Monday, April 6, 2009

Bread Baking Books

I haven't shared any new bread recipes recently, and not because I haven't been bread baking! I've probably baked more bread this winter then any previously! I've tried many new recipes and found some really great recipes! (And am trying to forget the disasters!) I want to share some more recipes, such as a bagel recipe, but I want to continue experimenting first!

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share some of my favorite bread books. Everything I know about bread baking has come from others, either through personal contact, books or web sites! Most of my favorite recipes were either given to me by my mom or shared by friends, but I've also found some real winners in books. Books have been a real source of information on digging deeper into the bread baking process and understanding a little clearer the different aspects.

I'm not saying that these books are the best on the topic of bread baking. Our library contains two shelves full of bread baking books, and I'm sure they are all excellent! These are just the few books which I'm familiar with and use. As with any topic, if you want to learn more about it, find someone who is passionate about the subject, has spent years studying the topic, and you will learn much from their knowledge!

Bread Basket Cookbook by Martha Greene

I love this cookbook because it is written with the assumption that you have a Bosch mixer and a grain mill. While the recipes could be adjusted to commercial flour and hand kneading, I enjoy having recipes written just as I plan to use them. Many of our favorite recipes have come from this book including the Russian Black Bread and Sandwich Buns.

Recipes from the Old Mill by Sarah E. Myers and Mary Beth Lind

These two sisters grew up with an old water powered grist mill on their property where their uncle turned grain into flour. Their cookbook is full of recipes using whole grains. It has particularly good sections on using alternate grains such as corn, rye, and buckwheat. They sprinkle helpful tips throughout the book.They even have a section on cultural breads such as tortillas, pitas, and injera. I haven't nearly tried all the recipes in the book but have numerous favorites!

The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I found this book in the library several years ago. It was the first time I was exposed to extraordinary bread baking. I never knew that some people weigh their ingredients to get a more accurate result then cup measuring! I learned much through this book about why and how yeast works and how ingredients affect the final outcome. It is also through this book that I first became interested in artisan bread. Though it has been several years since I've perused this book, a few of these recipes became well known favorites in our home.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking

You may have heard of this book as it has been immensely popular recently. I had to get on a waiting list at the library. The idea behind this book is not that you can walk into your kitchen and enjoy fresh homemade bread five minutes later! Instead, the recipes in this book are mixed up and placed in the refrigerator overnight for up to two weeks. When you desire a loaf of fresh bread, you cut off a piece of dough, form it into a loaf, allow to rise, and bake. The bread needs no kneading, the refrigeration allows the flavors to develop, and all total, you are spending only a few minutes a day to have a loaf of freshly baked bread for several days! I was not able to use this book extensively (library books need returned unfortunately) but I did like the concepts described. Not every recipe I tried was a winner but a few were absolutely incredible!

The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Maybe I've saved the best for last! I can't talk about bread books without mentioning Peter Reinhart. He has written a number of books on bread baking but I've only read Bread Baker's Apprentice. Obviously anyone who can write numerous books on the subject of bread baking - is passionate about bread and Peter is a real fanatic as well as gifted teacher! His books are incredibly detailed and explain every aspect of the process well. He includes great photographs showing his techniques, which to me, immensely add to the value of a book.

In one of the wonders of the internet, I found out this winter that Peter Reinhart was looking for recipe testers for the new book he is writing and, of course, I jumped at the chance! His new book builds on the techniques and recipes he has been perfecting the past twenty years and also incorporating some of the newer techniques for artisan quality breads. I have had so much fun trying out the recipes and gained some great experience. The recipes were not difficult, the directions detailed and none of the recipes I've tried have flopped, which I can't say for any other bread book I've used! The recipes span a large range of bread baking from baguettes to biscuits to bagels. These are not the fastest recipes ever, as most of Peter's recipes require overnight fermentation to develop the flavors. I highly recommend this new book, which should be out in the fall, especially if you are ready for your bread to rise (no pun intended) to a new level of awesome!!!

Edit to add: Here is the link to Peter's newest book.

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