Title: Living Bread
Author: Daniel Leader
Publisher: Penguin Books
Recipes: Traditional and innovative artisan bread recipes
Level: Beginner to Professional
Living Bread is described as “…a beautiful cookbook worth reading…” (Seth Godin), “…a gold mine for lovers of real bread…” (Andre Soltner), and “…a visually stunning homage to land, grain, history, craft, tradition, and travel…” (Zachary Golper). We couldn’t agree more! Daniel Leader’s third book, Living Bread, is a passionate and personal guide to bread baking. Its pages are thick with wisdom, personal anecdotes, candid stories about his personal experiences, informative guides to baking technique, and recipe upon recipe for the finest of bread. Leader begins by recounting the story of when he first stumbled upon the bakery at age 22 that sparked his passion for the art of bread.
Leader opened his bakery Bread Alone in 1987, and since then it’s become one of the most beloved artisan bread companies in the country. Today, professional bakers and bread enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Bread Alone’s headquarters in the Catskills to learn Leader’s signature techniques and baking philosophy. Now you can learn from him too, through his new book, Living Bread.
The first, nearly 100 pages lay a foundational understanding of historical bread practices and wheat, tells Leader’s journey of bread baking, his understanding of artisanal flour, a short commentary on wheat sensitivity, the process of mixing and proofing dough among other essential baking practices, and so much more! We’ve read through many bread books over the years, and we must say, the organization of this book’s instructional section is exceptional. The layout is easy to follow, and the instructions are clear and straightforward. This book is both helpful for beginners and a great refresher for advanced bakers.
The recipe section of Living Bread is also refreshing. Rather than split into bread types, flavor, or use, the recipes are divided by the baking process. His recipes are divided into seven sections:
- Straight dough
- Yeasted preferments
- Simple sourdoughs
- Complex sourdoughs
- Sprouted breads
- Leftover starter
Several pages are devoted to forming a deeper understanding of how to cultivate and maintain sourdough starters. Leader offers often-overlooked advice, such as how bread influences cultures, and how to maintain a liquid vs. firm starter. If you’re fluent in the language of sourdough or only know the basics, Leader’s wisdom and experience is an excellent resource for all!
Each recipe includes a quick summary that describes the start-to-finish time and a short break down of the process. The recipe description offers Leader’s insight on the history, use, or ways he has seen that bread used through his travels.
Nestled between recipes are featured baker profiles, and origins of recipes. Leader includes a feature of the baker, their baking process, and a detailed description of the recipe, adding a personal analysis to the method of the recipe. The photography throughout the book is breathtaking. Capturing the heart and soul of the bakers behind the flour, water, salt and yeast. It captures the process, art, and beauty in an exquisite way.
Living Bread offers an exquisite inside look into bread bakeries around the U.S. and Europe. If you want to understand the ins-and-outs of artisan baking, we assure you, this book will open that door and give you a narrated view of the world of artisan baking. You’ll see that artisan baking is, indeed, an entire world, not simply recipes to follow. Daniel Leader’s Living Bread is a helpful resource for any bread baker, and we highly recommend it!