Mar 13, 2009
I have baked bread off and on for 10 years. With craft loaves now approaching $4.50, I am back to baking regularly. I learned first from "Bread Alone" which was a good learning book. Hammelman's book introduced new techniques which immediately improved the loaves I was baking. The folding of the dough during the main fermentation gave it extra strength and improved the oven spring ; it was also easier to load the baking stone. He has a nice full discussion of hand techniques for preparing loaves for baking. I have used his Pain Rustique recipe with great success and with modifications to include whole wheat flour up to 25 %. It is nice to have a bread ready in 3 hours or so (not counting the long time for the poolish). I do not have an electric mixer but so far it hasn't been a problem. I break up a stiff poolish or biga with my fingers. It is messy but it works. I steam by spraying water on the oven sides. My loaves have looked nice like the pictures in books.
Apr 24, 2007
I have read many a bread book trying to understand the art of bread baking. I own several and this one is my favorite. The author is not just a cookbook author, he is a baker with many many years of experience. He describes in detail what each ingredient contributes to the final product and passes on his wisdom so that we can achieve great results at home. The recipes are easy to follow and the results are suberb.