My bookshelf is getting crowded these days as the publishing world has started taking an interest in me. It’s nice. Though as an aside I have to say I feel conflicted when I get a book that I don’t especially like, since I don’t like to waste precious keyboard time writing negative reviews. It’s a waste of energy for everyone. So I just let those titles sit there…and later feel guilty about it.
That’s not the case with How to Be a Breadhead if you were wondering. It could be that I was inspired to write a few lines about guilt since I’m a Catholic and this book was written by a monk. The subconscious does weird things. I loved this little book. It’s a classic clerical project: full of rough edges like absent photos (for which there are apologies), but also good humor and refreshing humility.
Some of you out there might already know Father Dominic Garramone, he had a baking show on PBS a few years back. He’s a cheerful fellow from my old neck of the plains (northern Illinois) who mixed funny stories with down-to-earth culinary instruction. What makes him special is that you never feel bad if you don’t succeed at one of his recipes. He’s just glad you made the effort. Something else that’s nice about his instruction aesthetic: he never shows you a picture of something you can’t realistically pull off at home on a Saturday afternoon. There are no high-gloss photos of fougasse taken by a pro with a Nikon in Provence. What you is by and large what you’ll get. What a relief!
All that said, this a really neat book, perfect for the home baker who wants to take on bread but has barely (or never) tried it before. It takes nothing for granted and is darn fun to read. It also includes some very nifty techniques that I intend to employ this season with my holiday baking. All in all a fantastic, unpretentious primer on bread and basic principles of yeast cookery. The kind of thing that quickly becomes a good friend in the kitchen. .