Chelsea Green Publishing

The Bread Builders

Pages:250 pages
Book Art:Black and white photos and illustrations, 6 pages of color illustrations
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781890132057
Pub. Date July 01, 1999

The Bread Builders

Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens

Food & Drink

Availability: In Stock


Available Date:
July 01, 1999


Creating the perfect loaf of bread--a challenge that has captivated bakers for centuries--is now the rage in the hippees places, from Waitsfield, Vermont, to Point Reyes Station, California. Like the new generation of beer drinkers who consciously seek out distinctive craft-brewed beers, many people find that their palates have been reawakened and re-educated by the taste of locally baked, whole-grain breads. Today's village bakers are finding an important new role--linking tradition with a sophisticated new understanding of natural levens, baking science and oven construction.

Daniel Wing, a lover of all things artisinal, had long enjoyed baking his own sourdough bread. His quest for the perfect loaf began with serious study of the history and chemistry of bread baking, and eventually led to an apprenticeship with Alan Scott, the most influential builder of masonry ovens in America.

Alan and Daniel have teamed up to write this thoughtful, entertaining, and authoritative book that shows you how to bake superb healthful bread and build your own masonry oven. The authors profile more than a dozen small-scale bakers around the U.S. whose practices embody the holistic principles of community-oriented baking based on whole grains and natural leavens.

The Bread Builders will appeal to a broad range of readers, including:

  • Connoisseurs of good bread and good food.
  • Home bakers interested in taking their bread and pizza to the next level of excellence.
  • Passionate bakers who fantasize about making a living by starting their own small bakery.
  • Do-it-yourselfers looking for the next small construction project.
  • Small-scale commercial bakers seeking inspiration, the most up-to-date knowledge about the entire bread-baking process, and a marketing edge.



"This book is ice cream for a baker! We visit legendary bakeries, meet wonderful people, learn all sorts of fascinating scientific information with practical usefulness in bowl and oven--and best of all, get the skinny on masonry ovens, that cherished fantasy of us all."--Laurel Robertson, author of Laurel's Kitchen

Review from Ecology Action Newsletter-
The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens, by Daniel Wing and Alan Scott, is a serious book, written for people who take their bread baking seriously. It is not a cookbook but one whose object is to help the baker understand all parts of the process that go into creating an excellent loaf. As such, it is a technical journal that thoroughly details natural fermentation, bread grains and flours, leavens and dough, and dough development. The second part is about masonry ovens and their construction, since both authors agree that such an oven is a necessary part of creating the excellent loaf. Each chapter of the book includes a visit to a commercial or private venture which is using some or all of the processes being described. The book is not a light read but should prove inspiring to those wanting more information about the baking process, how to construct a masonry oven or anyone who is glad to see that these traditional methods are being nurtured rather than forgotten.


  • Runner-up - James Beard Kitchen Aid Book Award (Writing on Food)


Alan Scott

Alan Scott was a craftsman and metaphysician who combined a lifetime's experience in metalwork, farming, and masonry oven-building with a constant awareness of the spiritual dimension of our activities on this earth. Originally from Australia, Alan lectured and led workshops throughout the U.S., under the aegis of his oven building and consultation firm, Ovencrafters, which is based in Petaluma, California. He returned to his native Australia several years ago after becoming ill. He died Jan. 26, 2009, in Tasmania. He was 72.

Daniel Wing

Dan Wing, a biologist and physician by training, has written for publications as various as Fine Homebuilding and The Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He travels out from his home in Vermont in a gypsy wagon of his own construction, and naturally he built his own bread oven on wheels.


From the Wood-Fired Oven

From the Wood-Fired Oven

By Richard Miscovich

In the past twenty years, interest in wood-fired ovens has increased dramatically in the United States and abroad, but most books focus on how to bake bread or pizza in an oven. From the Wood-Fired Oven offers many more techniques for home and artisan bakers—from baking bread and making pizza to recipes on how to get as much use as possible out of a single oven firing, from the first live-fire roasting to drying wood for the next fire.

From the Wood-Fired Oven offers a new take on traditional techniques for professional bakers, but is simple enough to inspire any nonprofessional baking enthusiast. Leading baker and instructor Richard Miscovich wants people to use their ovens to fulfill the goal of maximum heat utilization. Readers will find methods and techniques for cooking and baking in a wood-fired oven in the order of the appropriate temperature window. What comes first—pizza, or pastry? Roasted vegetables or a braised pork loin? Clarified butter or beef jerky? In addition to an extensive section of delicious formulas for many types of bread, readers will find chapters on:

•    Making pizza and other live-fire flatbreads;
•    Roasting fish and meats;
•    Grilling, steaming, braising, and frying;
•    Baking pastry and other recipes beyond breads;
•    Rendering animal fats and clarifying butter;
•    Food dehydration and infusing oils;
•    And myriad other ways to use the oven's residual heat.

Appendices include oven-design recommendations, a sample oven temperature log, Richard's baker's percentages, proper care of a sourdough starter, and more. . . .

From the Wood Fired Oven is more than a cookbook; it reminds the reader of how a wood-fired oven (and fire, by extension) draws people together and bestows a sense of comfort and fellowship, very real human needs, especially in uncertain times. Indeed, cooking and baking from a wood-fired oven is a basic part of a resilient lifestyle, and a perfect example of valuable traditional skills being put to use in modern times.

Available in: Hardcover

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From the Wood-Fired Oven

Daniel Wing, Richard Miscovich

Hardcover $44.95

Build Your Own Earth Oven

Build Your Own Earth Oven

By Kiko Denzer and Hannah Field

Earth ovens combine the utility of a wood-fired, retained-heat oven with the ease and timeless beauty of earthen construction. Building one will appeal to bakers, builders, and beginners of all kinds, from:

    •    the serious or aspiring baker who wants the best low-cost
bread oven, to
    •    gardeners who want a centerpiece for a beautiful
outdoor kitchen, to
    •    outdoor chefs, to
    •    creative people interested in low-cost materials and
simple technology, to
    •    teachers who want a multi-faceted, experiential project for students of all ages (the book has been successful  with
 everyone from third-graders to adults).

Build Your Own Earth Oven is fully illustrated with step-by-step directions, including how to tend the fire, and how to make perfect sourdough hearth loaves in the artisan tradition. The average do-it-yourselfer with a few tools and a scrap pile can build an oven for free, or close to it. Otherwise, $30 should cover all your materials--less than the price of a fancy "baking stone." Good building soil is often right in your back yard, under your feet. Build the simplest oven in a day! With a bit more time and imagination, you can make a permanent foundation and a fire-breathing dragon-oven or any other shape you can dream up.

Earth ovens are familiar to many that have seen a southwestern "horno" or a European "bee-hive" oven. The idea, pioneered by Egyptian bakers in the second millennium BCE, is simplicity itself: fill the oven with wood, light a fire, and let it burn down to ashes. The dense, 3- to 12-inch-thick earthen walls hold and store the heat of the fire, the baker sweeps the floor clean, and the hot oven walls radiate steady, intense heat for hours.

Home bakers who can't afford a fancy, steam-injected bread oven will be delighted to find that a simple earth oven can produce loaves to equal the fanciest "artisan" bakery. It also makes delicious roast meats, cakes, pies, pizzas, and other creations. Pizza cooks to perfection in three minutes or less. Vegetables, herbs, and potatoes drizzled with olive oil roast up in minutes for a simple, elegant, and delicious meal. Efficient cooks will find the residual heat useful for slow-baked dishes, and even for drying surplus produce, or incubating homemade yogurt.

Available in: Paperback

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Build Your Own Earth Oven

Alan Scott, Kiko Denzer, Hannah Field

Paperback $17.95


Asian Vegetables

Asian Vegetables

By Sally Cunningham

Asian Vegetables brings together a wealth of information on over 40 varieties of fruit, vegetables and spices that are grown on the Indian subcontinent and form a distinctive part of the unique cuisine in that part of the world.

Each plant comes together with details of what to look for when buying, the different varieties available, their nutritional value, comprehensive cultivation instructions, useful colour photographs and much more. Most can be grown almost anywhere, though some will grow best and thrive in the warmer, wetter parts of this country. The author Sally Cunningham has personally researched, grown, cooked and eaten every plant mentioned in this book.

With this unique guide both the experienced gardener and those new to growing will bring variety and a fresh, new dimension to the food on their plates and the plants in their garden.

Available in: Paperback

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Asian Vegetables

Sally Cunningham

Paperback $24.95

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking

By David Asher

Including more than 35 step-by-step recipes from the Black Sheep School of Cheesemaking

Most DIY cheesemaking books are hard to follow, complicated, and confusing, and call for the use of packaged freeze-dried cultures, chemical additives, and expensive cheesemaking equipment. For though bread baking has its sourdough, brewing its lambic ales, and pickling its wild fermentation, standard Western cheesemaking practice today is decidedly unnatural. In The Art of Natural Cheesemaking, David Asher practices and preaches a traditional, but increasingly countercultural, way of making cheese—one that is natural and intuitive, grounded in ecological principles and biological science.

This book encourages home and small-scale commercial cheesemakers to take a different approach by showing them:

•    How to source good milk, including raw milk;

•    How to keep their own bacterial starter cultures and fungal ripening cultures;

•    How make their own rennet—and how to make good cheese without it;

•    How to avoid the use of plastic equipment and chemical additives; and

•    How to use appropriate technologies.

Introductory chapters explore and explain the basic elements of cheese: milk, cultures, rennet, salt, tools, and the cheese cave. The fourteen chapters that follow each examine a particular class of cheese, from kefir and paneer to washed-rind and alpine styles, offering specific recipes and handling advice. The techniques presented are direct and thorough, fully illustrated with hand-drawn diagrams and triptych photos that show the transformation of cheeses in a comparative and dynamic fashion.

The Art of Natural Cheesemaking is the first cheesemaking book to take a political stance against Big Dairy and to criticize both standard industrial and artisanal cheesemaking practices. It promotes the use of ethical animal rennet and protests the use of laboratory-grown freeze-dried cultures. It also explores how GMO technology is creeping into our cheese and the steps we can take to stop it.

This book sounds a clarion call to cheesemakers to adopt more natural, sustainable practices. It may well change the way we look at cheese, and how we make it ourselves.

Available in: Paperback

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The Art of Natural Cheesemaking

Sandor Ellix Katz, David Asher

Paperback $34.95

Genetic Roulette

Genetic Roulette

By Jeffrey M. Smith

Eating genetically modified food is gambling with every bite.

The biotech industry's claim that genetically modified (GM) foods are safe is shattered in this groundbreaking book. Sixty-five health risks of the foods that Americans eat every day are presented in easy-to-read two-page spreads. The left page is designed for the quick scanning reader; it includes bullets, illustrations, and quotes. The right side offers fully referenced text, describing both research studies and theoretical risks. The second half of Genetic Roulette shows how safety assessments on GM crops are not competent to identify the health problems presented in the first half. It also exposes how industry research is rigged to avoid finding problems.

This book, prepared in with input by more than 30 scientists, is for anyone wanting to understand GM technology, to learn how to protect themselves, or to share their concerns with others. It is presented in the clear, accessible style that made Jeffrey Smith's Seeds of Deception the world's best-selling book on genetically engineered foods. As the world's most complete reference on the health risks of GM foods, Genetic Roulette is also ideal for schools and libraries.

Available in: Hardcover

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Genetic Roulette

Jeffrey M. Smith

Hardcover $27.95

Raising the Bar

Raising the Bar

By Jim Eber and Pam Williams

“Just give me all your chocolate and no one gets hurt!”

Billions of us worldwide understand what it means to scream those words. We feel lost—even unhinged—without chocolate’s pleasures. And if chocolate is the music that makes our days brighter, fine chocolate is the symphony—the richest, most complex form in the chocolate universe. The most important movement in that symphony’s centuries-old existence is now beginning. And that future is . . . what? A world of gray monochromatic flavor, or one rich with a rainbow of flavors that capture the myriad pleasures and diversity of the cocoa bean?

In the spirit of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Raising the Bar: The Future of Fine Chocolate tells the story of what that next movement in the fine flavor chocolate symphony might hold. Told in four lively parts covering everything from before the bean to after the bar—genetics, farming, manufacturing, and bonbons—the book features interviews with dozens of international stakeholders across the fine flavor industry to consider the promises and pitfalls ahead. It looks through what is happening today to understand where things are going, while unwrapping the possibilities for the millions and millions of us who believe that life without the very best chocolate is no life at all.

Part One
Seeds of Change: Genetics and Flavor

The genetic story of the future of flavor cacao told through discussions with researchers, scientists, and experts around the world who are involved at the genetic level: from the mapping of the cacao genome to the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative that seeks to connect flavor to genetics to the work being done on the ground to confront the spread of low-flavor beans and ensure cacao quality and diversity for future generations. 

Part Two
From the Ground Up: Farmers, Farming, and Flavor

Discussion of the issues of growing cacao from an ecological and sustainable perspective given the reality of where it is grown. Interviews and stories cover the majority of fine flavor growing regions and myriad efforts to add value and values to fine flavor chocolate; preserve, protect, and propagate flavor cacao for the future; and ensure that the beans are as good as they can possibly be. The realities and possibilities of fair trade chocolate and the work being done on fermentation are also covered.

Part Three
To Market, To Market: Craftsmanship, Customer Education and Flavor

Can consumers learn to slow down, taste, explore, and value the costly complexity of fine chocolate? Though the future looks bright by some measurements, sometimes the numbers aren’t what they seem…. Discussions with both artisan and traditional chocolate manufacturers around the world on how they see the market and sources for fine flavor beans and what they are doing to educate their customers about their craft, including a survey of the nature of raw, organic, and functional chocolate.

Part Four 
Performing Flavor: The Art of the Chocolatier

Whether watching over those creations, traveling the world to discover new pairings, or simply taking their love of Junior Mints to the highest level, the world’s fine flavor chocolatiers are all deeply aware of the “stage” they work on and the importance of taste in every performance. The future of their creations—the most flavorful and beautiful bonbons and confections in the world—are discussed as these chocolatiers confront the issues surrounding the preservation of their craft and how they see their flavors and recipe development changing (or not) in the future.

Available in: Hardcover

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Raising the Bar

Pam Williams, Jim Eber

Hardcover $19.95