The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens

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Product Description

Creating the perfect loaf of bread °™ a challenge that has captivated centuries of bakers °™ is now the rage in the United States, from Waitsfield, Vermont to San Francisco, California. The resurgent village baker is at the center of this trend, leading the way to a crusty future while maintaining a firm foothold in the past.

"The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens" by Alan Scott and Daniel Wing profiles the people, technology, and procedures for creating world class bread. Thoughtful, informative, and spirited, this book helps the reader understand how to bake superb and healthful bread, covering everything from the consistency of the dough to the mortar in the masonry oven.

"The Bread Builders" explains grains and flours, leavens and doughs, the chemistry of bread, and the physics of baking. Unique among bread books, it includes a step-by-step guide to constructing a masonry oven. The authors also profile more than a dozen small-scale bakers around the U.S. whose businesses embody the holistic principles of community-oriented baking using whole grains and natural leavens.

In recent years, a revived and burgeoning interest in wholesome, locally baked bread has swept the country, with bakeries springing up in small towns and major urban areas alike, producing an astounding variety of interesting, crusty, tasty, handmade breads. The Bread Builders explains the grains and flours, leavens and doughs, the chemistry of bread, and the physics of baking in a big book filled with helpful drawings, photographs, recipes, and tips. In a unique angle for a book on baking bread, it also includes detailed diagrams and instructions for building your own masonry bread oven from scratch.

As Laurel Robertson, author of The New Laurel's Kitchen says, "This book is ice cream for a baker! We visit legendary bakeries, meet wonderful people, learn all sorts of fascinating scientific information with practical usefulness in bowl and oven, and best of all, get the skinny on masonry ovens, the cherished fantasy of us all." The enthusiasm of the authors in their search for the perfect loaf of bread permeates this detailed but lively and accessible book, and will offer much of use to both amateur and professional bread makers. --Mark A. Hetts

Customer Reviews:

  • Build it and they will come!
    My Dad an I built a wood burning oven in the fall of 1999 using this book. It would be impossible for any book to answer all the questions but this one comes close. Danniels attention to detail and Alans experience combine to get you more than started. Before we started I wanted answers to all my questions. Now that were done I realize that discovering some of the answers on our own made the journey worth it. This book provides an excellent compass heading for the trip. Good job guys....more info
  • The Bread Builders - Great resource!
    A wonderful resource for anyone who is interested in baking some good breads and in a building a lasting oven that will produce some of the best tasting breads and baked goods you can imagine. Since the beginning of baking, clay ovens, brick ovens and underground ovens were created to bake outdoors and then indoors, evolving to modern day indoor ovens. Imus, Brick, Hornos and Adobe ovens were almost completely replaced with stainless steel but we lost something in the translation. The revolution of going back to these masonry ovens is bringing back the most flavorful savory breads baked in them! New bakeries utilizing these ovens are making bucks .. Why? Because their breads are crisp crusted, solid textured and delicious! People are flocking to them. You can create your own homemade breads and ovens with this book to guide you through your adventures.

    Chapters in this book include:
    Naturally fermented Hearth Bread
    Bread Grains and Flours
    Leavens and Doughs
    Dough Development
    Baking, Ovens, and Bread
    Masonry Ovens of Europe and America
    Preparing to Build a Masonry Oven
    Masonry Materials, Tools, and Methods
    Oven Construction
    A Day in the Life at the Bay Village Bakery

    From making the leaven to making the bread in your own oven this book will guide you through the process. Full of photos and illustrations nothing is left out! The end result? A crusty rich loaf of bread baked by your own hands that tastes better than any store bought bread! ...more info
  • Le pain sous toutes ses formes
    "The bread builders" est un magnifique livre, qui fournit toutes les informations scientifiques ou pratiques que tout amateur de pain aimerait trouver. En plus le livre comporte une partie tout aussi passionnante sur la construction des fours ®§ pain. Sans oublier les bonnes adresses de boulangerie dont le Cheese Board de Berkeley que j'ai personnellement test®¶ et que je vous recommande! Et non, il n'y a pas qu'en France qu'on appr®¶cie le bon pain. Une bonne claque aux id®¶es re?ues!...more info
  • Best book on natural leavens I have read
    Date: Fri, 14 May 1999 16:33:05 -0700

    From: Darrell Greenwood

    Subject: The Bread Builders -Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens

    I had a very interesting book pop through the mail slot yesterday, 'The Bread Builders - Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens' by Dan Wing and Alan Scott.

    When Dan wrote me for my address so he could send me a review copy he noted in his enthusiasm for his newly minted book "It's a really good book." After receiving it yesterday I noted in my enthusiasm for his newly minted book, "It's a really good book" and it is :-).

    You get for your $35 the best book I have read on "natural leavens" or sourdough. It has no recipes but sets out to teach you the basics underlying baking bread with no commercial yeast... and succeeds very well. The book is 254 pages, paperback, indexed, and well illustrated with color and b&w photographs, graphs, line drawings and a glossary.

    Starting out with interesting introductions by Alan Scott and Dan Wing, the book's chapters wind their way through Naturally Fermented Hearth Bread, Bread Grains and Flours, Leavens and Doughs, Dough Development and Baking, Ovens and Bread.

    Interspersed in the chapters are 'visits' where a separate article describes a visit to an interesting bakery or baking related location ranging from Vermont to California. The book's clear and easily readable style is assisted with sidebars and notes clarifying various points. I do like the notes in the margins as this book does rather than at the bottom of the page.

    But wait, that is only half the book. You get thrown in for free another book, on how to design, build and operate a masonry oven. Its chapters range through Masonry Ovens of Europe and America, Preparing to Build a Masonry Oven, Masonry Materials, Tools and Methods, Oven Construction, Oven Management and A Day in the Life at the Bay Village Bakery. If you are not up to rushing out to build a masonry oven right away, 3 methods are given to approach the results in a masonry oven, cloche, baking stone, and you'll have to read the book to see what I am going to be doing with a metal pot, cookie sheet and pie plate.

    All in all I believe this book is a good read for aficionados of sourdough, and they would find it a good reference work for inclusion in their library. As a book for someone switching from baking yeast bread to "natural leaven" bread they would probably regard ownership of this book as priceless gift. For someone starting out in bread baking it would allow them to get a really good understanding without all the "old wive's tales" that unfortunately dog some sourdough advice. I know it will find a treasured place in my library and be well thumbed through as it assists me in achieving the perfect loaf.


    Darrell...more info

  • how to make sour and acid bread the old way
    One of the authors has a German cultural background and the conclusions of the book are somehow biased. It tries to justify with scientific and health arguments, that sour bread tastes better than non sour bread because it is the old natural method of making bread. From an unjustified a 'priory' argument, that is, the flavor of sour and acid bread has to be better, comes out an elaborate collection of scientific facts to describe the incubation and fermentation process of homegrown yeast so that you can get a more potent flavored bread, German style. Give a piece of rye bread to children and you will see that they reject it because it tastes nasty. Instead, give them bread made with available yeast from a supermarket and they will eat it gladly. Most of the everyday bread made in Europe is made with supermarket yeast instead of homegrown sour and acid sourdough. This is so because they don't like the flavor and acidity of sour bread, not because of a shortcoming of mass production, like the author suggests. The bread is to be eaten with other foods, not to be eaten alone, and a very potent flavor of bread would take away the flavor of the other foods....more info
  • Bread minutia
    I was looking for a book that would help me understand how to build a masonry oven. This book provides that along with much much more. The detail in the book regarding bread making is excellent and I am certain I will read this book many times as my experience grows. I consider it an excellent book for anyone interested in breadmaking....more info
  • The book we have all been waiting for
    This book is the best researched and informative work on bread since the Laurel's Kithcen Bread Book. So many books contain what I call bakery myths (rumors and speculation that bakers pass along to one another that have no basis in fact). These fellows put together a book that debunks many of these myths and offers real insight into both nutritional information and practical tecnique. Beyond a simple primer on one particular method, this book provides the information to allow anyone to develop their own breadbaking style, or improve upon the methods that they are currently using.

    This book will serve well for a beginner, an amature hobbiest or as a tool for the most demanding professional baker.

    Hats off to my esteemed colleagues...more info

  • Don't hesitate, just build it ...
    If you want to know how to make sourdough bread, this is THE book to get. It not only tells you how, but equally importantly (at least for me) why. My sourdough bread has turned from a heavy, unappetising brick, to a loaf that my friends and family are actually enjoying. Even better than the bread, if you want to know how to build a wood-fired oven, then look no further - this book has nearly everything you need. With discussions on fundamental design guidelines, required tools, materials and one set of plans in the book, anyone with a little "handyman" experience should be able to build a robust and reliable oven. But don't expect everything to be laid out in the form of fool-proof instructions - YOU will have to do a bit of work in figuring out what size you want the oven, (dome height, door width, floor height), exactly how things will fit together and how many bricks, how much cement, aggregate, etc. you will need. But for me, doing this was part of the challenge, even if I did spend 6 months reworking my plan a dozen times or so. The only thing I'd change in this book is to add just one example of how you could do a chimney - this caused me considerable torment, although what I've done seems to work just fine. So if you want a wood-fired oven, and are thinking of building one - don't hesitate, just build it ......more info
  • these guys know their stuff!
    As an erstwhile professional baker, I learned plenty ...and I could tell from the good bread advice that the oven-building advice is authoritative and just what I've been looking for. This book is essential reading for anyone who seriously wants to bake good bread. Thank you, Chelsea Green, Daniel Wing, and Alan Scott. WELL DONE!...more info
  • view from a retired baker
    As a bkaer who was trined as an apprentice back in the 1960s before real bread was dismissed as being too time consuming, I remember much of what is discussed in this book. These methods are from ages past and still hold true today. To me it is amazing that young folk are re-discovering methods we took for granted in the production of bread of quality and substance.
    To go back to baking in wood fired ovens amazes me and peel oven and the challange to the aker of baking breads in this methods add to the challange of baking quality bread. The research that has gone into the construction of these ovens is encouraging to see these skillls are not lost.
    This by far is the best book on bread baking from the point of the chemistry and science of dough fermentation etc I have ever seen. I wished it was about when I was doing my trade schooling. It is explained in such away that any one can understand the rediuments of bread baking.One thing that does cause me great annoyacne in this book is the term where the author refers to "the coooking of bread". We don't cook bread, we BAKE it, that is one reason why they callle our trademan BAKERS. we bake in a dry heat of the oven.
    And th construction of brick ovens is well researched and explained. Excellent work chaps. ...more info
  • Wonderful Resource - Don't Listen to the Whiners
    This book is enormous, far larger and more complete than I had imagined. As others have said, it is not exactly a step-by-step "how to" for baking break or for building an oven, but it comes close. I like the word "treatise"

    If you are have been thinking about building your own masonry oven, this book has enough information to make that possible. Don't believe a word of what the whiner from Japan with absolutely no literacy or mechanical skills has said: this book does indeed contain outlines, guidelines, drawings, and more that will go a long way towards making a DIY masonry oven possible. however, if you have to be led by the hand the entire way, and given exact specifications for every board and every brick, then I guess this book isn't good enough for you......more info
  • Incredible Resource
    I've read this book cover to cover at least three times, with some sections so mauled and tattered that frankly, I should replace the book. For that I'll await the next edition. I've lent this book to several bread-building friends and felt fortunate to have it returned - though usually not until their own copy arrives.

    You see, besides being incredibly well written and edited, the primary contributor to this book is a life-long contributor to the community of baking fine breads. While Alan Scott does publish the plans for ovens described in this book - they are not included in the book. You would need to acquire them separately. He does however provide fairly detailed drawings, photographs and directions in the book for one of his ovens that are adequate for someone with a minimum of construction skills to build one of his ovens from just the book (I did).

    This is hard to describe, but Alan Scott seems to be a person truly committed to the lifestyle surrounding the community of baking fine bread. Alan expresses this by defining (and these are my words) that a goal of our "culture" should be to create a community that can create and support the artisan who builds a fine loaf of bread, as well as the artisan with the knowledge and skills to build a fine oven to bake that bread. For me, this represents a refreshing break from the world of finance and technology that represents so much of my life.

    This is a book that can change your perspective on the world. It's terrific and should be an important reference document in the library of eveyone who bakes bread, or wants to....more info
  • A must-own book for any serious baker
    This book is not a bread recipe (or formula) book, it is not a learn-to-bake book and it is not a baking reference book. It is a treatise on hearth bread and it is not one you want before you have already become very serious about bread baking and have become a full and fanatical convert to baking with natural leaven ("sourdough"). If you are not already there, then I recommend Peter Reinhart's "Crust and Crumb" and Paul Bertolli's "Chez Panisse Cooking" (it has a single great chapter about baking naturally leavened bread). Once you have arrived at good, satisfying, naturally leavened bread and bake it as a matter of routine, "The Bread Builders" will give you a very good understanding of what is really going on or what should be going on and what you can do to make sure it is. Even though I currently bake in a bottom-of-the-line, electric Jenn-Air oven, the book gave me enough knowledge, science, technique, hints, tricks and understanding that I could take my bread one or two steps further towards perfection, and for that it was worth buying. You also get to understand that the ultimate step towards perfection is baking in a brick oven. When I get around to taking that step and building my oven, this is the book that will guide me....more info
  • Missing Plans?
    The authors make several references to a set of plans and list of materials that are included with this book but these appear to be missing. I would not try to build a masonry oven with this book but it is a good start....more info
  • This book is more than I expected.
    This book is wonderful. This was the most highly recommended book on building and cooking with a fire brick oven and rightfully so. If you are interested in building a fire brick oven, this book is definitely for you. It has good readable instructions with detailed illustrations and plenty of variations from which you can customize your own oven. ...more info
  • A joy for the serious bread baker amateur, or professional.
    I've been a serious amateur bread baker for more than thirty-five years. In that time, I have learned that magnificient bread can be made of the simplest of ingredients. Often, I have found it difficult to convey to friends that wonderful bread is "built" (to use the term in the book's title) upon the subtleties of technique rather than on the complexities of recipes.

    Dan Wing and Alan Scott have provided bakers with a wonderful book that teaches these techniques and the principles that contribute to their success.

    In addition, they provide detailed information about building that masonry oven I've been dreaming about for years. I think that it will soon become a reality.

    Rarely have I felt so appreciative of a new book.

    I offer these highly skilled authors my sincere thanks....more info

  • Excellent source for the dedicated baker, plus great oven-building instructions.
    I bought this book looking for oven-building instructions. As an architect, I can attest that the plans and step-by-step buidling instructions are excellent. I have mixed feelings in reporting that an outstanding bakery opened right down the street about the time the book arrived, and so I haven't been able to justify building my own bread oven yet, but I look forward to that first hearth loaf. Meanwhile, I've been able to compare the excellent bread from the new bakery with my own, baked in a standard oven according to Wing and Scott's recommendations. It is evident that I'm no professional baker, but my loaves do have a complexity of flavor and longevity that are promising.

    Baking is a true craft. You can't just follow a recipe and expect excellent results [see my review of Rose Levy Beranbaum's flawed The Bread Bible]. There are endless little adjustments that a good baker makes in water content, flour selection/milling, rising temperatures, leavening formulae, loaf-shaping, etc., etc., etc. It takes years of patient pratice to get it right. Accordingly, no simple cookbook-like text will set you on the right path. True, you can make good bread at home with instant yeast and a little bit of care, but great bread requires much more attention and practice. The text of The Bread Builders never quite offers a recipe. Instead, it lays out the science and art of baking, attributing quite a bit to the "feel" of the baker. This has been at times frustrating to me, but it is the only true path to great bread. This book stubbornly and correctly refuses to offer one-size-fits-all recipes and simplifications. If you're serious about baking excellent bread, this is an outstanding source.

    I should note that this book, under a thick stucco of flour and water, holds place of honor on the shelf at our new best bakery in town....more info
  • you can now make bread better than what you had in france
    this book teaches you how to bake the best bread you've ever ever had. and it's surprisingly easy.i've been making bread on the weekends and such for about 15 years now, ever since i saw a recipe for batter bread in an old joy of cooking. but although i'd tried many recipes and supposed "tips and tricks," i couldn't get a tasty or really beautiful european-style country i would go to gourmet shops and spend US$5-7 a loaf and think,"o if i only had the fancy steam oven, the expensive mixer, then...."but daniel wing shows you how anybody with the most simple equipment can make incredible bread. although a lot of the book is devoted to building a brick oven, he explains how you can get that brick-oven effect with a regular home oven for only $50 with a special baking dish called "la cloche."if you've made a lot of bread, or read many recipes, you have certain ideas about"how bread should be made." it turns out a lot of the conventional wisdom is wrong! daniel wing includes a lot interesting scientific information that proves why his methods are superior to the conventional wisdom. following his methods gave me unbelievable results: crusty, tasty, made-in-a-french-village bread. i'll never go back to my old way of breadmaking. the best part -- the methods in this book are actually less work than the supposed "rapid" methods you find elsewhere....more info
  • Amateur Artisan Baker's Bible
    This is a great book for the amateur artisan baker and it fulfills its two primary goals admirably. For the artisan baker, it provides the stoichiometry behind baking naturally-leavened bread - allowing one to adapt the basic formula and create new recipes that work! For those of you who, like me, try to recreate that hearth-baked bread flavor and texture in a conventional oven (only to fail), this book provides detailed plans and step-by-step instructions on constructing your own masonry oven! I have many bread cookbooks but this one is a real treasure! Buy it now!...more info
  • Wonderful book, wonderful resource
    Dan Wing and Alan Scott have answered all the questions I have ever asked about bread and ovens, and then some. After baking regular yeasted bread for years, I learned to make small, wood-fired ovens out of mud, and started making naturally leavened breads. In the process, I stumbled onto some of the "secrets" of good bread, for which I was very happy. For people who don't want to spend years stumbling, however, The Bread Builders is a thorough, authoritative, and inspiring door into the hows and whys of really good bread. For people who already know the "secrets," it's an absolutely brilliant explanation and exploration of what makes good bread (part of which is, of course, the oven).

    If you want to understand the principles of what you're doing, this is it. And if you want to build a commercial quality oven for baking your own bread, here are plans and detailed instructions. I have had the pleasure of meeting, and learning a little about ovens from Alan Scott. I am very happy that now, in addition to having a master baker on my bookshelf, I also have a master oven builder as well. Thank you both very much....more info

  • Bread Builders: Hearth Loves and Masonry Ovens
    All you need to know to build your own brick oven. Wonderful bread recipes are included....more info
  • Not here yet!
    I'm sure this is a good book, but don't know yet for myself. I ordered it weeks ago and it still hasn't shipped yet. After a revision or two, the projected delivery date is around the end of October (ordered the end of August). It's probably worth waiting for, I just wanted everyone to know that the 1-2 weeks shown above, is probably not what it will take to ship....more info
  • Fresh Bread and the oven to bake them in
    This is a fantastic book for anyone who really enjoys fresh bread. I wore out a bread machine and learned to knead all my favorites by hand. This not only explains every part and ingredient's role in making bread, it also has all the description and scientific explanation to build an outdoor bread oven. We're planning on building an outdoor kitchen and the bread oven in this book will be a part of it....more info
  • Where's the dough!
    I was expecting something more like a SUNSET magazine type presentation...this book is not a "how to" manual on building an oven. In fact, the directions given were so poorly presented that it felt like I needed to hire these guys to do the job. Outlines, guidelines, drawings or anything else one would expect for buildiing a brick oven were completely lacking. The bread portion of the book is well...okay, but it has been better written and done elsewhere. I would pass on this book and keep looking...more info


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