An interview with an editor of Bread Illustrated

rustic wheat berry bread 

It wasn't that long ago when most bread that ended up in US shopping carts was a squishy, white, bland loaf. Now it seems we are in the midst of a bread renaissance. Books about artisanal bread making - often touting a minimal amount of hands-on time - crowd bookstore shelves. So when Sacha Madadian edited Bread Illustrated, the recent release from America's Test Kitchen, she had to find a way to make the book stand out from the many other bread books available. Sacha recently answered several questions about her role in editing the book and what sets it apart from others in the genre.

Sacha recalled the concept behind Bread Illustrated, noting that most bread books either assume the reader already knows a lot about bread baking or have recipes that work better in commercial kitchens than at home. She said ATK "wanted to extend information in a way that inspired confidence in home cooks. It's hard to picture how a pale lump of dough can turn into a beautifully browned loaf, so we photographed every step of every recipe and provided troubleshooting information to make the process feel intuitive for folks."

You may wonder what it's like being a book editor at ATK. Sacha explains that it involves many different facets in the book's lifespan, including everything from concept development to providing information for sales and marketing. She notes that the process can basically be broken down into two parts: "when a book is in the kitchen and when a book is out of the kitchen." Sacha worked hand-in-hand with the test cooks, and after their job was done, she had gained the knowledge she needed to write the books "front matter" or explanatory section in the beginning of the book.

When asked about her favorite recipe from Bread Illustrated, Sacha had a difficult time narrowing it to just one, but finally settled on the Panettone because she found the recipe testing process for that bread to be fascinating. She was intrigued by the effort needed to develop a lightweight texture in a bread "packed with decadent butter and egg yolks."

Photo of Rustic wheat berry bread from Bread Illustrated: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving Bakery-Quality Results At Home  by America's Test Kitchen Editors 

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