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4.9 out of 5 stars278
4.9 out of 5 stars
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on 26 October 2013
Bought this book after reading rave Tweets about it, and also wanting to improve my bread making!
James Morton takes ALL the worry and mystery away, and inspires you with the confidence to roll up your sleeve and start weighing flour. The foreword is very informative and fun, and the recipes themselves are delicious and so easy to follow- who knew you could leave dough to prove in the fridge overnight?!
Book itself is beautiful, with glorious pictures printed on lush, thick pages.
Definitely recommend this, would make an exceptional Christmas present- to a loved one or yourself :-)
0Comment33 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 18 October 2013
I have only one criticism of this book; I wish it was longer! Don't get me wrong, you get your money's worth. There is no sense that it's padded or over-priced, which is more than can be said for some books coming out of the Great British Bake Off. It's just that it isn't a massive work and it is so good I didn't want it to end; I have actually read it cover to cover, a compliment I have paid to vanishingly few cookbooks. I sympathize, they guy is a medical student after all but I do hope he writes another book before being sucked into the horrors of post-graduate medical education.

On to what you are buying. There are two things you ought to know that should make you want this book.

1. Most book on baking recycle the same tired cliches without contributing anything new to the field. The authors have apparently never made a mistake from which they learned something new or conducted a controlled experiment. You just get what the books they read and the people they studied under told them. This is common right across the field of cooking where all kinds of nonsense is recycled as gospel but it seems to me to be particularly bad in baking. The first book I read to challenge the orthodoxy was Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf: Contemporary Recipes for the Home Baker and frankly it was the last one I had read as well. James Morton's book "Stands on the shoulders of giants" and taking Lepard's developments goes further. Perhaps it is the result of combining baking with a scientific education. I am a pretty good baker and as such recipes are pretty much all I get from most bread books. "Brilliant Bread" is the first one in a long time from which I have actually learned generally applicable principles. That alone is worth the cover price.

2. This also leads me to my second point. Morton teaches you how to make bread. Most cookbooks make little effort to teach you to cook; they are just collections of recipes. Now this is very useful if you can cook already. Also, it is possible to learn to cook by following enough recipes and watching very carefully what happens; taking notes is pretty much essential. While you can learn to cook this way, it is very inefficient. When you are starting you want a book that explains why you do things so that you can use the same principles elsewhere. When I started I had to use, Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cooking Techniques and McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture these worked but were a trifle heavy going. Nowadays we have Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food and Nigel Slater's Appetite: So What Do You Want to Eat Today? which are rather more accessible. However, the only book of this kind on Bread was the Dan Lepard I mentioned above. Morton is a little better though. I'd still buy both but if you just want one, "Brilliant Bread" is the one to go for.
33 comments87 of 91 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 October 2013
I already own a number of bread baking books and thus wasn't sure I needed another one. Whilst I am very experienced with baking yeasted breads, I had never attempted a sourdough before buying this book.

All other books I own that feature sourdough recipes (amongst them the Bourke Street Bakery and Bouchon Bakery Book) didn't explain the process of making a starter and using it as well as Brilliant Bread does. Since buying the book, I have successfully made a number of sourdough breads, all of them turning out beautifully.

Whether you consider yourself a seasoned baker or have just figured out how to turn on your oven, this is the book you want. Clear and concise instructions make these recipes fail safe and you will never be tempted to buy a less than stellar loaf from the supermarket again.
0Comment42 of 44 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 October 2013
I got into bread baking a few months ago and have had a lot of success. My success was based on what other books told me to do.

I purchased this book as recommended by a friend and found that not only did it contain a lot of recipes and good ideas, but also explained the science behind baking which has allowed me to understand it further and get even better results from my baking.

Well worth purchasing.
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on 15 September 2013
The best book I have ever found about bread making. Clear explanations of how and what to do. Science and bread making enthusiasm with recipes that really work without expecting you to be a trained chef or master baker.
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on 26 May 2014
I was left in no doubt at all that this chap is passionate about bread and just as passionate to get everyone baking it. In the beginning there is a bread. And it does not need kneading. I tried it letter by letter and it was really good. Then I tried the bread that does need kneading and that was really good too. Now this might not be such a great thing, until you realize that pre this book I made bread bricks. My husband once offered one of my loaves to a neighbor who was building a wall. The method that this chap uses is not conventional. The dough is wet and sticky. You need to slap it and fold it for weeks (well for a fair while) before it turns into anything like a loaf. Even I can do it. And trust me that is a feat of nature. So the book would have five stars even six but. I am being a bit harsh because it could do with a running order for the basic bread, it is a bit confusing. There are a few other little niggles like flour your board but don't flour it because this adds too much to the loaf sort of thing. The kindle pictures are rubbish as always and there is not such a good description about how to knead. One big plus of this book over others though is that it is passionate, the basic bread recipe does work and it is easy going in style so I have come to realize just do it. Have a go. This book can't be all bad because for the first time ever I ate a loaf I baked. And husband asked for another one and as far as I can see no one in the neighborhood is building anything.
11 comment23 of 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 September 2013
I dithered a little bit about buying this book, as it seemed to be targeted at beginners and I like to think I am a pretty good baker (my default is to bake rather than buy bread, and I have two different sourdough starters that I use regularly - I also never weigh out my ingredients, which I now feel a bit guilty about).

I went for it in the end however, and am really glad I did. It is a really good book for beginners as it covers the bread making process from scratch, but it also contains enough tips and info to still be informative, useful and interesting for regular home bakers. It's informal enough to be useful day-to-day, but also technical enough to inspire confidence in more fiddly/expensive recipes (such as croissants). I've read a lot of bread books and this is now definitely among my favourites.

The author should really wear an apron over that fairisle though. The thought of flour getting in that nice Shetland wool hurts my heart.
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on 16 September 2013
I've just bought this book and am half way through reading it already. And that's it, really, for me, I'm usually underwhelmed by cookbooks, and breadmaking books that explain things in a way I can relate to, that really grab me, are hard to find. I think this is possibly the best book I've ever bought on breadmaking. James has a truly individual and quirky way of explaining how all things bread actually works, and there's nothing too technical here, thank goodness. I also have Paul Hollywood's book and shall sell it, James's book is far, far better because it is geared to the domestic home baker, because that is what James is. It is SO refreshing to read a book that is full of individuality and enthusiasm, not the empty media-fluff so many T.V. tie-ins suffer from. If you like baking, I'd really recommend you buy this. I have been baking bread for years but have already flagged up several tips which I'll use on my next bake. Other books never really removed the little fear I realised I've always had about baking bread and 'getting it right'. Cooking can easily be a source of tension! James has a very chilled out attitude ... leaving dough in the fridge for a lot longer than I thought one could, is something I shall do when I want to go out, or even go away, for example. I just get the lovely relaxed feeling one does when the 'shoulds' all disappear. It's one thing to have a good recipe, but another thing entirely to be able to see all the stages through the eyes of a beginner, and to anticipate all the possible questions so well is part of James's skill in explanation. Very useful step by step illustrations about processes, not just nice pretty pictures. Truly worth five stars.
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on 21 October 2013
I bought this book since I enjoyed seeing James on 2012's Bake Off and liked his passion for bread. I'm an experienced (although amateur) baker, but haven't experimented much with breadmaking. I've had mixed results with various other bread books and thought I'd give this a try. It is great, there is lots of detailed information about all aspects of breadmaking; the equipment, the techniques, the science behind it all which is all very useful and interesting. The recipes themselves are great and I've had some fantastic results, excellent bagels and some delicious gingerbread stand out. The book isn't patronising and has a wide range of recipes, so everyone should find something they can try and enjoy. Highly recommended and definitely my go-to book on bread now.
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on 28 October 2013
Got this book for my birthday, I love to bake and really want to improve my bread skills. I've already had success with Paul Hollywood, but this book is already promising much much more. Each beautiful page has me salivating, and itching to get in the kitchen. Not only does each and every recipe grab my attention, the recipes themselves are easy to follow and James makes the whole process so simple. I never thought I could make a sourdough, and now it seems like a walk in the park! Alongside the basic breads there are also all sorts of breads that I've merely dreamed of making, and one in particular that I'm looking forward to baking is pain au chocolat. What an excellent debut recipe book from James.
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