no consideration has been given to the equipment/quantities commonly available to the home cook and the recipes are wasteful. I find it VERY disappointing that the Culinary Institute of America would lend their name to such a poor effort - and that will definitely affect my decision to purchase the other new cookbooks they are currently releasing in a very negative way.
Definitely NOT recommended! Buy The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread instead. This one I just might return to Amazon!
Given that weight is the most accurate way to measure when baking, I tried the recipes using Kastel's weight measurements, and everything worked out beautifully. I'm not an expert, and my Day of the Dead bread came out looking EXACTLY like the photo (p304). The directions are clear and easy to follow, and I found the type to be more than adequate---even with my 67 year-old eyes.
I highly recommend this book and will be on the look-out for other "At Home" books from the CIA.
I started with the BAGUETTE WITH POOLISH - my husband is from Poland so I thought this would be a great start. As a beginner I did exactly what Kastel recommended - I read and re-read before starting. Then I followed the instructions exactly - using grams since this seemed to be the most accurate measurement. The result, not very tasty - my father-in-law (visiting from Poland) said it needed more salt. I think he was being kind - it needed more flavor over all.
But I was not to be deterred. So I made the STICKY BUNS - as the reviewer above already noted, I was super surprised on how many they made and had to find a second pan to make them in. And as the other reviewer found, the quantities were not proportional for the pan smear or the filling so I ended up with extra. The other potential pitfall is it doesn't forewarn you to make the cinnamon filling a day ahead since it needs an overnight in the refrigerator. Aside from the minor issues, these turned out fantastic! OMG, they were great.
With a renewed sense of confidence I plowed forward and made the KAISER ROLLS - I may have a more recent version of the book than the above reviewer, but the instructions were perfect on how to knot the roll - however, it does refer you to the appendix to see how it is done. These also turned out perfect and very delicious.
I was feeling like a master baker at this point! I decided I would attempt to make PRETZELS and BAGUETTE WITH PATE FERMENTEE (since both required the Pate Fermentee). I was a bit hesitant when the pretzel recipe called for sodium hydrozide (lye). I am into organic and all natural, and this just sounded like something you would treat your head with if you had lice. Still undeterred I went to my local organic grocery store and asked where I could find it. The clerk looked perplexed and started the search. The manager thought it would be with the cleaning products. But when I explained what it was for they scrubbed that thought. I gave up the search and continued my shopping. This store always has great customer service and while I was shopping the clerk did some research and found me in the store. He told me that I would have a hard time finding it since the FDA pulled it off the shelves since it is a major ingredient in cooking Meth - but I could buy it online. At this point I abandoned the idea of making the pretzels since I didn't want to get flagged by some FDA agent as a potential druggy. It would have been helpful for Kestel to recommend sodium carbonate as an alternative. I did attempt to make the baguette - and these turned out all wrong. Again I followed the directions to a "t" but the dough was too wet and thus the end product was flat.
I pressed forward, hoping I just ran into some bad luck and tried the RUSTIC RYE BREAD and the MULTI-GRAIN BREAD. I have no idea what went wrong with the rustic rye, it was too moist and turned out flat. As with the multi-grain I do know why it turned out too wet, but I don't know how to correct it. I made the soaker (cold soaker) as directed. But the end product was very wet. The dough before I added the soaker was beautiful, but after I added it (and this is after I used a strainer to drain the excess water) the dough was way too wet. Both of these breads were flat and dense.
OK - long story. I think it would be helpful if the author would add a few things. First at each stage he should describe what the dough's condition should be. He does this a little but not enough for the beginner. In addition he should add an antidote if the dough is not in that condition, for example with the multi grain in step 2, when he says the dough should feel slightly tacky, if it feels too moist do xyz, and if too firm, xyz.
All that said, I would not recommend this book to a beginner. Maybe for the more advanced who have a great deal of experience working with dough and know how to rectify any issues, or know what to do with very wet grains.
Before we get baking though, the authors, Eric Kastel and Cathy Charles, explain to us what Artisan Bread means, the ingredients we will be using, the basic terminology, and the kinds of equipment we will need to have the best chances for success. I love their encouragement to learn by doing and to not be discouraged if things don't work out at first. As the book notes, dough is a living thing and only experience will teach the baker how to understand what is happening to the dough and how to handle it properly to get the kind of bread we want under varying conditions.
We then get a VERY helpful chapter on the basics of bread baking. We are shown how to weigh ingredients, mix them, ferment (proof) them, fold them, divide the dough, pre-shape the bread, what bench rest is about, final shaping, how to do things like add seeds to the outside of the bread or wash it with egg, final fermentation, scoring the bread, baking the bread, cooling it and then the technique for slicing it. We also are giving instructions on how to best store the bread we have spent so much effort to make. Of course, if your house is like mine, fresh bread is devoured before it gets much of a chance to get old. One pages 4 & 5 he discusses using malted barely, but he states the properties of diastatic and non-diastatic malted barley exactly the opposite of what those who sell it say. So, I go with those who sell it. Diastatic has the enzyme and non-diastatic does not. This should be corrected in subsequent printings.
With the lean dough you will be able to make things like Hoagie and Kaiser Rolls, Whole Wheat Bread, Oatmeal Bread, Durum & Rosemary Rolls, Durum, Rosemary & Lemon Rolls, Multigrain Bread, and Rustic Rye Bread. I love the way the quantities for each recipe are given in ounces, grams, volume and the bakers % (which I still have to learn how to read).
And the photographs! Wow. The pictures of the finished items make us want to make the recipes so we can eat these delicious things. The pictures providing instruction on how to fashion the loaves, rolls, and how things should look at various stages of the process are very clear and most helpful. These photos are examples of masterful photography that contributes to our understanding of the text rather than merely decorating it.
Enriched dough yields soft rolls, white bread, whole wheat pan bread, cheddar-onion rye rolls, ham & provolone loaves, corn rolls, herb-pepper & cheese buns, soft multigrain rolls, cottage dill rolls, cinnamon-raisin swirl bread, cinnamon rolls and sticky buns, almond coffee cake, almond filling, almond twists, cream cheese & pecan coffee cake, cream cheese & apple walnut coffee cake, sunflower seed bread, caraway rye bread, and hamburger buns!
We then get a chapter on the techniques required for advanced bread making. Here you will learn about things such as specialized fermentation techniques and handling sours for those flavorful sourdough breads.
The chapter on flatbreads includes things like crackers with sun-dried tomato and Asiago cheese, Grissini, Lavash, Partha, Naan, pizza dough, pita bread, English muffins, and tortillas.
A chapter on advanced breads with preferments (leavening techniques using less yeast) includes Peasant Bread, Sesame and Asiago Wheat Bread, Semolina Bread, Pecan Raisin Bread, Apple-Cinnamon Epi, Bagels (including how to make a smooth ring!), Bialys, and Baguette with Poolish (and other preferments), Ciabatta, Pretzels, German Rye, onion breads, Focaccia, Beer Bread, and bread for Muffalettas, various kinds of onion, olive, and fruit breads, Sourdough, and other breads including sours,
There is also a chapter on breads using enriched doughs, that is heavy in sugar and fat. Think Holiday and special occasion breads. Hot Cross Buns, Gibassier, Gugelhopf, Challah, Brioche, Craquelin, Conchas, Day of the Dead Bread (pan de muerto), Chocolate & Pecan Babka, Panettone, Almond Stollen, Orahnjacha, and Utopljenici.
There is also a section on sauces and dips for the breads and an appendix and braiding and knotting that is very detailed and reminded me of my days in Boy Scouts learning to tie knots. The authors also provide a page of other readings and resources we aspiring cooks can use and a list of places to buy bread ingredients, bakeware, baking stones, cutting surfaces, and so forth.
A magnificent achievement and a wonderful help for people like me who want to expand our cooking horizons, make better breads and eat them, and wow our family and friends.
If you are in that group, I strongly recommend this book for you.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI