In Search of the Perfect Loaf: A Home Baker's Odyssey

Viking. Sept. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780670025619. $26.95. COOKING
OrangeReviewStarFromartz (Organic, Inc.) might push the boundaries of what it means to be an amateur baker. The author was, after all, asked by chef Alice Waters to bake the bread for a charity dinner she gave in Washington, DC, after winning a local contest against professional bakers. He's a bread obsessive, and his exhaustive knowledge of the craft, history, and culture of bread making is on display here. This impressive work falls somewhere between a cookbook, an exploration of bread-baking techniques, and a history of bread. It's thoroughly researched and engagingly written, and his dedication is inspiring. He uses careful description to impart to the reader something of a craft that can truly only be learned through practice. In addition to writing about his own experience, Fromartz has interviewed (and baked with) some of the biggest names in the bread business, including Chad Robertson of Tartine and bread historian Steven Kaplan. Even those who think they know bread will find something to gain here.
VERDICT Highly recommended for those interested in food history, the evolution of artisan baking, and learning to make the perfect loaf at home.
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