While I value this book as a reference, I find I most often turn to it for the short essays Jeffrey has scattered throughout its pages. I quoted from one of them last week, and I'll steal a few lines again today to whet your appetite, from an essay entitled "The Baker's Hands."
"It's true that the machines of today can with certainty guarantee a consistency of output, and breads can be produced of predictable food quality. On the other hand, the baker who relies on his hands will surely have mishaps, and at times his efforts might yield only a 75 percent level of quality. But at other times he will coax loaves of incredible beauty and taste, and score a 95 percent! He lives for this, and the memory of these surpassing loaves lingers. He strives for perfection, for the perfect loaf, secretly hoping never to attain it-- for where would he go from there?"
This passage, and the one along with the one from my last post, sum up much of what I love about making baking. The consciousness of effort. The immediate and tangible results. The reward of a good day's hard work. And greatest of all, being presented with a chance to do better every morning. What a wonderful thing to be reminded of each new day.
Update: I've got the majority of the plumbing work done here. The floor will be going back just in time for me to receive a whole slew of equipment goodies. By the end of next week I should have a complete bakery, less one oven. My latest update has my oven leaving Italy on October 5th. Ouch. I don't have the patience to wait until November to open, so I'm now scheming ways to do a limited opening using a rented oven or residential ovens. This new plan means I'll have to compromise a little and bake using loaf pans. Doing hearth loaves in a non-hearth oven is possible, but it's not practical at the scale I'm imagining. It's a bit of a downer, but it will allow me to dial in a bunch of things before the real deal oven arrives. Keep checking in these next few days for more updates.
Alright. Now lets talk about a couple of my favorite things. Bread and books.
Here's the first installment of what I hope will become a semi-regular review of books. I'm going to start off with two of my favorites: Flour Water Salt Yeast, and Tartine.
Ken has distilled the process used by the most successful artisan bakers into a format friendly to the home baker. He does it in a clear and concise manor, and includes plenty of illuminating photographs to help you stumble through your first few attempts. Additionally, Ken has put out a great series of youtube videos to help you along. All in all, this is a great first book for the aspiring baker, and an excellent reference for any baker. Don't forget to check if your local library carries a copy.