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Bought after good review in Waitrose weekend newspaper, and a love of Sourdough bread (and a desire to have a go at making it myself). Lovely looking book - but for me, who wanted just a straight A - Z guide and recipe, this is too complicated, with the theory explained, general steps, then individual recipes at back (not great having to keep turning pages back and forth with doughy hands!) Should have just looked at videos on YouTube - which I have now had to do, which were easier to follow.
I was so looking forward to this book. I have been making yeasted bread for years and sourdough for two years. Of course it looks wonderful and the photos are gorgeous but try making the bread! Far too many conflicting bits of information. The starter- I was very confused about throwing away left over starter but at the same time keeping a mother starter and feeding it. Then constantly having to flick through the pages whilst trying to make a loaf. Then the leaven- the instructions for that didn't match the recipe. If you want to read all about the science then this may be the book for you. If you want to make sourdough- try another book. As I said I have made sourdough for a couple of years and been happy with the results. Today I followed this book and produced two frisbees. I'm going back to my previous books. I'm afraid I feel I wasted my money
I wanted to love this book... I really did! At first, I liked its coffee table appeal of artsy, hipster photos and earthy rusticity. However after reading it from cover to cover then putting it into practice, I have come to loath it! It's so overly complicated and disjointed with 'step by step' approaches that then lead abstractly back to other pages. This clearly is not a beginner book, so maybe if you already have the theory of sourdough firmly grasped then the extra information should be useful to you. I made my first loaf today but ended up having to refer to websites and videos and used their methods and techniques and a much easier 'no knead' recipe instead. It turned out great!
I've been baking sourdough for around 10 years and thought that this might expose me to some different theories/techniques I have quite a few cookbooks and this one is destined for the 'looks-good/unused' shelf School in the title is misleading - I would not recommend this to a starter/beginner The layout is so confusing I was convinced that it was probably self-produced/edited but in fact it has had two editors plus an assistant - not sure what they were doing The method is very prescriptive with no exploration of different techniques As mentioned in other reviews layout is messy - you'll find yourself hopping between pages trying to follow a recipe Topics like sprouting/smoking come before foundation Troubleshooting amounts to two items All-in-all most disappointing
I was fortunate enough to go on one of Vanessa's courses. It was the most inspiring day. Vanessa is a whirling power of knowledge, enthusiasm and endlessly patient teaching skills. This book is just like having her standing next to you. After years of disappointment, lots of books and bread that could double as a doorstop, I began to understand how the process works and why I had failed. All the other books seem to gloss over all the important bits that you need and show you wonderful pictures of unobtainable results. You can use this book on many levels. Simply to learn how to make delicious bread or to go on and really understand the nutritional value of good bread, why we suffer when we eat the mass produced sort and how we can incorporate bread into a healthy , delicious diet life affirming diet. All the information is there is you want to explore the fantastic wealth of knowledge that Vanessa amassed. She is so generous with her time and her knowledge. I wish I had had this book years ago and can recommend it without hesitation.
Just like the perfect sourdough loaf, with a beautiful crust and a welcoming, soft crumb, 'The Sourdough School' is a book of many layers. Whether you are baking your first ‘Classic white’ or reeling from the delicious possibility of a chocolate starter, there are clear and concise instructions that are backed up by all manner of supplementary notes.
Whilst you are enjoying the deeper, more complex flavours of your sourdough toastie, Vanessa will lead you through every facet of the making process and, with a chef’s ability to combine flavours, suggest what you can do with your leftover starter. The very thought of a pumpkin and cinnamon sourdough dust is a revelation and one that triggers the imagination as well as the tastebuds.
Vanessa gives very specific and precise instructions as a solid framework for you to work from. Once you have read the book thoroughly, it is down to you to translate each element into your own environment. As with anything in life, if you want to achieve a goal, you must make the effort and apply yourself.
That said, you can tell from the way that the book is presented, Vanessa really does want you to succeed so follow her considered advice, even if it means buying some extra equipment. With careful planning, good ingredients and a decent pair of oven gloves, you too will be spreading butter onto a satisfying slice of real bread! Yum!
I love this book. I have read it, made several loaves from it. What I think Vanessa is promoting through this book is a confidence in intuitive baking. Everything is explained but not in a conventional recipe book format. This will be a leap of faith for some and a liberation for others. For example the wild garlic loaf. The lesson is to incorporate a butter to alter a basic loaf. I don't use a pestle and mortar, I lobbed everything and a bit more into my magimix and made a butter which ultimately made a heavenly loaf. I also started dreaming about what other butters I could whip up and incorporate. Readers are encouraged to know their environment- especially temperature as understanding that means every baker can deal with variables. But mostly read the 'how to', which takes up a good portion of the book and is logically ordered, get a good starter and experiment. I don't shape my rye as I have seen on a video, but mine is tender and beautiful, so that is my method. Trust yourself, whatever level of baker you are and enjoy making the recipes your own.
Brilliant sourdough book. Much better than a chapter in a generic bread book as this dedicated books explains everything. It’s also an interesting read, which encourages you to try and learn through your own experience of making sourdough. There is no shortcut to being successful in sourdough making and you need to understand the process and this book is just the book.
At last I have it, the latest edition to my small collection of bread making books. This is something else though, good size, wonderful images but above all the knowledge of Vanessa. Whereas most of my other books skirt around the science of the fermentation process and nutrition I have learnt so much already and have only reached chapter four. Skipping through the rest of the book makes me want to jump in and get baking but will read the book first to get the most that I can from the information within. Science and bread, what more could you ask for.
I'm so frustrated with this book!!!! It really deserves a 5 star review with all the information provided, as Vanessa is so generous with her information. She really does want you to make the PERFECT loaf of delicious sourdough. I'd love to take her class. I've learned some great tips which I look forward to using - like making and baking your own malts, also keeping my starter and leaven separate ( I had been bulking up my starter to use as leaven and then putting it back in the fridge).
The 3 editors on this project (3!!!!) all need to look for other jobs. I wonder if they used this book to bake some sourdough? Instead, the editorial team have created an unworkable structure that takes any pleasure from baking and turning it into the worst kind of school imaginable! There is little to no reference between text and instructional photos - causing confusion about what to do next.
What this needs is a radical presentation overhaul. What bakers want is to start baking. I would have loved to have turned to page one and have those simple steps to start the basic recipe. Instead there is information overload and overwhelm! Following on from this, another recommendation is to include more advanced loaves including the new information where necessary. And please please please eliminate the need to hold 3 or 4 chapters in the book open at once while trying to bake: the recipe is on one page - the timings and schedule in another section - the techniques elsewhere!! ARRRRGHHHH! My last recommendation is that the technical information to read at your leisure is at the back of the book.
I've been baking sourdough for the last 3 years and I was almost on the point of giving up until I found Tartine Bread by Robertson. That provided exactly the step by step process that I needed and that this book abandons. Come back here when you need another nudge.