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THE ART AND SCIENCE OF GOOD BAKING

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Bread baking has somehow taken on a mysterious quality, making it seem an in-
timidating act for many people. The secret to making good bread is that there is no
secret. Let your imagination help you break any rules you imagine exist to daunt
you.

JACQUELINE DEVAL, Reckless Appetites
(Ecco Press, 1993)

The simple pleasure of savoring homemade fresh bread reminds us of how won-
derful the basic integrity of premium-quality ingredients is. Of all the cooking pro-
cesses, baking bread is regarded with greatest love by its practitioners as well as
with the greatest anxiety by the uninitiated. Successful baking combines the ele-
ments of a balanced recipe, proper equipment, and good ingredients with skilled
hands and a dash of imagination.
After decades of teaching baking bread, I have noticed how seriously home
bakers take their skills. They are eager to give their breads a personal touch and ex-
pand their skills, yet need to be innovative and playful at the same time. I wanted to
create a sourcebook for serious home bakers that would, in addition, be a good
place for occasional holiday bakers who are in the process of slowly building their
technical expertise to find a recipe as well. I wanted to present a text that is read-
able, yet infused with my own passion for baking.
In a way, I have returned to my roots here. These are truly my best recipes
culled from my earliest to my most recent bread books: from good old-fashioned
white breads, the mainstay of the American diet, to time-saving food processor
doughs; information on sour starters; popular pizza and flatbreads, the easiest
breads to make; the best homemade croissants; and a guide for adapting recipes to
the bread machine for the connoisseur who doesn’t want to get flour on his
counter.

doughs; information on sour starters; popular pizza and flatbreads, the easiest
breads to make; the best homemade croissants; and a guide for adapting recipes to
the bread machine for the connoisseur who doesn’t want to get flour on his
counter.
Also in this book the baker will find extravagant celebration breads; lots of fla-
vorful, healthful daily loaves; savory main-dish breads; and breakfast rolls. There
are lots of American-style breads, baked in the familiar rectangular-loaf shape and
tending to be a bit sweeter and richer than their free-form, crusty European ances-
tors. There are many best-of-the-best quick breads, very much like cakes in that
they demand precise amounts of liquid, leavening, flour, fat, and flavorings. Yet
they offer something modern bakers value: ease of preparation in a short period of
time.
You’ll also find the imaginative use of whole grains, cereals, and flours in many
of these loaves, contributing to the new flavors, aromas, and textures modern bak-
ers crave. At the same time all the recipes reflect a natural way to provide your diet
with more dietary fiber, a key element in health. Baking your own bread is an easy
avenue toward a healthy, well-balanced diet.
My repertoire has always included as many classic yeasted breads solidly
based in traditional technique, no matter how exotic or humble the ingredients.
Each recipe in this book is designed to stimulate a renewed interest in the art of
baking. Do you think that making yeast bread is too time consuming or too diffi-
cult? Do such baker’s terms as proofing, fermenting, sponge, and second rise
seem like a foreign language? This book can answer your questions. Detailed in-
structions are given for mixing and kneading by hand, by heavy-duty electric mixer,
with a food processor, and with a bread machine.
There are no trick recipes or bewildering complicated techniques in this book.