Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads: Sweet and Savory Baking for Breakfast, Brunch, and Beyond Paperback – Nov 1 2009
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Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads: Sweet and Savory Baking for Breakfast, Brunch, and Beyond
Hitz, Ciril (Author)
Publisher: Quarry Books
Binding/Price/Pages: Paperback, $24.99 (176p)
Subject: Cooking | Courses & Dishes | Bread
Including step-by-step process photos of techniques, award-winning pastry chef and teacher Hitz ("Baking Artisan Bread") provides a solid foundation for bakers to produce professional-looking baked goods. Following an introduction that discusses ingredients, equipment, and techniques, recipes (from breakfast muffins to lemon brioche doughnuts) are progressively presented from the easiest to the more complex. Listed ingredients are measured in metric, weight, and volume. Also included are conversion charts; lists of online resources, tools, equipment, and organizations; and a glossary. An excellent plus is the 20-minute instructional DVD, which teaches advanced methods such as rubbing, creaming, and blending. Highly recommended for beginning bakers. - Library Journal, December 15, 2009
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The binding is not exactly softcover as the book description states but turtleback, which combines the hardback binding with a laminated cover.
It includes an informative DVD that describes the basic procedures and methods. I only wish its case was not glued to the back of the first page, as it tore some of the paper. Happily it does not show until you open the cover.
This book could have easily been called "The complete dummy's guide to baking artisan pastries and breads". It is definately geared towards making these goods easy and accesible to everyone and it describes every aspect and detail in a way one would teach a complete novice or a child. So if you are not confident about your skills this is the book for you.
The pages are gloss and there are many photos of the products and the procedures. Also there are photos of all the ingredients and equipment.
The book is divided into 2 sections:
Quick breads,muffins and scones
Fillings, glazes, toppings and spreads
The Basics section is quite extensive having 65 pages. All the ingredients and equipment are thoroughly discussed and the whys and hows of the techniques are revealed and explained. The author also discusses the unhealthy qualities of trans fats and even though he includes various fats in this section he recommends the use of pure butter instead of shortening/margarine for the recipes.
The ingredients in the recipes are listed in Metric, Imperial and Volume measurements to fascilitate all users.
In the scones etc section I like the Swiis carrot cake (after all the author is Swiss) that uses butter not oil and hazelnut meal. Having mentioned oil, the recipes made with it (eg zucchini bread) are nothing special, but if you substitude melted butter or at least replace some of the oil with it the taste of the products gets a boost. I also like the Tirolean chocolate and the mixed berry muffins. There is even a recipe for whole wheat cinnamon raisin bagels.
In the Enriched dough section the Brioche uses the proper method of refrigerating for a few hours before baking, which enhances the taste. There are several variations of brioche like lemon brioche doughnuts and rum-raisin-almond brioche.
I also like the Apple kuchen using a brioche base. Other tasty recipes are the Russian braid and sweet glazed cinnamon buns, but really, in this section all the recipes are good.
The laminated section includes croissants and danish (of course) using both plain and chocolate dough. There is also a savory variation using whole wheat, ham and cheese.
Then come the various toppings (like crumb/streusel), glazes (like lemon/sugar) and fillings (almond,cinnamon etc).
Finally there is an appendix that includes troubleshooting, resources, recommended reading, glossary and index.
A low price combined with such quality makes this book a must for those interested in the subject.
I think this book (like Hitz's book on bread) has three major limitations.
First, the proofreading is terrible and errata have not yet been released. For example, I just finished making the carrot cake - an expensive recipe that calls for both almond and hazelnut flour. First, it called for 3 Tbsp of baking soda when I am fairly positive he really wanted 3 tsp (you could taste the sodium in the final product - and yes, I sifted before mixing). Second, it says it will make 1 loaf, but actually makes two at the pan size he specs (I made 12 muffins and a full loaf pan). It has been my experience in all the recipes that Hitz's weight measures (which is how he bakes) are correct. The volume measures are erratic. That's too bad, because I weigh most things - like flour - but find it easier to use cups and tsps for things like water and tiny amounts like baking soda. I keep thinking it shouldn't matter for the water, but it does. You can't switch columns and I would follow his advice and weigh - that's what he's proofread.
Second, The visual layout of the book makes it hard to follow and easy to make a mistake. You can do it well, but need to really concentrate to follow along. I think this is because it's more of a textbook than a cookbook.
Third, and most importantly, the recipes are okay, but not extraordinary. I have made several recipes from each section of the book. The fillings, glazes and topics are excellent. The pastry recipes taste like baked goods from an okay, but not excellent bakery - and they have that 'bakery' not home-made taste. They don't burst with flavor and the texture is a bit too soft and chewy for my taste - they remind me of good supermarket stuff. Even some of the breads and scones are in the above average, not exceptional, category.
So learn from this book - and definitely use the glazes and fillings - but buy another book for the recipes.
The concepts, principles, and techniques are accessible to beginners without boring more experienced bakers. Without proselytizing, Hitz reels readers in with his unbridled love and enthusiasm for sharing his knowledge and experience with his audience. Well written and even self-deprecating at times, the book captivated me much like a novel with its twists and turns as it presented riffs on traditional baked goods and introduced innovative products and techniques. From the rustic home style products to the regal croissant, it is all covered here.
The formulas are presented in metric and imperial weights in addition to volumetric measurements making them useful to anyone anywhere. The photos, including the process shots, are helpful and beautifully composed. The accompanying DVD fills in the blanks and answers any questions one might have before, during, or after baking the products, and the resources and conversion tables at the end of the book are nice additions. I am thrilled to have this book on my shelf, but even more so to have it on my kitchen counter.
This is one of the most understandable books I own on baking. Dollar for dollar it is one of the most valuable.
The thing I like most about Hitz's books are that he covers the basics, gives trouble shooting help, and clearly explains each recipe from start to finish with out turning it into a novel for every step. The photos are also really helpful with the baking process.
I highly recommend this book as a great addition to everyone's book shelf. Whether having a brunch, overnight guests, or just a special treat - this book has something for everyone.