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The Tassajara Bread Book

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  4,658 ratings  ·  99 reviews
Good bread needs more than just flour and water, milk, or eggs. It requires nurturing and care. In this twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the international best-seller that started a generation of Americans baking, Ed Brown shows how to make—and enjoy—breads, pastries, muffins, and desserts for today's sophisticated palates. And in a new afterword, he reflects on the wid ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published June 12th 1986 by Shambhala (first published 1970)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  4,658 ratings  ·  99 reviews

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Apr 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Inder by: My mom.
Shelves: cooking, bread
I'm sorry I ever doubted you.


Now, for a flavorful and not too heavy loaf of 100% whole wheat bread. It's not as fluffy as white bread, but it's nice and shapely and just dense enough to hold peanut butter without leaking:

First, if you've never baked bread before, read the detailed instructions starting on page 15 and really study them. There are invaluable drawings showing you exactly what things should look like. Refer back to these as often as needed.

Pay special atten
Love of Hopeless Causes
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hard to imagine a better bread book, unless it was also vegan. I'm looking forward to trying this out since I believe about half the recipes can be made Vegantastic. I watched a movie years ago that lead me to this book, yet I've never tried my hand at punching dough. ...more
Mary Miller
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sponge works.

I know folks are a little put out by the lack of a 'recipe' style layout of this book. It like books of it's time period, was filled with wisdom, ramblings, ideas, and more importantly a change on how we look at what we do.

I've owned 5 or more copies of this book, used them to the point that they were so sticky from bread goops, handling while cooking, that they end up being recycled. But that's the point! If you use your cook books chances are, they get filled with spills and gobs
Larry Bassett
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cook-books
This book primarily focuses on whole grains but it does not deny the existence of unbleached white flower. This book touts the benefits of the "sponge method" in which the yeast gets started more easily in the absence of the salt which is not added until the very end of the mixing process. The mixing process is accomplished by folding thus maximizing the incorporation of oxygen. The basic Tassajara recipe for whole wheat bread makes four loaves so you know they like bread!

But whether you use thi
Sep 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in learning more about baking
Shelves: reference
Being an inexperienced baker, I wanted a cookbook that would give me some basic knowledge on the art of baking bread. The moment I saw this book, I realized this is something that's been around for several years.

The ingredient glossary it provides at the beginning of the book is excellent in helping you understand what some of the ingredients in bread are and what they're there for. For example, "Milk makes bread smoother, softer and more cakelike and modifies, masks the 'coarse' grain taste."

Jan 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
bread! can't wait to make some sourdough as soon as I get out from in front of this computer, go get some wheat flour and clean the kitchen!
Tassajara is the best intro to bread baking i've ever seen, with detailed instructions on every step from water to sponge to how to knead, rising consistency and baking time. also filled with zen poetry/meditations about food.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cook-book
A beautiful book with a logical layout. This would be a great gift for a beginning baker.
Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)
Classic Bread Cookbook
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
It might not be fair to be giving this book such a low rating. But really, the layout is appalling.

I learned about "The Tassajara Bread Book" after reading the rather lame novel, "Bread Alone" by Judith Ryan Hendricks. (But the novel wasn't a complete waste of time. Interspersed through the dumb story, there are some excellent bread recipes.) In the novel, there was a glowing description of banana cinnamon swirl bread but no recipe; just a note to add more bananas to "The Tassajara Bread Book" r
Mar 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cooking-baking
After trying this book I have very high hopes for it. It produced two enormous and very edible loaves of bread.

A very important tip though - read the instructions! They start on page 15 and help immeasurably! The recipe for the standard Tassajara yeasted bread starts on page 34 and the instructions start on page 14. They really help flesh out the instructions for the bread and add to the quality of the loaves you'll end up with - they show you how to knead and shape the bread, how long and when
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My bread bible from the 70s - still use it. I make a half recipe of the basic yeasted bread (recipe #1) and mix whole wheat and white flour. It's wonderful. Sometimes I use the author's suggestion to add other things as well - oatmeal is a particular favorite.

As much as I love the bread recipe, dessert recipe #79 - Torte with Sour Cream Fruit Topping - is an all time favorite. Dense cake, surprising sour cream topping, and lovely fruit. A virtuous dessert.
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vegetarian
Right up there with the original as a book I hold near and dear to my heart.
I made the basic batter bread religiously for quite a while when I was a big ole hippie in new mexico, and I would recommend any of these bread recipes/instructions to the novice bread baker as well as someone who just wants to broaden their repetoire.
Dec 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in baking bread
Like the companion volume "Tassaja Cooking", this is a cooking book which teaches the underlying principles that guide the bread maker. There are recipes, of course, but these are intended as starting points for exploration. This book has a permanent place on my kitchen bookshelf. ...more
Jul 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
i'm reading the omnivore's dilemma and remembered this book as being particularly interesting in that apart from the great bread recipes it is also a philosophy of how to view food. ...more
Mary Keebler
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks-food
Pancakes and waffles to die for.
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd heard of this book for years, and it was only when I became desperate to find a way into the Panettone recipe I'd tried this past Christmas that I thought to consult the master. In The Complete Tassajara Cookbook I found an old handed-down recipe called Grandmother Mary's Coffeecake that is so similar to other books' rcipes for Panettone that I brought it to my house immediately to see what else was inside.

This book is warm and welcoming and contains much to aid the aspiring break baker. I e
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
I heard of this book while watching How To Cook Your Life:
"German filmmaker Doris Dörrie documents a summer in the life of renowned Zen practitioner and cook Edward Espe Brown as he teaches culinary classes in Zen centers in Austria and California, revealing the role food plays in our bodies and spirits. Informative, provocative and funny, Brown serves up a unique combination of inspiring wisdom and kitchen skills that will raise even the most demanding foodie to new spiritual and gastronomic he
Deborah Byfield Nyberg
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought I had the bread bible, "The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book" however, Ed Brown's book also received the "Bread Bible" title from me. Ed introduced me to the world of unyeasted breads and I really enjoyed the journey! Thick, dense breads with so much flavour - even more flavour than the breads I usually made, based on recipes from Laurel's book - I never thought that would be possible!

So now I have two books that I can bounce between when the mood takes me.

Recipes I've tried so far:

Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was lying around our house when I was a kid. I've always loved bread, and attempted to learn how to bake some myself from this book. But when I was 12, this book was too convoluted to keep my attention. I eventually tried again, and learned to make a fast loaf of bread from another old cookbook of my mom's, a 1950's version of The Joy of Cooking.

As my tastes broadened, I found my way back to this book. I made a few of the recipes, and loved the way they taste. Worth the effort of sift
May 01, 2009 added it
My mom just sent me this book and I am in love. It is the 25 year Anniversary Edition, known as "The bilbe for bread baking."
Any bread book that contains poetry has got to be good. I guess not really - but this one is.
Bread baking is love and I am finding this book that insinuates the same.
I don't know if this "goodreads" is supposed to be just fiction or if "cookbooks" are allowed, but you might want to read this book like a fiction book. You'd need quite a bit of imagination, but it is possib
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
I knew I wanted to try this book after seeing How to Cook Your Life, a documentary on the zen monastery where the author teaches, about a year ago. When I picked up a copy of the book and I read Brown's intro and the reviews of his recipes by famous chefs, I realized what a beloved work this was. Then I went to cross-reference my own pizza dough recipe (which I have been using for years) with Brown's recipe for foccasia bread- exact same recipe! Coincidence?

The techniques Brown describes helped
Sep 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
I was introduced to this book by a friend of mine when I wanted to learn to bake bread. I used it side-by-side with her when learning to bake my bread, which helped us to realize that my copy had a major error in the quantities of ingredients. Had I not been comparing my book with hers because we were talking through the process, I never would have known that. That aside, it is a great book for teaching someone the basic process of making a bread from a sponge. I also like the way in which it ta ...more
I like this book because the copy I have is my mother's, and is worn, and so I know all the various bits of wear, the torn part from the back cover, are from my mother's hands.

Though I sheepishly admit to not yet having used the book to make bread. I just have never felt quite ready to tackle bread, which seems so much more complicated than other forms of baking or cooing. But soon, I think, soon...
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I probably would have starved during my residency at Tassajar without the bread: rich, flavorful, warm, and almost always available from the side door of the kitchen to hungry students. The bread book allows for bringing a little of that flavor home, but be warned, this is not your bread machine era recipe book--the recipes take work and time, but the result tastes more real than most food on the market today.

Dianna Dekelaita
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There's nothing I love more than the smell of baking bread, and yet baking has always been one of the most intimidating things to approach in the kitchen. I learned about the Tassajara Bread Book after watching a documentary on Edward Espe Brown. This book took the anxiety out of bread-baking for me. After reading it, I baked my first loaf of hand-made bread - a loaf of braided Finnish bread from scratch from start to finish and enjoyed the process! ...more
Heather R
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
I love used bookstores because I can pick up gems like this one, with an inscription in the front cover (very sweet, from roommate to roommate), old bookmarks marking favourite recipes, and a well-worn feel to all the pages.

I don't have the 25th anniversary copy, mine was printed in 1970, and is wonderful in all its hippie glory. :)

It's the first bread I've every made all by myself, the dough is on its last rising now. I love that it always recommends whole wheat flour over white flour.
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Definitely my go-to bread baking book. Complete enough to be consistently useful without overwhelming. I appreciate the feel and tone of this book in that for me, it focuses on the simple, humble pleasure of making bread. Nothing gimicky as in some other cookbooks. My only critique would be that the layout of sketches and instructions does leave something to be desired, requiring much page flipping if one is seeking to follow-step by step.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Four stars for the recipes, instructions and tips. One star missing because the layout doesn't make the reader WANT to delve into the books and crannies of this book. I love that, unlike other bread books, the author suggests beginners dive right into working with whole grains, and different ingredients. I am an avid bread baker, and I feel like a creative one at that. That is thanks to this book. ...more
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is an essential part of my kitchen. I have not developed my baking repertoire as heavily as I have my savory mind, so I have referred to this gem many a times since receiving a copy some time ago. Being not that far from the physical location of the Tassajara temple, I feel the connection to be energetically greater than merely culinary preference. Every chef needs a bread book, this is the one I keep in my bag.
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
The bread book I've been waiting for all my life. I learned to make bread when I was a kid in 4H, but this book has helped me remember the tips and tricks that make bread so much more yummier. The sponge method I totally forgot, but it's a really good way to work the dough to get the best tasting bread. Can't wait to try out 12 of the recipes. Just to start! ...more
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Edward Espe Brown is a Zen Buddhist priest and professional chef.

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