Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tassajara Whole Milk Bread

Let me preface this by saying that before I read blogs, I'd never heard of The Tassajara Bread Book. I still don't know how to say it because I've only read about it.* Amanda has mentioned it lots of times on her blog SouleMama, and I take her recommendations pretty seriously. She lives the life I dream of living.

I tried searching the public library catalog for this book, but they don't have it (for shame!). So it has been on my mental list for ages, the list I use when I go treasure-hunting at used book shops. Since I don't usually buy new books, I figured the only way I was going to get The Tassajara Bread Book was if I got lucky. Last Thursday, luck was on my side.

Whole milk loaves

The spine caught my eye at the book sale. It was jumbled in a pile of other books, and I was so excited when I pulled it out and discovered that it's the bread book I've been looking for. I snatched it up and kept it hugged close for the rest of my book sale browsing. I certainly didn't want anyone to try to take it!

The copy that I now call mine is from 1970 and has a handwritten New York City address (but no name) on the inside cover. I love imagining the stories of previous book owners. I wonder how many loaves of bread have been made with this very book at hand. From the looks of the rustled up pages, I'm guess a whole heck of a lot.

Kneaded dough with honey and violets

Friday I set about making bread. The yeasted bread made with milk looked good to me, so that's what I chose. It made a smooth, supple dough that was a joy to mix up and knead. Kneading is my favorite part of bread-making; it makes me feel like a kid playing in the mud again. Those 10 or so minutes spent pushing and folding the dough around the bread board stretch out and seem like a long time. The rhythm takes over so that while my hands are occupied, my mind has time to think. 

Arched loaves

This recipe made two loaves, which baked up tall and dark. K, the resident bread cutter, sliced one loaf thin for sandwiches and the other thick for making French toast. I'm really happy with the texture of this bread--it's sturdy without being heavy--and the flavor is substantial with a little bit of sweetness from the honey in the dough.

I'll definitely be making this recipe again, and I can't wait to try out others from this book. Have any of you used Tassajara bread recipes that you'd recommend? I'm really curious about what to try next.

* * * * * 

*It's that j--do you say it like a j, an h, a y or something else completely?


  1. It looks so good! I wish I could have a taste!

  2. Allison, What a lucky find! It's good to know that the thrifting gods do occasionally smile down on us. This gives me hope that I'll find a copy for my very own one day. Thank you for the recipe review--I've had this book checked out from the library for quite awhile and I love just reading it.

  3. Score! Beautiful bread shots. I wish I had smell-a-vision!

  4. As a fellow bread-baker, I can officially say your loaves are beautiful! Nice job.

  5. I have that same book and am planning on posting a recipe too soon! How lucky you are, though, to have a thrifted copy. Sweet! So much more life and personality than my copy from Amazon. I haven't tried any of the breads yet (I made the scones). Did you follow the step by step instructions in front of the book? They look fairly complicated to me . . .

  6. So now I will not rest until I too score a copy. I always say of junking and thrifitng that I can guarantee I will find what I'm looking for, just can't quite say when!

  7. You're killin' me, Allison! I've given up bread for the month of April. (Sort of like a Liesl-Lent. A mini challenge for a gal who adores bread!) Oh, it looks delicious!

    I don't know how to pronounce it either. But if would venture a guess I'd say pronounce the "j" as an "h"--like Tassahara.

  8. Yeah! So glad you found a book you were hoping for. Isn't that the best feeling? I love making bread SO much. I may have to track down that book as well.

  9. I love that you found the book - and that it had that NY address on the inside. That's one of the many wonderful things about getting old books, no?

    The bread loaves look perfect. I wish I could have just popped by for a little visit and a slice of bread.



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