"Cookbook" would be a grave understatement for Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking Across America
. With its sumptuous photographs and intimate profiles of the practitioners of this noble craft, it is a loving tribute to the art of baking bread. Beautiful enough to serve as a piece of art on the coffee table, it is nonetheless a practical guide for anyone who wants to bake bread like a pro.
According to Glezer, a professional baker and writer, "artisan baking" refers to the process--part of which must be done by hand--that produces the crusty, European-style breads conjured by careful craftsmanship. Glezer traveled around the country in search of the best breads and bakers in America, convincing them to share their stories, their recipes, and their knowledge of America's artisan bread movement.
At first glance, this book seems only for serious bakers, as many of the recipes are quite complicated, but fortunately each is categorized by skill level--from beginner to advanced--to steer inexperienced bakers away from the trickier recipes. Best of all, the meticulous recipes are scaled-down versions of original bakeshop formulas--levain, ciabatta, dark rye, bialy, and much more--and reproduce the professional excellence of some of the best breads being made today.
Beginning with flour--bread's most important ingredient--Glezer explains the various techniques of artisan baking, details the necessary equipment, defines the language of bread baking, and much more. She goes on to introduce the men and women who have devoted their lives to mastering this intricate craft and shares their most treasured recipes: Rustic Baguettes from the Acme Bread Company in Berkeley, California; Sweet Perrin (pear bread) from Seattle's Essential Baking Company; Kalamata Olive Bread from WheatFields Bakery/Cafe in Lawrence, Kansas; Semolina Filone from Tom Cat Bakery in Long Island City, New York, and many more.
Whether you're serious or just curious about the art of baking bread, this book provides possibly the best education you could find outside of cooking school. Suffice it to say, if one could live on bread alone, this book might very well be the Bible. --Robin Donovan
From Publishers Weekly
Artisan bread bakingDmeaning the production by hand of quality European-style breadsDhas recently taken off in the U.S., and Glezer (contributor to Fine Cooking and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) has done a marvelous job of chronicling its development in this thorough and inviting study of specialty bakeries around the country (including the Acme Bread Company in Berkeley, Calif., and the Pearl Bakery in Portland, Ore.), their breads and how the reader can replicate them at home (with instructions that are exceedingly complete and well organized). Glezer leaves no detail to chance, cautioning, for instance, that measuring spoons often vary significantly and suggesting a specific brand for serious bakers. Along with Corn Bread, Ciabatta and Kalamata Olive Bread, Glezer also includes such specialty breads as Kugelhopf and Pandoro. It's a joy to find Kossar's Bialystoker Kuchen on New York's Lower East Side and the Tom Cat Bakery in Queens, a large artisan shop, among Glezer's selection of jewel-box bakeries. She concludes with a chapter on baking competitions run by the Bread Bakers Guild of America and its judging criteria (by which readers can gauge their own breads' success). Like the delicate and rugged breads she serves up, Glezer's book is top-notch all the way. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.