A Year in Provence

Confessions of a French Baker: Breadmaking Secrets, Tips and Recipes

Peter Mayle, Author, Gerard Auzet, Author . Knopf $16.95 (91p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4474-0

This petit but useful compendium contains centuries-old Provençal lessons in bread making as relayed to Francophile foodie and memoirist Mayle (A Year in Provence , etc.) by Auzet, an award-winning baker from Cavaillon, Provence. The collaboration between author and baker yields a mix of regional history, first-person essay and a portrait of a family boulangerie through the generations. The modest Auzet boils down his expertise to a few secrets: among them are that the exact combined temperature of the water, flour and kitchen air should be 56°C, and that a good kitchen scale is imperative. Traditional recipes for baguettes, batards and boules are simple, though, as with any bread made by hand, quite time consuming. To keep second-guessing to a minimum, Auzet offers helpful tips for testing both the dough's gluten and the bread's doneness. He also explains how these basic formulas can be amped up with a number of French flavors: olives, thyme, saffron, apricots, nuts and garlic. Additional chapters concern making breads with wine, olive oil and sweet yeast. For true authenticity, a suggested list of wine pairing is included at the end. Throughout, Auzet's suggestions are spot-on, making his "confessions" an invaluable contribution to aspiring boulangers and bread-lovers. (Nov. 2)

Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
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