Published by Viking
Publication date: September 4th 2014
Carbs have fallen in and out of favor throughout the years but never with me. Bread is one of my favorite food groups and always will be! Samuel Fromartz feels the same way and documents his love in In Search of the Perfect Loaf: A Home Baker’s Odyssey. His story begins when he travels to Paris to work for a boulangerie known for their baguettes—a type of bread Fromartz has been unsuccessful trying to bake at home. It ends with his being invited by Alice Waters to bake the bread being served at a charity dinner at Bob Woodward’s house. In between he travels much of the country speaking with some of the finest bread bakers and working in their kitchens.
Fromartz starts with the macros of bread—namely the different kinds—and then moves down to the micros: the ingredients, all the way down to the types of grains that are used now and those used long ago. In particular, I am fascinated by his discussion of the extraordinary increase in the population that is now gluten-intolerant or has the more severe celiac disease. In earlier times, bread was the staple of many countries and the food most often eaten. How is it then, given that we eat so much less bread/gluten now that this problem is one of the modern age? According to Fromartz it is not the gluten itself, it is the kind of gluten we eat. As strains of wheat have been changed and modified throughout the decades to become more productive and disease-resistant there is evidence to suggest it has also become toxic for people pre-disposed to immune-system reactions.
By the end of In Search of the Perfect Loaf Fromartz has taken the reader from the initial quest to make a good baguette and expanded it to cover baking breads of all types and understanding the process. He goes all the way back to the grain itself and its migration from Europe to America and how we’ve gone from a diverse variety of seeds to a monoculture of one type of grain. This information is not just theoretical—he includes recipes and information to help both beginning and experienced bakers. In other hands this could be overwhelming but Fromartz knows his ingredients and how to handle them and the result is delicious and healthy reading that encourages home bread baking.
Who might like this book for Christmas: In Search of the Perfect Loaf makes a wonderful gift for anyone who appreciates a scientific approach to food (like Alton Brown fans!) and loves to bake bread.
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