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Customer Review

on 7 August 2010
Peter Reinhart's new bread book, like his previous titles, will give you bread of superior quality. Unlike his previous books however, the techniques he uses are very different to Crust and Crumb or The Breadmaker's Apprentice.

The most obvious alteration of his old technique is kneading the bread for short bursts of time several times rather than one long 15 minute knead (a technique similar to Dan Leppard's in The Handmade Loaf for example). Another change he introduces is overnight fermentation of the dough in the fridge to enhance flavour.

The positive aspects of the book for me are that the technique of retardation in the fridge allows you to keep your dough in the fridge for up to 7 days (though ideally it should be used up until the 4th day for maximum flavour). You can have your dough ready for baking any time using this technique without having to mix, knead and proof a new batch. I also find the long overnight fermentation in the fridge very useful - this is great for when you mix your dough but have no time to let it rise and bake it 4 hours later... simply put in the fridge and use it whenever you want for up to a week.

However, some of Mr Reinhart's new techniques are also a bit bothersome. I do not really like the short kneading method as it requires you to knead the dough 5 times every 10 minutes. That means 5 times of washing your hands and scraping the dough off them. I'd much rather knead once for longer and deal with sticky dough all over my hands and sink just once! Also, because you're going back to your dough every 10 minutes, there's not much you can do in between... read 3 pages of your book and then it's time to get up, knead and clean your hands again, and so on for 50 minutes. I actually find this much more time consuming than one long knead of 15 minutes. You also need a good oven for these breads - 260 C is the norm. As my gas oven only heats up to 220 C I have not achieved the oven spring that Mr Reinhart writes about.

Despite this, however, Artisan Breads Every Day is a useful addition to any bread book collection as not many books use the techniques that Mr Reinhart uses here. The overnight retardation has been a great time saver as I can bake fresh baguettes first thing in the morning. And if you're ever called out of the house in an emergency with dough rising in the bowl, this technique will save your bread for the next day - or even a week! It is a beautiful book, printed on smooth paper with lots of luscious photographs that will make you want to start baking straight away. There's a lot of variety and recipes for baguettes and other white breads, rye breads, wholewheat breads, breads with grains, sourdough loaves - though if you're weary of cultivating sourdough you will still find plenty here to bake. Definitely recommend to home made bread fanatics!
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