On the Shelf: The Bread Basket

These five books dive deep into the art—and science—of breads from around the world.

1. The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook

by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and the bakers of Hot Bread Kitchen

In New York City. The bakers of The Hot Bread Kitchen line the shelves with braided challah, baguettes, Mexican conchas, and chewy Indian naan. The variety of breads offered is as diverse as the ladies who bake the loaves. Part of that might be attributed to the rich multinational community found in the city. But truthfully, all of the recipes come from the bakers’ homelands. Hot Bread Kitchen, part bakery, part training facility, works with immigrant women to teach them the essential skills to make it in the highly competitive culinary field. The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World shares the stories of these dynamic women and goes deep into the essential methods to create this global smorgasbord at home.

 

2. The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

by Jess Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François

Best-selling authors Jess Hertzberg and Zoë François went back into the kitchen to revamp and update their now-classic Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Packed with tips and techniques and one hundred how-to photos The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day demonstrates how home cooks can achieve bakery-worthy creations with just five minutes of active preparation time. New to this edition is a whole section dedicated to gluten-free baking, from sandwich loaves to pizza to sweet brioche.

 

3. A Passion for Bread

by Lionel Vatinet

Master Baker Lionel Vatinet is a dough genius. Plain and simple. At his unassuming bakery in Cary, North Carolina, this French native produces swoon-worthy boules, baguettes, and beyond. In his book, A Passion for Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker, he uses step-by-step photos to guide readers through shaping, folding, scoring, and filling loaves, from classic sourdough to baguettes stuffed with sausage and mozzarella. Particularly helpful for novice bread bakers, he lays out the seven key steps to great bread, such as basics on proper measuring and easy-to-follow explanations of fermentation.

 

4. Making Dough

by Russell Van Kraayenburg

Dough lies at the heart of baking. And the trick to good dough is all about getting ingredients in the right proportions. Baking is a science, after all—it boils down to the relationship between flour, butter, water, sugar, and eggs. In Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries, Russell van Kraayenburg, founder of the award-winning blog Chasing Delicious, lays out the secrets to mastering twelve essential pastry doughs, including biscuits, scones, brioche, and croissants. We love the handy chart that translates what you can make once you’ve mastered the basic doughs. For example, once you’ve gotten the knack of shortcrust, you can broaden your repertoire to tarts, tartlets, pop tarts, and even cookies.

 

5. Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread

by Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky

Deep in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill neighborhood, Zachary Golper lives in a flurry of flour at his beloved Bien Cuit bakery. His signature style relies on long, cold fermentation, a process that helps the bread to develop deep, complex flavors and a thick crust the color of mahogany. For his first cookbook, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, he teams up with noted food critic and author Peter Kaminsky to share many of his sought-after recipes. In addition to delivering recipes for classic Pullman loaves, Bourbon Bread, Port-Fig Rolls, and sweet and savory quick breads, this gorgeous tome, packed with photos, covers essentials on grains and flours (and how different varieties affect a recipe), necessary equipment, and the underlying alchemy of bread.

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