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Confessions of a French Baker: Breadmaking Secrets, Tips, and Recipesby Gerard Auzet
Synopses & Reviews
1 cake with at least 12 servings
In Portland, Oregon, a city settled by German-Jewish tradesmen and shopkeepers in the 1840s, one woman is still remembered for her great kosher cooking. The late Runi Hyman used to provide kosher meals for transients and hungry Portlanders from the late 1920s until about 1970.
Because of her great heart she always opened her door to anyone who knocked and asked for a meal. One day someone sent a well-dressed young man to her. The man told her he had been traveling across the country and had left a wife and three sons in the east. Ms. Hyman looked him in the eye and said, What's a young man with so many family responsibilities doing bumming around the country instead of getting a steady job? That young man was the singer Jan Peerce.
During World War II she cooked for soldiers. A regular ritual followed each meal. Mrs. Hyman would take a snapshot of each young man. Then the picture would be developed and sent home to the soldier's family.
Although most of her recipes are gone, she shared her traditional honey cake, made for Rosh Hashanah to ensure a sweet New Year but also prepared by honey-cake afficianados for all good occasions.
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Grated rind of one lemon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 cup warm black coffee
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
2. Place the eggs, lemon juice, lemon rind, oil, honey, and coffee in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed until well blended. Gradually add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar, sugar, and cinnamon, mixing for about 5 minutes or until well blended. Fold in the slivered almonds.
3. Pour the batter into the tube pan. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
The Birth of a Loaf
Cavaillon, the melon capital of France (and of the world, according to the local melon fraternity), is a market town of some 23,000 inhabitants, about a thirty-minute drive from Avignon. By day, it’s a lively, crowded place. Cars prowl the streets in search of a parking spot, housewives sniff and prod the glistening piles of fruit and vegetables laid out on sidewalk stands shaded by striped awnings, café regulars study newspapers over their morning beers as dogs sidle between the tables hoping to find a fallen croissant. The sounds of laughter, vigorous argument, and les top hits of Radio Vaucluse burst out through open doors and windows.
That was how I knew Cavaillon, and how I always thought of it, until I was invited to take a look behind the scenes of the Auzet bakery by the patron himself. It was to be a working visit. I wanted to see bakers in action. I wanted to witness mounds of dough being transformed into loaves. I wanted to run my fingers through the flour, squeeze a warm boule or two, and generally soak up the atmospher
A behind-the-scenes look at the art of French breadmaking includes sixteen recipes from the award-winning Provencal baker, Gerard Auzet, and includes tips for adapting recipes to the American kitchen.
Attention bread lovers!
In the first of his famous books about Provence, Peter Mayle shared with us news of a bakery in the town of Cavaillon where the baking and appreciation of breads “had been elevated to the status of a minor religion.” Its name: Chez Auzet.
Now, several hundred visits later, Mayle has joined forces with Gerard Auzet, the proprietor of this most glorious of Provenal bakeries, to tell us about breadmaking at its finest.
Mayle takes us into the baking room to witness the birth of a loaf. We see the master at work–slapping, rolling, squeezing, folding, and twisting dough as he sculpts it into fougasses, bâtards, and boules.
Auzet then gives us precise, beautifully illustrated instructions for making sixteen kinds of bread, from the classic baguette to loaves made with such ingredients as bacon, apricots, hazelnuts, garlic, and green and black olives. There are tips galore, the tricks of the trade are revealed, and along the way Mayle relates the delightful history of four generations of Auzet bakers.
One of Provence’s oldest and most delicious pleasures is now available at a kitchen near you, thanks to this charming guide. Read, bake, and enjoy.
About the Author
Peter Mayle is the author of A Year in Provence, French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew, and seven other books set in Provence, where he lives.
Gerard Auzet runs his family’s bakery, Chez Auzet, in Cavaillon, Provence, where it has been operating since 1951.
Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, Toujours Provence, Encore Provence, and French Lessons, as well as five novels set in Provence, are available in Vintage paperback.
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