Top critical review
74 people found this helpful
on 19 July 2010
In common with other reviewers of this book I mostly agree on its thorough and inclusive content. It is comprehensive, in what it sets out to do and anyone wishing to know more about the 'hows and whys' of bread making would gain insight from reading this book. The author clearly has a vast working knowledge of his subject and obviously enjoys trying to communicate this to his audience. Be aware however this an American book with an American audience in mind, in more ways than measurement. I will confine my comments to four areas you may wish to consider before buying:
a) If you don't already have them you will need to buy a set of American measuring cups as the ounce measurements are, bizarrely, converted as decimals ( 0.39 ounces of Yeast for example or 2.67 ounces of Honey), rendering precision a little redundant. Although one reviewer clearly does not have a problem with doing their own conversion from cups and ounces to grams - suggesting that it is so easy to do - it does rather beg the question, if it is so easy why has it not been given here?
b) The lay-out is at times a little confusing eg the Pre-ferments (Biga ,Poolish , Balm etc) are not all in one place. This requires a certain amount of going backwards and forwards through the book. The referencing is however excellent so this doesn't pose too much of a problem.
c) The recipes are almost exclusively from French, American and Italian recipes. Those wishing for a comprehensive review of world breads would do better looking elsewhere. Indian breads are completely absent as are, with one exception from each, Scandinavian, English and German breads.
Finally, d) The writing style of the Author is at times little bloated, to say the least. You will need to steel yourself against sentences such as: 'The yang of Ferrandi, its anchorage in very specific methodologies, is the yin of the American approach' or 'It is the idea of pressing into new frontiers of bread making, of realising that there are still areas of exploration not charted ....We are learning that as we deconstruct the bread-making process, we are still in the early stages of what is possible.... as so often shown up on ancient maps 'Unknown Kingdoms Be Here'".
Then again we are talking about 'Pain a L'Ancienne' here and not just any old loaf of bread. We have to recognise for a certain class of Americans, and English for that matter, the merest whiff of the Tricolore renders them quite insensible.