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Bittman Bread

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Member Reviews

Bittman Bread by Mark Bittman and Kerri Conan


256 Pages
Publisher: Mariner Books
Release Date: November 9, 2021

Nonfiction, Food & Wine, Cooking, Bread, Baking, No-Knead

The book is divided into the following chapters.

Chapter 1: Start with Starter – and Bake a Beginner Loaf
Chapter 2: The Why (and How) of Whole Grain Baking
Chapter 3: Bittman Bread
Chapter 4: Beyond the Basics
Chapter 5: Pizza, Flatbreads, and Rolls
Chapter 6: Sweet Stuff

In the introduction section, Mark mentions Jim Lahey at the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. I have read Jim’s bread books and love his recipes. After that, I knew I was going to love this book. I am still new at baking bread and using starters but not intimidated to try.

Mark states that your first loaf won’t be pretty but by the time you have made your fiftieth it will look like the pictures in the book. I absolutely agree with that statement. My bread making has gotten better with each loaf I make. Kerri tells readers it is okay to use commercial yeast in the starter as a shortcut even though some people think it is cheating. I have created by starter and am on my way to better baking.

The recipes in the book are easy to follow with clear directions. The photography is beautiful and help the reader know what their starter, dough, or finished product will look like. If you are interested in bread baking or the no-knead technique, I highly recommend this book. The authors have years of experience and expertise to share with anyone willing to learn.
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Bittman Bread: No-Knead Whole-Grain Baking for Every Day is a competent and unfussy tutorial guide for hearty no-knead breads with recipes developed by Mark Bittman & Kerri Conan. Due out 9th Nov 2021 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on their Mariner imprint, it's 256 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. 

This is such an accessible and well written specialty cookbook. The authors are knowledgeable and write clearly and simply in sensible followable steps which lead readers through the process from a simple and comprehensive tutorial for a basic loaf, through to recipes with more "bells & whistles". The layout is graphically appealing, with lots of color photos and tutorial step-by-step photos included. 

The recipes are grouped thematically: the basic beginner tutorial which will provide the starter for future loaves, a primer on whole grain baking (and why you should), basic loaves, refinements to the basic process, pizza flatbreads & rolls, and sweet bakes.

Recipes contain a title and description, yields, ingredients in a bullet list in a sidebar, and step by step directions. Ingredients are listed by weight. Nutritional information is not included. There are so many gorgeous and clear color photos included.

In addition to being thorough and meticulous, it's full of chatty and warm discussions and information about bread and baking. The authors have honest and friendly voices and I really enjoyed reading about their involvement with baking and the process. 

Four stars. Wonderfully comprehensive and versatile.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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Bittman Bread was not a baking book I enjoyed reading and I like to read baking books. I found his writing irritating (don't  know why) and his recipes while good were a bit more work than I was willing to do. I bake on a regular basis, in fact I made a loaf of bread and some dinner rolls today, using the old-fashioned method that I learned from Betty Crocker.

Recommend with caveats given.

Review written after downloading a galley from NetGalley.
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The pandemic sourdough craze largely passed me by; I'm lucky enough to live in a vibrant city with artisan coffee shops and bakeries on every corner. But as I've had great success with the now famous No-Knead Bread, brought to the New York Times by author Mark Bittman, I was excited for the opportunity to read an advance review copy of his latest,  Bittman Bread, written in collaboration with cookbook developer Kerri Conan. I had some concern that I would be disappointed, as contrary to the  authors' assumptions, amazing brown and black bread is already a part of my staple diet. I'd never tried to make it myself; in fact, I'd internalised the idea that it was more difficult and less rewarding than white bread.  I was right about one of those things: it was certainly more difficult.  

The first recipe in the book, called Beginner Bittman Bread, is meant to get us used to the procedure and to create the starter used for the rest of the recipes. The authors take the time to explain what all good bakers know: a kitchen scale gives much more precision than working with a stack of measuring cups. Investing in a kitchen scale makes sense, as every recipe in the book, the authors warn us, will list ingredients by weight in order to ensure our baking success. Everyone but this one, which, inexplicably, only uses cups and teaspoons, leading me to dust off my measuring cups for a single loaf. This recipe is meant to ease us into the process and I do not begrudge obstinate cooks their measuring cups but one would think that offering both weight and volume as an option on this could save everyone a bit of time converting when they go back to it.  

I had no idea that it was the last normal looking loaf that I would make for three months. Since I received my review copy, I have made twenty-six loaves of bread. Maybe twenty-seven. Initially, I had planned to try the main recipe and a few of the later variations and maybe increase my general understanding of bread making and then go back to the easier white bread recipes that I already knew.

From the first loaf, it was clear that this was something different, more like German "Bauernbrot" of my youth, although I hadn't added any rye at all at least, not at first.  

It was also flat. Not pancake flat but certainly not the lovely rounded loaf shown in the photographs. My loaf was a dense flying saucer shaped door stopper which could easily be used to knock out a burglar.  

As it happens, the bread was also delicious or else I might have stopped at the first hurdle.   

The best advice in the book is to commit to making a loaf of bread every week. I decided that I might as well try this, expecting that I'd give the bread to friends and neighbours and other unsuspecting souls when we tired of it. I didn't expect it to become an obsession.   

My family was sympathetic, offering advice from "couldn't you just buy baker's yeast?" to "it's not actually bad, you know, just a bit heavy." Nevertheless, they ate all but my most appalling failures and happily asked for more.   

It is testament to the friendly and detailed tone of the book that I wondered, briefly, if I should email Mark Bittman or Kerri Conan to describe my issues and ask for help. Instead, I focused on each individual stage to see if I could make bread which looked less like a hockey puck and more like the many photographs included in the text.    

There was never a hallelujah moment but, over time, I saw incremental improvements, both in form and in flavor. The biggest single difference was an early one when I started working the dough harder; I've clearly been spoiled by No Knead Bread. Another quick improvement was setting up a template that I could quickly fill in with timings so that I didn't have to think about the next stage or stand there wondering, "Now was this the second fold or the third fold?"   

In the process, I learned to adjust the timings and the processes to my own schedule, to the point where making a loaf of bread was not so much a project as a set of quick chores that I quickly completed, akin to dealing with the dishwasher or catching up on the laundry, except that the end result was more enjoyable.   

My family is now used to there always being a loaf of brown bread on the counter and expresses disappointment when there isn't any. I'm still trying to improve, let alone get around to the other recipes in the book, but I have to concede Bittman's point in the introduction: Why make whole grain bread? It's better. Not only healthiest but far fuller tasting, more complex and satisfying.  

I'm confident now that I can quickly produce a respectable loaf of bread using whole-grain wheat and rye flours, and that even if the loaf isn't as prettily shaped as in the photographs, it has a good crumb and great flavour. If you are looking for a quick fix, the brown equivalent of no-knead bread, then this probably isn't the book for you. However, if you'd like to level up your bread making and become comfortable with a wide variety of flours and variations, then Bitmann and Cronan are here to help you through that process.  

Just be warned that your family may expect you to keep making bread forever.
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Mark Bittman and Kerrie Conan’s Bittman Bread: No-Knead Whole Grain Baking for Everyday is the best, but also so frustrating. I loved it, and it irritated me. Make your own choices.

The loaves of bread, the pizza, and the pancakes (sweet and savory) I made from this cookbook were delicious. Let me repeat the pancakes recommendation. THE PANCAKES ARE SO GOOD, BOTH THE SWEET AND THE SAVORY. I didn’t try every recipe, but every one I tried was A+. I now have a working sourdough starter in my fridge, something that has never ever happened before. I have enhanced my vegan chocolate chip cookies with this starter to the acclaim of many. I recommend this cookbook with some significant caveats.

My biggest complaint is the strong suggestion that the reader invest in a 2 quart Dutch oven. I really wish that cookbook authors would stop throwing up unnecessary barriers for their readers. Two quart dutch ovens are not common, you can’t easily get one from the grocery store. Requiring that your audience possess a two quart Dutch oven assumes that the reader has the money to buy one (the least expensive, oven safe 2 quart Dutch oven was about 35 US dollars), the space to store one and stable housing (not moving frequently). Frankly, that’s a lot to assume. I don’t have room to store a bulky item like a Dutch oven that I’ll only use for bread. For new bakers, being told they need a piece of equipment that’s not easily available is likely to make them give up. I truly do not know what is gained by scaling most of the recipes for a 2 quart Dutch oven.

I worked around this by putting a removable bottom 6 inch cake pan into my usual 5 quart Dutch Oven and it worked fine. It wouldn’t have been that difficult for the authors to suggest some work arounds for those of us who cannot buy or store specialty equipment. To be clear, I polled several different groups, non baking groups, general cooking groups, and bread baking groups about the 2 quart Dutch oven issue. Zero people had a 2 quart Dutch oven. A couple of people said they would buy the item, a few people said they would find a work around, most people said they would put the cookbook down and walk away. This is why I am so frustrated by this issue. The bread is fantastic and the authors are creating a barrier that does no one any good.

My other issue with the 2 quart Dutch oven is that it makes a small loaf of bread. That would be fine if I were the only one eating it, but in my house, that loaf was gone in 2 days. I don’t have time to make bread every three days, especially not a bread that requires my attention for a few minutes every half hour. My brain doesn’t function well that way. This is a me issue and not a general issue, but for I would still give it as a warning for anyone with ADHD.

The final issue I’m going to talk about is the whole grain issue. It’s right there in the title that it’s a whole grain baking book. That’s great, I like whole grain baking. What chaffed was the “I haven’t baked with white flour in x years.” Ok. Here’s the thing, there are no foods that are good for everyone. Please stop assigneing moral value to food. Whole grains are not good for people on low phosphorus diets (generally for kidney disease). Some people need a low fiber diet. And some people like the taste of white bread batter. All of those things are fine. It’s also fine to prefer whole grain baking to white baking. It’s not ok to imply that it’s inherently better, because, depending on who is eating the food, it is not.

When I buy a paper copy of this book, I plan to write all over it to scale up the recipes to fit my average sized cast iron Dutch oven. I recommend Bittman Bread for anyone who like whole grain sourdough, is willing to buy a small Dutch oven, or willing to do math, and has their ADHD under control and can devote a few minutes every half hour to folding bread dough. I also recommend it for anyone who hasn’t been able to keep a sourdough starter going and feels unfulfilled as a result. I do not recommend it for anyone who wants to mix the dough, dump it in a pot and bake it.

You can visit my Instagram, @rochellefiguringitout, to see some of the recipes I tried. I did not take pictures of all the pancake variations.

Thank you to NetGalley for the advance reader copy, My opinions are my own.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book to review.
Mark Bittman is such a famous chef it is hard to imagine anything but grand from him. I was not disappointed it is an outstanding bread making book.   The directions are clear and written out even with pictures to help you through your baking.
I think this book can be used by bakers as well as people starting out.  There were so many recipes to choose from in the book.
I think making healthy choices is also great even whole grains.  There are even no knead bread.
I will recommend this book to my friends.  I too will get it!
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Everyone has heard of Mark Bittman, who is the author of dozens of cookbooks and star of several television cooking shows. So when he publishes a book on bread, most cooks and bakers tend to listen. He is considered an authority, and his book, Bittman Bread: No-Knead Whole Grain Baking for Every Day is sure to turn bakers into believers. Bakers who want to savor the best breads will be surprised that once the advance prep is accomplished, they can turn out beautiful rustic, whole grain loaves. 
The book includes beautiful photographs, and the breads that are pictured are not perfect, which is exactly what they will look like when they are made by home bakers. The step-by-step photographs are very helpful and will take new bread bakers through the process of creating amazing bread.

This cookbook isn’t for everyone. The recipes all call for a starter which means that bakers must anticipate baking bread and getting the starter made before making bread. The starter must be fed occasionally, so the process is something that one must be fairly consistent about paying attention to. It is a perfect primer for serious bakers, however, for bakers who are willing to take the time, and the recipes turn out perfectly as long as the instructions are followed.

The results are, of course, amazing, and worth every bit of time spent with the advance prep. Anyone who wants to bake delicious whole-grain bread and is willing to take the time to learn, will appreciate this cookbook.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.
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This book does so much to make bread baking accessible! In addition, it teaches us how to make the whole process a lot healthier by emphasizing the use of whole grains. It inspired me to go a little bit out of my comfort zone and start a bread starter. The authors never talk down to you and make you feel like you can be successful. Great photos too. This would be a wonderful gift, and a great shared project for friends and families.
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This book is the best bread making book I have ever read. The sourdough starter recipe is simple and gives the best starter ever. It’s quicker and more tasty than any starter I’ve ever used. The recipes are simple and delicious. The authors make it fun to read and learn about the benefits of whole
Grain naturally heated bread. I’m getting copies of this book for everyone I know who bakes this holiday season.
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Great recipes and good information for a novice.  I have learned so much from the his book. 
Many thanks to Mariner Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Love Bread? Then you will really love this book!
I have suggested this to so many friends that I know through Covid went on that Bread-making hype, and the only feedback was that they can't wait until the physical copy comes out in November - it can't come soon enough!!!

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review. Please excuse my tardiness in posting my review as my TBR list continuously grows and I keep finding so many book with so little time!

So much gratitude for this copy shared with me, always xo
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I consider myself more of a home cook than a baker, so I am intimidated by baking bread. In true Bittman-fashion, this cookbook takes the mystery out of bread making and gives easy to follow instructions while also laying out some options/flexibility. I recommend this book to anyone starting or looking to build their bread making repertoire. Thank you to #NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Love it! What a great book! Finally something good came out of Covid lockdown.

   What did I like? Bread is a favorite of mine! This one looks amazing yet easy. The yummiest breads I think have a starter and this one was easy to make. The book helps you utilize the starter into pretty much every kind of bread you can think of.

   Would I recommend or buy? Buy it! Everyone should have a bread book in case another pandemic or storm crops up to deplete the bread isle. This is a pretty handy book with an easy style and wide variety of choices of some great looking bread. 

   I received a complimentary copy to read and voluntarily left a review!
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After going through this book I am excited to make some bread! I've struggled with making whole-grain bread with my starter. They usually come out dense and hard. In this book, Bittman shows in detail (lots of pictures) on how you can produce amazing sourdough bread that uses healthy grains. A lot of time when making these kind of bread you have no idea how it should look or the texture. He covers all that and more! I do recommend picking this big up in paper vs digital as it will be easier to follow with all the pictures. I am planning on purchasing this book once it comes into print.
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What a great book. I didn't know I wanted to know so much about bread. Can't wait to try to make it myself.
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Not only will I be purchasing this for the library where I do collection development, I will also be getting a copy for myself. Mark Bittman and Kerri Conan make no-knead, whole grain bread approachable for even the novice baker. Although they avoid the term "sourdough", they do use wild yeast in their recipes. As a relatively new sourdough baker, I've been intimidated to try anything more complicated than variations on a plain round loaf. Now I'm inspired by recipes like cornmeal-rye bread with molasses, baguettes, and garlicky dinner rolls. Includes lots of photos of finished recipes, as well as lists of supplies and ingredients to have on hand.
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Bittman's volume on bread is a primer on the science behind breadmaking. It's definitely an advanced text that is designed to serve beginner through advanced bakers. This book is geared toward educating the reader rather than serving as a reference. It seems like one you're intended to read cover-to-cover. This is an ideal addition for bread and sourdough enthusiasts, but is only valuable for library collections with a deep general foundation. It's extremely specialized, so even though it's a great book with straightforward methods, it may not see a great deal of circulation in a library.
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I absolutely love this cookbook!  Everyone should have a copy in their kitchen.  This book would make a perfect gift for a newlywed couple too.  This book teaches you everything you ever needed to know about baking bread from scratch.  You learn what types of equipment you'll need to what ingredients you'll have to have.  It also teaches you tips and tricks to having your bread come out perfectly.  I received a free copy for a limited time period, and i found it at my local store.  I plan on buying myself a copy, and copies for family for Christmas.  I can't wait!
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You will learn how to mix flour, yeast and water together to make a starter dough that will last you for years. Then in three days, you will bake your first loaf using the slow fermentation and no-kneading process described in this book. You will be given easy instructions with pictures to make the bread-making as simple as possible. You will need a bowl, a 2 quart or larger pot with a lid that can be put in the oven, and a large jar or container with a lid for the starter.
There are some simple recipes for country bread, olive bread, rolls and wheat bread.
The authors suggest using whole grain flours produced commercially such as Community Grains and Cairnspring Mills and to try to purchase local flours in specialty stores or farmers markets to try more flavorful grains for your bread.
You will learn how to fold the dough, add water and "read" the dough until it is ready to bake. You will be folding the dough many times, you will see it change from dry and lifeless to stretch and elastic. You will need to buy parchment paper to bake the dough, nothing else will work as well! If you use a pizza stone on the oven rack, it will give you a nice even brown crust.
You will learn when you can add oats, barley, nuts and other ingredients to the dough to add more texture and flavor to your bread.
Enjoy learning how to make your own "no knead" bread to treat your family and friends to a one-of-a-kind scrumptious culinary adventure!
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If you love whole grain breads this book is for you! Bittman shows you, step by step, how to create dozens of scrumptious whole grain breads all from one no-knead starter. From a traditional loaf to one packed with your favorite add-ins, to pizza dough, pancakes and cinnamon rolls - this cookbook has it all!
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