Top critical review
23 people found this helpful
A good confidence builder, but with reservations
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.