I received some new books about bread for Christmas. One of them was
Bien Cuit by Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky. I had wondered about this book for a while. What is Bien Cuit? It means baked to the point of almost burnt. To me that is the point of perfection in a loaf of bread. My students always think I’m burning the bread. I’m not. I just evaporate the most moisture that I can leaving the crust crunchy and the interior chewy but not sticky. This book is very good in the sense that it is true to itself. The authors don’t pander to whimsical trends in baking. They get right into it. There’s many flavored loaves with ingredients like lard, salami and apricot. The bakers employ
different flours as well. I have made breads now with buckwheat, spelt and quinoa. There are even breads with nut flours like almond and hazelnut.
Another thing I really enjoy about this book is that it doesn’t try to speed up the process of making bread. Bread takes time. That is a fact. If you speed it up, you lose flavor and texture. All of the breads take at least two days to prepare, some are three and four. Bread takes preparation. If you want bread today, you should have started yesterday or the day before. I like that they don’t give in to today’s trend of making everything in 30 minutes.
On a practical note there are several features of the book that make it great to bake with. There is no spine to the book. When you open it up to bake with, it lays flat on your workspace. The pages are black and text is easy to read. The pictures by Thomas Schauer are large and very descriptive of what your bread will look like.
I can highly recommend this book as a great addition to your bread book shelf. It may not be perfect for the beginning baker but to the intermediate or advanced baker, it is delicious. I will recommend bread baking books for the beginner in later posts.