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on 13 October 2004
The scope of this book is exceptional. It teaches you how to make your own sourdough bread without commercial yeast but home-made starters like they did in the old days. Making a bread like that is time consuming, but will have a better taste and usually stays fresh for about a week if it's a big loaf. Next, the auhtor goes on to show you that you can make nice breads with those big irrregular holes and a chewy interior with "sponges" and commercial yeast. Sometimes, italian "00" flour is needed - a strong white flour. I have had no problems substituting ordinary white flour with an acceptable amount of gluten (> 11%). It may not be the real thing or how it was intended, but this will still yield very good breads. The last chapters are about cakes, tarts and cookies.
The photographic quality of the pictures in the book is rather sensational. Nothing like the sterile food photography just for the sake of pleasing the eye. If a sourdough starter may develop a crust, then you will see a photo of a sourdough starter with a crust. Period. The photos really show what it will look like when you do it at home.
My favorites are "Dan's garlic bread" (using three whole bulbs of garlic) and all of the sourdough breads. I haven't had the nerve to tackle the fragile tart or croissant doughs yet. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 16 March 2011
I have yet to buy anything from a Baker & Spice shop (there isn't one near me) but from the glimpses you get from this good collection of recipes then I am certain I would find plenty to tempt me.

In recent months I have been looking for a good guide to working with wild yeasts in my baking and the first section in the book is a pretty comprehensive guide to this increasingly popular art/science. This is, at times, a little unusual - with some additions that purists might question but I am certain that most home cooks will only be worried as to whether things work rather than whether it conforms to some archaic rules.

Alongside the breads, there is a good range of cake, biscuit and savouries recipes to tempt you into the kitchen. Most of the ingredients are readily available and the techniques are clearly explained. I can't wait to try the recipe for the rustic bread with three whole heads of garlic inside - that looks divine. And there are other similarly inviting ideas to consider - many well illustrated with good photography.

If I have one criticism, it is the insistence on using bottled water. I am sorry but, for most home cooks, what comes out of the tap is perfectly adequate for their needs. It might make a slight difference to the end result but it is a tad too pretentious for me to consider reaching for a bottle of Evian or something similar!

Overall this has made a useful addition to my growing collection of baking books - but I don't think I will be following it completely to the letter!
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on 10 May 2004
This is truly an inspirational book. I have been searching for years for recipes for the sort of bread that you just can't find in English shops, and this is it. The San Francisco sourdough is sensational.
Although most of the recipes are time-consuming and somewhat complicated (and I had to invest in a second-hand Kenwood mixer), the results are worthwhile. But the recipe for wholemeal bread using commercial easy-bake yeast is a lot simpler than other recipes I have used, and the resulting bread is much better.
If you want to bake real bread with real taste, get this book. I guarantee you will never touch the pre-wrapped sliced stuff from your supermarket again!
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on 9 December 2004
What a brilliant book! You will never eat supermarket cotton wool-like bread again! It may seem a bit pernickity making your own sour-dour starters, but, boy, those results are so worth it! I have also made a number of cakes, the lemon drizzle is fantastic, and the carrot cake is too good for words, and the devil's food and marble cake attract a lot of compliments. Not brave enough to try my own croissants or danish pastries, yet, but these guys have inspired me to take further training and start up my own business.
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on 12 February 2001
Up until a year ago I had never cooked an egg let alone a loaf of bread or a cake. Then for christmas a friend bought me a copy of baking with passion by Dan lepard and Richard Whittington. Well, it didn't happen immediately; my first two attempts were complete disasters, but thanks to Dan's clear demonstration and Richard's easy style of writing I was soon knocking out beautifully fresh bread and cakes on a daily basis. In fact I was so inspired by the cooking duo that I'm now in Italy where I am training to be a proffesional chef myself. So indeed thankyou Dan and Richard.
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on 28 April 2013
My wife and I have been making our own bread for years (no machine) but this adds such a variety of baking and is full of knowledge of how and why it works, Much more useful than a telly programme. Dan is the man!
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on 2 August 2013
Not for the beginner but I love it..... I love sour dough but you need an heavy duty mixer for recipes in this book. If you are an expierienced baker in bread making and have an heavy duty mixer then this is the book to get, if not start with The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard. Other recipes in this book are good too.
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on 27 May 2013
I bought this because I love cookery books. Its a great book and have been trying some of the recipes. I like it so much I'm considering buying some more as Christmas presents for next year!
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on 3 June 2007
I have to admit that I have not delved too much into the pastry section, however I can vouch for the bread side of it. The recipes as with the Handmade Loaf tend to need a little preplanning, and can be fussy (though not complicated), but the results are worth it - the flavour of Dan Lepard's Garlic Bread is an experience rather more than food, and should appear on any '50 things to eat before you die' list.

If you are only interested in the bread element then buy 'Exceptional Breads' instead as it is basically the bread section of this book, but I recommend this one, as the pictures alone are enough to get you baking.
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on 14 September 2013
Great product, just what I was wanted. I have been looking for this book for a long time and a so pleased to have finally found a copy!
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