From Publishers Weekly
Leader's new bread-baking book is distinguished from his earlier classic Bread Alone
by its focus on regional specialties, from the Alsatian classic pain au levain
to Tuscan black olive puccia, from German laugenbrezeln
or pretzels to the dark Silesian rye of the Czech Republic. The book opens with 50 pages of well-written and thorough instructions on everything from ingredients to equipment. The most helpful part is the explanation of the basic steps of any bread-making process, which serves as a primer on the procedural elements that are universal across the various European traditions. Leader, who founded the heralded Bread Alone bakery in Woodstock, N.Y., is most interested in teaching holistically, so that his readers will feel comfortable becoming apprentices and then experts themselves. One can't help imagining, however, that bread baking is best learned in the flesh. Leader advises that the only way to figure out if the dough is ready is through experience, and a hapless home baker might agree. Still, the book is an excellent primer on the best breads of Europe, and the traveler who has returned home with a longing for the Roman specialty pane di altamura
might be satisfied with a mouth-watering trip down memory lane. (Aug.)
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After perusing the remarkable recipes in Leader's compilation of the best of Europe's artisanal breads, only the most resolutely self-controlled baker will be able to resist marching to the kitchen to reproduce one of these captivating loaves. Leader explains how to create a sourdough from airborne yeasts, and he uses that starter for many of these breads to yield superior, deep flavor and thick, crunchy crusts. Ranging from baguettes to chocolate croissants, from Italian ciabatta to dark Silesian rye, and from Czech country bread to potato pizza, these recipes give access to bread bakers' highest art. For those lacking the courage and patience to ferment a real sourdough starter, Leader offers several different shortcuts to success. Line drawings guide the novice, and full-color photographs render ideals for Leader's students to emulate. Question-and-answer sections throughout the book succinctly clarify potential problem areas. Leader's Auvergnat blue cheese rye rolls alone make this book a must for devotees of the baker's art. Knoblauch, Mark