Thursday, September 6, 2007

REVIEW: The Breads of France, and How to Bake Them in Your Own Kitchen, by Bernard Clayton, Jr.

Firstly, "BookNook" is a new feature I'm going to roll out on an every-now-and-then basis; simply put, "BookNook" will feature reviews of out of print books, unusual finds and ephemera- the kind of things you pick up at a used book store or find the dusty corner of your collection. So, let me know what you think and enjoy!

Published: 1978 Click on the cover to buy an updated version. This article covers the 1978 edition.

Okay, this is kind of a random choice for a book review- a used-bookstore find, not exactly hot off the presses, and since when has a brioche been hip enough for a blog? I just fell in love with The Breads of France. It's so awesome! It has loads of interesting, doable recipes from all over France, divided by region, and so much variety. Brioches, bagels, quick breads, cookies, dinner rolls, croissants, Christmas stollen, and lots and lots of straight-up loaves of bread.

As far as features, there is a very helpful section at the front on the tools needed for successful bread baking and a resource list, although given that the contact information for the companies selling supplies is 20 years old it's probably not accurate any more, but hey, it's a place to start. The recipes include an estimated time with every step, so you can tell how long to mix, how long to wait, how long each step should take. Very helpful for planning. The directions are clear and well-written. The cultural information about the different areas of France and the background of the different breads was fascinating and fun to read.

I have to admit I haven't tried actually baking anything yet but it's such an interesting book just to read and look at, why sweat the baking? Seriously though, I intend to try one of the brioche recipes this week but I love to read cookbooks as much as I like to use them and this book is definitely a terrific find.

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