on February 9, 2014
As others have reviewed the book does a good job describing techniques and gives some great recipes. But watch out if you use the volume based measurements. The recipes are provided in ounces (weight), grams, by imperial volume and bakers percentage. Som of the volume based measurements are just totally wrong.
For example, the water in the plain white bread is measured as 19.6 oz, 556 g, or 1 cup 2.5 tbps. That's totally wrong, it should be just over 2 cups. (1 cup is 250 ml which is always 250 g). The other measurements for the other ingredients are off as well.
Some recipes have the correct volume measurements but enough are wrong that I would have to warn away anyone who uses volume based measurements.
This book is a real gem ! I got it in the expectation to fill the gap in my kitchen library about bread, and it fulfills it's role very well. I loved that this book covers a very wide range of different breads, so you can pretty much find something in there to please about anyone. The level of skills required varies quite a bit for some recipes, but even if I consider that the book is going from the easiest to the hardest, I didn't feel like there were some recipes I couldn't tackle. Also, it's written with all of the rigor that could be expected of the CIA. This means every recipe shows the ingredients with ounces, grams, volume or baker's percentage, which I had never seen in a bread book before.
The first chapter covers the basics of equipment, ingredients and basic bread making. You'll learn why we knead, what is a good or bad dough, how fermentation works, etc. Then, you're ready to go on to basic lean dough, for breads and rolls. You then have basic enriched dough for breads and rolls, which involves slightly more ingredients. This part involves soft rolls made of heaven. This was an absolute hit when I served them at Christmas. It also covers the classic sticky buns and raisin and cinnamon bread. But fear not, all the recipes are not sweet. Ham and provolone loaves or even herb, pepper and cheese buns also await in those pages.
Next, basic flatbreads. There is an amazing recipe for pizza dough in there, which is the first recipe I tried out in this book. It came out fantastic, and I had only ever made bread once before. It also shows you the secret behind naan and grissini ! Then, on to advanced breads and their preferment. There are a lot of breads I didn't know existed in this section, like bialys, but oh my do they look tempting. If you haven't had your share yet, you can even go on to advanced enriched dough. I have not yet taken on the recipes needing a preferment, if that scares you, there are plenty of things to try before you get there.
In conclusion, there is something for everyone in this book. The pictures (or illustrations) clearly show the techniques for beginners, while advanced recipes allow more advanced bakers to tackle another level of difficulty. This book is part of the series "at home", but it could be used for someone who wish to start a small local production. I would definitively recommend to anyone with an interest in baking. It's a credible and sure source of info.