I took the time out to register and watch this course today. There are absolutely no catches and it is a pretty comprehensive starter course considering that it is free.
Peter Reinhart is a god among bakers and the quality of this course is great. He shares his dough folding techniques which save on mix/knead time considerably. I use a variation on these all the time and they really do work well.
I would recommend it for anyone with a couple of hours to spare.
www.pizzazona.com - blogging about Pizza, the food we love! Free Tutorials, Tips & Recipies
Just one comment on the "American Pie" book....it (or at least the version I have) is all in "Cups" for the recipes, which to me is worse than useless. However - versions of most of the recipes with real measurements can be found online.
Not quite sure why our colonial cousins persist in using a measurement system that simply doesn't work...
After all - even if it was ounces it could be converted easily enough, but "cups" is just ridiculous. What does a "cup" of flour weigh?
I guess this is one (major) reason that all bread recipes should use baker's percentages.
Yeah....it's easy enough with water....BUT - other liquids all have different specific densities, so it's a different weight for a cup of milk, or a cup of oil for example.
And then, for solids, it's just nonsensical. Different flours have different densities, different compactions, different hydrations. Is it a lightly filled cup....or a slightly compacted cup? How much lemon peel in a cup? Is it finely grated, or big chunks, etc, etc...
I mean - I do have cup measures, and I know what they are meant to be, but for anything that needs any type of precision at all (like baking), it's an unworkable system!
I just checked my copy of "American Pie" (which is a good book BTW), and he does give ounce equivalents for the flour measurements only. But come on.....what's wrong with the proper metric measurement system or at least bakers' percentages for the pizza base recipes! Mr. Reinhart is a baker by trade for god's sake, he should know better!
OK - rant over. It's a very good book, but a book that's basically on baking not including bakers percentages is unforgivable.