The angle: Bread? You want to make it? Hey, no problem! You bring the desire, Josey Baker brings the know-how.
Recipes for right now: Your First Loaf of Bread, Your First Sourdough Loaf, Sesame Poppy Loaf, Kamut Loaf, Dark Mountain Rye, Dark Chocolate Cherry Bread, B(L)T Pocket Bread, Chocolate Chip Cookies
Who would enjoy this book? Totally new bakers starting from square one, veteran home bakers who want a glimpse behind the Josey Baker curtain
• Who wrote it: Josey Baker
• Who published it: Chronicle Books
• Other highlights: Josey Baker is a bit famous in my corner of the world (that corner being San Francisco). He's the brains and the baker behind Josey Baker Bread and is the current darling of the San Fransicso food scene — he's also a little infamous for popularizing the $4 toast phenomenon.
It's a little impossible to talk about Josey Baker or this book without some acknowledgement of that other famous San Francisco bakery: Tartine Bread. Their breads and even their bakeries might look similar, but their styles are very different. Both of Tartine's books, Tartine Bread and Tartine No. 3, feel beautiful, reverent, and aspirational; Josey's book feels immensely practical.
Josey Baker Bread is structured around lessons, starting with the most basic loaf made with bread flour and yeast, and then building all the way up to sourdoughs, ryes, and other breads made from whole grains. If you're new to baking, this lets you wade in slowly and get used to the water, guiding you and encouraging you every step of the way. And of course, if you already feel pretty confident in your basic baking skills, you can jump right to the later chapters and pick apart Josey's approach to starters, soakers, seed breads, and all that good stuff.
There's a feeling of whimsy and joy in this book that makes baking bread feel like something fun to do on a Saturday rather than something to be done perfectly. (And I say this with zero disrespect to Tartine; as I said, their styles are just very different and I suspect different individuals will have a stronger response to one or the other.)
One thing that I did find a little strange, and sometimes frustrating, about this book is in its layout. There are a lot of little asides, called "A Very Good Question!," which take a time-out from the recipe to explain why you should do things (or not) a certain way. I think these are great points and very helpful, but as I read through the recipe, I feel constantly distracted and torn away from the recipe itself. I found it hard to stay focused. I also wonder about trying to follow the recipe after you've made it a few times — I feel like those asides will be even more distracting once you've already read and absorbed the knowledge and just want to follow the base recipe.
I'm planning to bake a few loaves from this book in the coming months and will definitely report back if I do! I'm curious to see how my initial observations of the book play out in the realities of the kitchen.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Josey Baker Bread by Josey Baker
• Visit the author's website: Josey Baker
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.
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)