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Martin Philip, head bread baker at King Arthur Flour
in Norwich, has turned his passion for baking into a new cookbook.
Philip's cookbook, Baking Bread: A Baker’s Journey Home in 75 Recipes, was just released by Harper Wave, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. His journey to Vermont came about as a result of his search for a way to express his creativity. He left a financial career in New York City for an entry-level baking position at King Arthur. In time, his talent made him a bread shaman.
Taking time from his busy schedule, Philip answered a few questions about his book and his passion for bread making.
Q: What is it about baking that appeals to you?
A: Baking is the perfect combination of handwork, creativity, visual beauty, and edible goodness. There are other crafts that come close and also inspire me, but at this moment, baking is the thing! And, on balance, I think that baking is only one way of finding a meaningful connection to making and creating. I may design couches, write poems, or find my way to pottery at some point. I think they would also work to fulfill a need that I (we, all of us?) have.
Q: Why did you want to write this book?
A: I’m not sure that I set out with any desire to write a book. I was doing work that I felt good doing, and the book unfolded out of that space. If I had begun with a blank document and said, “Ready . . Set . . . Goooooo!” I would have frozen—the tail would not have wagged the dog very well. To continue that analogy, I began with the dog (me) and my enjoyment and hard work (which occasionally resulted in good and beautiful bread) in pursuit of more time in that space. The outcome of that desire eventually manifested itself in the book.
Q: Did your experiences at King Arthur help with creating this book?
A: My experience at King Arthur was pivotal as it provided (provides!) an environment where I am able to practice, renew, bake, and make mistakes all under one roof. Without that environment, I wouldn’t have developed in the same way or at the same rate. It’s hard to imagine where I would be if we hadn’t left Manhattan over 10 years ago to pursue this crazy baking dream. I do know that I’m glad to be where I am.
Q: What do you hope readers get from the book?
A: Ultimately, I hope that readers find inspiration to do little things like making biscuits but also to do bigger things; to make choices that bring them closer to passionate connections, closer to engagement, closer to the intersection of heart, hands, and mind.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Be patient. The path to gorgeous bread (like making a beautiful rocking chair) can be long and winding. Take your time, smile some, enjoy the aroma of even the duds—and eat your mistakes along the way.