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4.4 out of 5 stars17
4.4 out of 5 stars
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 8 November 2009
There's been a lot of buzz about Jim Lahey's techniques over the last couple of years. There's no doubt that he's a dedicated baker, and that his approach is worth considering; not least because it's a set of simple rules that will give more consistent results, and good results, than a novice baker can hope to achieve without a lot of effort, practice, and guidance.

The book itself breaks down into three parts: the first section is the usual discussion of ingredients and inspirations, backed with the core no-knead recipe, with plenty of photographs of the stages to follow. The second part is a series of chapters with different bread recipes, largely based around a loose connection with Italian bread baking, but as applied to the New York market - lots of sandwich breads, for instance, and "white pizza". The final part is a series of non-bread recipes to make American-style deli sandwiches. In some ways, this is the part of the book I like the best, although it's not what you'd expect to find in here from the title or cover.

The central matter is the famous no knead recipe. This turns out to be a combination of several well known "tricks". The first is that, as Dan Lepard has espoused for years, a well mixed dough will develop its gluten given time, without kneading, although Lepard prefers to give short kneads over an extended rising period. Lahey goes for a very highly hydrated dough; most of his recipes are 75% (baker's percentage), whereas most domestic bread recipes are 60 - 65%. High hydration is desirable, as it gives a well textured end result, but a very wet dough is extremely hard to handle. Given that handling of the dough is kept to an absolute minimum, this shouldn't be a problem for the novice.

The next trick is an extended rising time, between 18 and 24 hours for most recipes. This allows more flavour to develop. Instead of giving a vague test like watching for doubling of the dough, or the time taken for a thumb dent to refill, Lahey's test is to watch for bubble on the surface and a slight change of colouration of the dough: much easier to use to stop at the ideal time. The next stage is tricky, shaping the loaf, as the dough is very loose and wet, but it works.

The final trick is to bake in a pre-heated cast iron pot - a dutch oven, in American terms, but a casserole works fine. In fact, a ceramic casserole works just as well, but cast iron is easier to handle. The effect is to control humidity to give a better quality finish to the crust, something that is very hard to achieve without using a commercial bread oven (or hand built brick oven). If your casserole has a plastic knob on the lid, it WILL burn at Lahey's baking temperatures, and the smell isn't pleasant (and is somewhat dangerous). I would strongly advise using a pot with a metal knob/handle if at all possible, or simply removing your plastic knob.

All in all, this book is a good buy for bread bakers, novice and experienced alike. The basic technique is the closest to fool-proof that I have ever come across, and the chapters of recipes are good - I particularly enjoyed the Pan co'Santi (walnut bread), and the sandwich recipes are excellent. But these are well known techniques, just used in an entirely novel way. I'd give it 4.5 stars if that were possible...
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2010
I had already been baking bread using Jim Lahey's no-knead bread method for over a year having discovered it on the internet. As I am hopeless at kneading dough his method appealed to me. It really is the simplest recipe ever but produces amazing bread, the best I've ever baked and the best home baked bread I've ever tasted. So when I saw that he had written a book I just had to buy it. And I am pleased that I did as it is an excellent book.

He has split the book into 6 chapters, each one on a different subject. Chapter 1 is a kind of bread making autobiography explaining how he got into making bread (to impress a girl!) and his visits to Italy to sample Italian bread baking.

Chapter 2 introduces his no-knead recipe and chapter 3 then builds on this with variations such as rye, olive, Irish and Apple versions amongst others. He also includes some recipes for traditional Italian breads such as Stecca (thin Italian baguettes), Stirato (larger Italian baguettes) and Ciabata (slipper loaf). These are all based on his no-knead method and I am pleased to report they involve no kneading whatsoever!

Chapter 4 is his pizza and focaccia sections. He gives a recipe for his pizza dough (which differs slightly from his bread recipe) and then recipes for lots of different pizza toppings and variations. His Pizza Bianca - kind of like a cross between focaccia and pizza - looks lovely and I shall be trying this one soon.

Chapter 5 is all about sandwiches, which initially struck me as odd and perhaps a bit of a filler but the chapter does make sense. This is an American book by a New Yorker and New Yorkers like nothing better than to go to a deli for a sandwich. So this chapter gives recipes for both sandwich fillings - eg roast beef, roast pork, aioli (garlic mayo), pickles etc - and also the best sandwich combos. I will also be trying these out too.

Finally chapter 6 deals with recipes to use up your left over bread. Again, on first inspection this seemed like a filler section but this has lots of lovely looking recipes in it too; I am looking forward to trying the chocolate torte made using no-knead breadcrumbs!

As I only had the book for about a week I have only had time to make one of the recipes so far - the Stirato. This recipe does involve slightly more work than the basic no-knead bread recipe I've been using this past year before I bought the book but the finished sticks are just as delicious as the bread was! I look forward to trying more of the recipes soon.

So overall, this is a great book full of interesting recipes and is a good read in its own right. It also features some excellent photography. The photos are either presented in a step-by-step fashion so you can see exactly what you need to do (and what the dough / bread should look like) at every stage or they are simply stunning photos of the finished breads themselves. I would wholly recommend this book to anyone interested in baking your own artisan bread that tastes as good as it looks.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2010
I bought this book out of interest, as I've been using Jim's no-knead recipe for a while now, and I'm glad I did. I was fascinated to read the backgound to this method of baking bread and to learn more about Jim, himself.

Having tried unsuccessfully to make bread in the traditional way, (loaves always seemed to turn out like bricks), I was overwhelmed with the fantastic results from this no-knead method. It's extremely easy and the bread is superb - delicious chewy crust and a wonderful light and open crumb. It's hard to believe such an easy recipe can produce such a fantastic loaf. Don't worry if you don't have an iron pot in which to cook the bread - I use a glass pyrex casserole with a lid, and it works perfectly.

This book is a must for anyone who has been put off making bread. Buy it and see for yourself how easy it can be.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2010
This book was written by Jim Lahey! I first made Jim Lahey's bread from a recipe published in The New York Times and was very pleased with the results. My son who lives in San Jose, California sent me the email address. There is very little work involved, time for the yeast to work is all that is required. There are many recipes in the book which I am going to use. I have made the all-white bread flour loaf, the wholemeal loaf and the rye loaf and the bread is wonderful. I make the bread every other day, we love it. For anyone who loves great bread this is the book to buy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2010
I'd wanted to try and cook bread for ages and decided, after reading reviews of this, to buy a copy and take the plunge. Much to my surprise my first attempt at the plain white dough mix resulted in an amazing loaf of bread. I was so proud that out came the camera and up went photos of said loaf onto Facebook.

This book follows others in that is has basic dough mixes for white, brown(wholemeal), rye and olive oil breads BUT unlike other books the main recipes are for just the one loaf and not 4 or half a dozen so you don't have to take up space in the freezer/fridge with leftover mounds of dough or chuck any away. The method is simplicity itself with no need to pound the hell out of the mix and cover the kitchen in flour. If you buy one book on making bread then make sure its this one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2010
Having tried no knead recipes in the past with quite unimpressive results I ummmd 'n aaaahd about buying Jim Lahey's book (not by Rick Flaste as incorrectly listed on Amazon). The tempting cover picture imprinted itself on my mind and so, eventually, I ordered it. After the first attempt at his basic loaf I was hooked. I have tried brown, rye and white flour in differing proportions with stunning success. Fabulous colour, crackling crust, moist chewy crumb - every time a coconut as they say. I have even modified his instructions to make the second rising process even easier than it is and it would take a lot of convincing to get me to bake bread the old fashioned way again. For me these are lifetime recipes that bring joy every time I bake them. Bought a copy for my son and for a girlfriend and they are just as impressed. Well done that man! Thanks Jim ! My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 April 2010
Firsty, the book is the work of Jim Lahey - with Rick Flaste. The book is nicely written, with nice lay-out. It covers the basic principle and many variations of Jim Lahey's approach to bread. Simple put the ingredients together - in the correct proportions - and leave for a long time, 18 hours. Works. Makes wonderful open Mediterranean style bread.There are a couple of articles on the New York Times website covering Jim's New York bakery and his approach to the art of bread making, which is I how I came to know of the book.
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on 31 May 2015
Fantastic method. You can pick the basics up from YouTube, but the author deserves some reward. Most of the subsidiary recipes are not too good, but the basic process is fantastic. None of the parts of the process are original but his way of putting it all together is brilliant.
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on 2 July 2014
I have made bread using the methods in the book which have tasted good. I think that the claim that it is quicker and less work is overstated.
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on 6 March 2014
A great book, with excelent recipes and explanations. Good photos. It gives us ideas to make good bread at home!
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