Clayton, Bernard. Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Breads.New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.
I wish I baked more. When I was a teenager my mother taught me how to make a white bread with a cup of mashed potatoes that was amazing. It was the most perfect carb I could create. Grilled cheese sandwiches were heaven with this bread. I always pictured my adult wholesome self, kneading and sifting on a Sunday morning, flour dust rising in clouds around me. I don’t know what happened to that “from scratch girl” but, Clayton’s book makes me want to jump in the car, rush to the baking aisle and buy dry yeast. In bulk. This 748 mammoth of a cookbook is cover to cover baking knowledge. There are no glossy photos to fill space. Even the illustrations are small and unobtrusive. It’s all about the bread. And Bread there is. From rye bread to crackers and everything in between. My favorite chapters were, “baking for dogs” (p 715), “little breads” (p 517), and “vegetable breads” (p 409). But, I can’t forget my other favorites like potato, croissant and cheese. Of course Clayton goes over equipment, technique, ingredients, and what went wrong should something go wrong, but he also includes storing, freezing, and there’s even a chapter on homemade ovens.
I would even go so far as to say this book demonstrates culture. In addition to all the different recipes Clayton gives a little history on the more unique ones, “…In Portugal, the bread is served warm or cold with a famous dish of peas and eggs, and a potato- sausage soup” (p 183). Now I want to go out and find that recipe for the soup!
BookLust Twist: One of the reasons why I love reading Book Lust and More Book Lust is quotes like this, “For me the best part of baking bread is theupper-arm exercise involved with kneading, and the times that you can curl up on the couch with a good book while the dough is rising.” Pearl goes on to say, “I’ve used Bernard Clayton’s bread books since the first one was published in 1973, and have never found a bad recipe” (More Book Lust p72).