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le 5 août 2003
Peter Reinhart outstrips his previous works in The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It is, in one volume, a guide to the science and art of great bread, an account of Reinhart's journeys and experiences in the professional baking world, and finally, a collection of some very good bread formulae.
The book's greatest successes are in European-style hearth loaves. His whole wheat bread is great, to be sure, and his cinnamon buns deliver, but for truly excellent work turn to the ciabatta, French bread, pain de campagne, and other lean-dough recipes. (Also worth a rave is his foccacia, which left me wondering why they hadn't had anything this good when I was in Italy.)
A few things to be aware of:
1. As has been true with all of Reinhart's work since Brother Juniper, patience is the key to these wonderful loaves. His delicious rendition of Pane Siciliano, not even a sourdough, takes three days from start to finish! The majority of the recipes in the book require work on at least two separate days, and rising times are longer than in many other books due to smaller amounts of yeast.
2. While many of the ethnic-style breads are very good, they are often Reinhart's personal renditions and are not what I would call "authentic." The most obvious oddity, to me, is the presence of milk in the dough of his New York Deli Rye. Reinhart reminisces about eating roast beef on this bread in several of New York's kosher delis, where Jewish dietary laws prohibit the admixture of dairy and meat products in a single meal. On a less urgent note, I'm surprised that this recipe doesn't call for first-clear flour, also called common flour, which is usually considered essential for good Jewish rye.
3. This is not a beginner's book. Unless you already have an electric mixer with a dough hook, you'll want to know how to knead dough by hand, and Reinhart does not explain this rather basic skill. In addition, the formulae can be a bit on the intimidating side, and may confuse people who are not inclined to read through the rather scientific introduction to the process of bread baking. Many books are available which can give you the basic tools to make perfectly good bread before you tackle some of this material.
Despite these obstacles -- one cannot really call them faults -- this book is an invaluable part of my collection, and I use it regularly to great praise from my family and friends. Highly recommended.
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le 15 juillet 2004
This book is a real education in bread baking. You'll learn the science behind the process; as another reviewer stated, you'll feel like you are sitting in one of the author's classes at Johnson & Wales University. You'll learn various dough-shaping techniques, including tips that I otherwise would never have known, like how to create surface tension so that the loaf will rise up and not just out. Basically, you will learn everything you need to know to create really great bread and you'll learn it in an engaging, easy-to-read manner from a person who obviously has a real (and contagious) love for good food.
You may find as I did that to begin with you will have to do a lot of flipping back and forth in the book, to review particular processes. However, once you learn how to shape a baguette or how to judge the dough's gluten development, as examples, you won't have to keep going back to review that information and you'll be able to follow the recipes with more flow.
The Poolish Baguettes are to die for. I often make a batch when I have company (since a good deal of the work is done the day before) and let me tell you, if you want to see people REALLY SAVOR their food, give them a warm loaf of this bread!
Of the other recipes I've tried so far, my other favorite is the foccacia.
Another reviewer felt like you had to have a state-of-the-art kitchen to use this book. I must disagree, as I felt Mr. Reinhart went out of his way to teach the user how to recreate (to a reasonable degree) the commercial baking process, including steaming the loaves to create that delectable crunchy crust.
If you love good bread and want to know how to achieve superior results baking it yourself, don't hesitate a moment to buy this book.
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le 14 février 2009
There are a lot of good bread books out there but only a few get to move up to the top of the pile and The Bread Baker's Apprentice is decidedly one of them. If you haunt bread baking websites, you'll likely have seen this book referenced a huge number of times, likely more than any other book in the last eight or so years. And considering there are some other excellent bread making books available, that's no small feat.

With plenty of instructional text and photographs to follow along, this book will help anyone from the very beginner to the more advanced bread enthusiast as they experiment (and yes, you should play with your food) with the several different styles of bread included in this collection. Well written and clearly explained, Reinhart's stint as an instructor at Johnson & Wales University shows through in the way he presents his information and helps you to understand what's happening to the dough under your hand.

I have but two qualms with this book. The first is that Reinhart offered only US volume and weight measures (cups and ounces) and did not also offer the gram measurements which are the more universal and accurate method of measuring your ingredients. It should be noted right away, however, that his forthcoming new book does include gram weights. Perhaps in a future revised edition, the editors will see that grams are added to the recipes included here.

The second is his instruction for creating a sourdough starter. To begin, he refers to it here as "barm" and although he has since retracted this and agreed it was incorrect, this could be overlooked. This starter is generally referred to as a "mother" or "chief" starter. I'm also not in agreement with the size of this "mother" or Chief" starter he has the reader create; it could just as well be 1/4 the size he makes and would make for less waste in regular feeding and use a smaller container in your refrigerator.

Yet none of this is so serious as to make the book undesirable nor detract from the otherwise valuable information so well presented in this book. I do (and have) very strongly recommend this book as a staple in any bread maker's arsenal and it will likely be a top go-to resource for many.

If you want to make bread and are looking to make more than just "sliced white" a mere step above the store bought stuff or if you know anyone who is interested in artisanal breads, this book is a must on your (or their) bookshelf, whether it's there alone or in company of other good bread books. It's high reputation with novice to serious home bakers' circles is not unwarranted in the least.

Lastly, I want to pick up a point brought up by another reviewer, stating that this book is not for "average home bakers" and that the recipes take too long. I'm afraid I'll disagree on both counts. Yes, you can mix some dough and pop it into the oven in a matter of a couple of hours and you'll have bread. But it won't be excellent bread. You won't have developed the flavours from your ingredients that are there to coax out although not in just an hour or two. Slow and patient gives you excellent bread, "In a hurry bread" is not what this book is about.

And yes, this is absolutely a good book for the "average home baker" there's little in here that an average baker cannot do. Again, bread baking is not a fast art, not if you want great bread. Good bread is a "slow food", not a "fast food". But it's also not horribly complex or requires a ton of special items or ingredients. If you have a dependable oven and some flour, water, salt and some form of yeast, you have all you need to make bread. Throw in time and care and these exact same ingredients can make GREAT bread.
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le 23 décembre 2003
i spent more than 2 years of my life working in bakeries and left when i realised i wasnt learning anything about bread, or really even baking, but only how to work in a bakery. not once did they teach me anything about yeasts, wheat strains, gluten or anything that actually makes bread tick. i even remember once asking the head baker "why does wholemeal bread take longer to bake than white bread?" the answer he gave me: "because it just does."
this book told me everything i wanted to know but could never find out at work.
professional baking... what a joke. if you really want to know how to make good bread, buy and study this book.
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le 27 mars 2002
--My husband recently took up breadmaking as a hobby. I bought this book for him as a birthday gift, and it has transformed him! Peter Reinhart's explanations of the principles behind bread have enabled hubby (a.k.a. "Breadman")to understand the outcomes of his efforts, as well as produce professional-quality breads (well, "professional" at least to the rest of us common-folk in the family who are enjoying the results!). No more grumpiness over lumpy loaves! Hooray for crispy crusts with the perfect crumb to go with a steaming bowl of soup!
If I could, I would like to thank the author for helping "Breadman" to overcome frustration and setting him on his way to becoming a "Breadmaster"!
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le 28 avril 2003
After being an ametuer baker for years, I picked this up and learned a lot about how to fix my bread. My family swooned over my cold water pizza dough, and my slipper bread tastes like Rome. While I have learned a few things I needed to know,(like about biga, and poolish and benching) i would not recomned this book to a beginner, or someone like me who does not measure or weigh, and wants to be happily ignornat, but still baking. (If you are just getting into bread, NO Need to Knead, is a wonderful book. I still use it for my basic book. )
The cold water dough recipe is mind blowing, runs agianst all logic to make dough with ice water, but the pizza was incredible. its a wonderful book, geared for students, great pictures, incredible information, but mostly slow two day rescipes.
and I had a blast baking this past weekend.
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le 27 juin 2003
I've read chapters of other books on bread baking, but this subject is too often simplified. This is an excellent book and illustration of not only how to prepare and bake bread, but also why these techniques are necessary.
None of it is overcomplicated, this book makes sense out of bread making, if you are patient.
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le 5 octobre 2009
I loved this book ... until the day I decided to make my first bread using the Reinhart method... and I could not: either I had not prepared the proper barm, sponge etc...the day before or I did not have the proper ingredients.
Thus, I recommand this book for understanding how breads are made but, if you are working (as I do) and want to make a good bread or two during the week end, use another book1!
But I still look upon the day I retire and hope, at that time, I will be able to cook a true Reinhart bread!
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le 29 mai 2011
Before I bought this book I saw lots of reviews suggesting it was only for those more experienced bakers. That's just not the case. Before buying this book I had never made a loaf of bread in my life, now I make 3 - 5 a week. They're ALL delicious. I'm slowly making my through the recipes and they get better every time. As Peter mentions at the beginning of the book, the Pain a L'ancienne is truly extraordinary. I try to make it every time I have company now.

Buy this book! You won't regret it.
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le 9 novembre 2003
This is THE most complete bread book that I have ever had my hands on. It is so complete to teach you all there is to know about bread. So many different types. My mouth was watering just reading the intro about the author and his accomplishments !! I was unsure of whether to buy this book or the crust and crumb book that the author put out earlier. This was a great purchase.. worth every penny. He even lists other great bread books and some terrific bread related web sited. The Artisan breads ROCK !! Do yourself a favour, and buy yourself this book. I now make bread.. for a sandwich... and it is not about the sanwich fillings that make my sandwich great.. it is all about the bread!!! The foccacia is the best !
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