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I have now used most of the recipes, with complete success. I nearly lost my nerve on the first batch of bread and considered adding more flour, but decided to trust the recipe and carry on. It seemed hopelessly sticky at first. By the second batch I had the hang of it. When I progressed to the sweet recipes my first batch was just a little too sticky so I added only about a teaspoon of flour at the end. I think it may have been needed because the eggs were a little large.
I have weighed the liquid for every recipe as it is much simpler than trying to measure it. I put everything in cold, but sometimes put the dough in the microwave for twenty seconds at the end of the kneading. It takes the chill off nicely while the weather is cold.
I have resisted buying any special equipment as I have very little storage space. I have used an upside down baking sheet to drop the bread onto a pizza stone in the oven. I first put the bread on silicon baking paper and slid that out onto the stone with the bread still on it. Very easy.
For the Pain Campagne I used a sieve (stood in a saucepan) and a colander lined with t towels as rising baskets. They worked perfectly, if not elegant to look at. I used a sharp knife or scissors to slash the dough. I am too clumsy to want to try razor blades.
The only instruction I the recipes I have ignored is to put the oven on at the start of the recipe. It would cost far too much in electricity.
I thought I knew how to make basic bread but this book has simplified the whole process and given me much better results. The only problem I have now is to stop eating so much of it.
Here is an masterpiece on all facets for crafting and baking traditional breads, taught by Richard Bertinet whose love for baking bread began at age 5 in his native Bretagne. You are never alone wrestling with sloppy wet dough; he's with you every step of the way, encouraging you to keep working it until it's the right feel and texture. I am baking my way through it right now! I also bought his sequel Crust, even more wonderful.
As a complete beginner at bread making I did a bit of research to find a good book when starting out and I am really happy with this purchase. The instructions are clear and the book gets you started with a minimal amount of kit and with confidence. It's very encouraging in tone! I like the fact that there is a DVD to show you the kneading technique, although I had a good stab it at just using the pictures and instructions in the book which are great. I find it's got a really tempting selection of recipes - I've tried the baguettes, the pizza dough, and the apricot and oat loaf so far. Will definitely be doing many more. Highly recommended. It lost a star as I found it a bit confusing to switch between the basic steps and the recipe-specific steps, takes a bit of working out!
Oh my gosh. This book and the dough making method has changed my life! Haha, but seriously, once you get it, you've got it, and it is so easy. The book has a great range of interesting breads to make, and different ways to make different loaves and breads which you can then easily adapt to different ingredients. I'm having a lot of fun with it, and eating it! I already bought it for my mum!
The book itself is nice. Well written and with lovely photos. The step by step pictures at the start are a nice tough because they let you see the intermediate stages of working the dough - which is an important element.
This book has opened my eyes to two things: the first that, when I use fresh yeast, the results are awesome in comparison with dried. The second that, with the working technique given, I can produce a family loaf for proving in about 10 minutes from measuring to cleaning up. If you really get into a good rhythm with the dough - it really doesn't need much more than 5 minutes working.
For a straight loaf, I bung my dough into a loaf tin, let it rise until I'm happy and then put it into a hot oven - no knocking back, no messing around. This gives me a lovely light and airy crusty loaf in minimal time with minimal fuss - which is exactly what I wanted.
There are several different dough variants (go look in the table of contents!) and lots of minor variations in the dough cutting / minor ingredients that you can use to produce a whole range of lovely looking (and tasting!) bread. The fougasse is a great little bread to give you confidence and will impress the wife/husband/partner/kids when you present them with it.
I cannot recommend this book enough if you want a non-nonsense guide to knocking up a quick loaf or any of the other included breads.
For bread making novices or seasoned bakers alike, this is a great book and very practical. The British method of kneading with the heel of the palm, is replaced by a drop and fold technique which traps lots of air bubbles in the dough giving the characteristic light and airy continental breads such as French stick. The DVD is very good and it's easy to follow the processes which Bertinet demonstrates. Have made several types of bread from this book, all of which have turned out very well. One word of caution... Even though he advocates using dried yeast in the same way as fresh yeast, the dried type for hand baking which we can buy here in supermarkets, still needs to be activated with warm water and sugar as per instructions otherwise it won't work! Apart from that proviso, I can heartily recommend this book.