on 26 April 2010
As I write this review, I have the croissant dough for Pain Au Chocolat from this book in the refrigerator resting. I have a ton of books, and started methodically teaching myself to bake with Carol Field's "The Italian Baker" and Nancy Silverton's "The Breads from La Brea Bakery". I considered them my baking bibles. Bourke Street Bakery has replaced them for a number a reasons.
(1) The breadth of the recipes is fantastic, from savoury to sweet and the recipes are good;
(2) The images demonstrating step by step are useful in helping you understand how the dough is supposed to look at various stages;
(3) The measurements, metric and imperial, are precise and leave no room for guessing, and they work;
(4) The instruction is detailed, clear, and concise; The introduction walks you through a basic understanding of how water, flour, and yeast work, and explains the process very clearly;
(5) The food photography (by one of my favorite photographers, Alan Benson) is sublime;
(6) It has all the Australian baked goods that I crave!
If you are considering this book, you should know that it is not really the kind of book that you will open and go into the kitchen and turn out something in an hour. There are some of those recipes in here, but it is a book based on a bakery, and any good bakery takes its time to make its goods, and so will you! For example, I am on day three of the croissant dough. Developing your own starter takes even longer. This is because much of the flavor in these baked good relies on a slow rise.
So, this is a book for someone who is not scared to delve into the world of baking, someone who would like to improve upon/add to their baking skills, or someone who has a great command of baking skills (bread doughs, laminated doughs, yeasted doughs, etc.)
Murdoch really has produced some amazing titles in the past year, and this is one of them.
on 21 April 2012
This cookbook contains recipes for sourdoughs, yeasted breads, cakes, tarts, muffins and biscuits. The recipes do work, which is always nice in a cookbook. However, for me, the reason I do not give it 5 stars is that in some places it is needlessly complicated, whereas in others necessary detail is skimmed over. For example, the mixing of the white sourdough bread by hand involves 20 minutes kneading without salt, 20 minutes resting and another 20 minutes kneading with salt. To anyone familiar with the Dan Lepard method of mixing/kneading dough, they will know that 40 minutes of kneading dough by hand is unnecessary at best and torturous at worst. (And yes, the recipes still works with 4 quick kneads at 10 minute intervals).
Another thing to mention is that all the rising times given for breads are for an Australian kitchen (recipes do note dough temperatures, room temperatures and rising times, however room temperatures generally exceed what may be found in a typical English kitchen). In these instances, it is not unreasonable to expect that breads will take longer to double in size than the timings given; I've never known a sourdough to double in size over the course of an hour.
Subjects which are "skimmed" over a little include how to maintain the leaven/sourdough starter, along with when it should be refreshed before use. Also, the instructions on how to make croissants (and other things with laminated dough) are probably not detailed enough for a beginner to get really good results, without doing some further research.
on 7 March 2010
I have to confess at the start, I'm a Bourke St Bakery fan and love all the delicious fare from this Sydney bakery and it's sister bakery, the Central Baking Depot. I'm a regular at the CBD for brekkie every Thursday (fab croissants!) but don't live particularly close to Surrey Hills, where the BSB is located.Anyhow, my friends and I rushed out to buy this book as soon as it came out, and it was worth the wait!
Before buying this book, I was a home baker who could make reasonable cakes and pastries but always had some difficulty with breads. Now, however, I have a cracking sourdough starter on the go and can whip up an absolutely amazing sourdough loaf which certainly surpasses most of the offerings at my local bakeries. (Alas, I'm not a Surrey Hills local...) The process is long (taking around 12 - 24 hours) but very little actual hands on work is required, and the end product is absolutely fantastic. The pastry and cake recipes are also amazing, particularly the Ginger Brulee Tarts (a personal favourite) and the Pizza.
I have a number of baking books, including Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Bread Bible" and the Baker and Spice "Baking with Passion", and, although they are great books, the Bourke St Bakery surpasses both for the depth of information, the clarity of the recipes, and the layout.
If you love baking and are particularly interested in bread making, do yourself a favour and buy this book now!
on 6 December 2010
The Bourke Street Bakery was apparently set up in 2004 in the buzzy Sydney suburb of Surry Hills by two workaholic men on a bun, brioche and muffin mission. The mission succeeded. The queues got longer, the customer numbers higher, three more bakeries were added to their loaf empire and, before you know it, a literary agent walks in (no doubt) and a honey-covered deal is sealed.
A bakery book can only becomes a bestseller or fill a razor-thin gap in the most competitive and crowded publishing market of all, when it tells a very personal and very human story. A story of how two men, from nowhere, decided to set up a bakery business, with no money, no public relations initiative, no marketing strategy and no celebrity bandwagon attached. The breads, pies, pastries and cakes spoke honest quality, variety and wholesomeness, and their makers' obsessive focus on the pursuit of excellence and the collaboration of the community around them, have all served to make this story compelling and absorbing in equal measure.
The story of the bakery's products is delineated into four main sections. The first tells the neo-baker all about the fundamental basics, the ingredients and the equipment. Then there is a very thorough, detailed and didactic masterclass of breadmaking, from kneading, to ferments, to sourdoughs, to yeasted breads and olive oil breads. Beautiful photography marks and punctuates each process and each achievement. Then begins the pastry section, and by now you are on Page 144, and are facing golden croissants, buttery pate sucree, crumbly pate brisee, soft empanada pastry and all manner of breakfast buns and viennoiserie. Then come the savoury pies, like ratatouille pie and rabbit and quince pie (unusual). The heart begins to race, as lemon curd, ginger brulee and strawberry and ricotta tarts rise up to greet you, and into the final, rousing crescendo where, possibly, the worlds' most tempting, delectable and magnificent cakes, biscuits and desserts round off this world class pudding tour de force. Exhausted from the sheer depth of detail and the magnitude of the content, you recline in semi-slumber, trying to muster the strength to move, to enter the kitchen, to start the process, not really knowing where to begin. Although the "Sour cream butter cake with pears and raspberries", possibly accompanied by a strong cup of coffee, would do me nicely.
I am, quite simply, in awe of these two men, and their ability to withstand the gruelling, punishing schedules of running four urban bakeries, producing such a vast range of goods at such a high level of quality. They then find the time, after going home shattered to their families, to write a compendium of Biblical proportions, to create instruction and give advice to strangers wishing to partake of their experience. This is not a book for the faint hearted or the complete beginner, however. There is a certain silent and pre-required level of knowledge and skill implicit in the author-reader contract that would leave the total novice afloat in a sea of chocolate speckled confusion. For the die-hard, accomplished home baker and the patisserie chef, however, this is, arguably, one of the definitive works in the higher echelons of bakery gospeldom. Enjoy.