Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 15 Anv edition (September 6, 2016)
Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 10.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #241,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #267 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Baking > Bread #2120 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Cooking Methods
This is the 15th anniversary edition of Peter Reinhart’s now-classic work The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Reinhart is a strong proponent of slow rise baking and using pre-ferments, and having started with this work I have turned out some of the most amazing breads in my kitchen, far and away better than when I first started baking bread. My older copy is well worn and the binding is starting to show its age. As soon as I discovered that this new edition was being released I ordered it, not only to find out what’s different in this edition but also to have a fresh, strongly bound copy with which to work. Much is the same as before, but there is some new material here too.The author explains the ideas and concepts behind slow-rise baking in very good detail, through a series of steps with detailed explanations. Granted, some of these steps to not require a lot of thought or detail (organization, punching down the dough, etc.), while other steps benefit from a lot more detail and explanation. If you already use a slow-rise method, even if it is different than the author’s, it is good to read through this material and get a good feel for his approach as it is very possible that you can glean some good ideas from his methods.Pre-ferments (or “starters” if you prefer) are another important topic, and Reinhart uses them heavily in his formulas. These really do have an important impact on the dough and the resulting bread, from the texture, the rise and of course the flavor. He explains the differences between the different pre-ferments, poolish (similar to a young sourdough starter) and biga (much like a small pre-made dough ball) in particular.
I was gifted the first edition in 2006. This review represents a decade’s perspective on the book, along with my initial impressions of the new 15th anniversary revision.I was still actively baking from this book at the time I learned of the new edition. Just three days earlier, I’d made a double recipe of the Vienna Bread, making both some pull-apart rolls and a pan loaf. This has been one of my favorites in the book. I also had a pan loaf of Reinhart’s Anadama Bread in the freezer at the time. My wife enjoys the Anadama Bread as dry toast, stating that it’s so good that it doesn’t need any accompaniment to be enjoyed. So, the book was not sitting on the shelf collecting dust after a decade. My family was eating and enjoying these recipes. My copy was well-worn, and I had actually been thinking about getting a fresh copy. The decision to purchase the 15th anniversary revision was easy for me to make.Both the original and 15th anniversary dust jackets claim that the “book’s Holy Grail” recipe is the pain a l’ancienne. I’ve really enjoyed that recipe myself, and I’ve been aware for some time that it has been influential on some other authors. For instance, my wife sometimes enjoys baking out of “Kneadlessly Simple” by Nancy Baggett--who was influenced by this book. Reinhart writes, “One of my proudest achievements in the original BBA was the introduction of the delayed fermentation method, which was inspired by Philippe Gosselin in Paris and is illustrated in the recipe for pain a l’ancienne on page 199.
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