Start your ovens. Weigh your flour. And get baking. Charlie van Over’s book, The Best Bread Ever, turns 25 years!


We love you and your bread, Charlie! (Notice how fermentation often shares its magic in unexpected ways.)

I Love You Charlie van Over


There is nothing more rewarding than having a book of one’s unique ideas published. And Charlie is one lucky guy. Thanks to many people, his simple yet sophisticated technique for using a food processor to make earthy French-style breads was discovered.

And here’s is how it happened.

Charlie experimented with bread baking as a hobby in the 1970’s.  He mixed the dough by hand, following Julia Child’s original baguette recipe. Clearly gifted, he mastered making baguettes so much so that he made them for our restaurant.

(Sandwich Jambon, shown here,  tastes the best when the baguettes are fresh.)

Country BaguettesCharlie judgin sample 11 at Best baguette New York 2019

We squeezed a commercial mixer next to the dishwasher in our apartment kitchen above the restaurant.  In the middle of the night, he’d get up to mix a few batches of dough then bring it downstairs to the restaurant kitchen to bake later in the morning.  With some adjustments, the mixer worked fine, and the bread won accolades from our customers. Not long after we opened, the production moved to an adjacent building where Charlie, a staff member or I made up to 80 baguettes a day.

(Here is Charlie showing how to start forming dough for baguettes. These photos taken by Midge Beecher are in the book.)

Shaping a baguette from the best bread ever

After we sold our restaurant, Charlie kept baking.  As he writes in the introduction to the book:

“Bread had become such an integral part of my life that when we sold our restaurant, I continued to make bread at home. Using an electric mixer often kneading by hand, I directed my efforts toward experimenting with longer and longer rising times, or fermenting of the dough, to develop deeper flavor and better texture in the finished bread.

Then one day something happened that I could only describe as pure serendipity.  We were invited to a party at Jacques Pépin’s house for Carl Sontheimer, creator of the Cuisinart food processor. Naturally, I offered to bring the bread.  As a nod to the guest of honor, Gloria, Jacques’ wife, suggested that I mix the dough in the Cuisinart.  My first thought was, “There goes my wonderful bread,” but I accepted the challenge.

The bread turned out far better than I ever imagined it would. As a result, I have spent the last eight years making bread dough in the food processor and perfecting the technique. I now believe this method is absolutely the best way to mix bread dough. Not only does the processor method produces a more highly developed dough but it also mixes the dough in a fraction of the time required with traditional mixing methods.”

Running into Charlie and his bread at an event inspired Mark Bittman, to write about it. Mark’s New York Times article in November of 1995 caught the attention of editor Harriet Bell, who wasted no time in coming to visit to sample the bread. And presto, almost as fast as one can mix up Charlie’s flavorful bread dough –  45 seconds – she offered Charlie a contract to publish his work.

July 4th celebration bread the best bread ever

Charlie and I spent a year or more working on the manuscript. (The original lies in a box in our basement. We were shock when it was returned to us papered with yellow sticky notes, all queries from the copy editor. And a faint scent of cigarette smoke.) I remember the day it arrived with its lush cover.

Here we are twenty-five years later, still making bread.  My web site is full of the love for bread baking that I share with Charlie. May these recipes, tips and stories inspire you to bake bread and lead a flavorful life as we have done these many years.

I’m not sure how we will celebrate although I do know there will be bread on the menu.

Charlie van Over 2022