The Hungry Engineer

Quest for Great Bread

10 Sep 2008

Check this out. I made a loaf of bread, and it is beautiful. In fact, this might very well be my first ~pretty~ loaf of bread. I am ordinarily very bad at choosing favorites. My lists of favorites are often riddled with qualifiers and “beyond this list” commentary. That aside, I can safely say that bread is one of my favorite foods. Simple, I know, but there are nearly infinite variations and when you get a good loaf of bread with wonderful texture and superb flavor, it is difficult to find anything more satisfying.

I am not a good bread baker. I have had a few really good experiences, but overall, I’d say that I have only a 50/50 ratio of good to bad loaves. These days, I have found myself producing more consistently good loaves, and I feel I owe that to Alton Brown’s “I’m Just Here for More Food”, his book about baking. It is incredibly well written and teaches you the how and why of things rather than just giving you recipes. His chapter on the “Straight Dough Method” has been incredibly helpful to me. Pictured here are the results of his Everyday Bread recipe.

But this text only takes me so far. If anything, it’s given me an even stronger urge to learn more. So here’s where I’m asking for help again. What are the best bread baking books and websites for really learning the craft? Which is the best literature to help one understand the hows and whys of artisanal bread baking? I’ve been considering “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. Have any of you read it? What other books or websites or magazines, for that matter, might you suggest?

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