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Artisan Baking Across America :
"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 [via]