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BREAD MATTERS: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own [Hardcover]

Andrew Whitley
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Sep 2006

Andrew Whitley, organic baker and founder of The Village Bakery, reveals the deplorable state into which modern supermarket bread has fallen, and the secrets behind making good, nutritious bread at home.

All is not well in British baking. Commercial bread is laced with additives to make it look good and stay soft. It uses varieties of wheat that have been bred for high yield and baking performance with little concern for human nutrition. To rush it through the bakery at the lowest possible cost, it's dosed with four times as much yeast as before. Described as 'fresh' when it may have been frozen and re-heated, it's sold as a loss-leader at knock-down prices which undermine what little respect it may once have commanded.

Even before the Atkins diet frightened people off, there was evidence of a massive growth of intolerance – to gluten, wheat and yeast in particular. Call it coincidence. Dismiss it as hypochondria if you will. But things have come to a pretty pass when people avoid their staple food – the staff of life – in droves.

‘Bread Matters’ offers a solution. Revealing the madness behind this modern adulteration of our most basic food as only an insider can, organic baker Andrew Whitley, founder of The Village Bakery in Melmerby, shows why and how to make real bread at home. Unlike many bread book authors, he has baked for a living for over 25 years. His recipes are fool-proof because he explains what’s really going on, demystifying the science, sharing a practical baker’s craft. Using the skills he deploys on his popular courses, he guides and inspires beginners and seasoned bakers alike. And he brings good news to those who have had to abandon bread because of dietary sensitivity, showing how to bake tasty and nutritious food without yeast, wheat or gluten.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (4 Sep 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007203748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007203741
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 19.4 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 400,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Author

Are you one of the many people who find that modern bread
doesn’t agree with them? If so, Bread Matters may be partly your

I had been making fairly ordinary breads at the Village Bakery for about
fifteen years, when people started to ring up and write in asking whether I
made any loaves without wheat, or baker’s yeast, or both. It seemed that
they felt ‘bloated’ or worse when they ate shop bread. Tests suggested
that they should avoid wheat, gluten or yeast. I brushed up my baking
skills and started to make bread differently, using rye and spelt flours
and a long rising process using only natural yeasts. Customers said they
could digest the new breads, no problem.

This set me thinking – and researching. I came to the conclusion that
there was something fundamentally wrong with the way modern bread is made,
from the chemically-grown wheat, to the roller-milled flour to the
super-fast factory production which allows no time for the dough to mature
and stuffs it with additives to give it superficial appeal. So Bread
Matters is the product of a great British belly-ache. But I hope it helps
many people to take their health in their hands and escape from the
clutches of the food industry by making their own.

© Andrew Whitley 2006

About the Author

Andrew Whitley is a leading authority on organic baking and food issues. After studying Russian at Sussex and Moscow, he joined the BBC Russian Service, where he made programmes about the emerging 'environmental crisis'. He left London in 1976 to grow his own food on an organic smallholding in Cumbria, and went on to found The Village Bakery, which has won a string of awards, culminating in the Organic Trophy. Andrew has been an occasional contributor to the Radio 4 Food Programme and has written on bread and related matters for specialist journals. He is chair of the Soil Association's Processing Standards Committee and a trustee of Voluntary Action Cumbria, the local Rural Community Council in Cumbria.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
By Paul Lynch VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you bake bread, then you will be in sympathy with what Andrew Whitley has to say. The author rants extensively about the state of the industry, and the depredations to our palate caused by the Chorleywood process with no signs of abatement. He informs this with an eye to the biochemistry of baking that is missing from most 'hard-core' bread books.

About three quarters of the book is devoted to the process of baking; we are taken through simple yeast risen recipes, and led directly into creating a no nonsense rye sourdough starter. The recipes here are centred around Russian style ryes, with additional recipes for different grains: wheat and rye of course, but also spelt and gram. Later chapters include the modern trend for flavoured doughs (tomato and onion, mushroom and garlic, etc), and cover the range from ciabatta and calzone to stollen and lardy cake, with an extensive chapter on gluten-free baking.

It should be clear to the experienced from the above description that Andrew Whitley favours working with very wet doughs, using natural leavens and a wide variety of grains. For a novice some of the descriptions could be more detailed, and the number of permutations for using leavens tends towards the confusing. On balance, I think that a novice breadmaker would be able to learn to make bread from the progressive instructions given in the three chapters devoted to this.

I baked my way through the central section of the book; I had to substitute dried yeast for his fresh yeast in the initial recipes with some stumbling on my part - the instructions for conversion are located in a different section of the book.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting thoughts on bread 14 May 2007
I bought this book for £10 at a chain bookstore. It is an interesting read & like a lot of the 'real food ' zealots , his heart is in the right place. I agree with the comments of an earlier poster - it isn't always easy or affordable for us to always eat as we wld like, yet for reasons why we should try to - read these book.

I found it a book that you need to study & the authors views give an overall view of where he sees bread in the World. The more I have progressd into making bread , the more I find myself referring back to this book. The explanations regarding the how & why of bread really do help one to understand what is ( & sadly , at times , isn't ) occuring.

If you just want a book that shows you how to make good bread , consider 100 Great Breads by Hollywood. If you are 'into' the total experience of making bread - consider this. I am happy I own it.
I now have 6 books on bread making & this is the one that I increasingly treat as the definitive text.

I am really glad I bought this & now that I understand more , I wld rate it 5 stars. This book & the one's by Hollywood & Bertinet ( Dough - but don't get the American version ) are all money well spent.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book buy for home bread making 15 April 2007
This is a terrific book. I have been baking my own bread for years but this book not only has excellent, easy-to-follow recipes but also gives the home bread baker an understanding of the ingredients and processes that go into making good (and bad!) bread. I had always been concerned when a dough was too wet - now I know not to be. Many other books on home bread making, though excellent, prove (sorry!) to be inadequate when you want to try something new - this book encourages learning how and why things happen, and them changing them to suit. It helps the reader learn about different types of flour, yeasts, sourdough, temperature, water, how gluten is changed etc. This is a must-buy book for home breadmakers.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
This is a great book, with a wide variety of interesting, easy to follow and delicous recipes. There is lots of advice and a huge amount of indepth knowledge on the state of bread in Britain today.

Not only is the book presented with a huge amount of knowledge and with obvious passion for the subject, but it is also written with a lovely gentle humour - altogether a joy to read, and to follow. Well worth the money.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Use your loaf! 23 Jan 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book, both as a serious study and as a recipe book. I had known for years that modern bread was the main reason for my and other people's ills but had no scientific proof. No longer do my friends and family look on me as freak who cannot eat modern bread. Home baking tastes wonderful and can be healthy - so don't stop with bread.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars should be a best seller 29 Sep 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
British bread is a nutritional, culinary, social and environmental mess - made from aggressively hybridised wheat that is grown in soils of diminishing natural fertility, sprayed with toxins to counter pests and diseases, milled in a way that robs it of the best part of its nutrients, fortified with just two minerals and two vitamins in a vain attempt to make good the damage, and made into bread using a cocktail of functional additives and a super-fast fermentation (based on greatly increased amounts of yeast), which inhibits assimilation of some of the remaining nutrients while causing digestive discomfort to many consumers.

Bread Matters p 53

First the diagnosis, then the therapy.

One of the reasons breadmaking is so satisfying is that it provides a balance between variation and repetition. The human body seems to need both the stimulation of different tasks and the mental relaxation produced by rhythmic repetition. Hand breadmaking has it all.

Bread Matters p 56

Salted and spiced with anecdote, Whitley writes with clarity about flour from the various cereals, their nutritional value, and their individual behaviour when we enter into the mysterious process whereby mixing water with flour motivates the yeasts to enable a fragrant and beautiful resurrection for our salvation. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Persig tinkers with his machine as a metaphor for psycho-spiritual equilibrium. So Whitley writes about bread, not simply as the staff of life, but as life itself.

There are recipes, but this is so much more than a practical recipe book, for the recipes seem woven into a narrative. First the paradise lost through industrial breadmaking, then the paradise we can regain. .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I downloaded this to my kindle and enjoyed it so much that I have now booked on the bread making course. Have many bread books but this one has to be the most informative. Read more
Published 2 months ago by whistleberry
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone interested in baking should read this...
Informed, passionate and incredibly useful for the theory and practice of baking bread - not to mention some cracking recipes. A must-own? Yes.
Published 3 months ago by Dr JB Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the print version.
I had never before bought the Kindle version for a work of reference. Unless I can be assured that pagination rather than location will be featured or that these will match... Read more
Published 6 months ago by E M Dempsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
Anyone who has ever felt oddly bloated and sleepy after eating healthy-looking supermarket whole meal bread needs to read this. Anyone with digestive disorders should read this. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Woodland Lou
4.0 out of 5 stars Important for anyone interested in real versus synthetic food
Lovely, inspiring book, lots of detail. Good grounding in the politics of food and how we got to where we are as well as detailed and inspiring recipes
Published 7 months ago by Ms S Mullery
5.0 out of 5 stars The essential guide to good bread for bread lovers.
A brilliant motivational book.

I first came across Andrew Whitley through an article in a USA newspaper [... Read more
Published 9 months ago by JohnB
5.0 out of 5 stars A bread bible
This book tells answers many of the questions about mking bread not given in recipe books in a practical and knowledgeable way. The reciped are good.
Published 9 months ago by Les
4.0 out of 5 stars A bible for bread-lovers
If you begin in the bread making, this is your book. If you are a n expert, maybe it's too simple.
Published 12 months ago by daniel muñoz
4.0 out of 5 stars great bread bible
everything you need to know about bread, what we should be eating and how to bake it and what we shouldn't be eating and how to avoid it. Great recipes and supplier lists etc. Read more
Published 15 months ago by owenarts
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
This really is the definitive guide to bread making - having never explored sour-dough I can now bake wheat, rye and rice sour-dough breads which are better than I can buy. Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2011 by jaz
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