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I have made bread for more than 20 years starting with manual methods which, for some recipes, can be extremely tiring and consume many hours although usually in several stages. About 12-15 years ago I saw a TV program where a well-known TV baker and bread-maker was answering a viewer's question and it concerned the use of a bread-making machine. As a professional baker, he did not use one but did admit that machinery is extensively used for some tasks in his bakery - would you want to work 25 kilos of flour into a dough by hand? He thought that they were a good idea and he used two on-air, one started about 2 or 3 hours in advance so that it would be finished on time. He had made another a day earlier so that it would be cold and easy to slice. He admitted that the results were actually very good and I then set to buying one.

My first was relatively basic and very inexpensive and I outgrew it within a year. Its replacement was to have been a Panasonic but the store was out of stock and they substituted a Breadman model, then the top of the range and normally slightly the more expensive. It was very good and had some features that the Panasonic did not have and it lasted until about 2 years ago when the seals around the rotor wore out and it leaked. A new pan cost only £20 less than a new machine so I bought a Panasonic!

Bread-makers should not be despised as they can mix, knead, warm to rise, and then bake. With many, they can be set in advance to have warm (not hot!) bread ready for breakfast if that is what you want. As indicated above, making bread can be time-consuming and require much effort, especially during the kneading process. The bread machine removes all that and allows you to do something else during the 3 hours or so most need for a loaf. Most machines will also allow the dough to be mixed, then removed and some ingredients mixed in, finished with seeds, nuts, salt or sugar and a glaze and placed in a tin or shaped and placed on a tray for oven baking.

When making bread by hand, you normally start with the flour, add a little salt and sugar and the yeast and then start adding water, perhaps half of the total to start and then little by little until you reach the desired consistency. With bread machines, it is different. Most fall into the 'liquids first' group where you would normally add water (or milk) and oil, perhaps egg, and then the dry ingredients and the yeast last of all. The other group is the 'dry first' where it is the liquids that are last into the pan. Either way, the ratio of liquid-to-dry will need to be adjusted to the flour and other variables and you may need to add the equivalent of a few teaspoons of water or a few additional grams of flour for the best consistency. The ratios will vary slightly from one bag of flour to another and from one brand to another.

There is a slight difference between a machine-made dough and a hand-made one; the machine requires a little more liquid to be used (it is boiled off during steam-baking) and it takes a little experience to know when there is enough, too little or too much. There will be a slight difference in results for an oven-baked loaf when compared with a machine-baked one using the same dough mix. The machine steam bakes at a rather lower temperature than the oven would use. You will get a deeper and stronger crust in the oven than is possible in the machine.

The book contains a typical range of about 120 main recipes with most having a variation, as is common throughout the growing series. This is the only one I know that deals with bread, and although intended for machine-made bread, there is no reason why you could not use its recipes and modify them, with a little knowledge and imagination, for manual preparation. I have done that with certain recipes and also turned some others from manually-made to bread-maker use, although you cannot do that in every instance.

The variety of recipes is wide and includes white, wholemeal, speciality and sweet breads, in fact something for just about everyone. The book is well illustrated and is excellent value for money. It is a very good companion for any bread machine. As the machine takes over the responsibility, there is little skill needed other than to know when the dough consistency is correct. The recipes are all very UK-friendly. At the price, you will probably not find better.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 October 2012
I can understand the frustration of those who have purchased this book not realising that it is designed for use in conjunction with a bread making machine - the cover shot shown on Amazon only includes the front cover which is silent on the subject and the reference to bread machines in the product description could easily be missed.

If you do have a breadmaker, however, this is a fantastic collection of recipes, mainly breads but a few cakes thrown in too. Most, if not all, recipes have a variation around the theme at the end - this is what brings the recipe total up to 200. Recipes are straightforward, well laid out and with a photo of the finished loaf on the facing page. Many of the bread recipes use the dough setting only, leaving you to remove the dough for proving and finishing by hand.

There is a tremendous choice, ranging from basic breads to more unusual fare and including gluten-free breads. Favourites include oatmeal & buttermilk, olive & tomato bread, minted courgette & lemon loaf (I have another recipe for this but the one given in this book is entirely produced in the bread machine which is very handy), potato & thyme bread (the variation on this is spiced potato bread), onion & red Leicester bread, tomato focaccia, and fougasse. Fruit-based breads include glazed pear & cinnamon loaf (using dried pears and gluten-free), white chocolate & banana loaf and blueberry & vanilla plait. I haven't tried any of the gluten-free recipes, apart from the pear & cinnamon loaf, but they include roasted red pepper cornbread, sundried tomato & herb bread, and roasted vegetable loaf with wild rice.

Well worth the minimal outlay.
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on 16 March 2013
This book is brilliant, it is full of exciting, interesting and stimulating recipes and really worth the 5 stars I am unable to give it. I really should have read the reviews before I pressed the dreaded 'order now' button. THIS BOOK IS ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO OWN BREADMAKERS!! Oh how I feel conned, yes I can pass the book on to a friend who owns a breadmaker then she can gloat over the scrummy things she has made. Make the title clearer and ideally write the same book again for all those who quite happily make bread by hand.
44 comments| 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
As others have pointed out, this book is slightly misleadingly named and it should be clearer that it's intended for use with a breadmaker. However, it does include a good range of recipes covering much more than the expected range of sweet and savoury loaves, including flat breads (like Naan or Focaccia), party breads (like Stollen or Panettone) ending with a short selection of breadmaker-friendly cakes and gluten-free breads. Like all of the Hamlyn 200 cookbooks recipes are presented on the left page with a colour photo on the facing page - there are variations on most recipes too, making up the 200, and these are easily missed if you're only browsing the headline recipes. Many of the recipes use the breadmaker only to make the dough and once the breadmaker has done the hard work you remove the dough and create round or individual loaves for conventional oven-baking. If you don't have a breadmaker then the recipes will still work but you'll have to figure out your own regimen of kneading and proving because that isn't explained in the method for any recipe. However for existing breadmaker owners this little cookbook is so useful it should have been included in the box with your breadmaker!
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on 21 December 2011
Whilst it's true that it should be more clear from the description that this is a breadmaker recipe book, for breadmakers this little book is absolutely unbeatable, especially for the price. I own a lot of bread books and out of all of them this is the one I've found I return to most. The recipes are consistently excellent and there is a fantastic variety, with many recipes here that I've not found anywhere else. Many of the recipes only use the breadmaker to make the dough and then the dough is shaped by hand and baked in the oven, which makes for a greater amount of adaptability and versatility. The photographs are great and the small size of the book makes it very handy for just leafing through when you quickly need a recipe for something.
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on 17 January 2016
I bought this book a while ago, even though I don't use a bread machine anymore. When I first looked into it I didn't realize that it was the recipes were supposed to be made in the machine rather than by hand but I was so inspired by the them that I decided to buy it anyway After all, if you know the principles of baking bread by hand you can solve the lack of details and adapt the recipes. If you are not that experienced just Google similar recipes, for example, Rye Bread and you know how much water you should add, how much yeast and how long to bake it. It is a pity that Joanna Farrow didn't think of including the information needed to bake by hand? It wouldn't have taken much space anyway. The few recipes I have tried have worked out very well, so no problems there and I hope to be trying a lot more. I am going through a very difficult period in my life and cooking has helped me keep a sane mind, also because then I make sure that I eat too. And sharing what I cook with people has helped me make a lot of friends. Most of these recipes don't use expensive ingredients. There are also recipes for cakes (something that is not mentioned in the title and it should be) and also gluten free-breads. All in all I think that this is a book worth buying. I have great books on bread making but unfortunately they are in my house in France, so the fact that I bought this little book got me baking bread again!
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on 31 March 2016
This item needs to be labeled BREAD MACHINE RECIPES. If you don't have a machine, don't buy it. Its for people with Bread Machines. Some recipes also require Bread Machines that have certain programs to work also. As someone who hasn't a bread machine this books useless to me.
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on 16 May 2013
This book is only useful if you have a bread machine, not making anything by hand.
Every recipe starts with 'put all items in the bread machine and turn on'.
The majority of recipes are also just slight variations on a standard loaf (white loaf + paprika = paprika loaf, white loaf + herbs = herb loaf).
Best avoided.
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on 28 September 2015
I hate this book. Yes, I hate it. The book has 200 recipes but it does not have a detailed contents page, which means you have to turn every page to review each recipe title to look for what you are wanting. The contents page has been "simplified" down to headings such as Basic, Individual, etc. The book does have an index but it is very little help and the links in the index do not work correctly and take you to the beginning of the book or to a recipe/ingredient that is not the one selected in the index. The digital version of this book has been very badly put together and, I guess, in a rush to reach out to the Kindle/iPad Kindle app users. I have many recipe books on my iPad but this book is a terrible version. If it was possible, I would be asking Amazon for a refund as I would in a normal bookshop. I am now going to Waterstones to look for a "real" bread making recipe book, one that has a contents page and a usable index.

One thing you have to be very careful of in choosing any bread making recipe book are the weights of the bread detailed in the recipes. The machine I purchased from Amazon makes two sizes of bread: 700 g and 900 g. This recipe book is aimed at breads weighing more. It is relatively easy to calculate the differences although you have to do that before you start and I have found that using a pro-rated ingredient measure does not produce the desired result.
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Firstly it is worth reiterating that this is a book of recipes for bread making machines which is not at all clear from the front cover. There is a short but useful introductory section which covers the basics about using a bread making machine such as the types of programme, tips for success etc. The recipes themselves are quite varied, and the illustrations are very good and give a clear idea of what can be expected.

The instructions are clear and succinct, and the recipes I have tried have been totally successful. The whole range is covered from basic breads, to savoury, to sweet things. It has reminded me that the machine is very versatile and will produce a lot more than just standard loaves. This is a very good, basic and practical little book with some attractive recipes, and an excellent companion for anyone using a bread making machine. Highly recommended.
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