Alan Scott 1936 - 2009

(Photo credit : Art Rogers, the New York Times)

I learned today of the death of Alan Scott, co-author of the seminal book, The Bread Builders. He was also owner of the company, Ovencrafters, which specialized in hand-built brick ovens. His book undoubtedly touched millions of professional and novice bakers, including the one typing these words. When I came across his book I devoured it; the pages are so full of information but at the same time written in an easy to understand way. It's mostly because of his book that I have learned to truly understand sourdough bread making. It is also because of his book the I built an outdoor wood-fired oven at my previous residence. And his book is without doubt the reason I am able to bake naturally-leavened loaves of bread like this one:

On a separate but inadvertently related note: The church of which I am a member is Pilgrim-St. Luke's UCC on the corner of Richmond and Utica in Buffalo, NY. I am also a member of the Board of Deacons. When serving communion we break bread with a loaf of bread, opposed to communion wafers. The reason I am mentioning this is that when I am scheduled to assist the Pastor in serving communion I more-often-than-not bake the bread the night before. I was scheduled today and baked a beautiful loaf last night, this was before I learned of Mr. Scott's death; I read of the news this morning. Later, as I stood at the side of the altar with another Deacon while our Pastor said a prayer and held the loaf of bread and broke it, I was struck by how beautiful it was. I also realized how effortless it is for me to bake such a beautiful loaf, and this, I thought, was partly to do with Alan Scott's book. And for that I am very thankful...I am sure his work will influence bakers for generations to come. Thank you Alan Scott, thank you very much.

If you would like to read his obituary on the New York Times, click here.