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on 25 February 2010
I have quite a lot of books on cookery in general, cookery methods etc. and this book tops the lot.
It is not a book for general recipes of bread making, although it does contain a significant amount - 200 pages.
It is more for the casual home baker, or even the commercial startup, who wants a complete understanding of bread making. The first 60 pages give a thorough explanation of the constituent parts of bread, followed by 30 pages on Hand Techniques. The next 200 pages cover making just about any bread made in the world, with fully scaleable quantities in commercial US lbs, commercial Metric kg, Home making quanties and Bakers percentages. Each recipe has notes on taste, nature, preparation & appearance of the bread. If you are looking for a book full of glossy photographs, then this book is not for you, although there are some photos. This book does not need them. Although the book is of american origin, the author, Jeffrey Hamelman, does make comparisons with european grains and yeast involved. This is quite simply the best book on baking I own and can only inspire every reader/owner of the book.
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on 7 September 2006
I own a number of baking books, but this is one of the few that I consider truely valuable. I return to it each weekend for quality, staple breads that I can use throughout the week.

The methods are clearly described (the quantities accurate!), the recipies varied and interesting. The emphasis here is on flavoursome, functional breads - not glamourous party pieces.

Some parts of the book are geared toward professional bakers. Some space has been devoted to commerical production and baking at a large scale. Because of this I wouldn't recommend the book to bakers who have just progressed beyond the breadmachine.

This doesn't put this book beyond the reach of homebakers however, and would be a great addition to the library of a confident home baker looking for a single, "catch all" resource.
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on 25 May 2012
The intended target audience for this book are professional bakers, this shines through such as in the description of techniques (how to handle 20 kg's of dough, anyone?) and the assumption that all mixing will be done with a pro mixer instead of kneading by hand. Still, the techniques are clearly written and have descriptive drawings that illustrate every step. The recipe index is fairly compendious, with the emphasis lying on breads made using pre-ferments although a variety of straight doughs and specialities are also discussed.

However, it is seriously -and for amateur bakers perhaps fatally- flawed:

The recipes scaled for professional quantities use (also) the metric system, which is fine if you're running a bakeshop and feel like baking 30 loaves in one go. The scaled down recipes for the home baker however indicate no metric quantities and go on endlessly about cups of flour, ounces, degrees Fahrenheit etc. This is all the more galling since the author himself writes that it's preferable to use metric quantities when dealing with ingredients. Unfortunately he doesn't practice what he preaches. The day is saved to some extent because the bakers' formula is also always given and this allows for easier conversion.

This is a great book for learning about baking in general, learning about technique, the ingredients etc. But if you're an amateur bread baker who's interested in baking a few loaves in one go and especially if you're in a country using the metric system I'd think really, really hard and consider some alternatives before pressing the 'buy' button.
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on 13 May 2012
Its difficult to know where to atsrt in reviewing this work.. I bake bread by hand at home and I already have the River Cottage handbook as a guide.. However I felt that I needed some more in depth knowledge and came across this book right here on Amazon.. I held back somewhat due to its American bias in ingredients but after It arrived I found that all the weights and measures were actually very workable for me as there is a home listing as well as a bakers listing for all the ingredients both in LBS and cups.. I love the way the book explains the process of bread making from the seed sowing to oven and incorporates as many potential failings during his descriptions. I like this book very much and I have begun reading it from start to end and I have already discovered so much new information. Highly recomended and practicle book to keep and use when baking bread at home or indeed at a bakery where you intend to be the sole bread maker and do it all yourself..
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on 2 June 2010
This is a serious work. It covers virtually every aspect of baking bread, but despite what other reviewers have said, it certainly doesn't leave out the home baker. Each recipe has a home baker version and all are carefully laid out with great attention to detail. What's more, they actually do the business!

My first effort was with the ciabatta with a poolish starter... and it worked. Wow! That's all I'm after, a good read (some lovely asides in here, things that make you chuckle to yourself... descriptions of bakers "running for the hills" because ciabatta dough is so wet and difficult to handle) and a reliable recipe bank.

There's loads to read and it's all written in a friendly but professional way that fully immerses you in the process. This is a definitive work in my opinion. I have a lot of books about bread (many by Peter Reinhart, Ed Wood etc) but this for me is the best. If I had to keep just two books on bread making it would be this and Joe Ortiz's 'The Village Baker'.

If you are an artisan baker, high street pro looking to create new loaves, a newbie home baker or just someone with a passion for real, flavourful bread, this is the book for you.

I heartily recommend this modern masterpiece. It's beautifully designed (I'm a graphic designer myself) and illustrated. It feels great with the matt/craft paper and... it's just a wonderful book. Buy it now!
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on 29 January 2012
This is a very detailed bakers book. Probably not for the first time baker, but very interesting and informative for the committed baker. You will understand the bread making process better after reading this book - and make better bread too.
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on 11 March 2009
This is one of the best bread books I have ever bought. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to make great bread. Thank you for writing it and putting all those wonderful recipes and all that knowledge in one place.
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on 18 June 2012
I've been making all of the bread for our family for about 5 years now, and I've bought loads of books in the search for the perfect loaf. Of all of them, there are only two I really rate:

Dough by Richard Bertinet. This is my "how" book. It's great for learning the basic techniques, and getting you away from that bread machine and into the world of real bread. My only criticism is that the recipes are a bit limited and unadventurous, but that fits with it being a beginner's book.

- This book, Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman.
This is my "why" book. For those with an enquiring mind, it explains why you do certain things, and introduces advanced techniques, not just in folding, shaping and braiding, but also in scaling, so you can do any recipe in any quantity, to suit your needs.

It also has a huge range of recipes. Not being content with mere 'straight' doughs, which merit only 17 pages, we have 40 pages of doughs made with yeasted pre-ferments (where Poolish, Biga and Pate Fermentee enter your vocabulary), followed by 56 pages of sourdoughs (and introduces us to the three main types of sourdough starter!). All in pursuit of the perfect tasting - and looking - loaf.

And as an added benefit, all of the recipes are presented in 3 ways; for the home, for a commercial bakery, and as baker's percentages. Brilliant.

As for concerns by some reviewers about metric/imperial units - conversion isn't difficult, particularly when you see that recipes are presented as baker's percentages. But I must admit, my favourite 12(ish) recipes have the weights in grams written in, in two different quantities (2 loaves and 3 loaves), to suit what I can handle. This is a working book, not for the coffee table, so I don't mind writing in it!

I think you need both books; "Dough" to learn the basics, then the Hamelman book for everyday use. But if I had to choose, this is the one I just couldn't do without. It never has time to rest on the bookshelf.
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on 12 October 2008
This book is absolutely my favourite. Clear and no-fail recipes. I have had amazing results while baking bread from this book and couldn't recommend it more.
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on 21 November 2012
this is the bible for artisan bread making. There is nothing missing and is the default reference work for me whenever I come across a problem or want to try something new.

BUT it is a technical work for the serious bread maker. This the book to work towards after you've got the bug following one of the many other excellent bread writers (Dan Lepard, Andrew Whitley et al).

It's a readable book with lovely anecdotes - if, like me, you are a bread geek.

So, a fabulous book, but make sure it's what you want before you buy.
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