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Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads

Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads

New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor

by Peter Reinhart
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Hardcover, 309 pages
Current Retail Price: $35.00

A veteran baker who teaches his craft at the university level is probably a good source of wisdom for anyone from the beginning amateur to the practiced housewife looking to improve her repertoire. Peter Reinhart is a master, and in Whole Grain Breadshe leads readers through the science and art of making whole grain bread that actually tastes good. Or, as he says "very, very good."

Beginning with the basics like comparisons of different kinds of grain, the best fermentation techniques, making starter, and how to form your loaf in traditional shapes, Reinhart follows the fundamentals with recipes for everything from brioche to naan to crackers. Whenever he offers advice, such as how to mix your dough in an electric mixer, he supports it scientifically rather than simply by making assertions.

Not many recipe books are easy or fun to just read—this one is. Partly it's the conversational tone, but mostly it's the fascinating information that helps us not just learn how to make bread; it helps us understandand knowbread. We learn why we generally prefer white bread (it's mostly sugar) and what flavors to look for in artisanal whole grain breads. We also learn why whole grain bread is so much healthier than its more refined counterpart.

Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breadswon't just turn you into a bread snob. While that might be a secondary result, the real benefit is to help anyone bake the kind of bread they should eat and make it taste like the kind of bread they want to eat. Recipes are fully and clearly explained from beginning to end, and every stage in between. Reinhart introduces some new techniques—judging from the results, they'll undoubtedly become standards.

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  100% Whole Wheat Bread, Fluffy & Flavorful
Amanda Evans of Oregon, 4/27/2011
I am writing this review for my mom, Karen Lyons. She is too busy cooking to write a review of a cookbook so this is what she told me over the kitchen counter.

After making bread for nearly 30 years, she didn't think there was a "new technique." The bread she made when I was growing up was always decent, but it tasted homemade: a bit dense, dark and heavy. Then one day we came over for a family dinner and ate a loaf (or two or three) made from Peter Reinhart's 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread recipe. We were astounded! It really was 100% whole wheat, but it was fluffier and more flavorful than anything you can buy at the store. The texture was perfect, the taste was perfect, and we all ate it right up!

In my mom's words, "That recipe alone is worth the price of the book!"

If you think baking with whole wheat yields bread only "healthy people" would bother eating, think again. Reinhart's "new technique" is rather involved but it has yielded those amazing results for my mom time and time again. Mom recommends sticking to the basic recipe until each step is mastered and the whole method is familiar. This is no romantic throw-it-together-and-pop-it-in-the-oven method, but the results are worth the effort you put into it. And the more precise you are, the more consistent your results will be.

This recipe does not produce an eat-it-hot out of the oven bread: it is much better at room temperature and the flavor even improves after a day. It keeps well in the freezer (freeze loaves unsliced) for up to three weeks.