Review: How to Be a Breadhead

by Erin

What on earth is a “Breadhead”? It is a dedicated baker, someone who bakes often, who thinks and dreams about bread and is not afraid to experiment.  And in How to Be a Breadhead: A Beginner’s Guide to Baking, by Father Dominic (“The Bread Monk” of PBS television fame), you’ll learn more than just basic techniques—you’ll find out why yeast behaves the way it does, how to substitute different flours in a recipe, and how to take a simple dough and make it extraordinary for a special occasion. All in a friendly style of instruction, with helpful photos and illustrations. He also has a Bread Blog which can be found at

I have made yeast breads many times, but I would not consider myself an expert by any means. So while reading through the lessons prior to the actual recipes, I learned a few things I thought I should share:

  • There is about a 5% difference between measuring cups for dry and liquid ingredients. I knew there was, but didn’t know exactly. When measuring out several cups of flour it adds up!
  • You will use a little less flour in a recipe when using bread flour instead of all-purpose because it has a greater content of proteins.
  • When doubling a recipe requiring yeast, you do not need to double the amount of yeast. One package of yeast (or 2-1/4 tsp) is enough for every 4 cups of flour.
  • The gluten matrix formed during kneading is what helps bread hold its shape even when baked free-form.
  • A traditional way to test for bread doneness is to thump the bottom after removing from the pan – if it sounds hollow it’s done.
  • The best blades for slicing bread are not serrate but wavy. Add one to your wishlist!

Once I finished absorbing as much knowledge as I could, I set out to try some of the recipes. First I tried the Pull Apart Garlic Bread using the basic white dough. It was fun getting my fingers dirty (literally) by dipping these into a butter-herb mixture before allowing them to rise in the pan before baking. And they really did pull apart!

Then I got a little fancy with the basic sweet dough and made Butterfly Breakfast Rolls with Nutella. It was very must like making cinnamon rolls, except you cut them at alternating angles and squish them down on the smaller sides to make a butterfly image! I have to admit I also thought it kind of looked like a chameleon face! Rango anyone?

Definitely glad I have this cookbook in my collection. It is a great resource for yeast doughs and breads!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of How to Be a Breadhead from Reedy Press. I was not sompensated for this post. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

One year ago: Ron’s Chili
Two years ago: Oven-Fried Onion Rings


Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking December 14, 2012 - 12:21 pm

What a great post. I am just now dabbling into baking bread. I haven’t made a whole loaf yeat, working up to it. Thanks for the tips!

Jackie @ The Beeroness December 13, 2012 - 5:56 pm

This is me. Plus a great wheat beer :)

Hope Cox @ohmyfoodness December 13, 2012 - 11:15 am

Ooo! I LOVE making bread!! But I’ve been a little bit hesitant to try recipes because I have one that I love and it takes so long to make that I don’t want to mess up and have to start over! (

I’m going to check out his blog, thanks for the link!

Oh, and P.S. The rolls and butterlfy rolls look delightful!

~Hope Cox

Dawn @ Butter And Spinkles December 13, 2012 - 11:03 am

Definitely sounds like a good read! Adding it to my wishlist!

Patti @ Bakeify December 13, 2012 - 10:42 am

Great info Erin thank you! I will check this book out. It looks fun!

william miller December 13, 2012 - 6:55 am

I think I might have to go out and get that cook book even though I have been baking bread for quite a few years now. I always love trying new recipes.


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