The Perfect Loaf
The Craft and Science of Sourdough Breads, Sweets, and More: A Baking Book
JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A dynamic, authoritative sourdough baking bible for those looking to build confidence in the craft with a wide range of foolproof recipes, from pan loaves to pizza to doughnuts, by the beloved blogger and resident bread baker at Food52
“Maurizio Leo has given all bread-heads, whether newbies or experienced bakers, the ideal gift.”—Peter Reinhart, author of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and host of Pizza Quest
ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: Saveur
Maurizio Leo’s blog The Perfect Loaf is the go-to destination on the internet for beginner sourdough bakers. He now brings his impeccably detailed techniques, foolproof recipes, and generous teaching style to a groundbreaking debut cookbook that delves into the absolute fundamentals of sourdough—plus the tools and confidence to explore beyond.
Recipes cover flavorful, crowd-pleasing favorites:
Essential freeform loaves: Simple Sourdough, Rosemary & Olive Oil, Extra-Sour Sourdough, Cranberry & Walnut, Demi BaguettesPan loaves: Everyday Sandwich Bread, Naturally Leavened Brioche, German Whole Rye, Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich BreadPizza and flatbread: Roman-Style Pan Pizza, Focaccia, Naan, Flour Tortillas, PitaBuns, rolls, and more: Soft Dinner Rolls, Potato Buns, Ciabatta Rolls, English Muffins, BagelsSweets: Weekend Cinnamon Rolls, Italian Doughnuts, Summer Fruit Sourdough Crostata, Banana Bread, Cinnamon Babka
Beginner bakers will have their hands held the entire way, with troubleshooting sections and numerous sidebars answering almost every question they may have—like how to store a sourdough starter long-term, how bakers’ percentages actually work, and a visual guide to common “bread fails” and how to remedy them. Seasoned bakers will relish deep dives into the science behind baking processes and expert information on how to build their “baker’s intuition” and level up by experimenting with hydration, ingredient ratios, freshly milled grains, and specialty flours. Whether you're new to bread baking or a pro, The Perfect Loaf will be your indispensable guide in the kitchen.
Leo, resident bread baker at Food52, debuts with a comprehensive guide to sourdough bread making. The recipes incorporate Leo's years of experimentation, as well as lessons learned from sourdough masters and the virtual baking community. Leo demystifies the process of creating a worthy loaf in eight steps, from the levain that kick-starts a dough's rise to the bake itself. Those steps provide the framework for a free-form lemon herbes de Provence loaf and a Tuscan flatbread that's baked in a pan. On the sweeter side, there are soft cinnamon rolls and airy Italian doughnuts, while sourdough discard is repurposed for skillet cornbread and drop biscuits. Though Leo notes that the definition of a perfect loaf is subjective, he outlines goals for optimal flavor, crust, and crumb. For instance, Leo aims for a crunchy crust that "shows all the colors between dark mahogany to light brown." But he also emphasizes the true joy of baking, which he defines as "the contentment seen on the faces of those with whom we share our bread." Included QR codes link to videos that supplement the bounty of step-by-step photos. This will supercharge any baker's sourdough skills.