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Old 02-23-2012, 08:37 AM   #11
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If I were forced to choose just one, it would be The Bread Baker's Apprentice hands down. But there are many others. And you can gain insights from each of them.

Among them:

Any of Dan Leader's books.

Eric Treuille & Ursula Ferrigno's Ultimate Bread.

Eric Kastel's Artisan Breads, which is part of the CIA's At-Home series.

If you can find a copy, you can do a whole lot worse than Beard On Bread.

I've always recommended Alford & Duguid's Flatbreads & Flavors. It's not a general bread making book, obviously. But it's a fantastic book that any baker should own.

A note on Reinhart's formulae. They are based on flour weighing 4.5 ounce per cup. If your flour weighs that, they work perfectly. If not, not.

When I started using his formula I used King Arthur flour, and had to make only minor adjustments. When I switched to Weisenburger flour everythying went to hell in a handbasket. Had to keep adding more and more flour. As it turns out, for whatever reason, Weisenburger absorbs more water. I started using 5 ounces as a cup, and that solved the problem.

All I'm saying is, if Reinhart's formulae don't work for you, check the weight of your flour. That may be the real culprit.
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:08 AM   #12
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Crust & crumb separation

In the course of researching fixes for the crumb crust separation we have been experiencing with the rebaking of some of our frozen breads I came across a fairly informative article-
http://www.aseanfood.info/Articles/11015364.pdf
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:49 AM   #13
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Thanks, HF.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:59 PM   #14
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While not the best first book on bread baking, this one was an inspiration.
Amazon.com: The Breads of France: And How to Bake Them in Your Own Kitchen (Culinary Classics & Curios) (9781580083898): Bernard Clayton, Patricia Wells: Books
Older editions cheaper at half.com
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Old 02-23-2012, 02:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HistoricFoodie View Post
A note on Reinhart's formulae. They are based on flour weighing 4.5 ounce per cup. If your flour weighs that, they work perfectly. If not, not.
I think that's a very good point, and one I've run into with a lot of bread recipes, not just Reinhart's. The problem is that we use volumetric measures in this country, while weight is used everywhere else in the world.

One thing I'll say about breadmaking. Compared to other types of cooking, it really is more of an art form than just following recipes. After doing it for awhile, you just sort of know when the dough is too dry, or how it's supposed to feel in your hands as you're kneading it.
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Old 02-23-2012, 03:06 PM   #16
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Absolutely correct about the dough, Steve. Bread making is a tactile process, and the dough tells you all about itself through your fingertips. My only objection to bread machines is that they remove that sensory involvement.

I'd say you're half right about measurements. Because we do use volume measurements for most things, consumer level bread recipes are run that way. But professionals and serious amateurs do not use recipes, they use formulas. And those are dependent on weight. Otherwise the relationships don't make sense.

However, for the average person, who is only making one or two loaves of bread, there is nothing wrong with volume measurements. Follow the recipe and you'll wind up with a nice loaf of home-made bread. What I'm saying is that the importance of weight is highly overstated for the typical home baker---and that comes from somebody who owns, and uses, several scales.
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Old 02-23-2012, 03:32 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Kroll View Post
One thing I'll say about breadmaking. Compared to other types of cooking, it really is more of an art form than just following recipes. After doing it for awhile, you just sort of know when the dough is too dry, or how it's supposed to feel in your hands as you're kneading it.
I don't think I could explain it to anyone else, but I can tell by the way the dough moves under the mixer's dough hook and how it interacts with the sides of the bowl. I guess I could describe it as a degree of resilience in the dough when it's right. A poet would say it's when it comes to life, when it reacts, instead of just being manipulated. At any rate, it's real obvious when it's not right.
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Old 02-23-2012, 04:04 PM   #18
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I don't think I could explain it to anyone else, but I can tell by the way the dough moves under the mixer's dough hook and how it interacts with the sides of the bowl. I guess I could describe it as a degree of resilience in the dough when it's right. A poet would say it's when it comes to life, when it reacts, instead of just being manipulated. At any rate, it's real obvious when it's not right.
I agree, and I can tell the same thing when I make dough in my food processor - more or less. I have to add that final caveat because there have been a few times when I thought the dough looked and behaved like it was ready, but needed (or kneaded?) a bit more work after I removed it from the bowl. I've only been making bread in the food processor for a couple months, though, so I'm sure it's just a matter of time before I figure out all the nuances.
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Old 02-23-2012, 06:04 PM   #19
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I use the food processor for a quick job of pizza dough. I put the 250g of flour in and add water with yeast slowly until the dough ball forms and runs around the bowl, and give it a little longer for some gluten forming abuse. Seems to work okay and without much thought.
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Old 02-24-2012, 03:07 PM   #20
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I really appreciate all your recommendations and insights to this question.

Honestly, I don't expect to become any more than an occasional bread baker. I'd like to be able to make baguettes and other breads but it would never be on a daily or weekly basis. I need a book that will get a newbie going in the right direction with understanding techniques and the right processes for success.

What I'm gleaning from your recommendations is that 'The Bread Bakers Apprentice' is the first choice of the two I listed.

As an alternative, 'Artisan Breads Every Day' is a good option.

No one has mentioned the King Arthur books...
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