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There really are a lot of good, professional bread making books available, nowadays and this is definitely one of them. There are a good range of bread recipes in the book, several of which come from world beating bakeries, but the book, as the title suggests, is a training manual. This is not to say that the casual reader will not get a lot of good recipes and you could ignore much of the training information if you are a half competent bread maker; but this misses the point of the book. The Bread Maker's Apprentice is a book to read, to absorb the value of what is being taught and to learn, not merely to be a better bread maker, but to make bread to a very high standard, to develop "a feel for the dough." There is plenty of good advice and training out there - Paul Hollywood can be seen on iPlayer, for instance and there are countless youtube videos on technique and demonstrations of the bread making process - all of which is good. This book begins with the preparation, from the mise en place, the putting together of all the ingredients and equipment, to the preparation of the ferment and all of the things that make good bread extraordinary before you begin to form it and put it into the oven. There is a good back story to the book, including how the author wins a competition and spends a week visiting the bakeries of Paris, encounters Poilane and discovers Pain a l'ancienne, which becomes life changing. This is a book for real bread aficionados - no pretensions here, it really is for people who love the whole panoply of what it means to make good bread by hand and bake it to perfection.
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on 17 January 2015
When i first bought this book I read the first few chapters straight away as they described in detail what was happening at each step from a scientific perspective which helped me to understand why the different processes are carried out.

Since then I have made a number of breads from this book with a good degree of success. I have also found that I use the knowledge and techniques that I learned in this book to improve my results in when using recipes from other sources

This book is really geared for the American market and so the recipes included have been chosen to fit that market, however there are a number of French recipes included which were the main reason I bought the book.

It is a little annoying that all the measurements are in American units however given that all the recipes are presented as a formula based on weight as a percentage of the total amount of flour it is relatively straight forward to scale up or down to suit any size of loaf.
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on 11 June 2017
Lovely bread bakers book, perfect for me.
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on 10 May 2017
Peter Reinhart is a man who clearly takes his bread very seriously indeed. This is a comprehensive book, full of information, opinion and expertise and (potentially) great recipes. So why only 3 stars?

I can forgive the excessive earnestness, the tendency to overcomplicate recipes and the pointed 'you student, me master' tone of the recipes. Perhaps he's overcompensating for the fact he's an American presenting his take on what are largely European traditional recipes. What I find totally ridiculous are the measurements he uses. Firstly, anyone who is so pernickerty about bakers percentages should know that volume measurements are inaccurate, yet here they are, the dreaded US cups and spoon measurements. I guess this is appeasing his US market. But it becomes ridiculous when he helpfully converts the measurements to ounces. 0.17 of an ounce anyone? Has the guy never heard of metric??? He talks at length about his trip to Paris bakeries but obviously sensible units of measurement didn't rub off on him.

My copy of the book is now scrawled with conversions. Despite all the detail, these aren't dead cert recipes either. For example, unhelpful terms like "room temperature". Well, my room is 17C degrees today, and will be 25C degrees in the height of summer. See the problem? Huge differences in proving times. Flour will vary. A lot. These recipes need worrying at to get just right for your kitchen, just like any other bread recipe.

Secondly, this is not an ideal book for beginners or impatient people unless you have serious nerd tendencies and love the jargon. If you just want to make a loaf of bread, godammit, then try Paul Hollywood. If you want to make a really good loaf of bread and recipes without the Hipster overtones, perhaps venture into sourdough, then I recommend Andrew Whitley, "Bread Matters", a much more down to earth book once you get past his rants about modern bread making practices.

I don't regret buying this book - there's some great stuff in there and recipes you won't find anywhere else but I'm glad I didn't buy it before I'd learnt to make bread. It would have put me right off.
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on 20 September 2016
A fascinating recipe book for anyone interested in baking and eating bread other than bog standard white or wholemeal sliced.
Primarily for professional bakers, anyone can make these mouthwatering loaves etc.
Just don't read on an empty stomach!
I was given a digital copy of this book by the publisher Ten Speed Press via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review.
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on 20 December 2002
The author provides a clear discussion of how to make excellent bread. He gave step-by-step instructions, he also explain the chemistry and mechanics of breadmaking.
Most of the other baking books describe the starter making and keeping processes as an odd combination of science and sorcery. This author makes it easy to understand.
The most valuable part is the discussion of starters. Making really good bread generally requires use of some form of prefermenation or starter. Beside, the section on shaping dough is photographed, clear and easy understand.
The book is well written and very readable. The author does a great job of leading you through the steps of making great bread.
If you want to experiment with artisan bread baking and various starters, I highly recommend this book.
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on 8 November 2003
After messing around with other less-than-perfect books on Bread Making (particularly the very disappointing "Rustic European Breads: From Your Bread Machine" by Eckhardt & Butts) I took the chance and ordered this book.
Like the other reviewer, I can't stress enough how great the author's simple and consistent approach to bread making is, and especially the sections on starters, making, keeping and feeding them!
I'm also often a little suspicious of American books, citing ingredients, measurements and methods which just don't seem to work, but having tried at least 50% of the recipes in this book, I'm yet to experience a failure!
This book has truly allowed me to indulge a passion which has been lurking in me for many many years. I've now been able to embody it in the creation of some truly wonderful bread!
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on 19 July 2010
In common with other reviewers of this book I mostly agree on its thorough and inclusive content. It is comprehensive, in what it sets out to do and anyone wishing to know more about the 'hows and whys' of bread making would gain insight from reading this book. The author clearly has a vast working knowledge of his subject and obviously enjoys trying to communicate this to his audience. Be aware however this an American book with an American audience in mind, in more ways than measurement. I will confine my comments to four areas you may wish to consider before buying:
a) If you don't already have them you will need to buy a set of American measuring cups as the ounce measurements are, bizarrely, converted as decimals ( 0.39 ounces of Yeast for example or 2.67 ounces of Honey), rendering precision a little redundant. Although one reviewer clearly does not have a problem with doing their own conversion from cups and ounces to grams - suggesting that it is so easy to do - it does rather beg the question, if it is so easy why has it not been given here?
b) The lay-out is at times a little confusing eg the Pre-ferments (Biga ,Poolish , Balm etc) are not all in one place. This requires a certain amount of going backwards and forwards through the book. The referencing is however excellent so this doesn't pose too much of a problem.
c) The recipes are almost exclusively from French, American and Italian recipes. Those wishing for a comprehensive review of world breads would do better looking elsewhere. Indian breads are completely absent as are, with one exception from each, Scandinavian, English and German breads.
Finally, d) The writing style of the Author is at times little bloated, to say the least. You will need to steel yourself against sentences such as: 'The yang of Ferrandi, its anchorage in very specific methodologies, is the yin of the American approach' or 'It is the idea of pressing into new frontiers of bread making, of realising that there are still areas of exploration not charted ....We are learning that as we deconstruct the bread-making process, we are still in the early stages of what is possible.... as so often shown up on ancient maps 'Unknown Kingdoms Be Here'".
Then again we are talking about 'Pain a L'Ancienne' here and not just any old loaf of bread. We have to recognise for a certain class of Americans, and English for that matter, the merest whiff of the Tricolore renders them quite insensible.
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on 28 November 2008
Although the author has a considerable reputation and the book is very good in places I found it less comprehensive than I had hoped.
I have tried 10 of the recipes since owning the book (just a couple of weeks). I have baked about 8 loaves a week for the past decade so I have a moderate amount of experience in home bread making.

I have three issues:

The recipes appear to be authentic and the explanations are clear but that does not mean you are going to like all the different kinds of bread. I found the bagels (extremely time consuming to make) a real dissapointment. They looked great but tasted nothing like any bagel I had ever tasted. To be fair the author does say this is a traditional water bagel and not a commercial bagel. But in a book that champions tasty bread I found this unimpressive. The explanations of why different ingredients effect the outcome and flavour are very good.

The author is very keen on long fermentation to improve the flavour and the are lots of two stage two day recipes. Dissapointingly I have not yet been able to detect the flavour enhancement that deserves all this extra preparation (nor has my family). I would have been happier if the book had contained more angles on bread making. I feel that the author has collected lots of lengthy recipes because he believes this is the best way to make bread. I had expected a greater variety of approaches.

And last but not least. Why only imperial measurements? What happened to metric?

This is not a book for a beginner. If you want to purchase a single book on bread making I would not recommend it. As part of a library it is a very good reference book.
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on 14 September 2007
This book is quite informative and interesting but suffers from the drawback of having been written for a US audience only. Most of the cultural references will simply be meaningless to a british or european audience but that isnt really a problem. The problem is the units.
Being British I am just about comfortable weighing things out in pounds and ounces, though my scales being non-antique have kilograms as the larger markings. To the authors credit the recipes are weight based but those who use the volume conversions in the book may find themselves scuppered by the difference in volume between a US "cup" and those found in other countries that use the term. The biggest gripe however is that all temperatures are in Fahrenheit. I have never in my 29 years seen an oven that is calibrated in Fahrenheit outside the US. It is possible in the UK to purchase oven thermometers graded in Fahrenheit on the secondary scale but they are harder to find and the secondary scale is much harder to read without taking the thermomenter out of the oven.
It seems to me that if a publisher has any intention of releasing a book outside the US then they ought to take the trouble of changing the parochial units to ones in common use.
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