How do I get started baking bread?

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The short answer to the question of how to get started baking bread is Josey Baker. His name is Baker, after all. While I’ve reviewed his book before, it’s worth repeating since I get asked for good bread recipes all the time.

Why do I like Josey Baker’s book? Baker is a former science educator. He’s good at explaining things in a clear, step-by-step manner. Many of the other bread books floating around right now are, in my opinion, overly lengthy and, often, confusing. Best of all, Baker emphasizes whole grain, sourdough fermented breads.

Baker has summarized all the popular methods out there right now in one place. Want to make a New York Times no-knead/Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day type loaf? No problem, that’s the first loaf in Baker’s book. Want to make a Tartine style loaf without reading a hundred pages of directions? No problem, that’s also in the book. Wan’t to graduate on to a style of whole wheat/sourdough breads pioneered by people like Baker and Miller? He’s got you covered. If that’s not enough, Baker also shares the excellent Cooks Illustrated Chocolate Chip cookie recipe as well as a recipe for moist scones (no, scones don’t have to be as dry as dog biscuits!).

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Baker and hosting him for a bread class here in LA. He’s a supremely nice guy, more than happy to share his expertise and spend hours answering hydration ratio questions. I don’t think there was a moment when he wasn’t smiling. His mentor is someone I consider to be the finest baker in the US right now, Dave Miller (who was profiled in Michael Pollan’s Cooked).

If you’re visiting San Francisco make sure to visit his bakery which is located within a cafe called The Mill.

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3 Comments

  1. In March this year had the privilege of visiting San Francisco with friends- we did all the touristy stuff (including the huge cliche of causing a car accident by rolling down Lombard street..)

    The Mill was on my SF bucket list thanks to your blog. It was a superb experience: the cappuccino, the music, the country bread… One of the bakers was even so nice to give me a piece of sourdough starter! Unfortunately it will never taste the same – we don’t have the same flour or ‘bakery’ air all the way in the Netherlands, but I’d still like to believe some of that Josey Baker-ness is still in there 🙂

    Oh and unfortunately Josey himself was not there that day, so i didn’t get to meet him in person.

  2. I tried to bake sourdough bread for years and never managed anything good, (except for pancakes) until I got my hands on a copy of Josey Baker Bread. Now I only bake sourdough and there is no going back! I want to force it into the hands of every bread newbie I come across with the wild fervor of a religious convert… but I usually just make a casual suggestion, instead.

  3. My burning question is: when will you be publishing your Ebook on no-knead whole wheat bread? I have been waiting!!

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