Bread. We all love it and wish we could make it. Some of us can, while others are too afraid of tackling such a daunting task. But with this book we all can become bakers in our own rights! Whether you want a sweet bread or a savory one, one that requires a lot of hard work and patience or a quick bread you can finish in under an hour, a bread from a culture you are familiar with or international breads you want to try, this book has it and is ready to help walk you through every step to ensure you make the best loaf possible.
Bread Illustrated is a book by America’s Test Kitchen, which is how you know that you are in good hands. They always do a good job of providing foolproof recipes that walk you through each step in painful detail so you will never get lost along the way. They also always provide a wide array of recipes to match each persons different tastes. This book has recipes for breakfast breads, sweet breads, healthy(er) breads, international breads, difficult breads that take years to perfect, they really have it all! So once you have a starting point (an idea of what bread you want to eat), you have many options to choose from.
As with every other America’s Test Kitchen book, they have beautiful photography that is also very informative, as it shows you the process visually to help you better grasp how each recipe is done. In the beginning of the book they also teach you the basics to bread making, so even if you have no knowledge whatsoever about the subject there is a place for you to start (page 1: understanding bread).
Each recipe has a attractive cover photo to draw you in to what you want to make. They provide a very handy time chart that lets you know how long it will take to make each particular bread (which is so useful when deciding what bread to make and how much time to set aside to make it). Then you have a section called “why this recipe works” which teaches you about the bread and describes it in great detail so you know what to expect. Of course, the ingredient list is in both weight and volume, and the instructions are detailed and precise (leaving no room to question if you are doing something correctly or not). There is even a little “troubleshooting” box should issues arise (example on page 143).
What I like best about this book is not how detailed it is, but rather how cleanly they managed to do it. The book has an organized feel to it that reassures me that the writers know what they are doing. And when I flip through the book and find a recipe that catches my eye, I can decide almost instantly if I have the time or resources to do it with their helpful little charts. To me that shows me that they really put thought into everything and care that our outcome is the best it can be by not shirking what might seem like little, unnecessary details.
That is why I recommend you give this book a try. Bread may seem like a difficult undertaking, especially if you don’t know what you are doing, but reading this book makes it seem just a little less hard. It calms the fears that you might have before attempting a recipe, and gives you so many options to choose from, so you certainly will find at least one recipe that catches your eye!
If you want to see my thoughts on an individual recipe in this book (one of my favorites from it), check out my review on their spicy olive bread. This recipe, and many others here, aren’t nearly as difficult as you may think, because, as always, America’s Test Kitchen leaves you in good hands!