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@Tortepane "Buono come il pane. Like to eat. Love to bake." (Tetbury, Glos)

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Tartine Book No. 3
Tartine Book No. 3
by Chad Robertson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.98

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Bread - Hard-to-Find Ingredients, 25 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Tartine Book No. 3 (Hardcover)
Yay! Pre-ordered copy of Tartine Book 3 arrived this morning. Wait! What's all this?

I preface my comments by saying I am a HUGE fan of Chad Robertson and the Tartine Bakery; one of my colleagues has been lucky enough to spend time with him at the bakery and returned with glowing reports of him and his bread, so fabulous in person as well as in print. I loved his first two books Tartine Bread and Tartine: Sweet and Savory Pastries, Tarts, Pies, Cakes, Croissants, Cookies and Confections and have baked from them extensively as have many of my colleagues and customers (I work at Shipton Mill in UK - We mill a range of organic & stoneground flour).

My first impressions of this latest volume however, are of fabulous breads that are much less accessible to the average home-baker, in the UK at least. In addition to the chapter on Basic Breads it contains chapters on:

* Master Method for Tartine Loaves (utilisiing a sequence of Starter, Leaven, Dough Premix, Autolyse and Final mix).
* Ancient Grain Breads (using Kamut, Emmer, Einkorn and Spelt flours)
* Seeded Breads (with all manner of seeds including Sunflower, Flaxseed, Sesame, Poppy, Caraway)
* Hearth Loaves with Sprouted Grains: (using Sprouted Einkorn, Purple Barley, Quinoa, Kamut, Rye, Spelt, Amaranth, and Emmer berries and Buckwheat groats for you to sprout yourself)
* Rene's Style Pan Loaves: (again using sprouted grains but in a higher percentage with lower percentage of flour including sprouted Rye, Barley, Purple Barley, Amazake (a preparation of Japanese rice grain) and Buckwheat groats plus the harder to find Einkorn flour)
* Porridge, Cracked and Flaked Grain Breads (including Master Methods for Porridge Breads & Cracked and Flaked Grain Breads, with fermented starters made from Rye, Kamut, Farro, Oats, Barley, Corn, Brown Rice, Koji Rice and Millet grains and berries)
* Crispbreads
* Pastries

The recipe chapters are interspersed with featured sections on the breads of Denmark, Sweden, Germany & Austria, France and Mexico chronicling Chad's journeys through bread.

The recipes all look amazing and I am sure taste equally fabulous if his first two books are anything to go by. But, and it's a big but, many of the ingredients are going to be hard to source by British home bakers, just take a look at the list below and ask yourself where you are going to source whole berries of these grains as well as some of the rarer flours. As always the intrepid adventurous bakers will go all out to do so and I anticipate an influx of enquiries here at the Mill asking if we do these ingredients. Whilst we offer an extensive range (42 different flours) to the home baker there are many of these ingredients which are not available in domestic quantities. Some flours are available, not just (for the sake of impartiality) from us, but other UK mills as well, such as Rye, Spelt, Buckwheat, Emmer Flour and Khorason (Kamut by another name), some such as Quinoa will shortly be available when we open our new gluten free mill however the majority are not and whole berries are only sometimes available by special order by the 25kg sack. Even more interesting is a comment in the introduction which notes at The Tartine Bakery they go one step further than an organic ethos in using Biodynamic flours which whilst milled from the purest and most sustainable grain imaginable is even more limiting and difficult to source if aspiring to the true Tartine Loaf. The professional artisan baker with access to a much more extensive range of high volume flours will likely make much greater use of this book, the domestic baker I fear may be disappointed by temptation put their way and no means to realise these fabuloafs.

I do feel the Amazon Book Description could do with a more comprehensive overview from the publisher and a Look Inside facility if readers are not otherwise going to be disappointed at the number of recipes they may find inaccessible. For this reason, and with great disappointment, I can only give this book a three star rating (*See my update for why I later upgraded it). As a fellow baker @thebreadkiln put it, Chad Robertson is a baker ahead of his time; if the description were more comprehensive, if it had a Look Inside so readers can judge for themselves how much of it they can use, and if the ingredients were more readily available it would be receiving a glowing five stars for fabulously creative baking methods, innovative contemporary breads and enticing photography. I have a feeling the grain farmers and millers are going to be scrambling to catch up with the demand created by this ground-breaking new book.

I will as always update these initial first impressions, once I've delved into it and got my hands into the dough! And to offer a ray of hope, I've just emailed my boss with this review and a summary of these hard-to-find this space fellow #breadheads!

Update 1:

OK - so overnight research via Google search has enabled me to source all bar four of the ingredients listed below from various online specialist suppliers in the UK; thus I have upgraded my initial star rating to four since it is after all a fabulous book and at least possible to achieve these recipes in the UK. The requirement to source such a large number of specialist ingredients prevents me however from giving it five stars which it otherwise undoubtedly deserves.

Hence, potential buyers beware: 97% of the bread recipes will require an online specialist purchase (see list of specialist ingredients below), with the possible exception of wheatgerm (required for every bread recipe) it is not going to be possible to walk into your local supermarket and buy the ingredients for the majority of these recipes and since there is no single supplier who provides them all it is going to cost in postage to have all these things delivered. Hence this remains a book for the professional with easy access to specialist ingredients or the experienced #breadhead looking to advance their repertoire, who positively enjoys the challenge of seeking out rare ingredients, doesn't mind spending the extra money to source them or has the knowledge to adapt the recipes for what they have available. Those new to slow fermentation breads or wanting more easily acquired ingredients may prefer his first book Tartine Bread which is a great introduction to Chad's style of baking.

Better news is that the Pastry section has far more accessible recipes. Whilst several still require online specialist purchases if you want to be true to the recipe, all bar one of the 42 recipes could easily be adapted to commonly available ingredients. So if you love Tartine for its sweet treats then this is a winner with lots of interesting and contemporary cakes and pastries using flours more commonly used for breads such as rye, buckwheat, Kamut (Khorason by another name) and spelt, all commonly available.

Happy Baking
Buono come il pane. Like to eat. Love to bake

Specialist Ingredients (in addition to more commonly available flours):

Buckwheat groats
Corn (Medium Fine Cracked)
Corn (Whole Kernels)
Einkorn Berries
Einkorn Flour
Emmer berries
Farro Grains
Kamut Berries
Kamut Flakes
Kamut Flour
Koji rice
Millet grains
Oat flour
Oat grains
Oat groats
Purple Barley berries
Quinoa (Whole grains)
Rye (Cracked)
Rye (Flaked)
Rye Berries
Rye Bran
Rye Flakes
Spelt Berries
Spelt Flakes
Wheatgerm (in every recipe)
Wheatgerm (Raw)

Of these, the ingredients I have thus far been UNable to source in domestic quantities in UK are Einkorn berries, purple barley berries, Emmer berries (all for sprouting) and medium fine cracked corn. So if anyone has a source for these and fancies adding a comment with the supplier to this review please do!
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2014 2:51 PM BST

Patisserie: Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry
Patisserie: Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry
by Christophe Felder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.75

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delivers So Much More Than it Promises, 7 Mar. 2013
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OK, granted I haven't baked from it yet, I only received it today having pre-ordered it from Amazon, but I couldn't resist sharing my first impressions. At the time of pre-order there was no "Look Inside" available, the write up is fairly bland and there wasn't even a cover photo on the jacket to inspire me. As a keen home baker who's done some semi-professional baking, I was looking for a book which would give me half a chance at reproducing at home, the magnificent and perfectly presented French pātisserie that I so love. The write up not being the most inspiring I googled Christophe Felder and found a string of accolades and gourmet credentials and decided to take a chance. The book arrived today and having had no great expectations about how good it would be I am bowled over. Entitled the "Fundamentals" of French Pastry, I was expecting a far less weighty tome introducing the basics, this is more akin to a professional pātisserie course in words and pictures. Whilst this will never be the same as attending full-time Parisienne Pātisserie School, I'm betting it will be as close as you can get from the comfort of your own kitchen. I've done some Masterclasses at cookery school so whilst a mostly self-taught enthusiast with a few classes under my belt, I've seen and learnt enough to be confident that this book is going to deliver.

For a start it is nearly three inches thick, so comprehensive it is. There are 207 "lessons" on 800 pages each illustrated with step-by-step detailed photos complete with guidance on how to achieve the professional standards of presentation and finish which epitomise French Pātisserie. Thankfully in this case, the publishers have resisted the irritating norm of reducing professionals' recipes onto a single page per recipe by editing out the finer nuances that deny home-bakers the opportunity to recreate truly great cuisine. Bravo to the Editor who granted Christophe Felder the respect of typically four pages per recipe (two of text, two of photos). All those times you've seen beautiful finishing touches and thought "I wonder how they do that?" - it's all here. Divided into nine chapters it covers all the classics of French pātisserie:

Chapter 1: Les Pātes et Les Tartes (Basic Pastry and Tarts)
Chapter 2: Les Crèmes (Creams, Custards and Puddings)
Chapter 3: La Décoration (Decorations)
Chapter 4: Les Gāteaux Classiques (Classic Cakes and Desserts)
Chapter 5: Les Chocolats et Petites Bouchées (Chocolate Desserts and Candies)
Chapter 6: Les Gāteaux de L'Avent (Holiday Cakes, Cookies and Other Sweet Treats)
Chapter 7: Les Macarons
Chapter 8: Les Brioches et Viennoiseries (Brioches and Breakfast Pastries)
Chapter 9: Les Mignardises (Petits Fours)

In addition to pastry work, there's sugar work (from spun sugar to sugar paste and everything in between), chocolaterie, piping techniques, sponge work, producing layer cakes, syrups, you name it it's here. The index is now available on the "Look Inside" feature so I'll leave the interested reader to peruse the list of classics at their leisure or I'll be here all night.

I'll update this once I've had the chance to bake from it but I'll be extremely surprised if I am disappointed. Certainly this book does not have the coffee table beauty of Pierre Herme Pastries or Bouchon Bakery but I'll hedge my bets and predict your dinner party guests will be so busy drooling over the edible works of art this book will enable you to produce at home, they won't even notice the book on the coffee table.

Update 1: As soon as I posted this review, two further reviews from (USA) became visible. Since the other reviewer had problems with the Tarte à L'Orange I shall be trying that recipe first to compare my own experience with that of the other reviewer. I've currently given this a four for what it promises but will review my star grading once I've tested a few recipes.

Keep you posted!

Happy Baking!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2013 1:22 PM BST

Venezia: Food and Dreams
Venezia: Food and Dreams
by Tessa Kiros
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

101 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet Another Hit For Tessa Kiros, 28 Oct. 2008
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Yet another stunning book from Tessa Kiros. I have already loved recipes from Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes and Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book which occupy the space closest to hand on my cookbook shelf. I pre-ordered this as soon as I saw it and I've not been disappointed.

It arrived on Friday and over the weekend I've already tried the marinated sea bass, carpaccio beef and pumpkin gnocchi, all of which were delicious. None of these are my usual style of cooking, but her recipes are simple and straightforward, and with so few ingredients they just beg you to try them. Every recipe of hers I've ever tried seems to produce the most authentic dishes full of amazingly intense flavours that whisk you off to their country of origin.

Given the region from which these recipes are drawn, fish and seafood are unsurprisingly the stars of the menu and although dedicated carnivores may be left wanting, fish lovers will love the range of simple fish and seafood recipes. Even those like myself for whom fish is not instinctively their first choice, may find themselves unusually tempted by things they have never tried before. I can't remember the last time I had fresh sardines, but roasted as they were here, they were simple and fabulous (and even more simple if you get the fishmonger to fillet them for you). However; this is most definitely not just a fish book. All round there's plenty to try no matter what your tastes, including the carnivores amongst us, and there are some especially delicious antipasti, risottos and vegetable sides.

The book introduces you to eating Venetian style beginning with a section on Cicchetti (small bites), followed by Antipasto and Primo (starters), Secondi (mains), Contorni (sides) and Dolci (sweet things). Each section begins with a short narrative on the experience of eating in Venice so that by the time you have read, prepared and indulged you may well imagine you can hear the waters of the Veneto lapping at the kitchen door.

Although I buy books for their recipe content rather than their looks this one is undeniably beautiful and would double as a coffee table book any day. Edged in gold, with black velvet page markers and full of inspiring photos of Venice it makes you want to dive right in (notwithstanding the pollution). A few of the descriptions and ingredients are written in Italian and not being an Italian speaker I did have to Google some words, however it all just seems to add to the Italian flavour of a truly beautiful and inspiring book, and almost all were straightforward ingredients I was able to source locally once I knew what I was looking for (ruccola/rocket; peperoncino/crushed dried chilli peppers - thank heavens for Google).

I agree with the other reviewer that a few of the fish recipes call for less straightforward ingredients such as eel, squid or octopus but surely that's no great surprise when buying a book on Venetian cooking? That said, I live in a small market town in mid-Wales and our even our landlocked Fishmonger (if not the local Morrisons) can source any of these on request. The vast majority of recipes use everyday ingredients which keen cooks will have in their store cupboard, although I did have to go to Waitrose in the next town for squid ink spaghetti for a pasta dish. For the recipes mentioned I only had to buy the single main ingredient fresh, the rest was already in the cupboard or fridge.

I'm a sucker for cookery books and have over a hundred at home however I'm very lazy at writing reviews even for my favourites and have never yet written one; this book is so good I couldn't deny it a write-up. This is less a family meals book than Apples for Jam: Recipes for Life but rather an experience of eating out in Venice. If you're looking for simple cooking which produces grown-up, great flavours and love her two books mentioned above, or My Favourite Ingredients and A Year in my Kitchen by Skye Gyngell you'll love this; and if Skye's recipes entice you but seem a little complex for a week-night supper after work then you'll love the simplicity of these which can be knocked up in no time at all.

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