Bread Book suggestions
I'm new to the whole dough (bread & pizza) thing and I've been reading alot of informaion on the web. There's so much info out there that I'm beginning to get confused with various ways to make a certain bread. Right now, I'm making ciabatta and have looked at different recipes and they all do things differently. From techniques to ingredients, every author seems to do it a little differently.
I'm looking for a bread book that would contain some recipes but more importantly detailed information on techniques, such as mixing, folding, stretching, etc that would help a newbie get started in the right direction.
For those who have a favorite book, I would appreciate if the members could recommend a book and provide a little info as to why they prefer that book over the next.
I do have Artisan Bread in Five, the Fresh Loaf pocket book and Peter Reinhart's American Pie. They are good books but I'm looking for something more detailed.
All responses are appreciated.
I started with the Fresh Loaf Lessons (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/lessons). The first book I purchased, and one I still use quite often and would recommend, is Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice". BBA is about 1/3 instructional material on ingredients, technqiues, and such. The remainder of the book is recipes that cover a wide range of bread types and techniques. The recipe instructions are very detailed (usually several pages long) and there are lots of photographs.
I think one thing you will find is that there is no single approach. So when you read different books, you'll find different techniques designed to achieve the same result. Part of the fun is experimenting with various kneading and non-knead techniques, steam methods, etc.
You could go with a book that is available to the general public but seems geared more for professional bakers, such as Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread.
Or, you could go with a baking textbook that explicitly aims at teaching the why's and how's of baking, such as Dan DiMuzio's Baking Bread.
Each has a somewhat different slant but both provide much of the information that you are looking for.
Thanks for the responses. I've checked all three books out on Amazon. I think I may order BBA today and maybe DiMuzio's book. I've heard that Hamelman's book is more geared towards professionals. I also looked at Tartine by Chad Robertson. Some of the reviews say they have had trouble with his sourdough starter.
I actually have a 30 day old starter that I feed once a week and is in the fridge. I've used it a couple of times and it seems to produce a good product but it's not quite tangy enough for me. Maybe it's still a bit young.
With regard to a more tangy sourdough starter, see
Also keep in mind, that the flavor of a starter generally improves over time. So your starter may have more taste as it matures.
I'm really enjoying Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish. I like that he teaches you about the basics, then takes a lean dough and has you learn how bake make it as a polish, straight dough and sourdough bread with all the variations in methods but no fancy ingredients so that you can learn what tiny differences in each part of the equation can do. This allows a basic understanding of the process. He also helps you to learn to develop your own recipes.
if you're interested in whole grains, I have a few other recipe books but this is a good, basic learning book. Hamelman's book is also very good and I'm reading it for a third time right now. It's a bit more advanced in some ways, more of a school text book in others. It also has a ton of recipes, more than I'll ever have a chance to get through.
I bought BBA yesterday. I started skimming through the book and it seems pretty good. When I make dough, I always use grams. Thought that was the norm with bakers. In BBA, he uses cups and ounces. Guess it's not a big deal once I learn how to convert the ounces to grams.
I'll also check out Forkish's book. I saw it on Amazon and actually added it to my wish list so I may pick that one up next week. Does that book list the ingredients in grams or does he use ounces and cups as Reinhart does?
Here's another vote for "Flour Water Salt Yeast"... my current favorite bread book (and pizza book) by far....
Ordered it today from Amazon.
Made Reinhart's Ciabatta and did not really care for it. It was way too dense for me. Did not have the flavor I was expecting.Made the preferment Sunday and baked three loaves yesterday. Definitely need to work on my shaping abilities.
Anyway, I think part of the problem is I did not add enough water to the dough. I believe I was about 50-75 grams short as my calculations were messed up. The color was good but working with a home oven leaves alot to be desired.
I also have AB in 5 and made Ciabatta with the master recipe. The dough fermented in the fridge for three-four days (can't remember) adn the flavor was much better. This one was also a bit dense for my liking but I contribute that to user error. Kind of intrigued by Bertinot's slap and fold technique and I can see how that may help with the light and airy crumb I am after. Might give that a try on my next attempt.
I hope you post your experiences and thoughts re: the Ken Forkish book and formulas. I live in the Portland OR area and have enjoyed Ken's Artisan Breads and Ken's Artisan Pizza (except for the 90 minute wait for the pizza - Grrrrr) but after owning the Forkish book for about a month and trying many of his formulas, I think I still prefer Reinhart's approach, EXCEPT that I am getting very good results using dutch ovens instead of the Reinhart baking tile + water pan system.
I was particularly put off by Forkish's recommendation that I use and then discard about a pound of flour per day while building a wild yeast starter. Must be my Scottish ancestors calling to me, but throwing away that much flour/starter seems like a horrible waste.
Forkish has a number of videos on youtube demonstrating techniques mentioned in his book. They're helpful, if just basically recapping the book. Just search for "kensartisan" or "Ken's Artisan" on youtube and you'll find them.
I agree his methods waste way too much for a home baker. It's terrible, and I can't imagine why he did it that way. The book is aimed at the home baker but the methods are sized extremely poorly. I've adapted them to fit my style and amounts. No way could I do what he suggests -- creating 1000g of starter and throwing away well over half of that. C'mon, Ken. That's inane.
Nevertheless, I've baked a number of his formulas (BTW, I don't use the Dutch oven method) and like them. Especially the Field Breads.
Jaywillie and Greg, had I known that about Forkish's book, I probably would not have ordered it. I bake mainly on the weekends and usually two or three loaves, which a typical recipe makes is really too much. And I agree that making 1000g of starter and throwing away half is insane. To be honest, not real sure why alot of these books seem to be based on a commercial setting vs a home environment. My wife says bread is too fattening so she limit's her intake. Then I'm left with 1-2 loaves of bread. Luckily I work with a bunch of scavangers (i mean that in a nice way) and my sisters never turn down bread so I have an outlet to unload the product without it going bad.
My shaping/forming skills suck, to put it mildly, so I've been trying to do a little baking every weekend. I know with practice, I will get better at it.
I've been baking pizza for about a year now and my pizza shaping skills are still not that great but they are getting better. I'm kinda interested in trying Forkish's pizza recipe as I find that pizza dough has more flavor than the bread I've been making. Living in South Louisiana, can't really get good flour other than GM and sometimes Wally World has KAAP but no bread flour.
Next bread step is some form of sourdough or a long fridge ferment. Haven't decided which way to go yet. And baking in a home oven that max's out at 550 doesn't help with pizza. If I can only talk the wife into a WFO.
I've found I can adapt Forkish's formulas using my own starter, and just getting it up to the weight he specifies. That leaves me with no waste whatsoever. If you don't have a starter, just search TFL and you'll find lots of threads about getting going with sourdough. Search for the pineapple method; that one worked great for me and my two starters (one rye, one white) have been going along for quite a while now.
Don't give up on the dream of an outdoor pizza / bread oven. I built mine from this plan and it has worked for a few years now (with some seasonal patching due to the 300 days (+/-) of rain in my area). I think I spent $80.00 for materials with the exception of the base, which can be as fancy or simple as you like.
Thanks for the link Greg. That might be doable.
300 +/- days of rain a year? Wow, that's alot. That does not leave many days to bake outside.We don't get near that much rain, but have to deal with the hurricanes.
That wood fired oven looks great - now have to convince the hubby to build one once we move up North(Orcas Island, Washington). I would love to have one big enough for a bunch of bread loaves.
The book that got me off and running was Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking Across America. In it she details the recipes and methods of a number of the most famous bread bakers/bakeries in the US. And, she incorporates a number of different techniques. I baked from it for the first several years of my artisinal baking journey. It is very motivating but somewhat less so instructional. If you follow the easy/medium/hard recommendations, you can learn and grow.
I have and love FWSY and most of my baking these days is the 1000gm flour, dutch oven type recipes but if you stick to Forkish you only get that basic technique. For all around instruction, Hammelman is a good choice but I find it technical rather than motivating.
That is what I do as well. I use Forkish' recipes and techniques but not his starter. I use my own starter, at more or less the same hydration as he calls for, and just substitute. I read his section on maintaining a starter and found it puzzling at best, like many here. Other than that I really like it -- I've made some great loaves (and baguettes using his dough and getting steam via a cast iron skillet) and the best pizzas I've ever made.
I have my own starter so I probably would not be using his. I'm more interested in his techniques, etc vs his recipes. That's not saying I would not try any.
This whole bread/pizza making thing is addicting. I sometimes feel like I need to be in rehab.