Heavenly Loaves

More home bakers are mastering the precise, patient art of making artisanal breads

JAN STANFIELD of Riverside, Calif., has been an avid bread baker for 20 years, but it was only eight months ago that the 59-year-old psychotherapist found true breadbaking bliss in the rounded form of her first handcrafted hearth bread. Next came a ciabatta--a traditional Italian loaf with a crisp crust and a remarkably chewy, holey interior. Holey or perhaps holy! One bite brought Stanfield to ecstasy: "I thought I was going to either pass out or burst into tears," she says. Stanfield has fallen hard for the time-honored craft of making artisanal breads--European-style yeast breads that are usually shaped by hand....

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