Great Bread Every Time

65 delectable recipes, plus simple, proven techniques for making high-rising breads, rolls, muffins, and doughs every time you bake

Marilyn Barbe

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Reviving a Lost Art
The Secret to Success

Ailsa Craig Village Pottery

Since 1978, Marilyn Barbe has been teaching the art of breadmaking to thousands of first-time bakers. Through her years of observation and experimentation, she has discovered foolproof tricks to solve all the most common mistakes, and in this book she presents a complete course to unlock the mysteries of this satisfying and rewarding art. Everything from proofing yeast to mixing ingredients, from kneading and shaping to baking and slicing, is covered. Also included are more than sixty simple yet irresistible recipes: English Muffins; Lemon Braid; Apple Raisin Twist; Date Nut Coffee Cake; Whole Wheat Bran Bread; Hot Cross Buns; Soft Pretzels; Potato Cheese Bread; Filled Apple Kutchen; and dozens more. 

MARILYN BARBE, who has been a breadbaking instructor since 1978, lives in Ailsa Craig, near Stratford, Ontario. 

Reviving a Lost Art

I call breadmaking at home an art. Now, our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would sit back in their rocking chairs and enjoy a good laugh if we were to tell them that. To these dear ladies, living in a rural setting, and caring for a hungry brood, breadmaking was a necessity that enslaved them to the kitchen. 

So, why do I call breadmaking an art? Well, from the earliest French settlements in Canada, where wheat was ground in the seignorial mill and baked in brick ovens, to the turn of this century, Canadian bread was made in the home. Then, as more and more people moved to the city, large bakeries sprang up to fill an ever increasing demand for easy to obtain, cheap bread. And so, our mothers broke an age old tradition, they did not learn how to make bread, and they could not pass the knowledge on to their sons and daughters. So, here we are, enticed by stories of delicious home made bread and a lovely fragrance permeating the house but no one to show us how to make bread. Now we are ready to revive a lost art. 

The Secret to Success

Welcome to the world of breadmaking. Now, I'm often asked if making bread is easy and my answer is: "Yes, if you practice," because practice makes perfect, as with everything else. While breadmaking is not a simple process, it is not as time consuming and complex as you want to believe. And, the reward is in the satisfaction you will receive when you serve nutritious homebaked goodies to family and friends. 

Whoever said that breadmaking was simple never tried to teach himself or herself how to make bread as I did. You see, the reason why I am writing this cookbook is to help you avoid the mistakes that I made as a novice bread maker. Mistakes? Yes, I'll admit to it, and I think that I made all of them. 

I am a self-taught home baker and I know now that had someone taught me the art I would have saved myself a lot of trouble. But, I also know that had someone else taught me I would not be offering you this book. 

My initial interest in making home made bread was fuelled by the desire to create bread's wholesome goodness in my own home. Goodness with a gourmet touch. My first results were rock- hard bread-bricks that my wonderful husband ate without complaint. But, that was in the past, and now, after years of baking bread at home and years of teaching the art to hundreds of eager students, I feel that I can offer you a simplified approach to the process. I hope that it will help you avoid all the mistakes that I made. 

This approach has one secret to success: that is, read Getting Off to a Good Start before you start. Don't try to make bread without understanding the process - it will never work and you will quit before giving home made bread an honest try. Getting off to a Good Start is a step-by-step explanation of the recipes that follow. Now pour yourself a good cup of tea or coffee, hide away in a secluded spot, and read about bread before you start to make it.