Cookbook Review: The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I am sad because it’s time to return my copy of The Bread Bible (by Rose Levy Beranbaum) to the library tomorrow.

Even though the book concentrates on white flour instead of whole wheat flour, I learned so much from reading the Bread Bible. The first 91 pages are full of so much good information – great for those just learning to bake bread.

There are sections on various Mixing and Kneading techniques: By hand, bread machine, stand mixer, food processor, and spiral mixer. She lists the different pros and cons for each method. I really learned a lot from the Bread Machine section (pg 48-49).

I also was introduced to “autolyse” which is the technique of mixing flour and water and allowing it to sit for 20 minutes or more.

The book has helpful illustrations for turning/folding dough: The business letter fold and the dough package fold. Also illustrations for shaping dough: round (boule), rectangle, torpedo (batard), baguette, and braiding.

I didn’t try any personally, but I enjoyed reading through the recipes. I wish it was geared more toward healthier whole grains, but it looks like she really thinks processed white flour is the only way to bake really good bread. I dunno, it’s too bad.

I really liked the last two chapters (starting page 543): Ingredients and Equipment. I hadn’t even heard of some ingredients like Kamut and Triticale. The equipment chapter starts out with the “Bakers Dozen” essential pieces, most of which I already possessed, but some I didn’t feel were very important like a heavy duty mixer and a dough rising container. But I really enjoyed browsing through all the cool baking equipment!

There were a few sections of color photos interspersed through the book in between chapters, but I really love cookbooks with photos on the same page as the recipe. I did appreciate the various illustrations in the book. I read Rose’s comment on the Fresh Loaf web site that the illustrations were drawn from photographs, so they are very realistic.

So much good information, I really hate to let the book go. I don’t know yet that I’ll buy a copy for myself. I will have to wait until I finish reading the other baking books I borrowed and decide which one I love the most. But I have a feeling that I will be borrowing it again, and I highly recommend The Bread Bible either for purchase or borrowed from the library to anyone else wanting to learn about the basics of baking bread.

Last Note: Rose Levy Beranbaum has a web site: Real Baking With Rose that includes book errata – I guess there were a lot of recipe errors, so it’s good that she has corrections available. Her site has a lot of baking information as well. Wow, there’s just so much to learn, and not enough time to learn it all! But it’s exciting to try!

I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks; I like putting my own spin on a recipe rather than exactly following it. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.

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