The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


Floydm's picture

This past week I've acquired two new baking books worth mentioning here.

The first is Home Baked: Nordic Recipes and Techniques for Organic Bread and Pastry by Hanne Risgaard.  Hanne and her husband run Skærtoft Mølle, an organic mill in southern Denmark and home to one of the world's largest bread festivals each fall.

The extended title pretty well sums up the contents of the book: lots of recipes and beautiful photos of Nordic breads prepared with organic whole-grain flour. Whole wheat, spelt, and rye flours all play prominent roles, as do both sourdough and commercial yeast. There are a few more conventional options too like hamburger buns.

Jeffrey Hamelman, who penned the forward, calls attention to the final section of the book entitled "Leftovers." Indeed, some of the ways of using up old bread such as the Rye Bread Layer Cake and the Rye Bread Porridge with Whipped Cream recipes look quite intriguing.

I've not had a chance to bake from Home Baked yet, but this looks to be one of the more substantial baking books coming out this fall and one worth checking out.

* * *

The other book I just acquired isn't new but is new to me: Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters.

Andrew Whitley is co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign in the UK and gave the keynote at this year's Kneading Conference West. In his presentation he told compelling stories about his experiences running a small bakery that uses mostly local ingredients and how a local bakery can play a pivotal role in forming a strong rural community.

Bread Matters is one part baking guide like Bread Bakers Apprentice and another part political manifesto along the lines of Omnivore's Dilemma. In it Andrew argues strongly that there is a direct correlation between the reduction in nutritional content -- and the increased use of enzymes as processing aids -- in the increasingly industrialized bread being consumed in Britain and the increase in allergic and negative health issues being experienced throughout society. His articulation of his position is worth hearing, and whether you buy his argument or not the recipes and baking instruction section of this book is substantial and impressive. I've marked a number of pages to come back to once I have a starter going strong again.

A special note for Canadians: I found a copy of Bread Matters this week at a local Indigo bookstore. It was the 2009 edition, hardcover, and in the clearance section. Original retail price $42.99, I got my copy for $9.99! If you check the website you can find out if there are any copies at that price available near you. For under ten bucks, picking up this book was a no-brainer.

Floydm's picture

Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, the authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, swung through Portland a couple of weeks ago to promote their newest book, Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day.  I was able to catch a few minutes of their time to chat about the new book.

As the title suggests, Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day is similar to their previous books in that it centers around a high-hydration no-knead master recipe that takes only a few minutes to assemble.  Many variations of this dough are introduced, as are the appropriate sauces to accompany everything from your classic Margarita pizza to a Brussel Sprout, Pancetta, and Pecorina pizza.  Pitas, Chapati, and Turkish flatbreads are covered as well, as are gluten-free and whole wheat pizza doughs.  

Jeff and Zoë told me there are now just shy of half a million of their books in circulation and that they personally respond to around twenty emails a day from folks asking questions about their recipes.  While artisan and wood oven pizzerias have become a staple in places like Portland and San Francisco and the East Coast has a deep tradition of serious pizza, it is their impression that there are still many places where pizza as something that doesn't come out of a cardboard box is still catching on.  Particularly in these tough economic times with more folks eating at home, it is their hope that through this book they can make good pizza both affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.



kumitedad's picture

How To Bake Bread: The Five Families of Bread by Michael Kalanty

January 28, 2011 - 8:52pm -- kumitedad

Has anyone gotten this book yet?  I took a dough class from the author at the CCA and he was one of the best teacher there.  All the students loved him.  And he was always even tempered and very supportive (even when I messed up the corn breads on two straight attempts!)   Was wondering how he translated to the written page.



Jo_Jo_'s picture

Ok, I admit, my bookshelves are literally crammed with books, and I know that I haven't finished reading the three I got for Christmas.  Bread Baker's Apprentice, King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, and Taste of Home Baking... all really nice books and this gives me TONS of recipes.  I am doing the BBA Challenge, so that has slowed me down from simply reading the book from cover to cover. Thing is, now that I have those books, what ones are next?  I was thinking the the whole grain one from Peter Reinhart, but I see so many other books that people are talking about that I am wondering what is the next step?  Which ones would be better for me to start with and then continue through?  For having baked bread as many years as I have, you would think that I would have a ton of them, but most of the ones I have are simply recipe books and don't even show weighing the ingredients. 

I am interested in grinding my wheat and am planning on getting a Nutrimill pretty soon, so I am trying to factor that into my choices.  Having ground some of my wheat in the past I know that it can change tried and true recipes into total disasters.  I prefer books that give me the science and explanations rather than something that simply gives me a recipe.  Don't get me wrong, recipes are good but when you have so much learning to do and nobody with the experience to teach you the art of breadmaking then reading books and forums is where you get 100% of your knowledge from. 

I have read through a lot of the reviews on TFL, and see a lot of enthusiasm for certain books, but I am still not certain what to buy next and why this one would be better than that one etc.  I am only allowing myself a few books a year now, sorta a book diet.


Floydm's picture

I received a copy of Tartine Bread in the mail today and realized my baking bookshelf is now full.

My bread book shelf

(click the photo to see a higher res version on Flickr).

Um... yeah... I guess I'm going to need to start a new shelf!

Tartine Bread reminds me a lot of My Bread.  A West Coast version.  I haven't had a chance to bake from it yet but there are some interesting sounding recipes in there, like the Olive Oil Brioche that TXFarmer posted about recently.  I'm excited to check it out!

Floydm's picture

I get a lot of books from publisher, most of which I don't post about, but I received one today that I really like. 

Biscotti: Recipes from the Kitchen of The American Academy in Rome, The Rome Sustainable Food Project comes out in a week or so.  It is a little book but contains a really nice selection of cookie, biscotti, and meringhe recipes.  There are a nice range of recipes, everything from basic sugar cookies to fava bean cookies, and while a few require ingredients that I don't keep around the house (fava beans, pine nuts), none of them that I've looked at strike me as terribly complex or inaccessible.

What else.  The photography and typography are nice, the paper feels nice, it is just... a really lovely little book, one that feels more expensive than the thirteen bucks you can pick it up for right now. It'd make a nice, inexpensive gift for anyone you know who likes to cook and bake but hasn't yet caught the bread bug. 

I've not baked any of the recipes from it yet, but I shall soon.


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