My past experiences with baking 100% whole wheat bread have generally yielded loaves that are good for little more than doorstops; dense and heavy. That’s why I was eager to read bread guru Peter Reinhart’s new book Whole Grain Breads. Reinhart is also the author of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice which is a go to book for countless home bread bakers. His latest book begins by recounting how he came to develop the idea and recipes for the book and proceeds to give us an explanation of the science behind making bread with whole wheat. This is followed by the recipes he developed, using entirely new techniques and perfected with the help of 350 testers. The result is a wealth of whole grain bread recipes that range from sandwich bread to brioche to naan.
Reinhart suggests beginning with the sandwich loaf to get a feel for a technique that is unlike any you’ve probably used before and to try a recipe a couple times before giving up on it entirely. This is sound advice as the recipes are quite lengthy. You shouldn’t be intimidated by the length though as the recipes are very clear and come complete with photographs to guide you. The other reason for the length is that these recipes are not quick. Each one is at least a two day affair although much of that time is not hands on.
The secret to an excellent whole wheat loaf lies in the process of delayed fermentation which Reinhart does a wonderful job of explaining in highly accessible language. I’ve already made the sandwich loaf twice and it has been my most successful whole wheat bread to date. Granted, pretty much anything would have been an improvement over my previous attempts but this bread goes beyond being simply edible to actually being enjoyable! And miracle of miracles, it rose too! If you or someone you know is an avid bread baker, this book is a must have. My third loaf of sandwich bread is on the go and I have plans to make some awesome roasted chicken and sprout sandwiches very soon.
***This post can also be seen on Paper Palate.
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