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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on 21 May 2017
Come on publishers - please don't use Kindle versions as the 'Look Inside'

And surely you should actually include a recipe in the preview so that style and presentation can be judged?

I'm not going to buy a book based purely on a PDF of the blurb and the index...
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on 3 March 2013
I dont know what it is about this book. I like River Cottage, Hugh, etc, but I just find this book's recipes rather uninspiring. Half of the book is devoted to baking technique and the other half to recipes of various sorts: bread itself, buns, etc, random-things-that-are-kind-of-bready, what to do with leftover bread. There aren't many pictures of the recipe products. I think it would have helped me to have had a snapshot of each, even if it's just all of the them together at the start of the chapter.

I bake some type of bread-product each weekend and there are some recipes that I do use: the hot cross buns and the English muffins work nicely. Some other recipes, however, I cannot get to work at all (Chelsea Buns in particular, and looking around I'm not the only one).

If you have never baked bread before then the first section of the book will be perfect for you and I would recommend it. If you have been baking a while then you may find the recipes uninspriring (and I would look at Richard Bertinet's books instead).
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on 24 June 2012
In 2010 when my wife and I restarted bread making after a long interval, we got this book to get us going. The choice was based on our enjoyment of previous River Cottage books (in particular the majestic "Meat"). As a way of easing us back into the routine of kneading, proving etc., it was invaluable, and gave us the confidence we needed to persevere with things. The basics, like generic quantities, temperatures, possible problems etc. are well set out. There are enough interesting bread recipes to get you started on sourdoughs, flatbreads, rolls and various other loaves.

There are some obvious problems. The actual amount of text in the book is limited by far too much space being devoted to extraneous photographs. The description of the construction of an oudoor oven (about 20 pages) is a waste of space and came as a very unpleasant surprise when the book arrived from Amazon: after all, we are buying a book on breadmaking, not bricklaying. There are also some recipes using bread (1 or 2 in rather a tenuous way) that I recognise from other River Cottage books. It is in fact not that great value for money and one has the impression of a book being filled out to get the "right" number of pages.

Another thing that has become apparent in the last 2 years is that some recipes are made to seem too complicated. Ciabatta is a prime example. We were put off doing this for a long time by the description. When we did try it (with simplifications), it was easy. There are other examples.

So the judgement after 2 years use is: to ease you in to bread making, a good place to start. People who, like us, stick with making their own bread, will find they want more than is here. Would probably have been 4 stars without the outdoor oven part.
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on 14 April 2010
Bread. I love it. It's hellishly hard to get right though, isn't it!?

For years I have been trying to make bread at home, without a bread-maker. I have about half-a-dozen books, I have been through kilos and kilos of flour, hours of kneading and endless kilowatts of electricity. I have laboured and toiled and I have *never* quite got it right. A decent soft white loaf, made from simple ingredients (flour, salt, yeast, water - perhaps some oil too) sounds easy, but success has alluded me. What started as a simple wish for a nice loaf, turned in to a quest to just get one loaf right once.

Thanks to this book, that happened today.

I read the book last night, just the first few pages on how to make a standard white loaf. This morning I got up and made some bread, following the instructions as closely as I could and the result has been fantastic. A soft white loaf with a perfect crust.

There is a lot more to this book than how to make a loaf of bread though. There's a section on why you don't need to ever throw bread out, to making a clay oven - as well as many many more recipes. The book itself is a small hard-backed A5 size volume and it written beautifully, with clear and concise yet un-patronising instructions and tips.

What can I say. It worked for me. I put some images up on the review so you can see my results for yourself. I am very pleased I bought this book.
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on 15 July 2009
This is an excellent book, for both the begineer and the more advanced bread maker. It takes you from the basics, and covers everything you need to know. It certainly helped me in getting the dough mix right, and explained the kneading/proving in better detail than some others (including books by Britain's best loved Cook!!!). The are loads of different ideas, from basic bread, to breads from around the world. Highly recommended if you are into, and want to start, making your own bread.
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on 24 August 2009
I bought this book on the strength of other reviews, my like of the River Cottage series and my poor attempts at bread previously. All I can say is buy this brilliant book. My first attempt at bread after reading this book was a triumph and they have been ever since. The book goes through the bread making process step by step so by the time you've read the basic recipe you have so much new knowledge that you shouldn't fail to go wrong. On top of all this it looks great and reads great, I would go as far as to say the best cookery book I own.
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on 30 December 2011
Apologies for the cheap pun. Couldn't resist. But this book really is all you need to get yourself baking satisfying home-made bread.

The author doesn't just give you a recipe and expect you to follow it; you are first given an education in the science of bread-making, and, as the author wished, this understanding really does help you to produce good bread. You have something like 40 pages on the methods of making bread, with a comprehensive guide in pictures, which you should fully absorb before you start baking. However, once you've got that down, there's the two page summarised recipe for you to follow (the 40 pages are mostly about things like how to knead properly, how to allow bread to rise and prove etc.) and in all honesty after you've made your first few loaves you will probably not need to follow the recipe for basic bread, as you will have fully digested the steps, methods and weights/ratios involved.

There are several other recipes for different breads and related foods (such as bagels) and some cool ideas for using up bread past its best. My one criticism of the latter is that the 'using up' recipes have very few suggestions for using up brown bread, although I am absolutely fascinated by the idea of brown bread ice cream.

The author does devote 18 pages to a chapter on building a clay oven in which to bake bread, which was really presumptuous and quite ostentatious (although I think the same could be said of River Cottage on the whole, despite my love of the show) and will probably be entirely skipped by most readers like myself who do not have the means to build one anyway.

However, it is an excellent book, and if you're considering baking your own bread I would urge you to just stop reading now, scroll up and buy it (and given the price that it's dropped to, I'd probably splash out on next-day delivery which will give you an extra few days to read and absorb some information before you bake).

You'll never need another book on bread; I can think of one or two that you might want, but not need, and the author recommends a few too.
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on 16 May 2012
I come at this book after mixed success with many of the obvious competitors. Leith's baking bible is more comprehensive, Reinhart's The Bread Maker's Apprentice is more detailed, and a personal favourite North American book "The best of betterbaking.com" is more appetising. However, after a few tries of the recipes, I now think this is the book I'll turn to first when I just want to make a great loaf. The recipes seem pitched right at me, with processes being cleary described and their necessity or otherwise being carefully explained. Indeed, the book devotes a whole section to a step-by-step guide to making nearly any bread, which I found a handy reference. A troubleshooting guide has also helped me fine-tune my loaves. However, there is less of the fussiness that can be found in some of the more 'pro' books. I guess it feels like a book for the improving or keen homebaker, rather than the obsessive.

For my first bread using the book, I jumped straight for the sourdough. Not easy, and I've made some rather disappointing versions before using Reinhart's books. However, here I felt a handle on what was going on and the end result was two beautiful and tasty loaves that had my guests exclaiming. There's also a recipe for pumpernickel, and I think that'll be up next. Not that it should be a surprise, but this really is a bread book rather than a more generic baking book. However, I wasn't disappointed to find a few batter recipes and a few recipes for using up leftover bread.

Where I got marginally annoyed was the space devoted to making your own pizza oven. I remember seeing it on the River Cottage show, and it's a fun idea, but seemed more deserving of a footnote than a whole chapter. It's just a bit disappointing to realise that the whole book isn't full of those recipes...
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on 5 July 2010
What a superb book.

I bought this book two years ago with the vague idea that I would bake some bread. What an epiphany. I have not been disappointed with my results and have managed to make mostly every recipe in the book.

I defy anyone not to improve their baking after reading this book.

The pizza recipe was a real eye-opener. I had dispaired at finding a replication for the beautiful dough bases I had experienced some 20 years ago in the South of France. These taste just like them and are reason alone for buying the book.

This book is responsible for changing a vague notion into a complete passion to the extent I cannot eat mass-produced bread, it simply does not satisfy in the same way.

Get this book and change your life!
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on 7 March 2013
I love this book. Compact and educational but not academic or formal. I have read the introduction to the making of bread, the why's and how's and would suggest to anyone to read this very informative section. I have gone back over it a number of times to understand why a loaf has not developed the way it should have done, understood the error, corrected it and the difference was apparent. I did not want a simple bread recipe book, I wanted to understand what has happening as well.

Have started to make a number of the different breads in the book and even have my own sourdough going for some time now. Loving it! What a difference to make your own bread and enjoy it all to the last crumb. How soul destroying when you spend 4 hours making one loaf and it is inedible for one reason or another. Those days are behind and this book has seriously helped me progress in making better bread.

Would definitely recommend it as an introduction to bread making but the recipes are varied enough as well to stimulate curiosity. The section on making your oven is not redundant. In an apartment it would be impossible to do so, but the description of it and why only adds to the culture of the book. Bread is in the oven even as I write this. Unfortunately, the book does not reduce the time needed from baking to the first slice. Still have to wait....
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