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The Italian Baker Hardcover – October 1, 1985

60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Italy's breads are "expressions of an earthy culture that still talks about its most fundamental experiences in terms of bread. . . . A down-to-earth man with a real heart of gold is described as 'buono come il pane'good, like bread," observes Field (The Hill Towns of Italy). Her book of baked goods is packed with recipes for breads made with herbs, mushrooms, fruits and cheeses; traditional loaves; breadsticks and rolls; chocolate and holiday breads; pizza and focaccia; as well as strudels and tarts, cakes and cookies. There are even recipes for leftover breadcrostini, garlicky vegetable soup, apple cake. Included also are directions for kneading by hand, by mixer and by food processor; dry ingredients are measured by both volume and weight. In order to write this book, Field worked with bakers in different regions of Italy and watched women making bread for their families. She recreates here for the American baker authentic Italian tastes and textures. Her informed discussion of ingredients and methods and her engaging commentary on the role of bread in Italy's history make this an important book for bakers. 20,000 first printing; Cooking & Crafts Book Club main selection; author tour. Foreign rights: Harper. October 30
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Carol Field is the author of four cookbooks, In Nonna's Kitchen, Focaccia, Celebrating Italy, and The Italian Baker, as well as The Hill Towns of Italy and Mangoes and Quince, a novel. She has won two IACP Cookook Book Awards, a James Beard Award, and the Gold Medal for Cookbooks at the World Media Awards in Australia. She lives in San Francisco with her architect husband and continues to travel back and forth to Italy.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 443 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Row; Reissue edition (October 30, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061812668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061812668
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

128 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Alexanderplatz on April 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
When I was hired to be the bread baker at an Italian restaurant in Carrboro, NC, I had no experience baking. The chef told me the restaurant wanted to start baking its own bread instead of buying it from a local bakery. She handed me this book, and I took it home to read and to pick out some recipes to try out.
I found the book quite readable, and I agree with the reviewer below who praises the book's "detailed, insatiable descriptions of the regions, and history of the recipe at hand." Also worthy of praise are the sections on the fundmentals of baking, which were particularly helpful to me when I was learning to bake. By covering the fundamentals and the various techniques used in different regions of Italy, the book gave me a good idea of what aspects I could experiment with comfortably, and which steps were more or less prescribed.
Our baking program turned out to be a success. Diners were especially fond of the scroll-shaped loaves that we learned to make from "The Italian Baker." Later we started making sourdough bread at the restaurant, based on techniques learned from this book. One night after we had been at it for a few weeks, one of our waiters came back into the kitchen to pass on compliments from a diner from San Francisco who said that our sourdough bread was as good as any she had had at home in SF. We were ecstatic. Only a few months before my cooking expertise had been more or less limited to heating up canned soup!
So I give this book a very enthusiastic recommendation for anyone wanting to bake Italian bread and then possibly go on to improvise their own loaves. In addition to being well-written, it is also a very handsome volume.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I checked this book out so many times my husband finally got the hint and bought it for me five years ago. A wonderfully written book with fabulous recipes. Here are our favorites: Focaccia (any), Pizza (any), Panforte (this is better than the stuff you buy in Siena. I could eat the whole thing), Panettone (easy, light, wonderful), Raisin Rosemary rolls, the Rosemary bread (I've made this many, many times and it is unbeatable--gorgeous and delicious), the little herb rolls, the ciabatta, the breadsticks (so so easy and terrific), and I can't remember what else. Oh, several cookie recipes, and the incredible, incredible tarts with pasta frolla (rice tart....). And on and on. Highly, highly recommended. Six stars if I could.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Linda C. Braddy on December 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I am enjoying two weeks off at Christmas and went "crusing" on the net to find recipes for Panetone (festive Italian Christmas Bread) and found this site with the lavish comments and laudatory praises for Carol Field's book. I also found a "doable" panetone recipe I could conjure up. After a visit to a local bookstore and finding this "treasure" I am hooked! I bought it on Sunday and it's now Thursday and I have read over 100 pages--not only for the tasty recipes, but the detailed, insatiable descriptions of the regions, and history of the recipe at hand. Never have I had a cookbook that I could rave about like this one. After spending 10 years in Vicenza and Napoli with my Army husband, I recognize the regions she so adeptly describes and the foods that complement the plates on the table. Do not miss this one, it is a rare jewel. Thank you Carol for the best christmas present I got this year!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By jerry i h on August 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When the author wrote this cookbook 20 years ago, one always thought of French cooking when it came to bread and pastry. Since then, many businesses and culinary careers have been based on this pioneering book. Yet, this book remains pretty much the only game in town when it comes to Italian baking. Some things like focaccia and tiramisu have entered into our culinary consciousness, yet there remains much that is as yet unexplored, viz. a rich dense almond cake baked in a sweetened pasta frolla, pandoro, or vegetable breads.

The main problem with this book is the intended audience: experienced home bakers. If you are a beginner, it is best to avoid this book until you have gained a little bit of skill. The book does have quite a nice section on baking basics, but these are rather generic. Recipes themselves tend not to have enough detail for the beginner: info on when something is properly baked, how to tell when a dough is properly proofed, how to form some of the more unusual shapes, etc. are often lacking. This is not a problem for someone who already knows how to bake, but can be a problem to a neophyte.

Note that the recipes have all been carefully tested. I have no problems when I bake from this book, lack of specific procedures in some recipes not withstanding. All recipes have separate instructions for hand, processor, or stand mixer. If one of these methods is not appropriate for a specific recipe, the author will clearly say so (unlike some others books I could name that says that any of the 3 methods will work equally well for all recipes). Another touch I appreciate is that the measurements for flour are listed in both cups and weight (hurrah!) (one cup of AP flour is listed as the same as 4 1/2 oz or 135 grams, implying that she uses dip and sweep).
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