In the summer of 2011, Chronicle Books approached Josey Baker (The Mill's resident bread connoisseur and chef) with a book offer. "This whole bread journey has been one where I've been presented with opportunities, way before I thought I was ready to do them," Josey told us. "It's been about saying yes."
With a background in producing children's books for UC Berkeley, Josey is no stranger to education through the written word. And unlike most cookbooks containing stacks of information, Josey's book is a graduated series of recipes that runs like a lesson plan.
"It's really unusual for a cookbook to be structured in this way," he told us. "Most of them have an introduction that talks about things in general, but my experience learning how to bake was that that type of content was too abstract to make any sense. It's overwhelming. What I wanted to do was throw people in the pool with the initial chapter, but so their feet can still touch the ground."
The first recipe is a very basic bread, one that "creates as close to a fool-proof recipe as possible." From there the book introduces ingredients and techniques slowly, so that by the time you've baked your way through you'll be a graduated pro. The vast majority of the recipes were worked on at The Mill and at Josey's home on Baker Street, so it's truly a product of the neighborhood.
The highly-anticipated cookbook is being officially released on Tuesday, April 15th. If you can't wait that long, head in to The Mill on Monday night from 6pm–9pm for a slice of taco pizza and a first go at the hefty tome. We also recommend picking up a bag of their stone ground whole grain flour to help you get started.
Can't make Monday's event? You'll have many, many more opportunities to buy Josey's book in person. Here's just a few of the places he'll be speaking at over the summer. If you'd like to stick close to home, visit him at Nopa on May 29th from 5pm–6pm for a happy hour party.
With no rest for the weary, Josey has already begun on a second book. "It's a road trip around the country, hanging out with the best bread bakers I know and translating their recipes into a collection for the home cooker." Sounds like a lot more bread-baking adventures ahead.