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Cereal Foods World, Vol. 63, No. 2
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1094/CFW-63-2-0052
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​Defining Artisan: What It Is and What It Means
Jeff Yankellow1
King Arthur Flour Company and Bread Bakers Guild of America

1 King Arthur Flour Company, Regional Sales Manager, Bakery Flour Sales, West, 62 Fogg Farm Rd., White River Junction, VT 05001, U.S.A., and Bread Bakers Guild of America, Chair of the Board, 670 West Napa St., Ste. B, Sonoma, CA 95476, U.S.A. Tel: +1.802.299.7626; E-mail: jeff@bbga.org


What is artisan bread? Is it the ingredients, the process, the amount of work done by hand or machine, or the bread itself that matters most? There will never be unanimous agreement on a definition, because it is subjective. Looking at the most common definitions for “artisan,” it is most often used as a noun to describe a skilled craftsperson, who is often doing the work by hand. This article focuses on the part of the definition that describes the work as being done by hand to put the work of an artisan baker in context and establish a point of reference. Two hundred years ago bread was sustenance, a basic food, that was not categorized by titles. The only way to make bread was by hand—there were no machines or only very basic machines, no chemical additives, and no commercial yeast. Bread was the result of a process that required long hours, hard physical labor, and a working knowledge of the ingredients and how to coax the best out of them. It is only now, after the development of high-speed baking processes, that we are defining what is artisan bread to distinguish it from commercially mass-produced bread in the marketplace.

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