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on February 15, 2002
For over ten years I've used Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book for making yeast and leavened (wild yeast) breads. Mostly the former. It has one recipe, however, for a whole-grain leavened bread which is more sophisticated than a rustic sourdough. That recipe alone is worth the book's price and produces a more flavorful and healthful bread than the sourdough leavened white bread I just made using a recipe from Classic Sourdoughs. Additionally, Classic Sourdoughs is not well edited for clarity, contains a fair amount of incidental information not relevant to learning how to bake breads, and lacks the extensive research that went into creating Laurel's Kithchen Bread Book. Unless you cannot obtain good quality whole wheat flour or have a strong preference for white flour, Laurel's Kitchen is a much better value for your time and money.
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on March 3, 2002
This is the only book I have found that really tells how to make sourdough bread the right way without having to use yeast. The book gives explicit instructions from the moment the starter comes from the refrigerator until the finished loaf leaves the pan. The step by step methods tell how to produce an active starter every time so the bread always rises well.
Each recipe gives different options for length of proofing cycles using different proofing temperatures. I was never able to control the temperature during proofing until I read the description for making an inexpensive proofing box described in the book. It made all the difference between success and failure.
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on April 5, 2002
Ed Wood and I became acquainted 10 years ago when his Brittany tangled with a porcupine near our home in North Dakota. By the time we got all those quills out, I knew about his sourdoughs. Since then my wife has used his recipes and cultures for the sourdough breads we serve every day in our Bed & Breakfast. With no previous experience in sourdough baking, she now uses both the Russian and San Francisco cultures that Dr. Wood has collected, and both have proved to be great additions to our menus. Of course, I'm biased but I think the new approach in the latest book is more foolproof and tells the home baker exactly how to produce the best sourdough bread.
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on March 8, 2002
This book really is for the home baker who doesn't have the special ovens and tools of the artisans like Daniel Leader's Bread Alone or Nancy Singleton"s La Brea Bakery. Ed Wood's book gives instructions that can be used with any sourdough starter although I have produced far better sourdoughs with his starters than any I captured myself. There isn't a baker's yeast recipe in the entire book. If you're a novice baker or an old hand, you can learn a lot about sourdoughs from this book.
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on March 6, 2002
The thing I liked best about Dr. Wood's new book was the section on doing sourdoughs in bread machines. For the last 10 years I've been totally frustrated trying to get a decent sourdough out of a machine. Now, I'm turning out a perfect sourdough with the sourness I really like and the loaf comes out with that open texture with all the big holes of a real San Francisco sourdough.
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