“A clever weekend baker learns some life lessons, loaf by loaf . . . His bright writing highlights a pleasing variety of comical misadventures” (Kirkus Reviews).
William Alexander is determined to bake the perfect loaf of bread. He tasted it long ago, in a restaurant, and has been trying to reproduce it ever since. Without success. Now, on the theory that practice makes perfect, he sets out to bake peasant bread every week until he gets it right. He bakes his loaf from scratch. And because Alexander is nothing if not thorough, he really means from scratch: growing, harvesting, winnowing, threshing, and milling his own wheat.
An original take on the six-thousand-year-old staple of life, 52 Loaves explores the nature of obsession, the meditative quality of ritual, the futility of trying to re-create something perfect, our deep connection to the earth, and the mysterious instinct that makes all of us respond to the aroma of baking bread.
“Serious, irreverent, funny, and informative at the same time, 52 Loaves reflects precisely the frustrating and infuriating—if not impossible—process of creating the perfect bread.” —Jacques Pépin
“Nitpicking obsessiveness was never so appetizing.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Alexander’s breathless, witty memoir is a joy to read. It’s equal parts facts and fun. . . . Alexander is wildly entertaining on the page, dropping clever one-liners in the form of footnotes and parenthetical afterthoughts throughout.” —The Boston Globe
“A warm, laugh-out-loud [memoir] . . . Alexander writes about the ups (few), the downs (numerous) and a lively history of bread itself, all recounted in a self-effacing but often irreverent voice.” —The Oregonian