SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 17, 2013

From bakery to bookshelf

A&J King, the owners of Salem's popular shop, have written their first cookbook

By Bethany Bray
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — Andy and Jackie King are getting back to basics with their first book.

Titled “Baking by Hand: Make the Best Artisanal Breads and Pastries Better Without a Mixer,” the Kings’ first foray into the publishing world contains more than 100 recipes, some developed especially for the book and others that are favorites at their thriving bakery on Central Street.

The book’s focus, as the title suggests, is on making bread, pastry, pies and other goodies simply, and by hand.

“We wanted to get back to basics, take the mixer out of the equation entirely,” Andy said.

“People made bread with their hands for 7,000 years, and then people suddenly forgot how to do that,” he said. “ ... Sometimes we need something that ties us to the home. We’re so go, go, go all the time. Sometimes we need something to make us stay, stay, stay.”

“Baking by Hand” comes out in late August but is currently available for preorder online. The Kings, a husband-and-wife team who met in culinary school, opened A&J King Artisan Bakers in 2006.

They tested and retested each of the book’s recipes in their own home kitchen to ensure that a home cook could replicate the item.

Amid the recipes are a lot of photos, taken at the Kings’ home and the bakery, as well as interviews with their staff bakers and other glimpses into the day-to-day goings-on at A&J King Artisan Bakers.

The couple said they’re aiming to convey the vibe of their bakery, as well as their passion for food.

“We wanted to capture the fun we have here. ... We love to bake, that’s why we do this,” Andy said, “and we want people to be able to do this at home.”

The book will have recipes for bread, of course, as well as pastries, tarts, pies and even their from-scratch sandwich fillings, such as pickles, roasted garlic and red peppers.

The idea for “Baking by Hand” got rolling when a local publisher, William Kiester, came into the bakery and approached the couple about doing a book.

Andy has done some food writing, for The Portland Phoenix and for Down East and Bon Appetit magazines. He said he always thought that writing a book would be fun, but never had the time to devote to a manuscript.

Kiester walked them through the process, as the couple spent a frenzied three months writing and testing recipes.

“It took a lot of work. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. It was exactly as hard as Jackie thought it would be,” Andy said, chuckling.

Andy and Jackie King live in Topsfield with their two children, ages 8 and 3, next door to the house where Jackie grew up.

Their bakery has grown and succeeded over the course of seven years. They do little marketing and rely mostly on word-of-mouth.

When they opened in 2006, A&J King Artisan Bakers consisted of Andy, Jackie and five retail staffers. Now, they have 25 full- and part-time employees.

Andy estimates they’ve seen an average of 20 percent sales growth each year.

It’s a success that wouldn’t have come without the support of the community, the couple agreed. It’s been “what has kept us here,” Jackie said.

“We like to keep it local. We want to be a destination bakery,” Andy said. “Expanding to be a huge behemoth goes against our philosophy.”

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.