Baking Artisan Bread: 10 Expert Formulas for Baking Better Bread at Home Paperback – Oct 1 2008
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About the Author
Ciril Hitz is the Department Chair for the International Baking and Pastry Institute at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, USA. Ciril has been recognised with numerous awards, and most recently was named a "2007 Top Ten Pastry Chef in America" by Pastry Art & Design magazine. His work has been featured on the NBC Today Show as well as The Food Network, including The Best Bread in the World, a feature documentary.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you would like to make gorgeous breads at home, try this book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you are new to pre-ferments, try starting with the focaccia. It makes use of a poolish, but is forgiving. Also, you don't have to use steam. Cover with herb oil and after 20 minutes with grated Parmesan. You will be amazed with the results.
This book is not for people who want to make bread in 2 hours. If you want that kind of bread, don't waste the 2 hours, just buy a loaf at the store. This book is for people who are willing to do the little bit of extra planning and work to get exceptional results. Most of the recipes will require that you mix a pre-ferment the day before you bake. This extra 5 minutes and 12-18 hours overnight is the step that makes all the difference.
In response to Mr. "folks that rated it fives stars"...
Do you think that people who are serious about baking are interested in making plain old sandwich bread? Pain de Mie? That would be about the last formula I would try in a baking book. Seriously, try something a little more interesting--you might like it. Don't rate a book 1 star because you try 2 formulas.
You will find that in most baking books, you will need to tweak stuff to your own baking environment. The size of dividing units is not an issue. If you don't like the size, adjust accordingly. I make pita based on Glezer's formulas, she calls for 170g pitas, but I find that 85g is more to my liking. That doesn't mean she is off by 100%.
Also, I made the Challah last week and it was perfect. Don't divide into 70g as Mr. grumpy stripes suggests, 100g is correct as Ciril states. 110g if doing a 5 braid.
Baking times are never correct. Each brand/type of flour bakes different, each oven bakes differently, and baking stones bake differently too. Also you have the ambient temperature factor. Things are ready when they look ready. When it looks like the picture in the book, take it out. I set my timer about 5-10 minutes less and then just keep a careful eye.
Here are the good formulas in the book
Foccacia, Ciabatta, Baguette, Bagel, Brioche, Croissant, and Challah
Recipes I won't waste time with or have had bad experiences with..
Pan Francese, Pain de Mie, Whole Wheat, Pizza (I don't like pizza dough made with oil)
Even the best bakeries in the world have items that don't taste good. It is the same with cookbooks, you need to dig around to find the gems. Ignore the filler formulas. Try Ciril's Foccacia or Ciabatta, it will put a couple stars back on your opinion. Even that one formula is worth $16.50, just make 4 loaves. I have made the f/c formula about 15 times. Some people have said it was the best bread they have ever tasted.
Now remember, even if you make the f/c formula and it doesn't turn out right or taste like a million bucks, you have to realize that it would be impossible for you to replicate my environment. I live at 4600 ft, use 14% bread flour from a local producer, use SAF Instant, measure in grams, use a drug scale, and have a temperature controlling proofer/retarder.
Baking is just a big science experiment. You have to get all the variables and factors perfect. It take a lot of practice. A book just gives you a framework.
And yes Ciril did post minor corrections available on his website--which is not common for a food book author.
Errors in publications happen. However, when one is dealing with a cookbook or baking book, not only has the consumer made an investment in the book, but in the ingredients as well, not to mention his/her time. Responsible and ethical bakers make every effort to publish corrections and make them easily accessible to the people who paid money for their product and presumed expertise.
The book has the basic recipes for biga and poolish. then come the 9-10 basic recipes which can be used to make different breads. for example, if you make a baguette, you can make an Epi after step 7. once you make the brioche dough, you can make 3-4 other breads.
anyway, the only thing i dont like about this book is that it's written like a textbook, not like a recipe book. for example, i made a ciabatta and the recipe is over 3-4 pages with the individual steps buried in the text. he lists every step (10 steps) and states: "Step 8 scoring - not needed". instead of omitting the step all together since it's useless, he still lists it. maybe it's a good thing for people that will wonder if scoring is needed.
the other thing is the temp he uses. he said to bake the ciabatta at 480F, but i think that's too high and my bread's crust was perfect after 20 min, but still uncooked inside. still tasted amazing.
i am used to KAF's recipes, which are a list of ingredients on the left, and the recipe steps on the right. that's it.
this is different, but detailed and very good. the pictures are great and the steps are outlined. it's only 110 page book, so not like a brick to lug around.
would recommend and buy as a gift. i plan on making all recipes from that book since i am crazy about dough. will update again in the future.
hope this helps.
updated - Jan 13, 2014:
in about 2 weeks i made about 5-6 of his recipes and found out that the temps and the time in the oven are ALL wrong. I made the pizza rolls and it calls for temps between 450-500 for 10 mins. my oven is spot on temp wise and i had to use 425 for 10 mins and 350 to cook inside. at 450 the ball would burn on the outside and be wet inside. i depressed the rolls in quarters and they still puffed up like i never depressed the dough (the bottom shows the "score" lines)
i made the bagguettes and it was difficult to follow directions over 5-6 pages.
i made the bagels and they were VERY chewy (used only bread flour, not high gluten) and were thin, not like panera bagels.
I follow instructions to the T in my day job, so that was not the issue.
Great tasting bread, but accuracy is lacking.
I will use his recipes, but have to tweak a few major things...
- recipe after errata have been distilled
- cd helps understand what it means to roll the dough into rounds
- taste of bread is wonderful
- you know what is in your bread
- better ingredients = can eat more and might not make you as fat as store bread
- family loves it
- kitchen smells great
- go find the errata online and print it out to include with your book
- ingredients may cost you more than buying store-bought loaf. might depend on if you use organic ingredients
- might want to invest in a bread machine to do the kneading and rising for you. i put bad since this adds an additional cost and space taken up in your kitchen