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Simply Great Breads: Sweet and Savory Yeasted Treats from America's Premier Artisan Baker [Hardcover]

Daniel Leader , Lauren Chattman

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Book Description

March 8 2011

If bread is the staff of life, then this book by renowned artisanal baker Daniel Leader is every home baker’s must-have cookbook. Featuring an amazing array of  incredible delicacies made with yeast, it’s the perfect combination of easy and sophisticated recipes, with the keys to unlocking basics of working with yeasted doughs. Who can resist a collection of 50 mouthwatering treats, essential recipes for everyone who loves bread? The menu includes must-bake breakfast classics like crumpets and English muffins, and the three irresistible Bs: bagels, brioche, and bialys … timeless favorites such as Parker House rolls, ciabatta, and challah … plus waffles, cider doughnuts, beignets, babka, and monkey bread. Bakers of all skill levels will learn tips and trade secrets from Leader, who has shared his vast knowledge with people around the world.
 


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Review

A New York Times Top 10 Cookbooks of the Year 2011

This book is a treasure for all of us who love good bread.  Whether you’re a serious bread baker or someone who’s always wanted to make bread at home but might have been too timid, you’ll find recipes to teach and inspire, to make often, and to share with family and friends. --Dorie Greenspan, author, Around My French Table

Dan Leader has pulled off the nearly impossible trick of creating uncompromising but easy-to-prepare artisan breads. His common-sense approach to these uncommonly good treats will have even the most jaded baker sprinting back to the kitchen with renewed enthusiasm and inspiration. --William Alexander, author, 52 Loaves

When did bread become so complicated? Too many new bread books are thick with words, expounding on dry topics like the differences between a levain and a poolish. This slim volume, perfect for novices, contains just 28 recipes that manage to cover a lot of ground, from English muffins to ciabatta to chocolate babka. --The Modesto Bee (CA)

About the Author

DANIEL LEADER was one of the first champions of artisanal bread baking in this country; he founded the first Bread Alone Bakery in the Hudson Valley in the early ‘80s. Now a classic, Leader’s book, Bread Alone, won the IACP award for best baking book in 1994. In 2008, Leader won his second IACP award for Local Breads, also written with Lauren Chattman. LAUREN CHATTMAN is the author of 12 cookbooks, including the recent Cake Keeper Cakes and Panini Express, which she co-wrote with Leader.

 

 

 


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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Education in Bread March 30 2011
By Jennifer L. Rinehart - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I like books about baking. For years I'd pick them up, stare greedily at the tasty pics and then sigh, put them back onto the shelf and slump away, my shoulders down and my mouth frowny. My failure to create bread was a source of anxiety and shame. I've made biryani, cherries flambe and eggs benedict with real hollandaise, but my yeast breads always turned out awful. About once a year I'd pick up a book and give it another try, but it always ended the same, with a dirty kitchen and a lump of floury dough that did not rise and smelled like paste and desperation.

I've since learned the basics. I can make pretzels (thanks Alton), anadama bread and pizza crust (thanks Wolfgang) but I'd gotten into a rut and still had the occasional bread fails. This book, with it's detailed explanations has added several crucial pieces of bread making information. For example, bigas.

If you are like me, a dedicated food lurker, you've heard the word biga. But I wasn't sure what it was or why anyone would want to use it in bread. Since I didn't know what biga was, everytime I ran across a recipe that used it, I'd leave it alone. Turns out Biga is like a sourdough starter, except that it takes a fraction of time to make and isn't sour, sounds intriguing, right?

I'm planning on using it now, not only in the recipe for Ciabatta from the book, but also in other recipes I've found on Food Gawker and the like.

Another interesting and new thing is the recommendation for using wine in place of water for making a pizza dough. I really, really have to give that a try! Update: I made it and it was tasty, it didn't taste like wine (good, because I don't care for wine)but it did have an indefinable sweetness that made it richer and definitely worth trying. I posted pics on my blog of this dough (it was the base of my fairy pizza).

One of the other great things about this book are the variations in ingredients that follow most every recipe. Caramel Monkey Bread becomes Garlic Scallion Monkey Bread and Grape Schiacciata becomes Rosemary Walnut or Cherry Tomato Anise, which is a very good thing because I'm certain to never find fresh champagne grapes here in Washington.

Most of the recipes are ones I've seen before, but it's the easy to follow directions and descriptions that make them noteworthy.

A recipe for Mana'eesh - a Middle Eastern flatbread, sounds like an easy recipe to start out with for the novice bakers and a more complex recipe for bagels is included for the adventurous home cook.

The book loses it's way a little with recipes for jams and too many pages of fried doughs, but it won me over again with a handy list of equivalencies.

I have just two complaints about the book and they are, one, the book is too short and I think it should have at least one basic bread recipe and two, the Navajo fry bread recipe is a fast and loose representation of a culturally important staple of Native American cuisine. But, I guess it's the thought that counts, many people have never tried this delectable treat (totally worth your time and effort, there are a ton of recipes online).
78 of 102 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yes! and NO! March 17 2011
By Grandma - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are many good things about Daniel Leader's new book, Simply Great Breads: Sweet and Savory Yeasted Treats from America's Premier Artisan Baker. He features a nice selection of breads that don't take 18 or 24 hours to produce and most of them sound downright luscious. He gives measurements in ounces, grams and cups. Simply Great Breads is not so big and heavy that it will be awkward to actually use in your kitchen. It is, in fact, quite a small volume. This is a book that for the most part I liked. But - and this is a big BUT - there are some problems. Let me tell you about them in the order I came across them.

1. Leader has done a nice job of laying out the recipes over a two page spread, with the first page containing a paragraph or two about the recipe in the left column and the ingredients in the right. Unfortunately, the ingredients list is not only in a fine blue type, it uses a font that is smaller than the accompanying text - in blue. Like many older folks, I don't see fine type as well as I used to and blue type only exacerbates the problem. I got dizzy putting my reading glasses on and taking them off again.

2. When I first opened the book to the index I was surprised to see a recipe for Navajo Fry Bread. When I read the recipe, I was dumbfounded. One thing you might not know about me is that I spent a number of years living and working in the Southwest, specifically on the Navajo and Hopi reservations where I learned to make fry bread from Hopi women and Navajo women, young women, old women, and even a man or two. I've eaten Fry Bread at every restaurant on the reservations, from the vendors at every single one of the weekly markets, at community events, school functions, dances, pow wows, healing ceremonies and tribal fairs. Never once have I eaten Navajo (or any other American Indian) Fry Bread that had yeast in it. No milk either. I also happen to have a dozen or so American Indian cookbooks published in the last fifty+ years in my collection. No yeast and no milk there either. Navajo Fry Bread is made these days with flour, lard, baking powder and water. Very traditional bakers still use the Southwestern equivalent of baker's ammonia for leavening, made by burning a desert plant.

In fact, Daniel Leader's recipe for "Navajo Fry Bread" is so far removed from the historical dish that it simply isn't. What Leader has done is invent a recipe that is essentially a version of the Fried Dough one sees at eastern fairs and carnivals and then simply taken the name of the traditional Navajo Fry Bread. I consider this an insult to history and the Navajo, a theft of culture.

And this is not the only place that Leader shows a distinct lack of respect for historical accuracy. If you happen to know any of the history of Parker House Rolls, you are aware that what makes the rolls Parker House rather than something else is the shape. Leader discards the shape. His roll recipe is not "Parker House" rolls - just a recipe for what is commonly known as "pan rolls."

3. I was very surprised to see the specific brand recommendations for a number of expensive items from Leader in the opening pages of the book. This really seemed to me to be almost a version of the kind of product placement advertising you see in movies.

4. Sometimes, Leader is just out of touch. He gives kudos to Laurel Robertson of Laurel's Kitchen Recipes for the tip he gives about removing both the top and bottom from a can of tuna to make your own English Muffin Rings. It is pretty obvious, though, that Leader hasn't himself opened a can of tuna in some while. When Laurel's Kitchen was published in the mid-70s a can of tuna contained 7 or 7.5 ounces and was identical top and bottom. These days a can of tuna weighs 4.5 or 5.0 ounces and you can only take off one end - and you haven't been able to open more than one end in a decade or more. If you want muffin rings, you need to buy the small cans of pineapple.

5. Leader baldly states that those who do their own baking from scratch "do not get fat." Sorry, cooking everything from scratch and eating organically is absolutely NOT enough to keep you from getting fat.

All in all, for me, the cons definitely balance out any pros and the selection of recipes offered in Simply Great Breads is not all that much different than you'll find in either of my GoTO books - Secrets of a Jewish Baker: Recipes for 125 Breads from Around the World or The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely yeast bread baking book March 27 2011
By Shala Kerrigan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I love baking fresh bread by hand.
The author, Daniel Leader is as enthused about bread baking as I am, and the introduction is wonderful. He discusses the necessity of using the best ingredients and using recipes that allow the grain you're baking with to take center stage rather than using a lot of fats and flavors that mask the characteristics of the grain you're using. It also explains a bit about the science part of bread making and about artisan doughs.He lists different ingredients and their attributes like cornmeal which is used both as a release and as a nice bit of texture to things like English muffins.
The recipes are a mix of savory and sweet. They are yeast breads, he suggests using a dough hook in a stand mixer, but they can all be done by hand as well.
The recipes and the photos are just gorgeous. This is one of the prettiest bread baking books I've ever seen. The recipes are drool worthy and inspiring. All yeasted, even things like pancakes that aren't generally made with yeast. The author also came up with what has to be my favorite crumpet recipe ever.
The variety of methods and types of yeasted breads is just wonderful, 28 recipes total with extra variations for some of them to increase the range.
Not a beginning bread baking book, and some of his adaptations are different from the originals, he's a yeast bread enthusiast and that's reflected in these recipes. The recipes are great though, and generally I don't follow bread recipes.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some ups and downs....beginners beware Oct. 16 2011
By Joanne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have way too many cookbooks, and my bread baking books are mounting up with one more on the way. I bought this book last yr and made the crumpets then; they were very good and light. I did have to cut back on the salt though, it seemed too high an amt. I had invested a small amt w/King Arthur for the rings, worth the little expense. Making crumpets is on the stovetop, not the oven, so it's a nice change of pace and good for when you don't want to heat up the oven. Some people use old cut up tuna cans for the rings, but hey, this is my hobby, my passion, and it's cheaper than spending on golf clubs, no? That being said, I took up this book again this week and made the bialys. No rings needed by the way. OMG...delish. They are worth the calories. I couldn't believe how close to the real thing these looked and tasted, the golden crust so crackly. Only took 10 mins to bake. The author is right on the money with this recipe and the crumpets. Made the ciabatta rolls too, quite honestly the easiest and best ciabatta bread I have attempted so far. I had given up on making it b/c although my past efforts were quite satisfactory, it is labor intensive and time consuming and I can buy the best ciabatta 5 mins from home. This recipe was a total head slapper in how easy and light and crunchy it worked up and with so little effort and no annoying additional steps to do as is often needed. I didn't even use my baking stone as recommended, just a baking sheet w/parchment, and it was fine. Goof proof. Instructions given at end of recipe on how to freeze and for how long. Love it!

Now, the downside. There are several measurement errors here. The book gives all 3 measurements for each ingredient for each recipe when possible, so at at first blush, you think this is great, choose your preferred method of measurement and off to bread baking you go. But good thing I took the time to test all three measurements against each other bc that turned up inconsistencies that were way off. Example: The Angel Biscuits need: 2 1/4 sticks butter OR 10 ozs. of butter OR 140 grams of butter. When you weigh the 2 1/4 sticks you get near 10 ozs, fine, but you get nowhere near 140 grams of butter, it's closer to 300! The flatbread recipe of Mana'eesh is like this too...it says: 1/4 cup olive oil OR 4 ozs. of olive oil OR 113 grams of olive oil...1/4 cup cup of olive oil is only ONE ounce and only 40 grams...so which is it? I know one cup of olive oil to a recipe using only 2 cups of flour was all wrong. From past experience, I used 1/4 cup and crossed out the grams and ounces measurements immediately. This is really unforgiveable. I wonder how many more recipes are like this; but if I do attempt more, I will check EACH of the 3 measurements against one another and be sure they coincide with one another. Some do match up, but as mentioned, some do NOT! By the way, the Angel Muffins were not as I had hoped. For all the butter used, they were rich for sure, but felt too greasy. I threw them out, literally to the birds! I prefer a biscuit with just shortening and flour, roll, cut, and bake. For all the effort involved in this yeasted version, there was NO payoff.

I have the 2011 issue, so hopefully newer copies have reprinted the recipes with all the needed corrections. All I can say is, those bialys are incredibly good. No errors there. Wish I could say the same for all the other ones.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simpy Great Book! March 18 2011
By Flour Child - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I couldn't disagree more with "Grandma." I bought this amazing book and right away was baking from every chapter. The recipes are simply delicious and easy to follow. The breads and yeasted yummies are so creative that, shamelessly, I immediately wanted to add them to my own recipe box and call them my own. I learned a lot about breads from different cultures--I'm not someone with a background in Hopi/Navajo traditions but I look forward to trying the recipe for the fry bread because every recipe I've tried from the book so far has worked. I especially like the chocolate babka, the bialys, the rolls, the bread sticks.... I could go on! Thank you, Daniel Leader, for yet another amazing collection of breads.

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