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The Bread Bible
ISBN 0393057941 / 9780393057942 / 0-393-05794-1
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
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Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible introduced readers to a newly illuminating baking-book approach--a precisely detailed yet accessible recipe format emphasizing baking science. The Bread Bible follows the same plan, offering 150 recipes, arranged by type, for a great variety of baked goods--from muffins, popovers, and English muffins to sandwich loaves, focaccia, rolls, hearth breads, rye bread, challah, and more, with a particularly vivid (and passionate) stop at sourdough loaves. Instruction is abetted by 32 pages of photos plus 300 step-by-step illustrations that depict, for example, bagel forming, in exact, imitable detail. In addition, an introductory section, "The Ten Essential Steps of Making Bread," includes a particularly lucid discussion on the way yeast works plus an invaluable comparison of kneading methods. Like the book's final look at ingredients, these "mini-texts" provide information uncommon to most home bread books, rendered in simple language that allays fears of putting one's hand in the dough.
All this is impressive indeed, and readers bitten by the bread-baking bug will welcome the ultra-thorough Beranbaum approach. The less committed may find her technical demands too painstaking (her baguette recipe requires two starters, for example; though simpler loaves are, of course, offered) or even impractical (ingredient quantities using grams are sometimes given in minute fractions, requiring a special scale). The frequent inclusion of alternate mixing methods and equipment options can also make the formulas unwieldy. On the other hand, features like Pointers for Success and Understanding often yield exciting discovery as well as rewarding results. In short, this Beranbaum bible answers virtually every bread-making question, as well as providing exemplary formulas. It's the real deal for those willing to bake along with Rose. --Arthur Boehm [via]