The Art of Baking Bread by Matt Pellegrini is the bread book I wish I had read when I first started baking bread. Back then, most of the bread books were filled with recipes, which makes sense. But they assumed the reader already knew how to knead or fold or shape.
And that makes sense, too. You wouldn't expect a cookbook to explain how to stir soup or give detailed instructions on how to peel a carrot. Handling bread dough isn't difficult, but it takes some practice and you need to know some basics before beginning.
This book teaches those basics. Oh, sure, it has some recipes, too, but not many. Most of the book is about technique and it goes into detail, dividing the bread-baking process into eight steps. That makes the few recipes a little difficult to follow because each step refers to instructions in another section of the book. Once you've mastered the techniques, though, you won't need to refer back to the details.
But it's not just about basics. It's also about options. Many techniques offer different methods. You can knead your bread using the standard method or the French method. And the list goes on. There are several methods for folding dough.
Along with the instructions, there are tips in each section, as well as comprehensive information about equipment and ingredients. It's all written in plain language so it's appropriate for a beginner. But at the same time, there's plenty for the more experienced baker to think about as well. I know I learned a few things and I was reminded of a few things I'd forgotten about.
Since this book is so technique-heavy, instead of five days of recipes, you'll be getting techniques for four days, followed by a recipe where you can practice some of those techniques.
Win 'The Art of Baking Bread'
Thanks to the Matt Pellegrini, the generous author of The Art of Baking Bread, we are giving away five (5) AUTOGRAPHED copies of The Art of Baking Bread this week.
To enter to win a copy of this book, all you have to do is tell us which bread technique you'd like to master.
About the bread baker: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. You can find her on her blog, Cookistry or follow her on Twitter at @dbcurrie.