Amy's Bread: Artisan-style Breads, Sandwiches, Pizzas, and More from New York City's Favorite Bakery Hardcover – Abridged, Audiobook, Box set
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From the Inside Flap
Since 1992, Amy′s Bread has served up New York City′s best handmade breads, feeding more than 55,000 loyal customers each month and supplying many of the city′s finest restaurantsand food shops. Lovingly made using traditional, centuries–old methods from the heart of Europe, Amy′s breads astound customers with their rich, complex flavors and crusty, chewy textures. This beautifully illustrated update of the classic Amy′s Bread cookbook lets you make Amy′s hearty, satisfying breads in your own kitchen. Here you′ll find Amy′s favorite and most popular recipes, as well as the baking tips and techniques you′ll need to create loaves that live up to the highest expectations, with ideal textures, surprising flavor dimensions, and picture–perfect results. Amy and her executive pastry chef Toy Kim Dupree explain the essentials of bread–making in careful detail, from using the most wholesome and fresh ingredients, to setting up your kitchen with affordable, effective equipment, to managing the moisture of your dough, kneading it properly, and shaping perfectly imperfect loaves. They′ve also included a very thorough but easy–to–understand chapter on starters to help every bread baker understand the best way to leaven their loaves. If you′re a first–timer, you can start by mastering basic techniques with simple breads like Big Beautiful White Pan Loaf, French Baguette, and Cinnamon Raisin Bread. Then move on to more complex breads like Country Sourdough Boule, Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread with Oats and Pecans, and Semolina Bread with Apricots and Sage. Satisfy your sweet tooth with brioche and specialty breads like Chocolate Cherry Rolls and Autumn Pumpkin Bread with Pecans. Once the oven has cooled, there′s even a sandwich chapter to help you put your breads to the best use with meats, cheeses, and vegetables that pair perfectly with your favorite breads. With more than fifty recipescovering sourdoughs, ryes, semolinas, sandwich breads, pizza crusts, focaccias, and sweet treatsyou′ll find recipes here for every taste and every level of experience. You′ll also find photos and personal stories that reveal the inner workings of the bakery. Whether you′ve just started baking or you′ve been doing it for decades, Amy′s Bread lets you discover the pure joy of creating heavenly handmade breads that rival the world′s very bestwithout going all the way to New York City.
From the Back Cover
"Bread goes to the very roots of life, andits ingredients are the most elemental. Rain, sunshine, and healthy soil to grow the wheat; human hands to harvest, mill, and turn the grain to flour; water captured in reservoirs, which moistens the flour; yeast, which occurs naturally around us in fermenting fruits and starches; and salt from the earth andthe sea are the basic ingredients. These, along with the warmth of the baker′s hands, his or her strength, skill, and passion, and a fiery hearth, are all thatare needed to make this simple yet incredible food." — From the PrefaceSee all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The style of this book is similar to the style of Amy's other book, "The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread". The photographs by Aimee Herring are amazing. She is a talented photographer, making all of the breads look scrumptious. There are photographs of almost all products in the book. Additionally, there are photos of some shaping steps and also photographs of the bakery. The book is beautifully stylized; it is a joy to look at and to read from. In addition to the recipes and explanations, the book is studded with various stories of life at the bakery.
The recipes all have metric, imperial, and US measurements. This is such a huge plus! I find baking by metric weights far easier than every other method, and it is easy with this book. The other measurements are provided for those who find them more convenient. The recipes are all very clearly written. They are detailed and precise. Almost each recipe is accompanied by tips: ways to enhance the bread's flavor, flour suggestions, etc. Also, every recipe has a headnote explaining a bit about its origin.
The book begins with a detailed guide for bread baking, and also a clear and detailed sourdough section. I have used the method described in the book for making sourdough, and it does work. Then, there is a chapter about easy breads to get you started, containing some amazing and easy breads. Then there are other sections: whole-wheat breads, Rye breads, sourdough breads, semolina breads, sweet breads, etc. There is also a chapter on pizzas and flatbreads, and a chapter on sandwiches.
So far I have baked the whole-wheat bread with toasted walnuts and the whole-wheat bread with oats and pecans. Both were outstanding. The former has been my top bread for quite some time. I have tasted it at the bakery itself, and have since made it several times. It is just delicious. The second bread I made and brought to work. My colleagues finished the loaf within minutes. As one of my colleagues had said: "There is a serious problem with this bread; you cannot stop at just one slice." Now that the sourdough I had made (based on the method described in the book) is ripe, I have a batch of "Toy's Teddy Bread" proofing.
Finally, a quick comparison with the previous book: 9 recipes from the previous book do not appear in this book. Sadly, one of my favorites (Grainy Whole-Wheat and Seeds with Apricots, Prunes, and Raisins) has been omitted. These were replaced with 9 different recipes, including Amy's Brioche, The Picholine Olive Bread, and the Oragnic Miche, to name a few. Many of the recipes that appeared in the previous book were updated, so the recipes are a bit different. Some changes are quite small (the chocolate rolls now have dried cherries in them instead of peanut chips), others are quite large (different preferments, different hydrations, etc.).
All in all, if you had to select just one bread baking book, this is the one I recommend!
But there are a couple of things worth mentioning that make the book a little difficult.
1. Most of the recipes in this book involve a lot of water, a stunning amount. For example, one whole wheat recipe that Harold McGee covered in the New York Times uses 18 oz of water to 19.5 oz of flour. That is a 92% water to flour ratio, a stunningly high amount and well over the ranges provided by virtually every other reputable bread book. I have made this recipe from the book. It is a boule and with so much water plus whole wheat, it is difficult for the bread to rise much.
The white bread recipe in the Amazon description has an 85% water/flour ratio. But it is white flour and a pan loaf and I can say it tastes extraordinary. It has a great crust and crumb.
2. Long, very long total rising time. Most of us are used to a couple of rises, perhaps a sponge or other preferment, etc. This book uses lots of rising cycles. Again, the white bread in the description is typical. It requires 3 separate 1 to 1.5 hour rising cycles before baking. I suggest you carefully read through the recipe times before diving in. The book doesn't give a total start to finish time for its recipes and given the many risings required, it can be quite an investment of time.
3. Hand mixing. It is odd to me that given the emphasis on very wet doughs, that the book recommends hand mixing. I enjoy bread making but I am not going to waste time hand kneading a dough with a consistency of thick batter. Use your mixer and save yourself the frustration and mess.
In summary. I like the book. The recipes have so far been good. But be cautious of the extremely high level of water. They make an extremely wet dough that is very hard to work with. Use your mixer and plan out a long day for making any of the breads.
I recommend getting a sourdough starter (like King Arthur Flour's) and then building up Amy's White Sourdough Starter, Rye Sourdough Starter, and Rye Salt Sour Starter from there. You'll need to get a good stock of ingredients that you may not have, as Amy recommends organic flours, such as organic rye, that you may not be able to find in your local grocery. I also needed to purchase some crocks to store the starters in the refrigerator.
My Tangy 24-Hour Sourdough process actually took about a week from when I received a sourdough starter from KAF. The time was needed to build up the proper starters, and then to feed them and make sure they were active before baking. I was skeptical and didn't think bread I made at home would satisfy my craving for San Francisco sourdough, but I have been totally floored by the bread I just tasted.
HOWEVER, I do have some issues with the book as a whole. Considering the fact that this is a "Revised and Updated" version of their previous book, one would expect it to be as close to perfect as possible. I have found many editorial problems with the book. The Brioche recipe says it doesn't require a starter in the heading, but then goes on to include one in the list of ingredients.
In the Techniques section of the book, it states that the recipes were tested on old NYC gas ovens and that with newer ovens the temperatures may be too hot, and that you should lower the temperature by 10 degrees. In testing a cookbook, wouldn't it be best to test them on newer ovens rather than offering this tip somewhere in the book where no one would probably even find it?
In the back of the book, it discusses different bread shapes. For the Knot shape, it ends with a "See photograph in color insert," but there is no photograph in the color insert for that shape. Was there one in the previous version of the book? Why didn't they include it in this book, and if not, then why not remove that statement?
The Rustic Italian Bread calls for 454 grams/16 oz/1 7/8 cups of Poolish, but when you look at the Poolish recipe, it says that 454 grams/16 oz equals 2 1/4 cups in volume. Which one is right? In general I'd stick with gram measurements for everything. But then yeast measurements in the book are ALWAYS given only in volume measurements. There are no gram or ounce conversions. Why?
Furthermore, the instructions for some of the recipes can sometimes be repetitive or unclear, as if recipes were copied and pasted but not properly revised before printing. For example, here is an excerpt from the Autumn Pumpkin Bread with Pecans recipe:
"Place the loaves on a peel or the back of a baking sheet that is been lined with parchment and sprinkled generously with cornmeal. Leave several inches between them so they won't grown into each other.
Generously dust a peel or the bottom of a baking sheet with flour or coarse cornmeal. Carefully place the shaped loaves on the peel or sheet, leaving several inches between them so they won't grow into each other as they rise."
Is that not the exact same information written twice in the recipe, literally one after another? See, I'm angry because I believe this is a really wonderful cookbook, but I can't believe that in revising the book there seems to be SO much that was overlooked. It was as if someone just didn't take their job seriously enough to ensure the book was perfect. There are many flaws such as this in the book.
Fortunately, for the most part these flaws should not really affect the outcome of your bread (at least if you are measuring in weight versus volume). I have had fantastic results as a whole, but I also have managed to navigate these issues really well. I wish the editors of the book would take note of these problems and correct them in the future. My copy of the book is a couple years old, so I can't say if any of these were corrected in later printings of the book, but it's something to be aware of, nonetheless!