Sunday, November 3, 2013

Truly, anyone can now bake fresh bread at home!

5 out of 5 stars

I am an avid at-home baker, especially when it comes to bread. (It's my one weakness, which is why I could never do the bread-free diet.) However, I've always stuck to quick breads because I've been intimidated by the thought of working with yeast. All that kneading and resting and proofing, not to mention the pitfalls to avoid such as overworking the dough, not using fresh yeast, and turning out an end product that's heavy and hard and far away from the fluffy, fresh bread it's supposed to be. So, yeah, because I'm a chicken, I've stuck with quick bread. The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day takes away all those fears--it is truly a revolution.

Firstly, there's an in-depth overview of equipment and tips & techniques which not only answers a lot of questions about the bread-making process, but also gives you a lot of choices in how you actually go about making bread so you can use or adapt one of those techniques to your specific needs (and budget). The instructions themselves are clearly written and easy to follow, literally foolproof, with measurements given in both volume and weight. (Even though professional bakers know that you get better results using weight measurements of ingredients, novice bakers often prefer going with volume measurements--cups, teaspoons, etc.--as they are familiar and perhaps not as intimidating as working with a scale and tare button. If they even have a kitchen scale, that is, which many don't--like me.) The best part is how hands-off the directions are. I mean, literally, you mix up the dough, cover, let it rest, and then refrigerate. Then when you're ready to bake a loaf, you pull out a piece, shape it, and bake. Poof! You've got fresh bread, just like that! Almost no muss and no fuss.

I can't say I'll ever become an expert or even a fully confident yeast bread baker, but with this book, I'm coming closer to that point. I no longer feel intimidated by the bread-baking process and with the many master recipes and variations given in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I have a feeling I'll never run out of ideas. I may even get to the point of feeling confident enough in my skills to come up with my own variations.

Read October 3-24, 2013
Reviewed November 3, 2013

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