I've been wanting to share cookbook reviews for quite a while and thought I'd start off with the book that sparked the whole reason why I enjoy baking so much. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think and I'll share more reviews!
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François Thomas Dunne Books, 2007
At the start of 2010 I made it my new year's resolution to learn how to bake bread. Not knowing where to start, I looked online for cook book reviews and immediately found so much praise for Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (ABin5). While I was slightly put off with the lack of color photos on every page, I took the plunge and my first loaf turned out 100% better than I thought it would.
ABin5 is neatly organized by bread type, from the master recipe, peasant loaves, flat breads, then enriched breads. At the beginning of the book are many tips and tricks that lay out the basic guidelines for bread making. If you're unsure of making your first loaf, definitely read this! It demystifies all the tales you might have heard about how difficult making artisan bread can be at home. Jeff and Zoe's tone is comfortable and encouraging, giving you that extra bit of confidence you might need.
While there are only a handful of color photos, the master recipe chapter starts off with black and white photos illustrating each step so don't worry if you're unsure what to do. The "secret" to 5 minute bread is practically fool proof. I've never gotten bad results from anything I've made from this book, and if you look in my archives there's a lot! In addition to bread, there are sweet and savory recipes that incorporate your latest creation, such as Raisin Walnut Oatmeal Bread and Spinach and Cheese Calzone, and one of my favorites, the Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastry.
With almost 100 recipes ranging from challah to pizza, ABin5 is a great introductory to making bread. They even have a website with additional recipes and videos to help you out. Like I stated earlier, this book is what really propelled me into baking. Before this I'd never made bread and can't even recall baking cookies and cakes from scratch! Here are some links to older posts where I used the book: Challah French Toast, My First Challah, The Master Recipe/Boule, and Brioche Donuts.