Peter Reinhart: A Legendary Man, Philosopher, Baker

14 Feb

Peter Reinhart: Bread Master, Man of Philosophy

Peter Reinhart Links

  • Miniature Bio
  • Personal blog: Peter Reinhart’s Weblog
  • Amazon’s Collection of Peter Reinhart books
  • Video of Lecture at Taste3
  • Well, the topic for this post is really overdue because the person whom I am writing about deserves a lot of credit, but I digress no longer!

    My Story

    As I was trying to find a picture of Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday (the book I used to make Peter Reinhart’s cinnamon rolls that I wrote about here), I stumbled across the Mr. Reinhart’s blog at: I easily found myself musing over the different posts amazed that such a well-known author would have time to keep a blog regularly updated. I somehow ended up on his October post in which he wrote that

    If you send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Peter Reinhart, PO Box 79157, Charlotte, NC 29271, I will send you a signed bookplate to paste into your book. This way you can buy the book from your favorite bookseller at a better price than I can offer you and still get it signed. In your note, please say who you would like the bookplate(s) to be signed to.

    Honestly, after I had finished reading it, I re-read it again because I have a bad habit of skimming over things rather than fully reading them. So after I re-read it, I realized that I had been holding my breath because I felt a tightness in my chest building up. I could not believe it – the Mr. Peter Reinhart gave out his address online for his readers to write to him to receive the bookplate(s)! It did not matter to me that I did not even know what a bookplate was or that the post was from October of 2009 because I was stunned. I stared dumbly at his post for a while longer and then scrolled around madly trying to read his other posts for clues as to whether or not he would be able to send any more. I saw nothing more than this on October 13th:

    Thanks to one of our alert readers, Canan K., it appears as though I screwed up the zipcode in the previous post. For those wanting signed bookplates, the correct address should be:Peter Reinhart

    PO Box 79157

    Charlotte, NC 28271   <I had written a 9 instead of an 8>

    Please refer to the previous post for related details. So sorry–if you already sent it to the other zipcode it may take longer to find me or it may get returned to you. Please give me it an extra week or so; it should sort itself out and the book won’t be released for about 2 more weeks. Thanks for your patience!

    And this on October 25th:

    Hi Everyone,

    The zipcode screw up I made didn’t seem to stop the mail from arriving, so I’m sending out the first batch of bookplates tomorrow (Monday). Even the ones with the wrong zip still arrived. Thank you all for sending in for them and for including the self-addressed, stamped envelopes. I have over 200 requests already, so you can see how the costs can add up. My hand is cramped from signing the bookplates all weekend, but I’m just about caught up.  For those who still plan to request one, please see the previous two posts.

    I could hardly hope to think he would send me a bookplate – whatever it was – since I had read this post in January – JANUARY. This was THREE months after he had written the posts. He even mentioned the costs adding up. Still, I could not just let this go. After I had been waiting for a whole year to bake from one Mr. Reinhart’s books (particularly The Bread Baker’s Apprentice), I had received his other two books Artisan Breads Everyday and Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor. Now just two weeks later, I stumbled across this bread master’s blog and his P.O. Box, and was now in closer connection to him than ever.

    As the young, ambitious baker that I am, I was determined to write him that letter any how. I figured that the worst that could happen was that one of his publisher’s or agents would come across it eventually, screen it, and then maybe (maybe!) it would reach him so that he could read it himself. The letter turned out a lot longer than I had expected  – two pages longer – but I enjoyed writing every bit of it. I ended up kind of telling a bit of personal history and explaining my love of baking. The last little paragraph was where I mentioned the book plate. I was not even sure how to introduce the topic, but I wrote to the best of my ability. I proofread my letter, then sent it out by the end of the week in a large manila envelope along with two pictures of my cinnamon rolls and garlic pretzels that I had baked based off of his recipe.

    About a week later on January 19th …

    I received an email from the legendary bread master himself! As you can imagine, I reread the email a thousand times before anything clicked in my head. I knew that I had written about my blog and included the link, but he actually found my email address on the site, and sent me an email! I could not imagine how my letter had gotten me that far! People do indeed read letters – no middlemen attached! Moreover, he mentioned my blog on his blog, which is probably how you ended up here in the first place. :)

    Well, after another email, he informed of several important places to eat at in San Francisco, namely ACME at the Ferry Building and La Boulange Bakery and Cafe on Filmore and California Street. I resolved to go to either bakery with my mom the next available weekend that we could to which she responded that we could go to La Boulange the very next weekend; so that’s just what we did. We went there, ate there, and indulged ourselves with the open-faced chicken with mushroom cream sandwich with tomato soup, the BLT with fries, and a vegetable galette. It was complete bliss. I ate everything single thing from every morsel of the freshly baked whole wheat bread to the last drop of the tomato soup. We left feeling happy and satisfied glad to have tried a restaurant reccomended by the bread legend himself. As for ACME, I wrote about it in my blog here. But basically, my favorite thing there was what was called the “Teeny Bread” because it was so soft and moist like a sponge cake.

    Now, about a month after the legendary email …

    • I set on my calendar for  March 5 to go to Omnivore books to see Mr. Reinhart for his book signing. I do not exactly have any more books for him to sign since he already sent in the bookplates, but I am going to show up anyway just to see him in person. I have no idea what to wear or what to say or what to bake! (On his blog, he wrote “Bring something delicious!”) I am open to suggestions of all kinds so please comment below.
    • After researching more about Mr. Reinhart, I came across his lecture in which he talks about the science of fermentation and whole grain breads. I listed the link below.
    • For my birthday (February 4th) my mom completed my initial “wishlist” book by getting me Mr. Reinhart’s award-winning book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which I have yet to try something from it. I have made the cinnamon rolls twice now. :)
    • Because my mom also got me other baking books and some friends pitched in and bought my some baking equipment, I think I’m going to try to create another page listing my baking tools and recommended baking books. I’ll probably call the page “In my Kitchen & On the Shelf: the baking tools and baking books I use”. This can be useful at times to understand how I bake and why certain things turn out the way that they do.

    I suppose that the end of my little update and story. However, I must thank Mr. Reinhart for his wonderful encouragement and for his wisdom:

    In the end, the goal is to work with your head, not just your hands.

    P.S. I want to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Chinese New Year! I wish I had made something more festive, but I’ll try to make something later today and then post about it on Monday.


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