I only recently came across this book, and was happy to learn it was available at my public library!
Once it was in my hands, I realized quickly that it’s a baking textbook.
This book is no joke. It is definitely for the serious baker. For the home baker, I would still recommend it as a resource but don’t try to read it all in one sitting like I did.
It’s divided into chapters mostly based on ingredients – by wheat flour, other flours, gluten, yeast, other leaveners, milk, eggs, sweeteners, other fats, gels and thickeners, etc.
One thing that I noticed is that many of the helpful hints are directed at future owners of bakeries. For example,
Unlike home bakers who only have to worry that something tastes good, workers in bakeries must also be aware of cost effectiveness and efficiency. They all must be taken into consideration to make sure the bakery produces quality items but is economically sustainable.
For the serious home baker, who thinks about things like enzymes and egg coagulation, this is a useful book. If you want to know why your cookies always fall, or your biscuits fail to puff up, or your donuts crack, this is the book for you.
2 thoughts on “A Bread Library Book Review: How Baking Works”
Wow… I am a practiced home baker, but I think this sounds almost a little intimidating… like studying chemistry, perhaps. With the wide range of ingredients it addresses, I wonder if it might shed a little light on how to manage gluten-free baking.
I think this would be a great resource book to have on a shelf and consult for specific questions. As a result of reading the chapter on starches, I was able to explain why the bakers boiled the cornmeal before mixing it together into a dough in an episode of Chef’s Table we were watching. It’s because in the absence of gluten, starches provide structure for bread, but they need to gelatinize first which requires heat. So fascinating! You could totally use this information to better understand how to use gluten-free flours. I feel like I’ll never stop learning new things about bread and baking.