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3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 17 March 2008
I am a home baker with a few bread baking books "under my belt". I also love books that tell us about simple pleasures of life. Among them, other books by Peter Mayle.

When buying Confessions... I expected a few stories about the bakery, along the lines of Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking, or Joe Ortiz's The Village Baker. I thought I would find a few trade tricks, or "secrets" that will help me bring out flavour more successfully. And, maybe as a bonus, one or two interesting recipies, not to mention the atmosphere that was in some earlier works by that author.

If you just began your bread baking adventure, you will not learn from this book enough to succeed. Try Joe Ortiz's The Village Baker, or Daniel Leader's Bread Alone, or Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb, or The Bread Baker's Apprentice (for the more detail oriented).

If you read a few bread baking books, and you tried several recipies, you will not learn much from this one. It focuses on direct method and white flour only, so ... look elsewhere.

If you think it will be just a nice story about good life in the south of France, a bit like Year in Provence, or Good Year (the film, not the book)... look elsewhere.

It's not even a good read. It seems a case of an author and publisher milking the former's (ailing ?) brand.

Don't buy it ... sadly look elsewhere.
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on 8 August 2010
I have never read Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence (or any other of his books), so I had no preconcpetions or expectations of Confessions of a French Baker whatsoever. Unlike the previous reviewers, I am judging this book based only on the contents and the results I've had using it.

And unlike the other reviewers, I would like to point out that this book is not that bad! True, the 'breadmaking secrets and tips' are a marketing sin in the plural, for you only really learn one secret throughout the whole book, ie that the temperature of your kitchen, flour and water should add up to 56 C. This is a very handy tip that I have never come across in other bread books (and I have over a hundred of them). Apart from that, the other secret is to use the best quality ingredients you can possibly find, which is slightly stating the obvious as I am sure that most people who love baking their own bread will not use inferior products! This is the essence of the Tips and Secrets.

Now for the Recipes. Again, I disagree with the previous reviewers who said the recipes aren't very interesting. I have many bread books by Richard Bertinet, Peter Reinhart, Dan Leader, Dan Leppard, Bernard Clayton, etc and still have found some unusual and tasty recipes in Confessions of a French Baker: thyme bread, pumpkin bread (delicious!), apricot and hazelnut bread, Roquefort bread, garlic bread (not just bruschetta with garlic butter, but little cubes of sauteed garlic in the dough), walnut and red wine bread, onion and white wine bread, olive bread, All in all, there are 16 recipes in this book, the others being traditional white breads like baguettes and fougasse, using various combinations of bread flour and plain flour. Yes, the recipe section is rather meagre and it would be fantastic if there were more than just 16 recipes, but the ones included are original and different to what you see in other bread books. I would not pay the RRP [...] just for these 16 recipes but was very pleased to have them for free from the library!

I can understand the negative reviews written by those who said these recipes are the same ones as appear in his other books, but as I have not read anything by Peter Mayle before I experienced none of this frustration and found it a useful and interesting little bread book with some lovely and different recipes.
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on 3 March 2009
The book's title, and the author's previous successes, led me to expect a small book packed with little known tips,methods, advice, troubleshooting problems, anecdotes and perhaps some recipes.

I agree with all the points in the other review. The author has tried to earn money from old rope - repeating almost word for word, apart from some different ingredients, in each recipe.
There are not really any "secrets" - the methods given can be found in almost any book on breadmaking. I certainly never saw any "confessions"!!
Often, small books are interesting and worth keeping - this book is neither, to me anyway. After a few pages introducing the baker and bakery, we are given recipes - actually, more or less the same recipe but different ingredients. Only one type of flour - white - T55 - is used, and all recipes are given using the straight dough method, with no mention of delayed fermentation, autolize or other method of flavour development in any form.

I haven't tried any of the recipes, I am not inspired to, with the author's review of the bakery and bread making. And it looks to me like he has just tried to earn a fast buck!

Even the links given for flours are not particularly good. One website selling the flour, doesn't even give any description/protein content - I like to know exactly what I am buying, in order to give me a guide as what to expect regarding performance. The other website just seems to be of use for bulk flour orders.

My bread books become old friends to me after a while, sadly, I won't be keeping this one.
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on 8 January 2014
A well written book and love the recipes have tried one recipe loved it fresh bread.The story is far to short, you are just getting into it when it stops which is a shame
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on 28 October 2013
This was an incredibly interesting and informative read. All about French baking and the history behind it. Very 'Peter Mayle'.
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on 9 November 2013
This anusing book has provided a lot of fun and also some excellent ideas. A very good value for money book
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on 28 February 2014
I have not read this book as I purchased it as a present for a friend who likes Peter Mayle.
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on 31 December 2014
good book many ideas well worth the price
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on 22 February 2015
brilliant made lots of bread
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on 14 December 2010
Fun but very informative.

Now I can make use of my French bread flour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Interesting ideas.

Cheap at the price

Now I need the Italian version!!.
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