THIS is the definitive guide for professional and serious home bakers; it is precisely the caliber of detailed information serious bakers have demanded in order to reach their next plateau of bread baking excellence. This is unmistakably the most comprehensive bread book of its type on the market. I am so delighted with the results it has shown my own baking.
As a serious and dedicated cook, I have never experienced such instant gratification and remarkable improvements in my own craft than is evidenced via the advice available from this extraordinary reference.
Through dedicated effort, and much trial and effort - in the method of Nancy Silverman - my sourdough eventually met the high goal I set for it; to taste like that of Fisherman's Wharf sourdough. Nevertheless, my ciabatta and country style loaves remained, in my opinion, sub-par.
This book's detailed; professional instructions launched my country bread and ciabatta loaves to bakery status within only two passes! I am now able to go beyond my original benchmark and further tweak the percentages in BREAD to achieve what ever I want for this style of bread. It is such a wonderful experience! The first try did not deviate from BREAD's formula. The second pass was formulae - plus - experience, and that was the charm. We are simply blown-away at how something exponentially went from good to excellent in two batches.
JEFFREY HAMELMAN, a former bakery owner has been baking professionally for thirty years. In 1998, he became the 76th Certified Master Baker in the United States. Unlike the other author of five bread books, Mr. Hamelman's book, Bread stays on point.
He does not have the ungracious, annoying habit of referencing himself as "acclaimed" and famous, nor does he continuously interject references to old James Beard awards. Mr. Hamelman does not patronize the reader and talk down to them, nor does he disingenuously convolute his instructions to make them appear more complicated to elevate his own importance.
I bought four of the other author's books in a single optimistic purchase for which I regret. Reinhart's recipes produced baked goods that could double as doorstops and his sourdough starter was a waste of ingredients, both tries were scaled and to the letter!
There are 118 detailed formulas. Each formula is charted in four versions:
- U.S. Imperial weight - for professional yields (about 22-25 loaves)
- Metric weight - for large professional yields
- Home - Imperial volume (cups, teaspoons) w/some weights - 2-3 loaves
- Bakers Percentages
Home artisan bakers can easily scale their ingredients by looking at the professional metric weights and moving the decimal point for home yields. The only math necessary is converting fresh yeast to either active or instant yeasts. OR, if one wishes to customize ingredients, they can combine the baker's percentages as appropriate.
Additional information might be as follows:
-Ciabatta with Stiff Biga-
pre-fermented flour 20%
Dough Yield: U.S. __ - Metric ___ - Home: __
Each ingredient is charted in columns per US, Metric, Home, and %
BIGA - also listed in columns per US, Metric, Home, and %
FINAL DOUGH in columns per US, Metric, Home
Then detailed instructions are categorized as 1. Biga, - 2. Mixing, - 3. Bulk Fermentation: 3 hours, - 4. Folding, - 5. Dividing and Shaping, - 6. Final Fermentation: time - 7. Baking.
The typeface and layout are such that they are user friendly. Mountains of information is there at one's ready without flipping all over and digging for salient information.
Lastly, Hamelman is the baking director of King Arthur Flour. They sell their live sourdough to the public. It is perfectly balanced lactic to acetic and originates from 200 year old cultures. Save yourself the aggravation of fiddling with organic grapes, or other methods that do not always work. Buy a small culture from King Arthur and watch it sponsor a lifetime of artisan loaves. Mine had been making beautiful music for years. It is delicious!