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Bread Baking*

Not Quite the Ultimate Bread-at-Home Guide

The subtitle of this book is “the ultimate guide to make [sic] your own bread at home.” To me, that is a big promise, and unfortunately, this book falls far short of the goal. To make such a claim, a cookbook needs depth and breadth. It should have an extensive set of introductory pages about everything to do with bread making, from tools and equipment to different ingredients to different techniques as well as general tips and hints. The only thing in front of the recipes in this book was a brief section on wheat flours. A book with that subtitle should also have a variety of well-organized recipes, ideally from all over the world. While there was some variety—including a fair number of gluten-free options—much of the wealth of bread options were missing altogether or under-represented, and the book wasn’t well organized. It contained recipes that weren’t bread (cookies and cakes) as well.

There are a lot of gluten-free recipes in this book, so it would have been nice if there had been an introductory section that discussed these alternative flours. Even the section on wheat flours didn’t address all of that type used in the book, like spelt.

The recipe section itself had odd divisions. The first section is called Bread Baking Recipes; honestly, couldn’t any bread recipe be categorized as that? More helpful divisions might have been gluten-free, yeast bread, and batter or quick breads. That way if you are looking for a specific type of recipe, you can quickly go to it. I question whether the author is a native English speaker from some of the titles of the other sections, like Breadsticks Recipes and Buns Recipes, as those would sound better without the *s* ending of the word before *recipes.* Each recipe had a photo, but they were not necessarily a picture of the finished bread. A cakey gingerbread recipe actually had a picture showing gingerbread men.

Because I had noticed in the author’s other cookbooks that she had content taken from other sources, I did some research on a few of the recipes in this cookbook. While the recipes I looked at were not directly taken word-for-word from other recipes, several were very similar to ones found on various blogs with just a few ingredients changed and the directions rewritten. In general, this is an accepted way of creating recipes, especially if you acknowledge the source of the original recipe. That was not done here. Also, for two of the recipes that I researched, the changes made could alter the texture, and ultimately the success, of the finished product. In one of the recipes, the amount of liquid was slightly increased by adding extract and maple syrup; in another recipe, whole wheat flour was substituted one-for-one for a portion of the all-purpose flour in the original. Whole wheat flour does not necessarily translate successfully in this fashion. Baking is not just an art; it is a science.

Because of these issues, I cannot recommend this book.

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