Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (October 5, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.9 x 10.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (390 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #12,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #16 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Baking > Bread #48 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Celebrities & TV Shows
Let me start with a summary. My Bread is a great cookbook about making artisan bread, thin crust pizza, and sandwiches. The instruction is clear, the recipe is practical and super easy, and the picture is beautiful. You also get a bonus section about the author's personal story in developing his career and famed no-knead method. I love this book and highly recommend it to everyone.I like bread, especially good quality artisan bread. I like getting my hands dirty, both in the laboratory and in my kitchen. But, as a Taiwanese biologist, I have no cultural background, professional training, or family tradition in making bread, so I didn't even think about doing it before. Until somewhere in 2009, I learned about Jim Lahey's no-knead, slow fermentation, and baking in an oven-within-an-oven method. (Thanks to Mark Bittman for New York Times and Internet!) I just tried it using my Pyrex bowl. The result was a big surprise and very successful! I started making bread regularly. I shared my bread with friends including Americans, a Brazilian, Chinese, and an Italian. They all like it and cannot believe that this bread is not purchased from stores. So, if I, a guy with no cultural background and no family tradition in bread, can use this method to make great artisan bread in his little kitchen, anyone can do it!Someone has commented that it is a one-trick thing, so if you've known this technique beforehand (like myself), you don't need this book. I DISAGREE. I got this book after I've produced about 30 loafs with experimenting add-in ingredients, but Lahey's book still provides me with good recipe for different bread variations and interesting ideas. I tried several already; I like some better than others, but they all taste pretty good.
I prefer bread books written by practicing bakers. I find that they usually reflect author's approach to bread-baking, his philosophy, and in my opinion such books are more complete and entertaining than the ones written by professional food writers, although there are some notable exception. So from that point of view a book by Jim Lahey, owner and founder of New York Sullivan Street Bakery is an obvious choice. There is another reason altogether though - arguably it was Mr. Lahey's recipe for no-knead-bread and publication by Mark Bittman in NY Times that started the resurgence of amateur bread baking. It was his recipe that transformed me from occasional to everyday baker. Therefore for me buying this book was a no brainer.My first impression is very positive (I don't expect it to change). The book is printed in convenient 10x8" format on a high-quality glossy paper. Most but not all recipes are accompanied by photos, which make the process very clear. The recipes are given in cups and in metric units, a good thing in my opinion, but if you're used to ounces, you're a bit out luck, although quite a few recipes start with 280 g. of flour which is pretty much 10 oz. The layout is very clear, typeface makes it easy to read, there are no gaudy colors, and every recipe can be found in the table of contents.There are six chapters. First comes highly personal, rather entertaining and mercifully short explanation of how Mr. Lahey became a baker and what bread represents to him. Second chapter is theory, it explains what the ingredients are, and how the process works. Third chapter is where the recipes begin, there's no-knead-bread itself and about dozen of breads based on it as well as some breads based on liquids other than water. Fourth chapter is pizza and focaccia.
I think it's fantastic that the No Knead Bread took over much of the world by storm. As a passionate homebaker, I think there are very few things that can get much better than a great loaf created by your own hands. And I think it's fantastic that Lahey (and Bitmann) have inspired so many intrepid folks to successfully attempt to make their own good bread at home. And for that, I'm giving this book 3 stars.But...I think book is a one trick pony. Most of the recipes are pretty much identical, with a few variations. Take some bread flour, add water weighing 75-85% of the flour weight, 2% salt and 0.25-0.5% instant yeast. Stir 30 seconds, leave at room temp for 12-18 hours, do a fold, dump into a dutch oven and bake. In a few recipes, you replace 25% of the bread flour with some whole wheat or rye (but this is predominantly a white bread book). In some you add olives, or fennel or whatever. Sure, they work, but they're just minor variations on the same theme. You will learn "the trick" to make decent loaves without much skill on your part, but that's it. Which is fine, but just realize that this is not the book that will help you progress further as a baker. And you can find countless no knead recipes on The Internet which then almost makes getting this book redundant. I see this book simply as Lahey's official codification of the no knead method, and not a true representation of the complex and beautiful breads available at his bakery.If you catch the bread bug, you will undoubtedly want to try out other flours, make shapes other than a dutch oven round or a ciabatta, maybe get a little creative with loaves that you can score with nice designs, or even venture into the land of wild yeast. At that point, I doubt you will really refer back to this book.
Healthy Bread Cookbook: The Top 50 Most Healthy and Delicious Bread Recipes (banana bread, bread pudding recipes, daily bread, zucchini bread, monkey bread ... bread maker) (Top 50 Healthy Recipes) My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method Bread Machine Cookbook: 101 Delicious, Nutritious, Low Budget, Mouthwatering Bread Machine Cookbook: Best Bread Machine Bread Recipe Recipes for Perfect-Every-Time Bread-From Every Kind of Machine Oster Expressbake Bread Machine Cookbook: 101 Classic Recipes With Expert Instructions For Your Bread Maker (Bread Machine & Bread Maker Recipes) Bread Machine Cooking - The Ultimate Guide to Bread Machine Bread Baking: Over 24 Bread Machine Recipes You Will Love! 28 Popular No-Knead Breads: From the Kitchen of Artisan Bread with Steve Bread Baking, Recipes, Cookbook: The Secret To Successfully Making & Baking Incredible BREAD (Bread Books and Recipes by Sam Siv Book 1) Bread Machine Gluten Free: 13 Gluten Free Bread Recipes for Your Bread Maker Machine (Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Baking) Bread Machine Heaven: 15 Dreamy Bread Machine Recipes (Baking, Bread Maker, Sourdough, Crust) The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread Josey Baker Bread: Get Baking - Make Awesome Bread - Share the Loaves GLUTEN FREE BREAD RECIPES: Easy and Delicious Homemade Gluten Free Bread Recipes The Bread Baker's Apprentice, 15th Anniversary Edition: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread The Quick Bread Cookbook: The 50 Most Delicious Quick Bread Recipes (Recipe Top 50's Book 83) Bread Machine Magic: 139 Exciting New Recipes Created Especially for Use in All Types of Bread Machines Bread Machine Recipes: Delicious, Fast & Easy Bread Machine Recipes You Will Love Bread Machine 123: A Collection of 123 Bread Machine Recipes for Every Baking Artists Paleo Bread Love: 15 Healthy Paleo Bread Recipes (Sugar-Free, Low Carb, Grain-Free) Bread Machine Magic: 138 Exciting Recipes Created Especially for Use in All Types of Bread Machines Choice Bread Machine Recipes Cookbook 131 Delicious Recipes for 1½ & 2-pound Bread Makers