Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Bread Baker's Apprentice

After being a tad disappointed with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day... a light book dedicated to a "system" of no-knead bread baking... I wasn't really eager to buy another bread baking book solely on star ratings and brief mentions in Slate. It may be that I needed to see what a book dedicated to making the bread baking process simple and accessible was really like before I yearned for a tome that was a bit more... substantial. It's not that I have a problem with the Bittman's of the world who are trying to get people to cook by showing how simple it can be... it's just that their books tend not to be where you turn when you want to know the "why's" and "how's" of what went wrong and how to fix it. I do admit there's also a bit of a "Eh, whatever" kind of vibe from these approaches that often rubs my anal retentive nature the wrong way. Artisan Bread, for example, treats a baguette and ciabatta as just different shapes of the same thing... which while true on some level, doesn't really appeal to my personal aesthetic and isn't at all the what I'm looking for in a cookbook (baking or not).

This is why I am so very very excited about The Bread Maker's Apprentice. I only recieved it this evening, but it has tables. It also seems to have good instructions for those of us without $400 Kitchen Aid mixers which is a plus. It has a very significant section of the book that appears dedicated to giving you a strong understanding of the underlying fundamentals of bread baking... which I desperately need.

I'm very tempted to go straight for the ciabatta recipe in the book... but at the moment I think I'm going to stick with making a basic no-knead bread as a baseline for my next bread baking project, though that may change as I read through the book.