Here, the first effort in English or Italian to put the oral tradition of Italian baking into print. Among a vast collection of recipes is a good dose of history, describing the development and significance of bread from as far back as 170 B.C. Well-researched and thorough, the book contains a wealth of information on baking methods, ingredients, equipment and lore behind ""the Italian baker."" Almost all the recipes include instructions for making doughs by hand, electric mixer and food processor, supplemented by illustrations. The bulk of the bread recipes are, however, for true devotees of the baking art; they are time-consuming and require equipment and some dough-handling know-how. Beginning with those crusty, rough-formed loaves most commonly associated with Italian breads, the selection includes Dark Tuscan, Crocodile, and Rye from Murano. ""Newer"" breads are those created within the last ten years and are the result of kneading such ingredients as sweet peppers, green peppercorns, tomato and pesto right into dough. Pizzas from Naples, Rome, Florence and Sicily: celebration breads like Milan Sweet Bread, Fruit Bread of Bolzano and Venetian Holiday Bread, all give some indication as to the scope of the book. The author has gathered recipes and information from every corner of the country. The sweets are nearly as many and varied as the breads: tarts of lemon, pumpkin and pears; Easter Ricotta, Espresso and Walnut, Plum Cakes and such cookies as ""Snowballs"" (from the Italian Alps) and Lady's Kisses. Altogether, proof that Italian baking is a tradition well worth preserving; hats off to Field for a splendid achievement.