English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David with illustrations by Wendy Jones
London : Allen Lane, 1978. Hardcover. 591 pages ; illustrated ; 23 cm. Price clipped dust jacket. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
Today, over 80 per cent of the bread sold in Britain is produced in factories. It's soft and white and wrapped. All but about 5 per cent of the rest is made with the same characterless flour, supplied by the milling monopolies which control our bread industry. So wherever it comes from, it all tastes much the same.
A revolt against this dismal standardization is now gathering momentum. All over the country people are again making their own bread. Mrs. David has been doing this for about fifteen years. Like many of her readers, she will not accept the British shop loaf.
In the first part of Mrs. David's new book there are chapters on flour milling and its history, on bread ovens, and on the Assize Laws which for six centuries governed the weight, the price and the content of a loaf. Another deals with that mysterious subject, yeast. An important chapter for home bakers is the one in which Mrs. David defines the different types of bread flour available and explains the distinctions to be made between them.
The second half of the book is devoted to recipes. They are for bread of all colours and flours - wholewheat, white, wheatmeal, barley, rye, oatmeal. There are many of our lovely old spiced breads, among them Cornish saffron cake and Welsh bara brith, yeast buns such as Chelifa, Bath and hot cross. Leavened pancakes, muffins and crumpets, pikelets and oatcakes are all described with this author's typical vigour and originality. Chapters on continental specialities now at home in the British kitchen include one on the pizza.
To comfort and encourage those in doubt about breadmaking she quotes an observation which struck her when she was herself learning: 'all that bread needs is time and warmth. But it doesn't need your time. It can be trusted alone in the house.' And, gratefully, she concurs with that author who wrote, with perfect truth, 'the great thing about baking with yeast is the difficulty of failure.'
Elizabeth David, whose cookery books have inspired and influenced a whole generation, developed a taste for good food and wine when she lived with a French family while studying French history and literature in Paris at the Sorbonne. After returning to England, Mrs. David made up her mind to teach herself to cook, in order to reproduce for herself and her friends some of the delicious food she had learned to appreciate in France. She found not only the practical side but also the literature of cookery of absorbing interest and has been studying it ever since. Mrs David has lived and kept house in France, Italy, Greece, Egypt and India, learning the local dishes and, cooking them in her own kitchens. Her first book on Mediterranean Food appeared in 1950. In 1951 she published French Country Cooking and in 1954, after a year of research in Italy, Italian Food, which became a 00k Society recommendation. This was followed by Summer Cooking (1955), French Provincial Cooking (i960) and Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen(i<)'jo). 11 these books are available in Penguin Handbooks. In 1973 Mrs. David severed all connection with the business trading under her name. Since then she has concentrated on study and experiment for her book on bread and yeast cookery. In 1976 she was awarded the OBE
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