Raymond Calvel (1913-2005) was, and remains, a dominating authority on breadmaking. Having begun an apprenticeship at 17 in his hometown of Tarn in the Occitanie region of Southern France, Calvel possessed a thirst for knowledge that led him to train at two of France’s foremost schools of milling.
Having been thrice-trained, Calvel not only became an expert in the craft of breadmaking but in the science, as well. By the age of 25, he was writing technical articles on milling and flour quality. Precise and meticulous, Calvel applied his experience and research to a fresh understanding of breadmaking and the challenges of professional production.
Calvel strongly believed that bread should not be adulterated with sugar, fat, or milk powder, ingredients that could be used to make the bread’s taste or look initially more appealing. Such cheats allowed the bread maker to avoid actually perfecting the craft and learning to understand proper methodology in bread production.
Calvel developed a remarkable understanding of dough and fermentation. In 1974 he introduced the autolysis rest, which allowed the gluten structure to form just as it would in the kneading process but without the additional effort. Philosophically, Calvel prized the rudimentary components of breadmaking as French culinary heritage that could be improved, not by altering or cheating one’s way through the process, but by understanding the science well enough to increase the quality of bread naturally.
Le Goût du Pain (1990) is Calvel’s seminal work on the science and technique behind traditional French breads. It is by no means a cookbook but a detailed scientific and technical manual written with the hands-on expertise of a master.
The first section of the book discusses ingredients, equipment, and process. The latter section details the specific techniques for various breads in the French cannon from sourdoughs to laminated doughs, from rusks to panettones. Color plates and black and white illustrations, diagrams, and charts throughout aid the technical and descriptive information provided.
Le Goût du Pain is essential reading for the food scientist and the experienced breadmaker, alike. The book has remained well in demand over the years, and we are fortunate to be able to offer this original French first edition. The hardcover, issued without dust jacket, is a strong Very Good +, the only flaw being minor bumping on the top, front corners.