The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Book recommendation ?

bread_pita's picture

Book recommendation ?

Hi forum!

Novice brick maker in search for decent literature on baking.  I'm not looking for a recipe book, but rather something more instructional, such as how to identify if I need more or less hydration, how do I know when bulk fermentation and rising is at optimal, when is the bread baking done (or overdone, underbaked).  Less technical, more practical.


Thanks in advance!

barryvabeach's picture

I like Bread, by Jeffrey Hamelman

  While there are a number of recipes in the book, the beginning has a good explanation of the process.   

Danni3ll3's picture

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish is what got me going. He is extremely detailed and precise in his instructions. I also happened to get lucky and have the same kitchen room as him so all the timings and recipes worked perfectly. I really recommend this book. 

Jane Dough's picture
Jane Dough

My vote goes with "Bread".  Hamelman starts from the seed stage explaining the whole process of bread making.  Recipes/formulae are offered for a wide array Of baked products.  The book is sectioned clearly and includes yeast and natural levain, lean and not so lean. I don't think you can go wrong with Bread.  

I have FWSY also but the two books are completely different. Forkish is sharing his life dream while Hamelmans is instructing. 

bread_pita's picture

TY all!

Pars's picture

wow,such an open ended query. First I am at work on a dumb phone, so this will be short.

ok I have a ton of books, some I really like for the authors style and other for plane simple directions.

but... Second...your not gonna beat this format right here.  Asking direct for comments about your problem that you may have or direction you should pursue.  There is a sourdough site with a wonderful forum with a QandA page that goes into some of what you may be looking for.   Such as.  For starting out.

Thirdly....success really is a great motivator. I am just beyond bricks. me? I enjoy campfire cooking.  Dutch ovevs, reflector overs etc.  so I figured to really study and learn some basic techniques that work in the bush and they should work at home too.

anyways I wound up with a small explicit book on Dutch oven bread or baking and it launched me with a few successful recipes withe instructions on technique, expectations and trouble shooting.  The overnight no knead  which I have resisted until then was a fail safe no fault easy win win method that is easily modified to knead a little and use whole wheat and rye. 

i am now gathering info from various books and the web to try a Volkornbrot. I doubt it will work the first few times but I will watch and feel and learn and develop with it.  How wet and how sticky and how springy comes with practice and the experience. 

cooking is an art

baking is a science 

baking bread is magic.  It helps to have a wizard to tutor you but if your patient and observant you can and will learn on your own

tackle one problem at a time.  What is your biggist frustration or question.  Maybe list two or three and watch the replies you get. 

Happy baking


(must bake bread!)



bread_pita's picture

Hey, Capn Par!


The thing is that I'm really a beginner so I need a good guideline as a reference.  While the info on this forum is great and there is plenty to learn, I find the information to be too fragmented and disperse.  I'm still working my backbone.


I own "Dough" by Richard Bertinet but it is mostly a technique/recipe book and that doesn't work for me.  I really need to understand how to read the dough in practical situations.  Things like the window pane test and the finger poke test are great for me.  Simple techniques that help me understand when a step in the baking process is done so I can move to the next.  Later on, with more baking experience and knowledge, I'm sure the forum will be great for tweaking.


TY for the Q&A.  I'm halfway through and it has been helpful.

Pars's picture

OK I'm going to take a stab at those three questions hopefully somebody with a lot more experience will come in with a better direction end guidance than here but hopefully this gets things started.

hydration ......  if it's not sticky and somewhat bothersome with a little clinging to you it's not wet enough. Different style bread's will of course we quire different hydration formulas but the yeast and flour need the moisture to develop the gluten.  Everything from slightly tighter then a batter to too stiff is objective depending on what style of bread.   Dusting too much can and will dry your dough out and prohibit a good rise.  Err on the wet side.  

Fermintation and rise....  There is a good article on the pros and cons of a second rise on the sourdough site that I sent earlier.  It has some expectations and signs of what you may be looking for

done....  Ok. 200f is done. Typically. But you gotta take it out at about 185 -195 be Ouse it keeps cooking for a while.  Also depending on the type of bread it may take half an hour to four days to set and rest before you can cut into it to allow the moisture remaining to even out in the loaf.  Get a thermometer 4 to 6 inches. poke your loaf 10 to 15 minutes before the recipe says it should be done and get an idea of what the temperature is and if it's over 190 at that point consider taking it out.  I start my oven around 4 1/4 to get a good spring and then back it down to maybe 365 375. someday I hope to get a stone or brick oven woodfired and will have to learn how to deal with that.

I hope this sort of helps and maybe start some other answers for you to get you on your way.


 Sri about typos. Operating heavy equip

suave's picture

An interesting and worthy topic that hardly ever comes up arond here.

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I have found the blogs on Bread Magazine to be very helpful. Check them out >

Pars's picture

get "Dutch Oven Breads" by Mark Hanson. 

Amzon $15.00 

he will walk you through some easy to eat loavEs and get you started and confident

if you don't like it send it to me I will pay you for it and give it one of my kids.

it may not be a bakery bakers text book, but will start anyone who can read down a good path with foundation 

i would like to hear what you think after you study and make A Few batches

forget about the Dutch oven as!pect and use what you have. no worries it WILL work and you will learn

 pies?????  Pie school.  By Kate Lebo 

typos???  Still at work. 


Pars's picture

The Art of Baking Bread: What You Really Need to Know to Make Great BreaD

hmmm.... This book has some critical reviews, one says the auther somewhat opinionated And was offended Hah. Lol roflwmp!

So I haven't really enjoyed or liked everyone who taught or instructed me  (USMC USNEOD FAA PILOT MECH USCG LIC CAPPY) but Over all the book has photos that are not the best but are adequate and a narrative that can be followed in the subjects that may be exactly what you're looking for.  I scored mine at Ollies for seven or eight dollars some of the reviews on Amazon may lead you to others but over all this book is acceptable for just what you're looking for.  

 I really didn't want to recommend any particular book. I am sure there are people on this site and elsewhere more qualified than me but I felt that being once in your same position I found a lot of help from both of these Books More so than other more technical books.  

I have a few other favorites which I could not do without but for your circumstance I think these two may go a long way



bread_pita's picture

I think this will do, Pars.  I'll check it out.  TYVM!