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The Village Baker: Classic Regional Breads from Europe and America Paperback – September 1, 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The long and short of it is you could pick up a copy of The Village Baker by Joe Ortiz, start at the beginning, bake your way to the last page, and open your own village bakery. A California regional baker since 1978 (Joe Ortiz bakes breads, and his wife bakes pastries at Gayle's Bakery in Capitola, California), Ortiz brings his years of personal experience and his endless travels through Europe to the one subject he holds so dear: good bread. And by good bread, he means the best of what France, Germany, and Italy have to offer, as well as notable contributions from great American bakers working in the traditional, village-baker style: dense, crusty, flavorful loaves of bread that support life in and of themselves. Ortiz holds out the promise that this can actually be accomplished in the home kitchen--with the highest standards.

Ortiz's book starts in the style of a primer with sections on the basic ingredients, kinds of leavenings, and basic techniques and procedures. He wants the newcomer to bake the very basic French loaf (think baguette) several times to get one decent loaf under the belt buckle. Then it's open season on regional breads, rye breads, and specialty breads. In a final section, Ortiz gives the true enthusiast professional style recipes and ideas. --Schuyler Ingle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

With this inspired book, Ortiz, a Capitola, Calif.-based "village baker," generously and accurately shares the art of producing "crusty, flavorful bread--with a chewy, voluptuous texture, the aroma of nuts, and a caramelized crust." The product of the serious study of French, German and Italian bakers and his own experimentation back at home, the book brings together of methods and recipes, including such mouth-watering selections as country-style French bread, raisin nut rye rolls, onion wheat bread and polenta bread. What makes the volume special--in addition to Ortiz's admirable dedication to thoroughness and accuracy--are the homemade starters that are used instead of commercially produced yeasts to give breads character. While recipes for professional bakers are included, the home baker--even the novice--should be able to follow the Ortiz method and come up with some great stuff.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898159164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898159165
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Joe Ortiz's book changed my life. I had been baking straight yeasted breads for several years. These were good, decent breads, but plain. I longed for a more complex loaf - one with the irregular holes in the crumb, one that had a chewier texture, and longer shelf life. Joe Ortiz's book showed me how to achieve all those goals. His book also explains why certain methods produce different results. Another of the helpful features of his book is that he distinguishes his recipes by fermentation method(i.e. sourdough, sponge, old dough, or straight yeast), which makes it a book a beginning baker can use, and grow with as the baker's skill develops (the straight yeasted doughs are the easist). I think this is a must-have book for any serious, or semi-serious homebaker. This is THE book for the homebaker who wants to take their baking up to the next level.
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Format: Paperback
As a nearly 30 year home bread baker, I was not expecting to find this fresh new look at breadmaking by the traditional artisans of France, Germany and Italy. But Joe Ortiz's "The Village Baker" is both a joy and a revelation. Here are many easy to follow recipes based on starters and sponges ("poolish" in French). Here you can see, and almost smell, the fresh-baked peasant breads of Europe as they come out of the traditional brick oven. It's all here -- whether you're looking for french pain de campagne, or Italian pane integrale, you need look no further. The Italian ciabatta recipe, which appears thoroughly unlikely to succeed, produces an exceptional flat bread honeycombed with airy holes to soak up sauces, or extra virgin olive oil. Above all, the book conveys a sense of timelessness , and the enduring value of good bread made according to its own timetable. The recipes are clear and easy to follow. I have spent several months happily working my way through this exceptional book -- some surprises but no failures. At least five stars...
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Format: Paperback
As an Artisan Bread Baking Instructor, I found Joe Ortiz' book, The Village Baker to be the best book on the market for helping the novice bread baker to understand in plain language the magic of true bread. I have had 35 students use this book so far, and they have all exclaimed it to be the best. The depth of knowledge shows through, without being pretensious, and the breads themselves were crisp, sensual, and tasty, without exception. If you were allowed only one book on the art of true bread this is the one to have.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was written by Joe Ortiz of Gayle's Bakery in Capitola, California and published eleven years ago. At the time, the `Library Journal' said that good books for the home baker are few and far between. In 1993, Ortiz' book was just on the crest of renewed interest in artisinal breads. At the time, the most noteworthy books on artisinal bread baking were Carol Field's `The Italian Baker' and Bernard Clayton's `The Breads of France'. Peter Reinhart had written the small, quirky `Brother Juniper's Bread Book' which was long on one big idea, but not very detailed about some other aspects of baking. Bernard Clayton's giant `The Complete Book of Breads' did not even cover two of the three main types of yeast rising bread methods. It was more concerned with giving good, easy home recipes for a wide variety of different breads based entirely on `La methode directe' or the direct method. Therefore, Ortiz' excellent bibliography contains mostly works written in French.
In the last eleven years, a number of excellent books on artisinal bread have been written and published, especially by Peter Reinhart, Nancy Silverton, and Rose Levy Beranbaum. I have not read or reviewed Reinhart's award winning `The Bread Baker's Apprentice', so my favorite artisinal bread text before today was Beranbaum's `The Bread Bible'. Ortiz' book has just taken it's place. Beranbaum's book is almost twice as long and has a long introduction on ingredients and general techniques, but her presentation of the differences between the three major methods for yeast bread making simply do not succeed in making the subject quite as clear, as interesting, and as convincing as Ortiz' book. Beranbaum's book is still a great work with recipes for lots of types of breads that Ortiz does not cover.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like a lot of things about this book. Excellent recipes. Lots of things to help you understand bread baking. However, I was a little startled on its emphasis. The book is split into 6 chapters. (1) Basics, (2) French breads, (3) Italian breads, (4) German breads, (5) American breads, and (6) Information for bakery scale production of breads (recipes in kgs, rather than cups and the like)
However, nearly all the emphasis is on the French and Italian breads and there is very little on German breads, which have always struck me as having just as remarkable a tradition, if not a more impressive one. One interesting consequence of this is that certain kinds of techniques are short-changed as it appears that sourdough is on the decline in France and is gone in Italy, but is alive and well in Germany.
All things considered, this book should be strongly recommended, but its emphasis should be understood. Perhaps a 2nd edition could address some of these.
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