I worked in the employee kitchens in Yellowstone back in the late '80's, and our cook made wonderful homemade bread. She also seemed to enjoy the process of thumping and kneading and watching ingredients turn into dough that magically expanded into loaves. I caught the bug, and she showed me the Tassajara Bread Book.
The important thing for me about this book is the how and why. If you learn the basics as Brown teaches them, you can take those skills and baking philosophies with you when you use bread recipes from other sources.
Genrally well-written book whose author seems seems earnest and devoted to the task. But, for my taste, there is a bit too much cross-referencing of recipes, making one constantly have to go to other recipes to finish the current one.
This is the book that first taught me to make decent bread. Brown's directions are sufficiently detailed, and his style is pretty welcoming to a new baker, walking you through the steps with lots of encouragement. The book is also to some degree a primer on how to approach bread-making and food philosophically (Brown in a Zen teacher, if I'm not mistaken), with mindfulness. The recipes are basic and work pretty well -- nothing home-run fantastic here, but I routinely still make his Haver Cookies, Banana Bread (also works with zucchini), and his Overnight Wheat Bread from the 25th Anniversary Edition (I assume it is in the latest version too) has been a staple for many years -- so easy to make and always yields a tasty loaf.
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