Top positive review
32 people found this helpful
Probably the most comprehensive bread bible around
on 10 August 2009
I ordered Rose Beranbaum's Bread Bible a few years ago, a few weeks after beginning my home bread baking journey. To a novice, it was daunting and I put it away with great trepidation where it gathered dust on my bookshelf for many months. At the time, I knew nothing about poolish, biga, sponge, sourdough, levain, and found all these concepts bewildering. The meticulous attention to measuring out ingredients and checking temperatures, as well as the author's almost mathematical insistence on calculating percentages to calculate the amount of yeast or flour required in your poolish if you chose to use it in your bread, all aroused bread making fear in me. If all this incomprehensible baking jargon and formulas for calculating the amount of sourdough you'll need appeared already in the introduction, how bad are the rest of the 650 pages going to be?
A couple of months ago, a few years after my first uneasy meeting with the Bread Bible and with a lot of home bread baking experience behind me, I happened to pick up the book again and was utterly engrossed in the discussion of sourdoughs and sponges; in fact, I could not get over how wonderful this book was. I spent all day reading it and thinking about how much poolish I should prepare for tomorrow's bread. In the years between first reading the Bread Bible and now re-reading it with a new interest, I have made many breads with various starters. I have also successfully cultivated my own sourdough and baked some wonderful rye breads with it (my bread bibles at this stage were Crust and Crumb by Peter Reinhart and Local Breads by Dan Leader). For some reason, they appeared more novice-friendly to me and I did not find them daunting at all.
I would therefore not recommend the Bread Bible to people who have never baked their own bread before. Try Dan Leader - his book was the one that encouraged me to make sourdough and try various types of bread with starters and sponges. And when you've had some experience do get Bread Bible, because it is really a magnificent book and will take you to a new level on your bread baking journey. There are wonderful recipes in there for all types of bread (white breads, wholewheat, rye) but it is the wealth of scientific information that I find so valuable here. You're not only told how to produce sourdough - you're also told about different types, how to convert one to another, and how to include it in a recipe that requires ordinary yeast. There's a discussion of the deifferenes between poolish and biga and how to convert some of the flour from your recipe into your bread...just a small addition of a starter can really elevate the taste of your bread unbelievably. And so,despite being very weary of this book at first, I am grateful to Rose Beranbaum for her scientific details and yeast percentages, which have allowed me to bake even better bread.