World-Class Baking with Sprouted & Whole Grains, Heirloom Flours & Fresh Techniques
“The baker’s mission is to evoke the full potential of flavor trapped in the grain.”
This is my first cookbook review for LunaCafe, and oh what a cookbook. Peter Reinhart has written the kind of cookbook passionate cooks yearn for. It’s not just about the intriguing recipes (which are precise and well written, aka trust-worthy). Or the seductive pictures (which are abundant and help tell the story). Or the careful design (which aids comprehension). Or the thorough editing (which is top-notch).
In other words, this is a cookbook that will enlighten your mind and enlighten your baking. It’s a thinking cook’s cookbook. My favorite kind.
On a first very quick review, I erroneously concluded that this book is not for the casual bread baker who simply wants a reliable formula that can be easily and quickly repeated ad infinitum. If you quickly scan this book in the bookstore or online, you may make the same wrong conclusion.
So let’s get this out of the way. My initial conclusion proved to be completely false. Even a novice or harried bread baker will gain much from this beautifully conceived book. The author wisely includes nearly two dozen quick bread (baking powder/soda leavened) recipes, which are all within the grasp of even a beginner baker.
And recipes run the full gamut: tea breads, bagels, baguettes, biscuits, biscotti, brioche, bread, crackers, croissants, English muffins, focaccia, muffins, pancakes, pizza, pretzels, and rolls. And they are written with precision and clarity (including volume, ounces, grams, percentage of weight).
Although discussion on the theory and processes involved on the new bread frontier may seem weighty at times, the recipes are not complicated. For most of the yeast bread recipes, ease and speed are accomplished with the inclusion of sprouted wheat flour—a product that is increasingly available in natural food markets and grocery stores.
As the author says, “Sprouting the wheat changes it so much that many of the “rules” for artisan breads, such as pre-ferments and long, slow rising times, are unnecessary. The aims of those techniques can be achieved in less time with sprouted flour because the sprouting phase has already accomplished what pre-ferments and long fermentation typically do.”
Nevertheless, long time bakers will perhaps benefit most from this book. If, after a few years of producing loaf after predictable loaf of perfectly delicious bread, you find yourself wondering how far you can take the trifecta of flour, yeast and water, and especially if you become obsessed with the myriad nuances and compelling adventure of bread baking, this book is your roadmap. Bread baking at the level espoused by Bread Revolution requires commitment born of a driving curiosity and sense of adventure.
But if you initially feel intimidated by the chapters on sourdough starters, sprouted flour, sprouted pulp, whole milling, or wild yeast “trap” cultures, here’s what to do.
In Portland, Oregon, run to Whole Foods or Food Front, grab a bag of sprouted whole wheat flour, and flip to page 52. Make Sprouted Wheat Pancakes. When you are eating your sixth pancake, it will suddenly dawn on you why the concepts in this ground-breaking book are so important. In one word? FLAVOR.
We are on the threshold of a new frontier in bread baking. It involves game changing techniques (stretch and fold, wild yeast “trap” starters), natural leaveners, sprouted wheat (and non-wheat) flours, whole milled flours, and exotic flours (such as seed flours, grape skin flour, and coffee cherry flour).
As Peter Reinhart says (on the subject of natural wild yeast starters), “This is a bread method that symbolizes the depths of the bread quest. It doesn’t just push the envelope, it shatters the envelope.”
Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- One Degree Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour | Whole Foods
- Peter Reinhart Rethinks Baking with Sprouted Grain | The Columbian
- To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company
- Peter’s Blog, “Bread Revolution” | Pizza Quest
- Sprouted Grain | Pinterest Board
Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this unbiased review. All opinions expressed here are mine.