Fear and avoidance of bread is rampant these days, even among those without a gluten allergy. And that makes sense if you’re looking at a typical grocery store loaf, which is generally constructed from bleached white flour made from industrialized wheat—a formula that makes for bread that’s not that tasty or good for you.
But a small yet growing group of bakers is showing that bread can be wholesome and delicious, if—like with so many things—we go back to the way it used to be made. That means better, fresher flour, slower fermentation techniques and traditional recipes.
Two new books from locals exemplify this movement. Read on to learn why it’s time for bread to rejoin your table (and to get a great recipe).
Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread by Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky ($50): Baker Zachary Golper is driving the artisanal revival in North American baking from his Brooklyn kitchen. At first glance this tome may seem intimidating, but sit with it a bit, add a bowl, an oven, and patience and you’ll be well on your way to bread with soul—no PhD in breadology needed. Golper breaks down his cold, slow fermentation technique, which results in complex tangy flavors and a dark mahogany crust. Need more incentive to get baking now? Recipes for Late-Harvest Carrot Rolls and Whole Wheat Bread with Pumpkin Seeds are just begging to join a holiday feast.
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen ($35): Behind Hot Bread Kitchen’s chewy Indian naan and grindstone rye with wheat berries and oats, a powerful mission prevails. The East Harlem bakery employs and empowers immigrant women, providing them with the skills to succeed in the culinary industry with traditional recipes from their homelands. Hot Bread Kitchen’s CEO and founder, Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez, shared the recipe for versatile Whole Wheat Lavash Crackers with Sesame Seeds, a crisp variation on Armenian flatbread. Waldman Rodriguez notes in the recipe heading, “You can easily substitute other toppings for the sesame seeds, including poppy seeds, nigella seeds, or za’atar—or simply sprinkle them with kosher salt.”