My Favorite Cookbook

There’s something about bread. Some people yearn for a good steak, some lust for chocolate. For me, it’s bread – that magical combination of flour, water, salt, and yeast. A corner dive with that serves pizza with a great crust will have me as a friend for life, while a 5-Star Italian place will lose me forever if the bread basked is only mediocre.

Growing up, I lived in two small towns; both with large ethnic European populations. First and second generation ‘off the boat’. We had good bakeries. We had great bread. Even the grocery store bakeries managed to turn out a decent loaf.

As an adult I found myself settled down in a small city smack dab in the middle of the Great Bread Desert. Here, bread is an afterthought. Not a passion. So I learned to bake.

One Christmas, my wife gave me “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart. And it immediately earned a prominent spot among my favorite cookbooks – the go-to ones, the small assortment kept in the kitchen for easy access.

A perfect combination of textbook, recipe book, and coffee table book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice addresses the art and science of bread making accessibly, enjoyably, and thoroughly. The first third is all classroom. History, chemistry, biology, mechanics, methods, tools. Don’t skip these parts. You need them. You’ll enjoy them. Trust me.

From there on it’s all action. 180 pages of recipes. “Formulas.” Bagels, Ciabatta, Pizza dough, Cinnamon Rolls, Sourdough, Challah, Focaccia. OMG, the Focaccia.

The formulas are easy to understand and come with helpful tips and commentary. Ingredients are listed by both weight and measure. Each recipe comes with tips, commentary, and photos that will make you want to get busy baking.

Armed with The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, good ingredients, and a basic set of tools you will be turning out professional quality breads in no time at all. Impress yourself, impress your friends, eat well, enjoy the journey. The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is a Good Read.

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