cover image Bread Head: Baking for the Road Less Traveled

Bread Head: Baking for the Road Less Traveled

Greg Wade, with Rachel Holtzman. Norton, $45 (336p) ISBN 978-0-393-86674-2

In this exceptional guide, Wade, head baker of Chicago’s Publican Quality Bread, calls on his knowledge and good humor to show home bakers how to “increase the tools in your toolbox one by one.” As much as it refers to both his own career path—no formal training—and his urgings to use sustainably grown grains, Wade’s “road less traveled” could also apply to his unorthodox yet appealing flavor pairings, as seen in an apple and peanut loaf, and a celery root–rosemary pizza. The book sets itself apart by introducing flours, techniques, and simple recipes (heritage cornbread, oat dinner rolls) and then building upon that know-how with flair and flavor. Recipe ingredients are helpfully expressed in tables of weight, volume, and baker’s percentages—a thorough vetting of the latter is provided at the back of the book. Defending why his bread dough are often enough for two loaves, he debunks any notion of wastefulness: “When you’re learning to make bread, it’s helpful to repeat the process a second time.” With skills of both fermentation and attentiveness well in hand, readers are then tempted with more challenging recipes that call for baking in stages, “laminating,” and various fillings: marzipan stollen, buckwheat canelés, and a sorghum shortbread fig tart among them. This is sure to banish any remnants of sourdough fatigue. (Sept.)