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World Sourdoughs from Antiquity [Paperback]

Ed Wood
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Paperback, Nov 1996 --  
There is a newer edition of this item:
Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker's Handbook Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker's Handbook 4.5 out of 5 stars (13)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; Revised edition edition (Nov 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898158435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898158434
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 18.8 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,419,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Traces the history of sourdough bread from its origins in ancient Egypt, and offers a collection of recipes, including sourdough bagels, dinner rolls, pizza crust, and pretzels.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lot of hard graft for little reward 17 July 2001
By A Customer
Intrigued by the introductory section on the author's ventures into capturing wild yeasts from antiquity, I proceeded to capture some of my own, meticulously following his instructions, which, at times, were so mundanely detailed that I wanted to give up in frustration. However, knowing that good things require perseverance, I continued to collect the miraculous critters, finally taking the plunge and baking my first loaf - cautiously deciding to use the first recipe - the basic sourdough loaf - a loaf that supposedly can't go wrong. Result -a total flop (literally). Why bother with all that trouble, when I can rely on my regularly successful sourdough recipes, especially those advocated by Linda Collister.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you love Sourdough, you'll love this book! 5 Mar 1999
By A Customer
It is loaded with first rate information. There are so many great recipes, you won't know which bread to bake first. I love this book! It is a must have.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Real Sourdough 21 Jan 2004
By jerry i h - Published on Amazon.com
I am glad to have this collection of sourdough baking recipes, as genuine sourdough is almost extinct these days, even in France; books on sourdough baking are practically non-existent. On the other hand, this bread baking book is no better than other generic cookbooks with bread recipes. The recipes and procedures are lacking in necessary detail. This is a valuable collection of bread recipes, but only for those willing to devote the time and effort to properly adapt them to the home kitchen.
The author correctly points out that until the last century, all breads were sourdough based, meaning that you had regularly feed, care for, and keep alive the yeast like a beloved family pet. Upon the invention of commercial yeast, almost all bread bakers switched. The commercial stuff is easier to deal with and more profitable, but it also means that the breads have much less flavor. In this book, the author has assembled a standard collection of bread recipes using a sourdough starter instead of the usual commercial yeast. He has recipes for standard loaf breads, ryes, egg breads, whole wheat, French, rolls, buns, pancakes, waffles, batter breads, and the like. Of particular interest are the kamut and spelt bread recipes (both are ancient predecessors to our modern wheat), and the bread machine recipes.
On the down side, the author does not seem to have devoted much time to developing proper recipe instructions. He has one master recipe (for loaves, for example), and all the other ones are just ingredient variations of the master. This a problem, as the breads go all over the place; some are heavy, dense ones, some are similar to French breads, and others have vastly different hydration levels (moisture content). This common procedure does not work for all the varieties of different breads. All the doughs that require kneading simply say "until dough is satiny", but this description is never explained. Most of the loaves have both milk and butter as ingredients, including those breads where this is inappropriate. The various ethnic breads also have traditional makeup methods for the dough in their country of origin, but the author simply ignores them and uses his master recipe procedure, whether it is correct or not. To proof the doughs, a temperature of 85 degrees is specified; to get this, the author has rigged up a Styrofoam ice chest with a 15 watt bulb jammed into it.
The wild yeast starter that I have makes sourdough that is similar to the classic San Francisco one (I live near, but not in, SF). I had trouble getting my culture to work properly with the recipes in this book. Most of his recipes have a 1 to 2 hour proof, but my culture at standard room temperature-around 70 or so-takes 4 to 6 hours to proof properly, sometimes more on a cold day. The rye breads I tried produced a loaf that was unacceptably heavy and dense, unless you are going to use it as construction material. This is not to say that the recipes are worthless. The experienced home baker should be able to work out the problems with a little experimentation and some test bakes; this is certainly worth the trouble, as many recipes are important ones that you will want to do on a regular basis. The many non-loaf recipes are especially useful, as they give you something to do with the extra yeast (which I often just throw out) when you refresh the starter and do not feel like making yet another loaf of bread.
The author commits the ultimate sin in baking books: not telling us how he measures the flour, nor what weight of flour to use. This information is the sine qua non of proper baking. I should also note that much of this book is an advertisement to get to buy the live sourdough cultures that the author sells. Many of his recipes require the use of a "fast" culture, which most sourdough cultures are not (mine certainly is not). By coincidence, he sells such a culture, which he calls "Russian". Many of the recipes seem to have been developed for this specific culture. For these breads, I suggest that you simply use a commercial yeast; I know this defeats the whole purpose of this book, but his description of the Russian culture seems to be similar to the regular yeasts you can get at the supermarket.
I found almost no editorial errors. The make-up instructions for a couple of breads were inscrutable (like Butterflake Rolls). The reference on page 119 should say "page 28". The pizza recipe, when made as specified, produced a thin, cracker-like crust; I believe there is an error somewhere in the recipe; I fixed it by reducing the oven temperature, and making the crust much smaller and therefore thicker. A more detailed Table of Contents would make it easier to find recipes.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! I Get It! 27 Jan 2001
By ncxaxman - Published on Amazon.com
As an experienced, non-professional baker of conventional yeast bread, I'd been mystified by sourdough and the whole rustic bread thing. All my attempts turned out like sandwich bread with CRUST. Ed Wood's first couple of chapters set me straight: it's the lactobacilli (slow multipliers) that create the flavor, and the yeast (fast multipliers) that give it loft. And they both require feeding: just think of your starter as a hungry amorphous pet hanging out in the fridge, and you're on the right track. An article in Cooks Illustrated supplied the other key variable: moisture content (the wetter the dough, the more open the texture). Armed with theory, I ordered a couple of starters from Dr. Moore's web site and, following the instructions in World Sourdoughs, stirred and incubated for a couple of days, then followed the books' most basic recipe, and Whammo! Great sourdough bread! I'm sold. I'm empowered. Cool. Caveat: the previous review is right too, the book assumes you already know a lot about how bread works. For instance, the proportions in some of the recipes are a little suspect to my eye (for instance, how can you keep adding 'another cup of flour' and 'another cup of water' to a 1 quart jar, day after day, and not end up with basically an ocean of starter!? Beginners should begin elsewhere, then come to Dr. Moore for their graduate Sourdough training.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So, THAT'S how it works! 5 Oct 2000
By Michael Avery - Published on Amazon.com
I've been an avid hobbiest baker for over 20 years, and sourdough had always been a frustrating mystery. It didn't work, or it didn't work right, and every article and book I read seemed to have conflicting advice. Even the great James Beard's otherwise wonderful "Beard on Bread" was of no help. (James Beard, despite his many talents, didn't have a clue when it came to sourdough.) I just KNEW that sourdough had to be more workable and reliable, or the commercial bakeries that produce sourdough bread couldn't survive!
Ed Wood's book, World Sourdoughs from Antiquity, cleared up the mystery for me. His techniques work, they are understandable, and they don't involve witchcraft or the phase of the moon. While Dr. Woods sells sourdough cultures he has collected from around the world, his techniques will work with any culture, even ones you captured yourself.
The book not only tells you how to use sourdough, it explains what it is, gives an interesting history of sourdough, has amusing stories about how Dr. Woods collected the starters he sells, and has a number of very good recipes.
As I write this, there are four more loaves of sourdough bread in the oven, and the smell is driving me crazy.... before Ed Wood's book, I hadn't had any real sourdough success!
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 5 Aug 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
What an outstanding manual for sourdough baking. I was easily able to capture my own culture, which I have been using now for about 6 months. Dr. Wood fully explains the relationship between yeast and lactobacteria, which I found fascinating. However, most of all I am pleased with the accessibility of the author. He has a website, and I have emailed questions to him twice and each time received a prompt response. The author is an MD/PhD so he knows all about micro-organisms. It is like having a professor of sourdough, with office hours.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A synthesis of science and country wisdom 19 Jan 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This book has clear instructions and easy traditional recipes. I've baked some of these breads and my neighbors and relatives love them! But this is more than a sourdough bread book. Ed Wood describes amazing experiences including travel to Egypt to assist archaeologists documenting how the pharaohs baked bread. The photos bring scenes of ancient bread-baking to life. Anyone who eats sourdough bread, or loves bread of any kind enough to bake it themselves, will enjoy this book.
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