cover image Bread


Beth Hensperger. Chronicle Books, $29.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-87701-472-0

Here's a book about breadcomprehensive to a faultthat has risen and risen and gone everywhere. Certainly it's fit for the coffee table: the full-page color photographs are masterfully glossy. The whimsy of form sometimes reigns over fact, as when a delicate loaf is depicted alighting on a bed of creamy cheese spread without going soggy. And bread as the staff of life is neglected once the recipes get sweeter and more exotic and finally arrive at jams, butters, mustards, spreads and ``the art of melba.'' On the way, though, are very appealing true-blue breads, many original and calling only for ordinary ingredients. Sections on savory and sweet breads are exceptionally good. Directions are usually explicit, and no recipe in this elegantly designed book requires a baker to turn the page. A section on basics, however, is no more than adequate; a novice would have a hard time figuring out how to knead. Hensperger's spiritual enthusiasm for bread-baking can compromise her clarity. She would do well to consider the art of the paragraph, as well as that of the mixing bowl. (Oct.)