New Books on Bread

I haven't been baking much, but I have been reading. A friend recently went to Paris for a wedding, and I sent her with a short list of books to pick up. Among those related to baking was 100 % pain : La saga du pain enveloppée de 40 recettes croustillantes by Eric Kayser. I found it on because I wanted a French baking book, but looking through it, it is more amazing than I had hoped. I've just skimmed the beginning so far, but it has what looks to be a fairly thorough description of the history of bread and its cultural significance. I was just eager to get to the recipes.

All the breads seem to be based off the same levain liquide, which is just a half flour/half water sourdough starter. A lot of them call for additional yeast to be added, so they're just using this like a poolish to get flavorful breads you can bake in a day, as long as you have the levain liquide ready. It seems like baking from this book will be a very pleasant respite from multiple overnight refrigerations.

I'm most excited about the recipes, however. It contains 60 recipes, with some fairly standard breads like baguettes, brioche, and Viennese bread, but some very interesting ideas as well, like seaweed bread, pumpkin curry bread, and fig & fennel bread. Some of these ideas are very much up my alley. I think getting the hang of his levain liquide method will also be helpful in getting away from recipes for a basic bread.

The other bread related books I had my friend pick up are the French translation of a manga called Yakitate! Ja-pan. It's about a boy who wants to become a baker and create "Ja-pan", a bread that Japanese people will prefer to rice. It's hilarious and interesting and also useful for learning more about baking bread creatively. I wanted to read the manga in French because I know more baking terms in that language than in Japanese, but I've also got a few episodes of the anime a Japanese friend taped for me, so I'm picking up the vocabulary slowly. If only the translation company I work for would release this manga in the U.S. I'd love to translate it.

I've got some bread ready to go in the oven now, but I think it's lost unless I get some amazing oven spring. It is very dense, but it's hardly risen at all.