While I was researching the list of stunt non-fiction, I came across William Alexander’s 52 loaves: one man’s relentless pursuit of truth, meaning, and the perfect crust. This book chronicles the author’s search for the perfect recipe and technique for a simple rustic country loaf. His search will lead him to an apprenticeship in a hotel bakery, voluntary work at a secluded monastery, and growing his own winter wheat in his backyard. Through his year-long adventure, readers can expect to laugh and weep along to his bread-making adventures. The author is funny in recounting his experience, one memorable incident involves his careful guarding of a sourdough starter and convincing TSA agents to allow it on the flight.
As a beginner baker myself, I could relate to many of his struggles, such as trying to grow my own sourdough starter (and stinking up the refridgerator by breeding bacteria instead of yeast), trying to maintain a poolish, and spritzing the oven for crunchy crust (and steaming my hand in the process). This book has inspired me to relearn the basics of bread-making. Peppered with useful scientific principles and anecdotal advice from experienced bakers, 52 Loaves is recommended for bakers both beginner and experienced.
If you want to read more books on baking and bread-making, check out the following:
1. Confections of a closet master baker, Gesine Bullock-Prado
2. The Bread Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum
3. Peter Reinhart’s artisan breads every day, Peter Reinhart
4. The bread baker’s apprentice, Peter Reinhart
The book cover featured is the copyright of its publishing company.
Contributed by Lo Wan Ni, Associate Librarian, Public Libraries Singapore