52 Loaves.

Position:Book review

William Alexander (author); 52 LOAVES; Algonquin Books (cooking) $23.95 ISBN: 9781565125834

[title=book]52 Loaves[/title] is not really about the pursuit of truth, meaning, and a perfect crust, as the subtitle claimsabut readers can indulge the author his bit of literary embellishment. This book, a breezy, captivating account of the authoras journey into the art, science, and mystique of bread baking, is actually about pursuing only one thing: a perfect crust.

The premise is simple and believable. William Alexander, who lives just north of New York City, while breakfasting at a aswanky New York restaurant,a encounters what he considers to be the perfect loaf of bread. Inspired, he devotes an entire year trying to reproduce that loaf in his home kitchen. One loaf a week yields fifty-two loaves.

Along the way, Alexander shares not only a detailed account of his experiences but also an entire library of information on the various facets of bread and bread-making. Readers learn the differences between stone-ground wheat and wheat ground by metal rollers, the intricacies of sourdough, and the values inherent in different types of wheat. In one of the more fascinating chapters, Alexander relates the story of how American bakers and millers and the research of a Jewish immigrant doctor saved the South from the ravages of pellagra.

During the course of his...

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