Hardcover: 640 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (October 17, 2003)
Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.7 x 10.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (324 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #24,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #30 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Baking > Bread #57 in Books > Reference > Encyclopedias & Subject Guides > Cooking #66 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Cooking Education & Reference > Reference
Cookbook author/humorist Ann Hodgman once wrote, of Rose Levy Berenbaum's masterpiece The Cake Bible, that perhaps The Gideons should leave this "bible" in hotel bedrooms instead of that other, better-known one. Hodgman has a point. I have baked extensively from both of Berenbaum's previous "bibles," on cake and on pastry, and have yet to come up with a dud.Since we're talking about bibles here, clearly Berenbaum finds that God is in the details. She gives clear, concise explanations of the "whys" of baking without ever getting tedious. I have been baking regularly for nearly thirty years, and yet in my first read-through of The Bread Bible, I learned at least a dozen facts that I hadn't previously known, and yet made perfect sense. For example, the inclusion of Wondra bleached, granulated flour (not a typical staple among serious bakers) in her Butter Popovers eliminate the resting period that the batter typically must undergo before baking.Her books also inspire: A round, Gruyere-spiked cheese bread baked in a souffle dish--which Berenbaum whimsically names, "The Stud Muffin"--will send me out today on a quick trip for a couple of necessary, missing ingredients.Berenbaum's recipes run the gamut from simple "quick" breads to more time-consuming (but hardly more difficult) artisanal loaves. She also provides sources for ingredients and equipment. This tome, with its gorgeous photographs and numerous line drawings, might intimidate some fledgling bakers, but don't let it! If it does, I suggest The King Arthur Flour's Baker's Companion. However, true breadheads are justified in wanting both.
Okay, so I did break down and buy this book after vowing not to, and would change my review to 4 stars if I could. I'm glad I purchased, but as I said before, it's not a book for the beginning baker (or the impatient!). It does contain a wealth of technical information and very specific start-to-finish instructions for each recipe, which to a more advanced bread baker might sound oxymoronic but actually is not. I believe Beranbaum wants us to achieve optimal results from our efforts, thus the great detail in her instructions. Just be sure to read your recipes through thoroughly before starting, as her directions, although detailed, do tend to be confusing, especially when it comes to adding ingredients. I have had great success and compliments from several of these recipes, among them being the raisin pecan bread, the Tyrolean ten-grain torpedo, and the olive bread. Even I have not had the patience to attempt the very involved sour recipes (yet!), but am looking forward to trying them.Here is my old, 3-star review:I rarely feel the need to review, but having tried two recipes in this book, and feeling misled at some point in both, I feel a warning is in order.First, let me say that I am quite an avid bread baker, and that this book, while chock-full of technical information, is definitely not for the neophyte, unless he or she is just interested in the science of breadmaking. Next, let me be specific about my complaints. Although I read a recipe through before I attempt it, I don't tend to memorize it; I just get an idea of the steps involved, decide if it's worth the effort, and go from there. My problems in the recipes both involved ingredients being mentioned in a list, and then the author not being specific enough about when they were to be added.
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