Friday, July 19, 2013

52 Loaves Book Review

52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust by William Alexander was one that I saw at the book sale years ago and thought it sounds like a really good book to read.  I tried to remember it and I totally forgot it.  It came up when I was looking for something else and I added it to my library reserve list.  I am super excited to get a chance to read this book.

In the beginning of this book, the author has decided to plant a wheat field so that he could make his own bread from scratch (really scratch).  This is the mission of the author and it goes through all of the experiences that the author goes through to make a loaf of present bread just like one that he had in a restaurant once years earlier.  I think that he takes a lot of his ideas to the extreme but different from the normal American, he also knows that he is going to write this book because he is a writer by profession.  He visited bakeries, went on a tour of where the flour is made, went to see the yeast being processed, and competed in the New York State Fair.  Each adventure was a great story and very interesting.  I think that it is something that many bakers would like to see and do but never get a chance or make it a priority.  Then, he decides that he wants to bake in France.  He signs up for a French bread cooking class at the Ritz and travels to Africa to cook bread in their special community ovens.  The last adventure is to be the bread maker in an ancient Abby and teach the monks how to make bread again.  Going through all of these experiments, he finally makes the perfect loaf of bread and enjoys the process!!
I thought that it was a fascinating book and I wish that I could do something near that neat.  I know that I don't wouldn't be able to keep working on the same goal every week for a whole year but it is nice to read about someone else trying.   I make bread but I use that with a disclaimer because I use the bread machine to make my once a week loaf of sandwich bread (something that William would not do).  I have made a few loaves of bread from scratch but I don't do it on a regular basis.  I do appreciate that it is a nice thing to do but I enjoy the ease of the bread machine.  You throw everything in and 3 hours later, a loaf of bread pops out.  It is like a crock pot...maybe not the highest standard of cuisine but super tasty and easy.  

There are recipes in the back of the book but they all call for levain (starter) which can be made but seems like something that I might not make the effort to do.  If you are interested, I am sure that the recipes will be great!!!  Whether or not you make bread (or are totally fearful of yeast), you should check out this book because the writing is entertaining and the stories very humorous!!!  Let me know if you check it out!

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