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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

on 6 December 2010
The Bourke Street Bakery was apparently set up in 2004 in the buzzy Sydney suburb of Surry Hills by two workaholic men on a bun, brioche and muffin mission. The mission succeeded. The queues got longer, the customer numbers higher, three more bakeries were added to their loaf empire and, before you know it, a literary agent walks in (no doubt) and a honey-covered deal is sealed.

A bakery book can only becomes a bestseller or fill a razor-thin gap in the most competitive and crowded publishing market of all, when it tells a very personal and very human story. A story of how two men, from nowhere, decided to set up a bakery business, with no money, no public relations initiative, no marketing strategy and no celebrity bandwagon attached. The breads, pies, pastries and cakes spoke honest quality, variety and wholesomeness, and their makers' obsessive focus on the pursuit of excellence and the collaboration of the community around them, have all served to make this story compelling and absorbing in equal measure.

The story of the bakery's products is delineated into four main sections. The first tells the neo-baker all about the fundamental basics, the ingredients and the equipment. Then there is a very thorough, detailed and didactic masterclass of breadmaking, from kneading, to ferments, to sourdoughs, to yeasted breads and olive oil breads. Beautiful photography marks and punctuates each process and each achievement. Then begins the pastry section, and by now you are on Page 144, and are facing golden croissants, buttery pate sucree, crumbly pate brisee, soft empanada pastry and all manner of breakfast buns and viennoiserie. Then come the savoury pies, like ratatouille pie and rabbit and quince pie (unusual). The heart begins to race, as lemon curd, ginger brulee and strawberry and ricotta tarts rise up to greet you, and into the final, rousing crescendo where, possibly, the worlds' most tempting, delectable and magnificent cakes, biscuits and desserts round off this world class pudding tour de force. Exhausted from the sheer depth of detail and the magnitude of the content, you recline in semi-slumber, trying to muster the strength to move, to enter the kitchen, to start the process, not really knowing where to begin. Although the "Sour cream butter cake with pears and raspberries", possibly accompanied by a strong cup of coffee, would do me nicely.

I am, quite simply, in awe of these two men, and their ability to withstand the gruelling, punishing schedules of running four urban bakeries, producing such a vast range of goods at such a high level of quality. They then find the time, after going home shattered to their families, to write a compendium of Biblical proportions, to create instruction and give advice to strangers wishing to partake of their experience. This is not a book for the faint hearted or the complete beginner, however. There is a certain silent and pre-required level of knowledge and skill implicit in the author-reader contract that would leave the total novice afloat in a sea of chocolate speckled confusion. For the die-hard, accomplished home baker and the patisserie chef, however, this is, arguably, one of the definitive works in the higher echelons of bakery gospeldom. Enjoy.
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on 26 April 2010
As I write this review, I have the croissant dough for Pain Au Chocolat from this book in the refrigerator resting. I have a ton of books, and started methodically teaching myself to bake with Carol Field's "The Italian Baker" and Nancy Silverton's "The Breads from La Brea Bakery". I considered them my baking bibles. Bourke Street Bakery has replaced them for a number a reasons.

(1) The breadth of the recipes is fantastic, from savoury to sweet and the recipes are good;
(2) The images demonstrating step by step are useful in helping you understand how the dough is supposed to look at various stages;
(3) The measurements, metric and imperial, are precise and leave no room for guessing, and they work;
(4) The instruction is detailed, clear, and concise; The introduction walks you through a basic understanding of how water, flour, and yeast work, and explains the process very clearly;
(5) The food photography (by one of my favorite photographers, Alan Benson) is sublime;
(6) It has all the Australian baked goods that I crave!

If you are considering this book, you should know that it is not really the kind of book that you will open and go into the kitchen and turn out something in an hour. There are some of those recipes in here, but it is a book based on a bakery, and any good bakery takes its time to make its goods, and so will you! For example, I am on day three of the croissant dough. Developing your own starter takes even longer. This is because much of the flavor in these baked good relies on a slow rise.

So, this is a book for someone who is not scared to delve into the world of baking, someone who would like to improve upon/add to their baking skills, or someone who has a great command of baking skills (bread doughs, laminated doughs, yeasted doughs, etc.)

Murdoch really has produced some amazing titles in the past year, and this is one of them.
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on 19 December 2013
We frequented this delicious bakery, whilst on holiday in Australia, some years ago.
We are delighted that we can now recreate their scrummy delights in the comfort of our own English kitchen!
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VINE VOICEon 2 January 2011
... book on baking to have been added to my collection this year.

I can only really echo the praise that has been heaped on this wonderfully clear and enticing work. Everything is clearly laid out, the steps and techniques explained with enough detail to give you confidence to have a go for yourself.

There are some very tempting recipes and I will be certainly coming back to this one over and over again.

Little more to say other than seek it out and I am sure you won't be disappointed
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on 16 October 2011
We went to the bakery, we queued for their ginger creme brulee tarts, we queued for their sausage rolls and, on our return, we bought the book :)

detailed, passionate writing. Beautiful pictures but be prepared for some very hard work. We took plenty of shortcuts and the results are still good but nowhere near as good.

one day we'll try to make the ginger creme brulee...
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on 13 March 2013
This is an excellent example of a professional book written with amateurs in mind. A few niggles with temperatures is all that stops this from being five stars.
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on 3 October 2011
I bought this book based on the glowing reviews by amazon members and I am delighted to add my own review.
Being an amateur baker, I have tested two recipes, friands & banana cake.
I followed the recommended quantities and instructions and they both came out beautifully.
Very tasty, moist and the texture is very good. The members of my household loved them and have devoured them.
I have also tried their thin pizza dough recipe, very nice!

That being said, their shortbread biscuit recipe which did not turn out quite as well.
The instructions stated that the mixture be combined using fingertips but after referencing on the web,
it turns out it is better not to 'overwork' the mixture and that heat from hands will melt the butter.
Although the shortbread was edible, it was not quite as delicious as say shortbread from a packet, ie.one biscuit is not enough.
Some of the recipes in this book (breads, pastries, shortbread) is more suitable for an experienced baker rather than an amateur baker, so this book would appeal to most bread bakers.

You will find Recipes for breads, pastries, one recipe for thin pizza dough (very tasty) ,a few pies, sausage rolls, cakes, cookies, meringues & more.
The recipes aren't typical common ones, you will find a few unusual recipes in each category eg. Mr potato bread, flourless chocolate cake (the reason why I bought this book)

Contents excerpt:
Before you begin - ingredients, equipment
Bread - basics & techniques, starters, sourdough, derivative breads, yeasted, olive oil breads
Pastries - basics, croissants Danishes pies sausage rolls tarts
More sweets - cakes biscuits desserts

As I live in sydney I am fortunate enough to have sampled this bakery's offerings from their sister bakery, the central baking depot, and there is no surprise at the steady stream of customers coming and going throughout the day. The atmosphere is wonderful in their small bakery.

This is such a beautifully constructed book, lovely pictures and each recipe is on it's own page, so you won't need to flick back & forth.Nice big book that is worth every cent. Even just looking through it is a delight.
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on 29 October 2010
I really enjoyed this book .
It is glossy and beautifully illustrated I have successfully tried the recipes.
Their ethos is genuine and it reminds me of a similar establishment in South Manchester - The Barbakan. Quality products which poeple will willingly queue for and pay the price because the product is so good .
Again my only tiny criticism is the scale of the recipes and sometimes down sizing - doesn't work so well!
I am about to put their small Christmas cake recipe into production - having used Delia & Gary Rhodes for so lomg - stay posted for the results !!
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on 22 May 2016
Well worth buying. Bread, pastries and more
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on 21 January 2012
I thought I'd never get to the final week of making the starter but my first loaves make it worth the wait. Proving the miller's loaves at the moment!!! As for the croissants they are sublime but dangerous for the waistline!
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