In the olden days, if you didn't know how to make bread, you went hungry. It was an essential element of life, like drawing water from a well. Although progress has advanced technologies in many wonderful ways, it has all but eliminated the need for many of the ancient household arts, including scratch baking.
Cooking in general has suffered in the age of fast food and TV dinners. Skills that were once passed on from mother to daughter must now be self-taught. But no cooking discipline has suffered quite like baking. The air of precision and aura of chemistry surrounding it has scared away even the most able professional chefs.
But there is a secret about baking: It's not that precise, and it's not that hard. In fact, it is no harder than making a sandwich, as long as you understand the process. But it is the process that scares people away. Consequently, bread bakers have become a rare breed. We feel, and are treated, like the medieval keepers of a sacred knowledge. But, as you are about to discover, the sacred knowledge is not complicated. In fact, bread-making techniques, so long shrouded in mystery and complexity, are actually supereasy. After reading this book, you should feel empowered to get back into your kitchen, break out the measuring cups, and create something delicious.
Creative and inquisitive people are rediscovering the joy of bread making at home. With motivating factors like this book, the Food Network, bread machines, and cooking classes, Americans are remembering their culinary roots. Kids are getting in on the act, too. Even though most schools have done away with the Home Economics class, instruction is frequently offered to them in community centers, youth groups, and afterschool programs. All hope is not lost!
This book has two distinct functions. First, it explains the process of making bread. Unless you already have some experience with bread making, do not skip that section. Learning about the basics first will clear up all your questions, and put you at ease with the entire process. Second, and perhaps more important, there are hundreds of recipes to try. Each one is different, but they are also the same. It is the similarities that bring appreciation. As soon as the baker identifies the common threads of each recipe, it is only a matter of time before his or her own ideas start springing forth.
So, welcome, fellow bakers, to the bread club. You'll definitely find your membership agreeable, if not downright inspiring.