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Okay, so I did break down and buy this book after vowing not to, and would change my review to 4 stars if I could. I'm glad I purchased, but as I said before, it's not a book for the beginning baker (or the impatient!). It does contain a wealth of technical information and very specific start-to-finish instructions for each recipe, which to a more advanced bread baker might sound oxymoronic but actually is not. I believe Beranbaum wants us to achieve optimal results from our efforts, thus the great detail in her instructions. Just be sure to read your recipes through thoroughly before starting, as her directions, although detailed, do tend to be confusing, especially when it comes to adding ingredients. I have had great success and compliments from several of these recipes, among them being the raisin pecan bread, the Tyrolean ten-grain torpedo, and the olive bread. Even I have not had the patience to attempt the very involved sour recipes (yet!), but am looking forward to trying them.
Here is my old, 3-star review:
I rarely feel the need to review, but having tried two recipes in this book, and feeling misled at some point in both, I feel a warning is in order.
First, let me say that I am quite an avid bread baker, and that this book, while chock-full of technical information, is definitely not for the neophyte, unless he or she is just interested in the science of breadmaking. Next, let me be specific about my complaints. Although I read a recipe through before I attempt it, I don't tend to memorize it; I just get an idea of the steps involved, decide if it's worth the effort, and go from there. My problems in the recipes both involved ingredients being mentioned in a list, and then the author not being specific enough about when they were to be added. To wit: in the "Heart of Wheat Bread" recipe, she lists salt as one of the ingredients in the "flour mixture." Below that, she says to combine the ingredients for the flour mixture and add to the sponge (in bold print). Only several sentences farther down on the page did I notice that the salt wasn't supposed to be added until four hours later. I don't know how much of an effect this had on the finished product (which was good but not great, considering the effort), but I feel she should have been more specific. I encountered almost exactly the same problem when I made the "Touch-of-Grace Biscuits," where self-rising and regular flour are both in the ingredients list (although not one right after the other), but again she is not specific in her directions; she simply instructs you to whisk together the flour, etc., etc. I included both types of flour and then discovered on the next page that the second amount was supposed to be used to shape the biscuits, not added to the dough. Again, the recipe came out okay, but I was disappointed that the directions hadn't been clearer.
As a result, this book, which I had seriously considered buying for my collection, will be returned to the library and probably not renewed. There are plenty of more comprehensively-written bread books out there, and I don't need the aggravation of this one! I only gave it three stars for the technical information, and I completely agree with another reviewer about the fact that having to have so many specific types of flours, pans, etc., on the shelves in your home to use this book properly will be a big turn-off for all but the most dedicated bread bakers.