By Sara Medlicott,
Anyone who has been to International Culinary Center knows of the famous bread rack. For new staff and students it’s almost mystical: at 3pm each day freshly baked goods from the bread class are available to take. If you’ve visited the school, we may have sent you home with a baguette or another treat. Needless to say, Chef Johnson is revered as the magician behind the rack.
To create your own yeast magic you can sign up for the Art of International Bread Baking program or to give it a try on your own with Chef Johnson’s top recommendations of bread books.
Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman. This classic text on bread gives an excellent overview of not just recipes but techniques with clear and easy to follow diagrams. Over 100 recipes cover everything from Baguettes to Whey bread, and the appendixes contain detailed instructions for more complex processes. Hemelman even covers 10 methods for braiding Challah! This book provides a detailed overview of everything from the world of bread.
Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish. Ken Forkish originally worked in tech, but after 20 years he knew it was not his true calling, so he trained at multiple schools and opened Ken’s Artisan Bakery in 2001. Forkish provided excellent step by step illustrated guides for both bread and pizza. The process photos make it easy for beginners to follow along and understand technique. The pizza section includes not only dough but creative topping ideas such as golden beet and duck breast and sweet potato and pear.
Bread Science by Emily Buehler. If you are more interested in the science behind the loaf, check out the work of Emily Buehler. She applies her PhD in Chemistry to artisanal bread baking describing such crucial processes as fermentation, yeast, gluten and gas retention. As Chef Johnson says, “It doesn’t teach you how to make bread, it helps you understand how bread is made”.
The Taste of Bread by Raymond Calvel. This book also details the science behind the loaves including taste, crust and fermentation in all types of bread. Calvels dives into a great amount of detail and this book would be best for intermediate to advanced bakers or those with a strong understanding of scientific principles.
Wood Fired Oven Baking
From the Wood-Fired Oven by Richard Miscovish. This beautiful book covers everything you need to know about wood-fired baking, even the steps for how to simulate it if you don’t have access to a wood fired oven. The recipes and techniques included are not exclusively for bread, but it is also covered.
The Bread Builders by Daniel Wing. The Bread Builders is more specific to baking bread in a wood fired oven. This book includes not only the ingredients and procedures but also instructions for how to build your own wood fired oven and examples from various bakeries. If you are ready to go all in than this is the book for you!
Advanced Bread and Pastry: A Professional Approach by Michel Suas. This text is for when you have exhausted the others. For the advanced baker, Suas provides extensive details on bread and pastry. This book includes formulas for almost every type of bread you can imagine and encyclopedia details on everything bread and pastry.