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on 2 March 2002
This is one of my most treasured recipe books, and a must have for all bakers, in my opinion. As a German living in culinary exile in Britain, I had been looking for a sourdough bread recipe that works for years, to no avail, until I found this book. I have been baking sourdough bread regularly for 5 years now, thanks to Ms Silverton. Her recipe for a sourdough starter, beautifully explained, works!
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on 18 June 2009
Nancy Silverton's bread book is wonderful, but only to those who enjoy eating (and baking with) sourdoughs. You won't find any quick, easy, straight-dough recipes - all require a sourdough starter, either white, wholewheat or rye. If you're new to making your own sourdough, you might find her methods slightly intimidating: to develop a sourdough you'll need 2 weeks, a quarter of which is spent feeding and nourishing your starter three times a day. If I were a beginner to sourdough I might easily have been put off by her meticulous methods (which I am sure can only result in perfect bread); and despite using sourdough for over a year and having become accustomed to its little whims when anything changes in temperature, I did cheat and used Dan Leader's recipe for liquid levain instead. His requires only 4 days to produce, with a feeding once a day, and I get consistent results every time.

This book also requires that you dedicate a lot of time and patience to making your bread even after you've made your sourdough. Very few breads can be kneaded, proofed and baked in the same day. Many require a sponge made using the sourdough which should ferment for 8-12 hours before mixing and kneading, and a further slow rising of 8 - 12 hours at room temperature or in the fridge. You'll need to plan carefully the day before or even two days before and work out a time schedule for your baking or you might just realise it is time to bake when you're just about ready to head off for work.

Before baking my first bread from La Brea Bakery, I did worry that a different sourdough might produce inferior results; however, substituting Dan Leader's sourdough in the same quantity produced some truly spectacular results. I especially enjoyed the baguettes, sesame-semolina sandwich rolls, the exotic and delicious fig-anise bread , and the sublime chocolate-sour cherry bread (had to order sour cherries on the internet but it was SO worth it). I have also made the Normandy rye and olive onion breadsticks for guests - everyone though I bought the bread at an Italian deli and couldn't believe it was homemade. Nancy Silverton also uses sourdough for various French and Italian breads such as Fougasse, baguettes and ciabattas. I made the fougasse a few days ago and it rose beautifully in the oven and tasted wonderful, again, with a sourdough tang and a soft, fluffy interior.

These are just first and second impressions, as I have only made a quarter of the breads in the book, but I have been really awestruck by every single one I had baked - each one was a truly artisan bread, with a lovely crisp crust that was just too good to leave for the next day. This book has become my favourite bread book; now I am looking forward to trying more of the wholemeal breads. Recommended for anyone who loves sourdough and has a real passion for baking (and time on their hands!)
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on 11 September 2001
What an amazing book! All bakers should buy a copy. I totally disagree with the previous review. Nancy Silverton does acknowledge that those of us who are not running a bakery would probably have no time to feed the starters 3 times a day and she has offered sensible alternatives. Most of the breads are sourdough and all sourdoughs take time and patience. If you have tried baking her breads, you will agree that all the effort was worthwhile.
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on 7 April 2013
the book arrived in perfect conditions,full of ideas good for how all ready know some thing about bread maker...the only dark "shadow",are the measures:cups and spoons,some time are nightmare for how work with grams!!!But I m happy about the rest.
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on 1 April 2014
I bought this for my wife and she thinks it is an excellent book and we now have outstanding bread cooked in the oven (none of this bread maker nonsense) and great flavours, excellent instruction.
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on 29 August 2014
brilliant detailed it's more about how to make the best sour dough starter
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on 2 January 2011
I really don't know why this book was written. When it was published there were already better bread books available (The Village Baker, Bread Alone). If you found sourdough daunting before you bought this book (it is all sourdough) then you could be frightened off for life (suggestions to take your starter into the office to maintain the feeding schedule). I suppose that if you run a bakery then your life will revolve around your bread, but for the rest of us with lives that involve other activities (like going to work) then this book will not help.
I won't say that it is a bad book, but falls into the trap of taking commercial bakery practices and assuming that just scaling down quantities will work in a domestic environment.
Even the Ortiz (Village Baker) and Leader (Bread Alone) books I think have now been overtaken (for amateur bakers anyway) by others written specifically for the domestic environment (Bertinet, Reinhart, Lahey). I would explore any of these before spending money on the Silverton book.
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on 17 November 2015
Bargain
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on 21 July 1998
This is a handsome and informative "coffee table" cookbook, but unless one cares to schedule one's life around breadbaking, this will not be a much-used volume. In "Best Bread Ever" Charles Van Over shows the way to craft identical-quality bread with a fraction of the effort.
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