Last fall King Arthur Flour sadly stopped producing its much loved monthly newsletter, The Baking Sheet. But they promised to replace it with something even better. That promise has been fulfilled with the premier issue of Sift Magazine, whose tagline reads, Living Breathing Baking.
Unlike The Baking Sheet, which was available only by subscription, Sift is an over-sized, full color publication available at newsstands nationwide. Not knowing what to expect, it held a few surprises for me. My impressions:
I expect excellence from everything King Arthur produces and Sift is no exception. The magazine is glossy eye-candy, sure to catch your attention on the shelf. The premier issue includes many tasty recipes including a section of celebration breads, and a section called The Bread Board.
If you are familiar with King Arthur cookbooks or their baking blog, you will find many of the same and similar tips in Sift. There is an article about Jeffrey Hamelman, a certified Master Baker and the Director of the King Arthur Bakery. This was not unexpected, but we learn something completely new about Mr. Hamelman, as the article focuses on his life as a beekeeper.
Time saving tips and education snip-its are scattered throughout, and there is an advice for bakers column. Advertisements are few and far between, making it easier to focus on the articles and tips.
Photos, photos, and more photos. The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion is one of my favorite cookbooks. It is large and all-encompassing, but it is not fancy. Sift is fancy. Beautiful photos adorn nearly every page. It’s a magazine you can confidently leave on your coffee table when company is expected. It’s not a “rip out the recipes and toss the rest” kind of publication, it’s a keepsake. Will you make the recipes in the magazine? Yes, but you won’t want to splash them with ingredients while cooking. And those photos even extend to the techniques. Instead of the usual illustrations, Sift includes photos for several baking and cooking techniques.
The tagline should have been a tip-off, but I was surprised to see articles about more than just baked goods. There is an uplifting article about the Homeboy Bakery in Los Angeles. Homeboy Bakery provides employment for former gang members, helping them leave their previous lifestyle and learn useful skills at the same time. Other articles explore the best U.S. cities for unique sandwiches and an exploration of food editor Khalil Hymore’s Lebanese comfort foods.
The End Result
I can’t help but be a little disappointed with Sift. But maybe that’s because I am a Luddite. Sift is at once more and less than its predecessor The Baking Sheet. I can’t help but feel that Sift is less about technique and more about perusing. That it is written less for the niche baker and more for today’s enthusiastic foodie. These aren’t bad things, just different. As someone who grew up in New England, with a mother who insisted on King Arthur flour when King Arthur Flour was a small local company, I have always been a fan. King Arthur has grown to include not just flours but baking equipment, mixes, and a well respected baking center. Sift is another product to extend their line. I’ll get over my grief at the loss of The Baking Sheet. And I am looking forward to the next issue of Sift, available August 25th! You can get your own copy at your local newsstand or order from the King Arthur Flour site.