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Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread

Bien Cuit

By Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky

Published 2015

  • About
The heart of my craft is a loaf of bread. And by “loaf,” I generally mean something that ferments for a good long time and weighs from 1 to 3 pounds (0.45 to 1.4 kg); though there are some breads better suited to a slightly smaller loaf. In most cases, only doughs of that size will give you the dose of pure flavor and texture that satisfies. While it’s true that rolls, which are smaller, are fun to pass around the dinner table, a standard loaf provides the ideal environment for yeast and fermentation to reach their full potential. Although bread doughs usually consist of very few ingredients, the variations are nearly endless. Do you use refined flour or whole grains? Do you add kernels to the dough? Do you ferment in stages? Do you mix salt in at the beginning or the end of the process? How long do you ferment? Sometimes I think of bread making the way others have explained the art of pitching in baseball. For most pitchers, there are just four pitches to choose from. Just as with bread, there aren’t a lot of elements, but there are many variations. Where do you place your pitches, in what order you throw them, and at what speed? There are hundreds of choices for the artful pitcher. So, too, for the artful baker. I have worked for years, and in some cases decades, to perfect most of the recipes in this section. To keep things interesting, I’ve thrown in a few new ones that excite me. No doubt you will come up with your own personal refinements. More power to you! But for now, try these. That should keep you busy for a while.