Baking By Hand by Andy & Jackie King

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The subtitle of this book needs to be noted, for it offers a clue into why this book is special: Make the Best Artisan Breads and Pastries Better Without a Mixer. That's right, you can leave your fancy stand mixer in its appliance garage or stop fretting that you don't own one! Andy and Jackie King, owners of A&J King Artisan Bakers in Salem, MA, believe that home bakers have the delightful and unique opportunity to use their hands, which are the best tool a baker has, so all of the recipes here are developed without a mixer. As a fan of the unplugged kitchen, I really appreciate this approach.

Quick Facts

Who wrote it: Andy & Jackie King

Who published it: Page Street Press

Number of recipes: 100

Recipes for right now: Marinated Olive Sourdough; Brown Ale and Barley Bread; English Muffin Toasting Bread; Sweet Corn and Cherry Tomato Focaccia; Oatmeal-Cinnamon-Raisin Loaf; Our Banh Mi; Smoky, Sweet, Spicy Pickles; Cinnamon-Apple-Mascarpone Bread Pudding; Pear-Caramel Pie; Prosciutto, Tarragon Cream and Onion Tart

Other highlights: The first thing you should know about this book is that while it is written by professional bakers with recipes that originated in their bakery, it is decidedly for home bakers. When I read, only a few pages into the 240-page book, that all the recipes were developed for this book using the author's "piece-of-junk" home wall oven, I knew this was a book worth exploring.

The book opens with an extensive Setting up Shop section which will help you understand what you need and why you need it, from a somewhat eclectic and extensive list of recommended tools (digital scale and thermometer, heat lamp, fish tubs) to a discussion on the basic ingredients like flour, water, salt and yeast. The Your Hands section teaches technique and is followed by chapters on sourdoughs and levain; flatbreads, baguettes and other yeasted breads; sandwiches and fillings; croissants and danishes; bread puddings; and ending in puff pastries, pies and tarts.

There are a lot of beautiful color photos that illustrate the process and end result, a list of sources, and an index. The book has a heavy paper cover with a matte finish, and a really nice binding that lays flat.

Who would enjoy this book? I suspect A&J King Artisan Bakers has a big following and I bet they're already all over this book. But even if you're not familiar with the bakery that inspired these delicious recipes, there is a lot for the home cook here. The information is presented in an easy to follow, friendly way and there is definitely something for everyone!

Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Baking By Hand by Andy & Jackie King

Visit the author's website: Andy & Jackie King

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.

(Images: Dana Velden)

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Dana Velden has just finished writing her first book: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Meditations and Recipes from a Mindful Cook which is based on her Weekend Meditation posts from The Kitchn. (Rodale Press, Fall, 2015) She lives in Oakland, CA.