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"The Italian Baker" by Carol Field - the new edition


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The original The Italian Baker was a groundbreaking book with it's well researched recipes and techniques on rustic Italian breads and pastries. It was a huge influence on my style of baking and I'm excited to see there is an updated version. I'll be picking up a copy in the next couple of weeks but I was wondering if anyone has gotten their hands on the new version and can comment on how much it has evolved?

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I flipped very quickly through the new edition in a bookstore this weekend. While the original is not top of mind for me anymore, this seemed more like a reissue with a significant facelift rather than a revision to the material. Much nicer layout, paper, photos, etc. but I didn't see much new in the couple of sections I was familiar with. I don't know whether the recipes themselves have been tweaked.

Edited by rickster (log)
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Are the ingredients still volumetric? Or does she now use weights?

I don't have the new edition, but I was able to look inside on Amazon. Based on what I saw, there are now weight measurements, in both grams and ounces, as well as volume. This might be enough to push me over the edge to getting the new edition.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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The original book uses weights as well (unless I'm losing it!). That was one of the great things about it for the time.

What I'm curious about is if she addresses the issue of converting recipes that started out as naturally yeasted breads to commercial yeast.

Dan Leaders book Local Breads visited some of the same areas as Field and breads like the Pane Genzano are actually sourdoughs.

I hate to think that with all the attention to detail in her books that she has dumbed down some of these classic recipes and has not corrected them for the much more sophisticated bakers of today.

Leader's book has a poor record for actually putting a correct recipe on the page but I don't doubt his research.

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The original version had weights and cups for all ingredients except liquids which were given as cups and made it very confusing for someone from the UK.

I just downloaded a kindle version of the new edition and have only glanced through it. Weights and volume are used throughout.

The sad thing is she gives a Biga & a Biga Naturale both of which are yeasted. She repeats the old story of how complicated and time consuming making and maintaining a starter is. If someone is serious enough to fork out the money for a bread book like this they must be a serious enough baker to use a starter. Pane Genzano is still given as a yeasted recipe.

That said, I'm used to converting formulas to natural leaven and I'm sure I will get useful ideas from the book.

Mick

Mick Hartley

The PArtisan Baker

bethesdabakers

"I can give you more pep than that store bought yeast" - Evolution Mama (don't you make a monkey out of me)

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  • 4 months later...

I borrowed the new edition from the library and compared it, VERY carefully, to the original edition which I own and love.

The paper in the new edition is glossy, the type is at least 1 point smaller, and there are color photos....though many are of Italy, NOT baked goods or techniques. The original had pen & ink illustrations, mostly for technique explanations. Two recipes were added (Biga Naturale and Ciabatta Polesana), one soup was renamed from Ribollita to Minestrone Toscani, the order of recipes was changed in places and one recipe (Garibaldi cookies) was removed. Ingredients such as baker's ammonia and fresh yeast are omitted or marginalized.

The Glossary was removed, and the Sources area expanded and updated.

Volume measures and metric ones are in the original edition; the new one adds U.S. ounces/pounds as well.

Do I need the 'new' edition? Not in this case.

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  • 1 month later...

The original version had weights and cups for all ingredients except liquids which were given as cups and made it very confusing for someone from the UK.

I just downloaded a kindle version of the new edition and have only glanced through it. Weights and volume are used throughout.

The sad thing is she gives a Biga & a Biga Naturale both of which are yeasted. She repeats the old story of how complicated and time consuming making and maintaining a starter is. If someone is serious enough to fork out the money for a bread book like this they must be a serious enough baker to use a starter. Pane Genzano is still given as a yeasted recipe.

That said, I'm used to converting formulas to natural leaven and I'm sure I will get useful ideas from the book.

Mick

I am just substituting my normal sourdough starter instead of "biga". She uses 75-78 percent hydration in her biga, my starter is at 100 percent so I just mix up biga in necessary quantity and hydration a day beforehand. Takes some extra calculations, but nothing difficult.

But yes, it makes me sad that "biga naturale" is yeasted in this book. Making a stable starter culture should have been included in a book that focuses on traditional bread recipes, especially given how conservative Italians are.

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