THE BREAD BIBLE
As in her seminal The Cake Bible, which won an IACP prize, Beranbaum doesn't just offer recipes here; she dissects them, explains how they work, then puts them back together again with a number of variations. The front matter to what Beranbaum terms her "bread biography" contains perhaps the best explanation anywhere of how yeast works and a description of the sponge method used for almost every yeast-risen bread. Each recipe also includes a "Rose ratio," which shows at a glance the percentage of water, yeast, flour and fat in each bread. The author's discussion of the pros and cons of various kneading methods (bread machine, by hand, etc.) is invaluable. After all this information, bakers will be eager to get to the recipes, which are equally rewarding. Beranbaum covers everything from a Chocolate Bread made with cocoa nibs to a Traditional Challah. Recipes are arranged by type of bread, with groups including sandwich loaves and dinner rolls and brioche breads. A chapter on artisanal hearth breads includes Heart of Wheat Bread, with wheat germ for extra crunch, and New Zealand Almond and Fig Bread with an apricot glaze. Every time Beranbaum seems about to go overboard with too much information, she steps back from the brink, as in the excellent introduction to sourdough, where she thoroughly explains how sourdough works, then provides a simple box with eight rules for making a starter. Beranbaum could have a second career as a scientist, but luckily for home bakers she seems intent on creating a library of seminal cookbooks instead. (Oct.)
Forecast:Beranbaum's The Cake Bible is now in its 30th printing; this volume, which is a selection of The Good Cook Club, appears poised for similar success. The author will embark on a seven-city tour, but even without the hype, this extraordinary work would find a large audience.