Book review: The Bread Book by Éric Kayser

23 February 2023 by
Book review: The Bread Book by Éric Kayser

The Bread Book by Éric Kayser outlines 60 home-baking recipes, at least 24 types of flour, ranging from white bread to kamut, and 13 varieties of seeds across 224 pages

In short, the numbers tell all. There is no denying the breadth of Kayser's new book, showcasing his baking expertise and attention to detail. This latest collection is technically a sequel to his 80-recipe Larousse Book of Bread, published in 2015.

The French baker opened his first bakery, Maison Kayser, in Paris in 1996 and now has more than 200 sites around the world. As he guides the reader through lightly dusted baguettes, gently scored Vienna bread with chocolate chips and Japanese milk bread studded with pistachios and cherries, his international reach is made clear.

By beginning The Bread Book with instructions on how to make natural leaveners, such as liquid levain (which Kayser laments is often replaced with yeast), he emphasises the importance of developing traditional skills in a modern baking world.

And while he returns to the foundations of bread-making techniques, dedicating more than 30 pages to how to fold, shape and score dough, he also includes casual dining staples such as tortilla, pizza and bao. There are tips for gluten-free alternatives as well as an array of healthy options, such as the protein-powered lentil and chickpea bread and spelt and seed bread.

The five chapters on classic breads, breads with heritage grains, breads of the world, stuffed loaves and brioches, feature clear indications on preparation, resting and baking time and some – such as the deceptively simple heritage wheat bread – include step-by-step photography of the process.

Kayser reminds us that however complex a bread might be, whether it's a tangy ciabatta with sun-dried tomatoes and basil or a sweetened ekmek with raisins and pecans, the "goodness, flavour and integrity" – a defining attribute of a Maison Kayser loaf – will depend on the careful weaving of five key ingredients: flour, water, salt, yeast and levain.

The Bread Book by Éric Kayser (Phaidon, £29.95)

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