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One Man’s Quest For Good Bread Turns Into An Adventure In Baking Around The World

Sourdough bread.

Credit: Jesús Rodríguez Fernández via Flickr

Above: Sourdough bread.

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Photo credit: Penguin Randomhouse

"In Search of the Perfect Loaf -- A Home Baker's Odyssey," is a memoir by journalist Samuel Fromartz.

Journalist Samuel Fromartz said two things motivated him to start baking. He couldn't find really good bread near his home in Washington D.C., and when he tried baking for the first time, he realized the craft of making bread was a relaxing antidote to his stressful job.

What began as a personal exploration resulted in Fromartz' memoir, “In Search of the Perfect Loaf — A Home Baker’s Odyssey.”

You might say the ingredients of the book include one part travel memoir, a dash of history, a sprinkling of science and technique, and a handful of bread recipes from around the world. One such recipe is below.

Fromartz first made Socca Américain, a flatbread that comes from Southern France in a cooking class taught by Jeffrey Hamelman, a Vermont baker and author of the book, "Bread." Fromartz said he tweaked the recipe to include cornmeal.

Socca Américain

(EASY)

Makes four pancakes

Tools

Bowl

10-inch cast-iron pan

Spatula

Cutting board

Flatbread Ingredients

160 grams chickpea flour

40 grams fine cornmeal or corn flour

430 grams water

3 grams salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix together the flours, water, salt, cumin, and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let the batter rest for at least 2 hours, covered, at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat the cast-iron pan on a high flame, drizzling in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, so that it covers the whole surface. Just as it begins to smoke, pour enough batter to fill the pan. Swirl the batter so it fills the pan to the edges, and turn down the flame to medium.

After 2 minutes check the underside with a spatula to see if it's brown. When it is, carefully flip the socca over and cook the remaining side for about 1 minute.

Slide the socca onto a cutting board, drizzle with high-quality extra virgin olive oil, and cut it into 4 or 8 pieces. Eat immediately.

Recipe reprinted with permission from the author.

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