The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Book Review: Baking Artisan Breads

Floydm's picture

Book Review: Baking Artisan Breads

I just got my hands on a nice new baking book, Baking Artisan Bread by Johnson & Wales University baking and pastry instructor Ciril Hitz.

The format of the book feels quite familiar to anyone who has read The Bread Baker's Apprentice: a section on ingredients, followed by a section on equipment, followed by a section on techniques. There is also a brief section on the 10 steps of baking, not as in depth as Peter's twelve stages of baking, but a useful introduction for people unfamiliar with the process. Then the recipe section.

The recipes section is where things get a bit different. Hitz organizes the recipes around ten core formula, each of which is used in a few variations. So, for example, Hitz includes a Pain de Mie (white sandwich bread) formula then follows it up with a Cinnamon Spice Swirl Bread recipe, a Raisin Roll recipe, and a Picnic Roll recipe, all based on the Pain de Mie. Doing so shows the reader how mastering a few core doughs opens up limitless variations.

The ten core formula provide a decent variety of recipes: Baguette Dough, Ciabatta Dough, Whole Wheat Dough, Bagel Dough, Pizza Dough, Challah Dough, Croissant Dough. This book doesn't get into the world of Sourdough.

The appendices are short but quite helpful. They include a nice baking timeline and a useful troubleshooting guide.

Also included with the book is a DVD. There are some nice clips of preshaping a round, shaping and scoring a baguette, and rolling up croissant dough. My one complaint is the DVD's brevity: even including credits it comes in under a half an hour.

The photography in the book is by Ron Manville, who took the photos in The Bread Baker's Apprentice and Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. The intro is by Jeffrey Hamelman and the back cover includes a quote by Peter Reinhart. So you know Hitz is a credible baker.

Baking Artisan Bread is quite reasonably priced. It isn't as authoritative as The Bread Baker's Apprentice or Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread, but it would make a nice gift for a budding baker.

suave's picture

Thanks, Floyd, I've been wondering about this book for a while now, but it has not hit local libraries yet.


Update: Having seen it I have to say that for a beginner getting BBA for extra $7-8 is a no-brainer.

katelove's picture

I am new to baking and this site, but I picked this book up the other day, and I love it.  I am currently making the pizza dough and made the honey whole wheat yesterday...It is easy to read and has beautiful far so good.


apprentice's picture

I've only made one recipe from this book -- the whole wheat. One-half the recipe as a loaf with optional seeds and the other half in the pita bread variation. Fabulous!

There is a mistake in that recipe (pretty minor but still) and a few other mistakes here and there, corrected in subsequent editions. If you want to check yours or your libray's copy before using a recipe, Mr. Hitz has published an errata for Baking Artisan Bread on his website. Here it is: