|Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread / Hardcover|
by Zachary Golper (Author), Thomas Schauer (Photographer), Peter Kaminsky (Contributor)
"The 21 Best Cookbooks of 2015" –Epicurious
"Our 15 Favorite Cookbooks of 2015" –bon appetit
"One of the best cookbooks of 2015" –New York Times Book Review
“The Best Cookbooks of 2015” –Vogue
"The Best Cookbooks of 2015" –Eater
EATER, Fall 2015's Best Cookbooks
For anyone who has never set foot inside Brooklyn’s Bien Cuit bakery, its new book is a lovely two-dimensional recreation of the experience. Photographer Thomas Schauer managed somehow to capture the warm, fragrant interior, the way the sunlight catches the small particles of flour that float through the air, and the endless trays and baskets of loaves. But beyond its visual beauty, baker Zachary Golper (who runs Bien Cuit with his wife and business partner, Kate Wheatcroft) and writer Peter Kaminsky have delivered a luscious guide to the craftsmanship of European bread baking. Golper takes a scholarly approach, and it’s clear by page 10 that this is the most serious book written about bread this year. The first recipe will take a baker about three days to complete, inexperienced or professional, but for anyone serious about their craft, this book is a faithful manual.
The breads at Bien Cuit are known for their mahogany-hued crust, but hidden behind their dark exterior is a mystery of biology and chemistry.
The breads at Bien Cuit are known for their mahogany-hued crust, but hidden behind their dark exterior is a mystery of biology and chemistry: Golper’s dough starter secrets — as well as his instructions for a long, slow fermentation in which the flavors of grain and yeast transform into more than the sum of their parts — can be found within the pages of his book. Like many bakers before him, some of Golper’s recipes involve the use of a dutch oven, as a kind of introduction to the intense heat and blinding steam needed for great bread, but the dedicated baker will graduate to a baking stone and peel. No fewer than 33 pages are devoted to technique.
Bien cuit is a phrase the French use to describe well-baked, deeply crusty, darkly hued loaves of bread. The color of a loaf of bread that is bien cuit looks burnt to most Americans, but Golper explains how achieving that burnished crust is key to taking a bread’s flavors as far as they can go. The layers of caramelization and the density of the resulting breads’ crumb are a marker, a baker’s badge, a sign of a well-baked loaf. After mastering the technique for a basic bien cuit loaf, Golper shares variations that include caramelized onions, apricots, black pepper, olives, carrots, port, and a dozen different grains, including corn. There is a section on Jewish loaves including rye, bagels, and bialys, and a final section for quick breads like biscuits and scones. Those looking for Bien Cuit’s many-layered croissants or shortbread cookies will have to wait; this is a book exclusively about bread. —Daniela Galarza