For millennia, bread baking has been more craft than science. Even the current trend in artisan bread rejects much of what modern science has wrought: the advances of manufactured yeast, dough conditioners, added preservatives and the overall industrialization of wheat and bread production.
“The bread zeitgeist is about being ancient, primitive, natural, and pretty much anything but modern,” writes Nathan Myhrvold in his recent 2,642-page … » More …
More than four decades ago, The Tassajara Bread Book opened up with the following epigram:
“We need more cooks, not more cookbooks.”
Now we have a lot more of both, plus video. Here are few of the latest gems of the genre:
My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method, Jim Lahey (W.W. Norton & Company) A bread one doesn’t knead calls to mind a cake mix with a slew of mystery ingredients and food science. But Lahey’s bread has only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast, and the yeast is a … » More …
A while back, George DePasquale visited the ancient Italian city of Pompeii, not far from his ancestral home of Sorrento. Looking at a 2,000-year-old oven, DePasquale could easily imagine how its baker prepared and baked bread much as he does today at Seattle’s Essential Baking Company. He could feel he was part of a long, human continuum, “a river of history,” with “bazillions of people behind me, bazillions of people to come.”
But even the oldest rivers change, forming new channels, and sometimes doubling back on themselves.