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Beard on Bread
(article, Caroline Cummins)
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, bread was big. Young city slickers were heading back to the land and shunning the processed foods of their post-war childhood. Out with the Wonder Bread, in with the . . . well, something that didn’t come sliced in a bag, at least. Judith Jones, the Knopf editor who had shepherded Julia Child to cookbook-writing fame, approached James Beard, Mr. All-American Cooking, and asked him to write a book on bread.
Beard, who had literally learned bread baking at his mother’s elbow, was happy to oblige, and the result (published in 1973) was a yeasty classic, offering straightforward recipes for everything from “Basic White Bread” (your very own Wonder Bread, as it were) to challah and crumpets.
Easy (most recipes are under a page long) and earthy (Karl Stuecklen’s brown-ink drawings are sublimely innocent), the book is still a great bread-baking introduction, its small stature just right for propping behind the bread board. Slenderness aside, Beard on Bread remains a microcosm of Beard himself: doughy, resilient, and forgiving.
p(bio). Caroline Cummins is the managing editor of Culinate.