January 04, 2008

Whole Wheat Goodness

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.


Technorati Tags:

+ +

20 comments:

Deborah said...

I have the Bread Baker's Apprentice, and love how detailed the recipes are. I can't wait to get this book!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

I will definitely have to check out this book. One of my new year resolutions is to work more with whole grains, so this fits the bill nicely.

Gattina said...

Great review!
Delayed ferrmentation, besides of yielding a better crumb, for me, is just realistic. The natural room temperature in my kitchen is always cool (probably just 60F or even lower); the dough is simply to be there happy-go-luck. But always, the last rising I'd set it at a 75F-room.
I like any bread book with lengthy-explanation; will go look up this book you recommend, thanks B!

Peabody said...

I got this for Christmas. I have yet to delve into since life is still hectic...not sure why though. Looks good and I am excited to make bread from it.

Tiffany said...

That book is on my wish list. Can you tell me if he includes mods for bread machines? I know, so non-traditional...but I got a new bread machine for Christmas :-) I made whole wheat in it this week and it was really good, but a little too dense for my liking.

Quellia said...

I think the Bread Baker's Apprentice is on my short list of wants for my kitchen. And making bread today would be a great idea.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

What's the deal? Does winter bring out bread baking. I spent long times reading this one. Really enjoyed his relating how it came about. Just haven't jumped in to make one from this book yet. Nice review.

creampuff said...

Brilynn,

First of all, let me say Happy New Year! Hope your studies go very well!

I have Reinhart's new book but have yet to try anything. One of my goals for the new year is to use more whole grains so I'll have to get down to making some of this bread. Your loaf looks yummy!

Paz said...

Very nice. now i'm hungry for some of this. ;-)

Happy New Year!

Paz

Lydia said...

I've been using white whole wheat mixed with a bit of all-purpose flour in place of 100% whole wheat in bread recipes lately. I have enough doorstops, I guess, and this mix seems to make a bit lighter, but still very wheaty, bread.

Madam Chow said...

Brilynn, now I know what I'm going to spend my Amazon Christmas gift certificate on! Thanks for the post. And I mentioned you in a post about Dorie Greenspans' chocolate chunker cookies!

Cynthia said...

Thanks for the feedback on this book Brilynn, very helpful. I have his baker apprentice book.

bittersweetblog said...

What a lovely loaf... I've never actually made my own sandwich bread, although I must say I'm now sorely tempted. I suppose this will become a new year's resolution- Although I sure hope it doesn't take me all year to get to it!

Sara said...

Never heard of him, but boy does that bread look good! I'm adding the book to my wish list.

Bellini Valli said...

If I had any New Years' resolutions, one would be to make more bread...or lets say any bread at all. This looks like a foolproof method for sure Brilynn!!!

Annemarie said...

There are so many tempting reasons to get a Peter Reinhart book, I'm not sure why I haven't just bought one yet - looks fab.

breadchick said...

I was wondering about this one. I have BBA and it is one of my go to bread books but I have barely cracked the KA Whole Grain book. I think I'm going to have to give this one a look-see.

Mer said...

Thanks for this review. Sounds like a great book!

May I ask (since I have a milk allergy) if the sandwich bread you made and photographed calls for milk?

Rivka said...

Don't have the book, but perhaps I should! Great review. I also tend to mix in some all-purpose flour with my whole wheat as some commenters have said, but when I'm using higher %ages of whole wheat, I stick to King Arthur organic white whole wheat flour. It yields wonderful texture and great crumb without sacrificing whole wheat goodness. Thanks for the post!

Karen said...

I picked up this book at the library the other day, and might just have to invest in it.
I find it very inspiring, in spite of the kind of lengthy processes of making two starters.
The flavor must be amazing, though and worth it.