Friday, March 18, 2011

Breadcraft Cookbooks

"This has been a happy occupation looking through one hundred year old cook books and learning how grandmother and great grandmother baked bread; seeking out breads wherever we traveled and returning home to try our hand at recreating the best tasting, the most imaginative; exchanging bread recipes with new friends and old; crossing cultures and sharing bread traditions with people from backgrounds different from our own; and experimenting with many kinds of bread stuffs and devising new recipes." -Charles and Violet Schafer, From the Foreword in Breadcraft

I recently finished reading Joyce Carol Oates' novel, Missing Mom. She dedicated the novel, 'In memory of Carolina Oates (1916-2003).' It is the story of a not-so-young woman, who's mother is murdered, and how she adjusts and copes during that first painful year of living without her mother. She takes up bread baking, using her mother's recipes and sharing the breads she bakes, as her mother had always done. This little cookbook, Breadcraft is the book referenced for the bread baking in the novel. Of course, I don't really need another bread book, but how could I resist? I bought it on-line after finishing the novel, and it is terribly charming, in a very 1974 sort of way.

I always love reading Joyce Carol Oates' writing. As shocking and disturbing as her writing often is, I admire the deftness and boldness with which she writes, without being gratuitous, about brutality and sexuality -this novel is much milder in that respect than many of her other books.

"last time

Last time you see someone you don't know it will be the last time. All all that you know, if only you'd known then. But you didn't know, and now it's too late. And you tell yourself How could I have known, I could not have known.
You tell yourself.

This is my story of missing my mother. One day, in a way unique to you, it will be your story, too. " -Joyce Carol Oates, Missing Mom (2005)

When I began making bread, I turned out some rather dismal bricks. After many years of practicing the craft of bread baking I've finally learned how to produce a decent loaf of bread. Besides all the bread recipes and instructions for baking bread included in all sorts of cookbooks, these are my bread baking cookbooks, bottom to top, I use. I've learned a bit from each of them along the way, and/or I simply read them for bread baking inspiration.

King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking (2006)
Bread for All Seasons by Beth Hensperger (1995)
The Garden Way Bread Book by Ellen Foscue (1979)
Bread, Time Life Books-The Good Cook Series (1981)
Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook (2003)
Country Baking by Ken Haedrick (1990)
The Complete Book of Breads by Bernard Clayton, Jr. (1973)
English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David (1977)
The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book by Laurel Robertson (1984)
Homemade Bread by the Food Editors of Farm Journal (1969)
The Home-Baking Cookbook by Natalie G. Sylvester (1973) -This is actually my daughter's book and it is absolutely charming -it is all written by hand with kitchen drawings by the author.
Beard on Bread by James Beard (1979)

Not pictured are the following publications:
Fleischmann's Yeast Best Ever Breads (This is really good!) (1993)
Miriam B. Loo's Fresh-From-The-Oven Breads, Published by Current, Inc. (My copy is falling apart I've used it so much!) (1982)
Fisher's Blend Baking Book (This was my grandmother's book) (1941)

When taking the above photo, I missed this book, hiding under the couch where I'd slid it after spending an entire evening reading it. This book is a jewel and a delight to read, as well as being an excellent and enlightening cookbook. The authors describe their fascinating trips and adventures all around the world, eating and exploring the flatbreads of many different cultures, and the people they encounter on their journeys -I love this book!

Flatbreads and Flavor, A Baker's Atlas by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid


  1. You read my mind ~ I was going to ask you if you had a recommendation for a 1st bread book for someone (me) that wants to learn how to bake homemade. I know you must have an opinion after seeing all these books ~ I would love to hear!

    I saw the honey man I told you about last month ~ I've got a little something for you and especially for your husband! Some honey for your honey ;)

    I'll give it to you next time I see you

  2. Thank you for your kind comment on my blanket. I'm planning another granny square blanket right now but with very muted colours.

    If you like brightand clourful crochet you should check out Attic24's blog. Loads of fabulous colour there.

    I'm a keen breadmaker too. I don't have as many breadbaking books as you but I do have the Elizabeth David one.

  3. Melissa -It's so sweet of you getting honey for us! Thanks! I would recommend the Fleishmann's Best Ever Breads if you are a white bread kinda girl, or if you are more of a whole grain girl, then I'd suggest getting Laurel's Bread Book -and I'd be happy to loan you any of my books if you want to check them out first before buying one.

    Sue -With quilting I also alternate bright and muted and pastel projects -it keeps it all fresh and exciting. I'll check out Attic24's blog. I love reading Elizabeth David, but don't bake from it much because of the weight measurements, and I just love your blog!