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4.7 out of 5 stars36
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 14 July 2013
Excellent book for every baker! For amateurs and for professionals as well. Maybe a bit difficult to understand when reading for the first time especially if English is not your first language. If you have passion for bread this is the book! You don't just follow a recipe but you also learn why you are doing every step, from mixing to cooling and also how every ingredient affects the final product.
If you are not interested in all these details and you just want a simple book with recipes then buy some other book!
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on 8 December 2014
I have been baking at home for a number of years.
Like another reviewer here I was impressed by a series of YouTube videos showing Hamelman at work so I had to get his book.
It is no exaggeration to say it has had the greatest influence on my ability to produce consistently good bread.
It is not aimed at the beginner, so previous experience in the recognition and handling of good dough is important, but Hamelman’s explanation of every stage of the baking process influencing all succeeding stages was a revelation to me. His text is clear, you can refer to those YouTube videos if his diagrams don’t do it for you, there are lots of recipes covering a wide variety of breads.
Yes, Hamelman uses quaint imperial measurements, but metric quantities are given. (Sadly, temperatures are only in Fahrenheit.) Even so, I have no hesitation in rating this book five stars.
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on 20 September 2013
In my review of the first edition of this book I wrote

"Having watched some videos of this master baker working on YouTube I had to buy this book cos this chap has a real knack for making really good bread.

"A comment on one of his videos said "He makes it seem so easy. With a few simple folds he shapes that mound of dough into almost a pillow."

"This book tells you exactly how to do as he does and to produce the most wonderful bread with a minimum of effort. Watch his videos, read the book and you too will produce magnificent bread both full of flavour, with a good crumb and which keeps.

"I have learned so much from this book that I simply have to recommend it to anyone who is serious about bread making - for those with a bread maker it's totally useless because you simply can't make really tasty bread in a bread maker. You need to use sourdough or - as I do - a pre-ferment which allows the full flavour to develop.

Why the question mark in the title? Well - there is a new edition which I have just ordered. I expect/hope that will be even better."

This is undoubtedly better than the first edition.and so the question mark in the title is removed - this is the best book ever.

What's changed ? Clearer layout, better tables, more on folding (including an easier way), a section on hand kneading (including a no knead technique - which is the one I have been using for years), an enhanced section on pre-ferments which shows you how to bring out the flavour of the bread, but most importantly lots of new recipes - mostly using Brioche dough - almost a cake section but much better. A great book just got better and I am greatly looking forward to making the recipe used in the Swiss Alps where they had no yeast - just waiting to be rich enough to buy all those raisins!

In summary : no serious home or commercial baker should be without this book

Later Edit: The Brioche recipe is to die for (actually, with the butter in it you probably will!) Well worth trying to follow this exactly. I tend to to do all bakes using a whole 1.5 Kg bag (I hate weighing flour as I make such a mess!) and here is the recipe scaled for this:

1500 gms Strong White Flour
145 gms Water
750 gms eggs
35 gms salt
75 gms fresh yeast (37 gms dried)
750 gms unsalted butter
180 gms sugar

For eggs you will need 13 (appropriately a bakers dozen!) : if it is not exact consider the water and the eggs together so make up to 895 gms using water and whisk. At this stage I departed from the book and made a sponge (a pre-ferment) using half the flour, all the beaten eggs and water, and all of the yeast before adding the rest of the ingredients after about 4 hours of fermentation - the butter was very soft and I squidged it in with my fingers. Then used the no knead technique described in the book to complete it - with a couple of 'Hamelman' folds along the way.

On removing the dough from the fridge the next day (stored in a rectangular 6 litre plastic click on lid box) I had great fun making plaited rolls and other plaits - all following the very clear instructions in the book - a real wow when they came out of the oven in overall appearance, colour, texture and taste and all thanks to this book. And No! I didn't eat it all in one go. Most of it went in the freezer and it just needs a quick refresh in the oven to return it new.

This edition has a very good section on home baking with tips you just don't see in other books. For example: why use unsalted butter when you are already adding salt? Answer - unsalted butter doesn't keep so well and therefore has to be fresh, whereas salted butter may disguise a rancid taste which will flow through to the bread.
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on 16 December 2013
Gives a terrific insight into bread baking with many techniques described in detail. Great for professionals and home bakers alike
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on 21 January 2015
Excellent, classic baker's manual, everything you ever needed to know...
Note that measurements for home baking are given in imperial (pounds & ounces) and cups, not metric.
Would definitely recommend, particularly for gaining understanding of how bread works, how to knead, fold, shape etc.
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on 26 March 2015
An excellent book for serious home bakers and for those involved in the industry.The only slight negative is that the quantities for home recipes are in US imperial only so requires a little conversion.
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on 27 February 2015
I like the book but it is hard for me to understand US measurement. The author relate to Fahrenheit
not using Celsius. Same for weight. I would prefer if the measurement was in Kilograms and grams.
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on 2 November 2013
Very large and comprehensive book on baking bread, extremely detailed on process, technique, the science behind bread and a great many recipes.

Not a simple book, and not a book if you just want recipes, this is an instructional volume that'll help you understand why the ingredients and methods are important and the effects they'll have on the final bake.

I'm not sure I'll ever get to make every bread listed here, but I'm enjoying the journey this book presents.
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on 17 August 2015
A very interesting book with lots of scientific details. The only thing to mention that is not quite ideal is that it is written for a US readership and therefore does not give temperatures in Celsius and only gives metric weights for large-scale batches of bread. The smaller-scale versions of the recipes use pounds and ounces. This is not a big problem as metric weights are easy to scale. Overall, a fascinating book that answers a lot of questions about bread. Very nicely written too.
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on 8 February 2014
All bread bakers have their choice of 'bible', this (had I kept it), would be something like a New Testament for me. For now, it's not the time for a new baking book, but this is top of my list when energy for refreshing my daily staple comes calling.

An alarmingly fabulous find. Nothing fashionable about this, a really solid book full of technique and instruction, that would be intimidating for a newbie. Includes recipes scaled to enterprise production too.
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