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World Sourdoughs from Antiquity: Authentic Recipes for Modern Bakers [Paperback]

Ed Wood
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Sept. 1 1996 --  
There is a newer edition of this item:
Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker's Handbook Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker's Handbook 2.5 out of 5 stars (2)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 1996
This updated and revised edition of the successful manual for sourdough-lovers traces the history of sourdough baking from ancient Egypt to modern times. Sourdough expert Ed Wood, a forensic pathologist who has been studying sourdough for over 50 years, explains what makes real sourdough starter and how baking enthusiasts can grow their own. 8 page full-color photo insert.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Real Sourdough Jan. 20 2004
I am glad to have this collection of sourdough baking recipes, as genuine sourdough is almost extinct these days, even in France; books on sourdough baking are practically non-existent. On the other hand, this bread baking book is no better than other generic cookbooks with bread recipes. The recipes and procedures are lacking in necessary detail. This is a valuable collection of bread recipes, but only for those willing to devote the time and effort to properly adapt them to the home kitchen.
The author correctly points out that until the last century, all breads were sourdough based, meaning that you had regularly feed, care for, and keep alive the yeast like a beloved family pet. Upon the invention of commercial yeast, almost all bread bakers switched. The commercial stuff is easier to deal with and more profitable, but it also means that the breads have much less flavor. In this book, the author has assembled a standard collection of bread recipes using a sourdough starter instead of the usual commercial yeast. He has recipes for standard loaf breads, ryes, egg breads, whole wheat, French, rolls, buns, pancakes, waffles, batter breads, and the like. Of particular interest are the kamut and spelt bread recipes (both are ancient predecessors to our modern wheat), and the bread machine recipes.
On the down side, the author does not seem to have devoted much time to developing proper recipe instructions. He has one master recipe (for loaves, for example), and all the other ones are just ingredient variations of the master. This a problem, as the breads go all over the place; some are heavy, dense ones, some are similar to French breads, and others have vastly different hydration levels (moisture content). This common procedure does not work for all the varieties of different breads.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointed. Oct. 5 2001
By A Customer
I consider myself an experienced baker but not with sourdough cultures. That's why I turned to World Sourdoughs From Antiquity. Dr. Wood's recipes and procedures are straightforward enough. The only complaint I have is that Dr. Wood does not devote enough space in the book to troubleshooting. Working with sourdough cultures can be a bit tricky and there's no guarantee of success 100% of the time. For example, I have had persistant problems with dough not rising properly (it seems to want to spread out on the baking sheet rather than rise up the way it should-this has happened with two very different cultures). The book just doesn't address this problem. Too, the construction of the book could have been better. Dr. Wood must be a practicing baker and not just a theorist. As such he should have made the book with a spiral binding so it would lay flat on the kitchen counter. This is a working book and not something you read only at bed time! I too found the author accessible through his website. When I sent an e-mail I did receive some helpful advice. All in all I have not given up on sourdough baking and would advise anyone buying this book to be persistent if difficulties arise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Aug. 5 2001
By A Customer
What an outstanding manual for sourdough baking. I was easily able to capture my own culture, which I have been using now for about 6 months. Dr. Wood fully explains the relationship between yeast and lactobacteria, which I found fascinating. However, most of all I am pleased with the accessibility of the author. He has a website, and I have emailed questions to him twice and each time received a prompt response. The author is an MD/PhD so he knows all about micro-organisms. It is like having a professor of sourdough, with office hours.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Proportions of flour and liquid March 17 2001
By A Customer
Am I the only one who felt these recipes produced very wet doughs? I weigh my flour when baking and found I needed to add a cup or more of flour to what the recipes required when mixing in a machine. This strikes me as alot of flour to knead in, without specification. Assuming a starter the consistancy of pancake batter, most of these recipes have an additional cup of liquid, making the proportions about five cups of liquid to six cups of flour. Nonetheless, all the breads I have made from this book have terrific flavor, and have been well received by friends and family.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! I Get It! Jan. 27 2001
As an experienced, non-professional baker of conventional yeast bread, I'd been mystified by sourdough and the whole rustic bread thing. All my attempts turned out like sandwich bread with CRUST. Ed Wood's first couple of chapters set me straight: it's the lactobacilli (slow multipliers) that create the flavor, and the yeast (fast multipliers) that give it loft. And they both require feeding: just think of your starter as a hungry amorphous pet hanging out in the fridge, and you're on the right track. An article in Cooks Illustrated supplied the other key variable: moisture content (the wetter the dough, the more open the texture). Armed with theory, I ordered a couple of starters from Dr. Moore's web site and, following the instructions in World Sourdoughs, stirred and incubated for a couple of days, then followed the books' most basic recipe, and Whammo! Great sourdough bread! I'm sold. I'm empowered. Cool. Caveat: the previous review is right too, the book assumes you already know a lot about how bread works. For instance, the proportions in some of the recipes are a little suspect to my eye (for instance, how can you keep adding 'another cup of flour' and 'another cup of water' to a 1 quart jar, day after day, and not end up with basically an ocean of starter!? Beginners should begin elsewhere, then come to Dr. Moore for their graduate Sourdough training.
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