On Nov. 7, 1979, Taste readers were treated to a breadmaking tutorial from none other than James Beard.

The dean of American cookery traveled to Minnesota as part of the opening festivities at the state's first Williams-Sonoma cookware store. During his visit, Beard spent some time with Taste staff writer Ann Burckhardt, reminiscing about his lifelong fascination with breadmaking, a process nurtured from boyhood, when he was engrossed in the goings-on inside the kitchen of his mother's boardinghouse in Portland, Ore.

Beard's preferred one-handed kneading method went something like this: Sprinkle the dough and your working hand lightly with flour. Fold the dough over, give it a quarter turn, and push again with your hand. Continue the sequence of pushing, folding and turning until it becomes a rhythmic motion.

"Knead until the dough no longer feels sticky and has a smooth, satiny, elastic texture," said Beard. "Add more flour, if necessary. This will take from 4 to 10 minutes. Test whether the dough has been kneaded enough by making an indention in it with your finger; it should spring back. Sometimes blisters will form on the surface of the dough and break, another sign that kneading is sufficient." (Find a few James Beard bread recipes at www.startribune.com/tabletalk.)

Beard was an enthusiastic advocate for technological advances available to home bread bakers (including the food processor and the electric mixer fitted with a dough hook; the bread machine would not be widely available for another decade), but only to a point. "Beard is loath to leave all the kneading to a machine, and recommended finishing off kneading by hand," wrote Burckhardt.

During his Minneapolis visit, the prolific Beard was immersed in the production of his 21st cookbook (he died six years later, at age 81). He told Burckhardt that writing and recipe-testing "Beard on Bread," his 1973 bestseller, was one of the most rewarding periods of his career.

"If you know what you're doing, you can do practically anything with yeast dough and get a good loaf," Beard said. "It's a mysterious business, this making of bread. Once you are hooked by the miracle of yeast, you'll be a breadmaker for life."