Ciao! My name is Maurizio and welcome to my site the perfect loaf.
I think it all started when I was a kid. We took naps in the back room of my Dad’s Italian restaurant on top of waist-high flour sacks to the faint sounds of a mixer mixing dough, a searing hot pizza oven opening and closing, vegetables being chopped and the monstrous espresso machine heaving and steaming. My brother and I would spend every summer recess there in that small building, it was these summers that most likely etched in cooking & baking. We would watch him pour flour, water, salt and yeast in the large dough mixer to prepare tomorrow’s pizza — “Don’t ever reach your hand in here when the machine is on, we had someone lose an arm here a few years ago,” I can remember my Dad preaching to us (to this day I’m still not sure if that ever really happened).
Experiment, play, realize that failure isn’t really failure, it’s an edible part of your evolution as a bakerJeffrey Hamelman
That transformation escaped me as a young kid: how did that goopy, wet stuff in the mixer turn into such amazing pizza with a light and airy crust? My Dad seemed the alchemist and while I wouldn’t truly understand the processes happening there until later, my brother and I did make an important discovery one summer: if we stole a little bit of that pizza dough, hid it somewhere sneaky, in a day or two it would transform into a large ball with massive caverns and a thin crackly crust. You can imagine how much fun it would be hiding dough in every nook and cranny only for my Dad’s later discovery. Well fun for us at least.
Growing up Italian, and especially in a restaurant household, our lives revolved around good food made by hand. Whether it was the superlative pizza and pasta my Dad cooked at his restaurant, or the gnocchi and risotto my Mom & Grandmother prepared at home, I was imbued with this appreciation for homemade food that takes time to prepare—slow food. Long trips to visit relatives in Italy were filled with wood fired family meals, countless mornings wandering the cobblestone streets to our favorite bakeries in search of fresh croissants and bread, and last but not least, large slabs of focaccia topped with ripe tomatoes packed for a long day at the beach (yes, I was the kid at the beach always fighting for that corner slice with extra crust).
And so I developed this spirited sense of value in preparing good food, food that doesn’t have to be overly complicated or exquisite in nature, but I don’t think there are any shortcuts. To me sourdough bread is the very definition of this: it’s something that tastes exceptional when the baker takes their time to prepare it, to let the yeast & bacteria work with the flour and water to create something transcendent. My obsession with sourdough came unexpectedly, starting with The Book and shortly thereafter firmly taking hold as an almost-daily exercise.
So here at the perfect loaf, the intersection of my obsessive personality and entrenched value for good food, I focus on baking naturally leavened sourdough by hand using my wild yeast starter. I sometimes mill my own fresh flour with my manual hand-cranked mill, and added nutrition benefits aside, the taste of fresh flour is something extraordinary. Like I mention elsewhere, if I’m not baking sourdough I’m probably thinking about it — always searching for that perfect loaf.
Saveur Magazine / 2016 Editors’ Choice and Readers’ Choice Winner, The Food Obsessive
King Arthur Flour / Flourish Blog / Regular Contributor
Bread Baker’s Guild of America, Bread Lines Magazine / Multigrain Spelt Sourdough / TBD 2017
Bread Magazine / Sprouted Buckwheat Sourdough / Issue 20, December 2016
Baking Steel Blog / Whole Wheat Sourdough for the Home Baker / August 3, 2016
Bread Magazine / Baking Sourdough With Fresh Milled Flour / Issue 17, October 2015
Bake from Scratch Magazine / 9 Baking Bloggers You Should Know / 2017
Feed Feed / Multigrain Spelt Sourdough – Baking Steel Feed / November 10, 2016
Feed Feed / Sourdough Loaf (fresh milled spelt) – Freshly Baked Bread Feed / April 15, 2016
Feed Feed / Sourdough Bread (with spelt) – Freshly Baked Bread Feed / March 31, 2016
Feed Feed / Sourdough Bread From Scratch – Freshly Baked Bread Feed / January 21, 2016
Feed Feed / White Sonora Wheat Sourdough Bread – Freshly Baked Bread Feed / January 03, 2016
Looking for more reading, inspiration or instruction? This reading list has my most cherished books on baking, and in more ways than one, have changed my life for the better.
Maurizio Leo is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.