The only comprehensive book, in English or Italian, to cover the entire range of Italian baking, from breadsticks and cornetti to focaccia, tarts, cakes, and pastries. This latest edition, updated for a new generation of home bakers, has added four-color photography throughout, plus new recipes, ingredients and equipment sections, source guides, and weights.
Carol Field introduces artisanal doughs and techniques used by generations of Italian bakers. Every city and hill town has its own unique baking traditions, and Field spent more than two years traversing Italy to capture the regional and local specialties, adapting them through rigorous testing in her own kitchen.
Field’s authentic recipes are a revelation for anyone seeking the true Italian experience. Here’s a chance to make golden Altamura bread from Puglia, chewy porous loaves from Como, rosemary bread sprinkled with coarse sea salt, dark ryes from the north, simple breads studded with toasted walnuts, succulent fig bread, and Sicilian loaves topped with sesame seeds.
One of the most revered baking books of all time, The Italian Baker is a landmark work that continues to be a must-have for every serious baker.
Winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals Award for best baking book
Named to the James Beard Baker’s Dozen list of thirteen indispensable baking books of all time
Sample Recipe from The Italian Baker, Revised: Torta di Pere Pear Tart
Makes one 8 1/2-inch tart; 8 servings
1 stick plus 2 1/2 tablespoons (5.3 oz / 150 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature (cold if using a food processor)
3/4 cup (5.3 oz / 150 g) sugar
3 large egg yolks
About 1 1/2 cups minus one tablespoon (7 oz / 200 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (3.5 oz / 100 g) fine yellow cornmeal, preferably organic
1 teaspoon (0.2 oz / 5 g) salt
Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until well blended. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Sift the flour, cornmeal, and salt over the mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Knead lightly on a floured surface until the dough is no longer sticky.
Cream the butter and sugar with the paddle until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Sift in the flour, cornmeal, and salt, and mix at low speed; continue mixing until the dough comes together. Knead lightly on a floured surface until the dough is no longer sticky.
Place the flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and scatter over the flour. Process with three or four pulses until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat the egg yolks lightly. With the machine running, pour the egg yolks in a steady stream through the feed tube and process just until the dough comes together. You may need to add a little ice-cold water. Stop the machine as soon as the dough masses on top of the blade. Overprocessing will make a tough dough.
Chilling. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes to 1 hour.
2 cups (1 lb / 450 g) full-bodied red wine; a Barolo or cabernet sauvignon would be perfect
1/4 cup (1.8 oz / 50 g) sugar
3 whole cloves
3 thin strips lemon zest
3/4 to 1 teaspoon (0.06 to 0.1 oz / 2 to 2.5 g) ground cinnamon
Cornmeal or finely ground cookie or cake crumbs, for sprinkling (optional)
3 large peeled cooking pears (2 lb / 900 g, weighed after peeling), cut into fat slices and then cut crosswise in half
1 large egg, beaten, for the egg wash
Heat the wine, sugar, cloves, lemon zest, and cinnamon to a boil in a nonreactive saucepan. Gently boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Stir in the pears and cook over medium heat until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the pears; discard the cloves, lemon peel, and cooking liquid. Cool to room temperature.
Shaping. Cut the dough in half and return half to the refrigerator. This is a very delicate dough. Lightly sprinkle flour on your work surface and then lay one or two pieces of plastic wrap on it. Put the dough on the plastic wrap and cover it with a second layer of plastic wrap. This protects the dough as you roll it with your rolling pin into a circle 1/4 inch thick. Butter ?an 8 1/2-inch tart pan very thoroughly. Remove the top layer of plastic, gently lift the dough up by the bottom piece of plastic wrap, and then carefully invert it into the prepared pan before removing the remaining plastic wrap. Trim the edge. Build up the edge of the bottom pastry with the trimmings rolled into one or two coils and flattened onto the edge, so that the edge is substantial enough for the top pastry to be attached.
Filling and Top Crust. I sometimes sprinkle a very little cornmeal or cookie or cake crumbs on the bottom of the tart shell to soak up the juices from the pears. Spoon the drained pears into the tart shell. Again using plastic wrap, roll out the remaining dough into a 1/4-inch-thick circle and place over the pan. Trim the overhanging dough, press the two edges together, and crimp decoratively. Lightly brush the pastry with the beaten egg.
Baking. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake until golden, 40 minutes. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.