For people who are interested in learning to bake bread, trying to learn directly from a book can be intimidating. The intricate directions and multiple steps in some of the artisan bread books are enough to make my head spin. This book is designed with the beginning breadmaker in mind. Lauren Chattman breaks down the process to remove doubts and firmly squash all fear, so you’ll get the perfect loaf every time.
Bread Making is divided into nine chapters in two manageable parts. Part One is Getting Started and Part Two is Techniques and Recipes. Seems pretty simple, right? Take your time learning Ingredients, Equipment, and The Basic Steps (chapters 1 -3) in Part One and you will have absorbed everything you need to know to tackle the recipes. One thing that sets this book apart from others is the Questions and Answers segment that follows each chapter. It is reassuring to see the common problems that can crop up and helpful to see what the solutions are.
I loved that her breads were simple, but far from boring. Frequently, it seems that bread books will offer several recipes that actually turn out to be one dough that is shaped in many different ways. It is exciting to discover the doughs here are very different from each other. Cheddar Cheese Boule is a big round loaf studded with cumin seeds and bits of melted cheddar. To make the Rustic Flax Seed Rolls, you actually have to soak the flax seeds overnight so they can absorb the water. After reading about the health benefits of flax, I have been trying to work it into our diet more, and this is the perfect way.
For deeper flavors, the next two chapters offer recipes that rely on extra fermentation. Chattman provides Foolproof Sourdough Starter and day-by-day directions on keeping it alive. She describes creating your own starter as intensely satisfying, which really makes me want to try it. She clinched that by revealing that once your starter is well established, it is difficult to kill. If you aren’t up for that level of commitment, try a yeasted pre-ferment, which boosts flavor with less time. You can then make Sunflower Seed Bread and Ciabatta.
Bread Making is an excellent introduction to the world of bread. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her explanation on the processes. Chattman truly believes that with a little experience, breads from a domestic kitchen can be every bit as good as those from a bakery. And this is the perfect book to help you gain that experience! For a book, I think this is the closest you will come to having an experienced breadmaker hold your hand while you try new bread recipes. It is helpful, knowledgeable and encouraging.
Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and six year old son. She writes reviews of children’s books on her blog, FIRR-Kids and loves filling her own shelves with cookbooks.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Storey Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.