Tuesday, March 29, 2011

REVIEW: Bread Making: A Home Course

Bread Making: A Home Course
Crafting the Perfect Loaf from Crust to Crumb
by Lauren Chattman
Paperback: 296 pages
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (April 1, 2011)

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There's nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread straight from the oven, right?  I love fresh bread and while I've toyed with the idea of a bread machine from time to time, they are expensive.  Not to mention they take up counter space that I don't have to give up.  So for me, "fresh" bread means it comes from can or the freezer and into my oven.  However, that may soon change with the arrival of Bread Making: A Home Course: Crafting the Perfect Loaf, from Crust to Crumb.

Bread Making: A Home Course is a handbook to lead beginners confidently through every step needed to master the core bread-making techinques.  I've never baked bread from scratch before... except for one those "friendship loaves" that everyone says they want to take a starter bag of, but then they end up tossing the funky smelling bag out the window mid-week.  I did make one of those once, but playing with yeast and letting it rise was just never my thing.  I always thought it was more trouble than it was worth.  So imagine my delight when I read that all of the recipes in Bread Making: A Home Course call for instant yeast, which apparently is quite easy to use (a big plus for this novice).  For those of you with more experience, don't worry.  A handy conversion chart is included so that you can use your weapon, er... yeast of choice.

Bread Making: A Home Course is very user friendly and has been formatted so that readers can enter at the point where they feel most comfortable and advance to higher levels at their own pace.  Ingredients, Equipment and The Basic Steps are all thoroughly covered in their own chapters.  The Techniques and Recipes are broken out into six chapters: Simple Breads from Straight Doughs, Baking with Yeasted Pre-ferments, Sourdough Baking, Yeasted Flatbreads, Whole-Grain Breads and Bread Machine Baking (another delightful surprise when I realized that I really don't need a bread machine to produce fabulous artisan loafs right in my own kitchen). 

Author Lauren Chattman has anticipated all of the questions new bakers might have and provides answers to nearly every situation that is likely to arise in my the new home bread baker's kitchen.  Her step by step instructions are clear and easy to follow and the illustrations are helpful, especially in the Equipment chapter.

While I haven't had a chance to get my baking on just yet, I look forward to creating delicious breads soon... Ciabatta, English Muffins, Raisin-Walnut, Challah... you're all on my list!  If you're looking to get your knead on, check out Bread Making: A Home Course (we can compare notes as we bake this summer).  I would bet that even experienced bread bakers will find this book quite useful and enjoy having it on their kitchen bookshelf!

About the Author: Lauren Chattman has worked as a professional pastry chef and has written 10 books, including The Baking Answer Book.  She apprenticed under Francois Payard, a noted third-generation French pastry chef in New York City, before running her own kitchen.  Lauren has collaborated with former White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier on Dessert University and with Daniel Leader on Local Breads, which won an International Association of Culinary Proffesionals award.  You can find some of Lauren's demonstrations on Howdini.com.  Lauren currently lives in New York with her family. 

3 comments:

Channon said...

I miss making bread, but we're trying to eat less bread in our house, so filling it with baking smells isn't a good idea right now...

Marjie said...

Did you ever try making bread with a mixer? I buy 2 pound bags of yeast from my restaurant supply house, sprinkle the yeast right over the water or warm milk, then put the flour over top, then all the other ingredients and mix. It works fine. Re-read my bread making tutorial, and try some of my recipes. I promise that I don't have much time, so none of mine are too complex.

rikka said...

I'm still learning about pastries...

Thanks for sharing that...

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