Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Qty:1
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Only 10 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
52 Loaves has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: No markings in main text. May contain name/inscription of previous owner in front matter.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

52 Loaves Paperback – October 25, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$15.52
$3.56 $0.01

Top 20 lists in Books
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
$15.52 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 10 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • 52 Loaves
  • +
  • The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden
  • +
  • Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart
Total price: $39.34
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Obsession takes many forms. Alexander, already a seasoned horticultural adept, now turns his attention to producing the ultimate loaf of bread. To achieve perfection in so simple a creation (yeast, water, flour), Alexander husbands his own field of wheat. He learns to raise this ancient grass, harvest it, prepare the grain, grind it to flour, knead it with the purest water, generate the active microorganisms to puff up the dough, and then bake that dough to produce a properly satisfying crumb within a flawless crunchy brown crust. He researches his topic thoroughly, but realizes he needs more hands-on tutelage. Moreover, the definition of a perfect loaf changes both by place and time. Alexander travels the world to learn from masters of bread baking in various styles, ending up in a Norman monastery. Impressed with the monks’ daily spiritual discipline, Alexander structures this account of his quest according to the ancient canonical hours. --Mark Knoblauch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Alexander's breathless, witty memoir is a joy to read. It's equal parts fact and fun . . . Alexander is wildly entertaining on the page, dropping clever one-liners in the form of footnotes and parenthetical afterthoughts throughout." --Boston Globe


"Nitpicking Obsessiveness was never so appetizing."
--Entertainment Weekly, Grade A-

(Boston Globe)

"Laugh out loud funny . . . Alexander definitely doesn't hold back . . . A great book, simultaneously funny and thoughtful." --Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn


“Alexander’s breathless, witty memoir is a joy to read. It’s equal parts fact and fun . . . Alexander is wildly entertaining on the page, dropping clever one-liners in the form of footnotes and parenthetical afterthoughts throughout.”
The Boston Globe


“Nitpicking obsessiveness was never so appetizing. A-.” ―Entertainment Weekly


“A warm, laugh-out-loud [memoir] . . . Alexander writes about the ups (few), the downs (numerous) and a lively history of bread itself, all recounted in a self-effacing but often irreverent voice . . . There is much to savor here, and Alexander entertainingly unravels many of the staff of life’s deep mysteries for the uninitiated.”
The Oregonian


“The world would be a less interesting place without the William Alexanders who walk among us―the people who pursue all sorts of Holy grails and latch like ticks onto particular passions, yet who have the good grace to tell us all about their exploits with humor.” ―Minneapolis Star Tribune
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616200502
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616200503
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #719,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By IMNSHO VINE VOICE on May 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you enjoyed watching the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", then you are going to relish reading "52 Loaves". Just as the audience did not have to be Greek to laugh at the hilarious movie scenes and to empathize with the protagonist's experiences, readers do not have to bake bread, to be fully sated with this wonderful book.

For me, the most satisfying book is one that balances character, plot, setting, and theme. In "52 Loaves", all four strands are woven in a tapestry of well-written, thoughtful words.

The main "character" is the author, William Alexander. If you can recall a time in your life when either a meal or food tantalized you with its sublime taste, smell and texture, you can understand the author's dogged attempts to recreate a memorable experience with a loaf of bread. Given bread's many dynamic variables (flour, yeast, time and temperature), replicating a loaf of bread without a recipe, is intricately complicated. As the story enfolds, we laugh heartily as the author encounters one mishap after another in search for this elusive recipe, while admiring his doggedness. The single-focused character who we meet at the beginning of the book becomes introspective and philosophical at the end.

The plot holds the reader's interest as it revolves around the author's activities, his tribulations paired with triumphs, his obstacles followed by revelations. Along with the author, we learn from and enjoy meeting, among others, the miller, the bakers, the hippie, the scientist, the storeowner, and the monk. While we know intuitively that the author will eventually bake a "perfect" loaf, we read on to share in this victory.
Read more ›
2 Comments 41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alexander is a fine writer who examines the many processes involved in bread-making and gives wise advise as to each. He has read the books, noted the deficiencies and contradictions in how we are taught to create bread at home, and provided just enough information to enable the already-serious baker to take his or her skills up a notch.

While this is certainly not a book for those new to bread-making (who should read Reinhart, Bertinet, Corriher and Hamelman to gather an appreciation of the difficulty and many approaches), it is a book for those of us who have struggled for years to make a tasty and enjoyable-to-eat loaf and yet have failed.

I can't say there is a magic bullet contained somewhere in the pages, nor even that the recipes work (that is yet to be decided, though early experimentation with the 500-550 degree heat recommendation produced a loaf so leathery that it could not be cut), but I feel he has helped me to systematize and summarize a lot of thoughts I had on the baking process and ingredients - which could also mean he has confirmed my prejudices. In short, and from my own perspective, I found someone who understands the profundities of home bread-baking and the roadblocks that home bakers encounter.

His writing style takes you smoothly and with wit through his learning experience, and his reflections on the many people he encountered on the way are alone worth the cost of the book. I savored, in particular, the last 50 pages or so, knowing I was coming to the end of an adventure that I did not want to end.

I have just two reservations:
1.
Read more ›
Comment 24 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By James on November 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author seemed to be on a quest to make an artisan bread with irregular holes and great taste. After a year, you'd think that he could learn how to do this and relate the results to the reader. No dice. He correctly explains that great bread flavor comes from a long steady rise. But he never cracks the riddle of the holes. As a result the book devolves into an entertaining story about "his" quest to understand how to make better bread and how he fails to reach enlightenment.

At the end of the book, he presents several recipes. As a bread chef, I classify bread recipes I read into three categories. The first are those copied from other cookbooks with little understanding. The second are ones with a unique nuance of some sort that could advance the general knowledge of breadmaking. The third are crap that either cannot be used, are imcomplete or won't work at all. His recipes are mostly classified as the latter. He recommends type 65 flour from France in one, for instance, that is not availble in this country, at least not from common sources. In some of the others, the recipe is incomplete-- for instance because they do not mention that the correct temperature to raise dough is 78 degrees(not 72!), and yes it makes a huge difference. Also he fails to mention in all cases that when the temperature of the inside of the loaf is at a certain temperature, the loaf is done. For a baguette, for instance it is 212 and for a batard it would be 190-195. How about the thickness and crispness of the crust? And I'm not even getting warmed up yet.

As you can see from the above, bread making is fairly technical. A full discussion of all of the factors mentioned above is clearly beyond the scope of a simple review.
Read more ›
4 Comments 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

52 Loaves
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: 52 Loaves