Since I could not find a copy of this in my local bookshop to have a flick through I decided upon this by the strength of the reviews alone. As there was only a handful I was a bit apprehensive.
The first thing you will notice is the impressive level of detail in the photography guiding you through each step of the process. However thats where the strengths of this book end.
As soon as you delve deeper into the guidelines and then on to the recipes themselves you will notice that there is vital information missing.
Such as, not once in the book does it give any advice on storing bread or the best way to store ingredients such as flour.
On page 11 when giving the recipe for a sourdough starter it does not mention what type of flour to use. While this may be obvious for an experienced maker of sourdough starters for me at least I had no idea.
Where the most vital of information is missing is in the basic white bread and since this is the blueprint for most recipes in the book as the author puts it, this severley lets down the rest of the book. If you follow the recipe word for using active dried active yeast as given in the ingredients list your bread will not rise just like mine did'nt and I had to bin it because it was a disaster.
I decided to Google what went wrong and I found out that active dried yeast needs to be rehydrated first before use, using a combination of sugar and water but the recipe does not require sugar or that amount of water. I have only ever seen one brand of active dried yeast on the supermarket shelves and since this is a book mainly for the UK market and the author is an active baker who gives classes I find it astonishing that this is not covered because simply using ADY as instructed in the book will not work as I have found out.
For the record I also tried the baguettes with a poolish and as above I had to bin the poolish the next day as the ADY did not work because the book does not cover how to adapt the recipes using ADY. Yes the book also gives the amount of fresh yeast needed but this is not something which is readily available to everybody.
In conclusion, if your an advanced baker and are confident in filling in the blanks with this book then you may enjoy it, but if your a novice and dont fancy continuously binning your bread and endless searches on Google then avoid this book.
I emailed the author for some further advice on the missing information and I got no response. Perhaps if you went on one of his courses and got all of the instruction needed then this may compliment the course nicely, but right now Im off to find a more authoritive and complete book on bread.
Update 1 Since writing this review and searching for a more complete book on bread I have came across The Handmade Loaf
. Now if you click on "look inside" and scroll down to the page on yeast you will see that the author gives exacting and very specific instructions on how to use prepare and incorporate dried yeast into the recipes. This just goes to prove my point above on this book missing the vital information on how to use dried yeast in the recipes which is at this point non existent and I think the author should address this.
Update 2 Emmanuel the author has been in contact with me by phone on a number of occasions to try to ascertain why the basic loaf is going wrong. He believes the loaf tin I have been using is too big and has kindly giving me a revised recipe. I have not tried the revised recipe because I got a bit fed up to be honest and tried an online recipe which gave outstanding results first time so I felt there was no need to revert back to the basic loaf in the book.
I have since tried the croissants in the book and to be blunt they were a disaster especially since I have tried croissant recipes before with great success. The croissants were the final nail in the bread bin and this book has since been sent back to Amazon and I have decided to go with Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own
which on first impression is certainly more detailed for instance exactly what type of flour to use for your sourdoughs and what temperature they should be kept at, both pieces of information are absent in this book.
I wish the Emmanuel every success with the book but it was not for me and I would find it very hard to recommend.