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Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own [Paperback]

Andrew Whitley
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
RRP: £20.00
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Book Description

5 Feb 2009

Andrew Whitley, organic baker and founder of The Village Bakery, reveals the deplorable state into which mass produced 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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (5 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007298498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007298495
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 19 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘What an important book; passionate and polemical and full of truth. The chapter too on gluten-free baking is original and inspiring.’Bee Wilson, Sunday Telegraph and New Statesman

‘This will be the most important book on baking since the publication of Elizabeth David’s “English Bread and Yeast Cookery”.’ Rose Prince

'Makes for interesting reading, and Whitley makes the information accessible by using easy-to-follow tables where appropriate…Throughout the book Whitley has dotted interesting historical footnotes to recipes and practical tips to recover from baking disasters. The book is comprehensive in its span of recipes and its examination of the baking process.' Caterer and Hotelkeeper

'A superb and necessary new book.' Bee Wilson, The Sunday Telegraph

'Every bit as feisty as the title implies…a good sense book that includes recipes for sour-dough and gluten-free baking.' The Independent

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
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bread Really Does Matter! 16 April 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author would do well to advise making a loaf before starting to read this book - all the better to sustain the reader while working through it. It is a weighty read, but absorbing and informative. The discovery that bread making includes fermentation was a surprise, so settle down with your favourite tipple! My wife and I have greatly enjoyed reading it.

Much of the book is about how bread and flour have developed and just exactly what goes into the modern mass-produced loaf, which is a real eye opener, before guiding the reader through making bread by hand, using the simplest ingredients. The distinction between these two aspects of the book (the Why and How) is somewhat blurred and I would prefer that they were more clearly segregated. Deciding on our approach has required dotting about through the book, so we can prepare ourselves for following the otherwise excellent guidance within.

Written in a very readable style, but with great passion and authority, it is difficult to imagine how such a thick book could deal with so apparently simple a topic, but the deceit of government and industry is breath taking, where our daily bread is concerned! Read it for this aspect alone.

I have only occasionally made bread by hand, however am on my second bread machine, having used one regularly for over a decade. After reading this book my wife and I are on the threshold of making bread from first principles, using flour and water alone, with a pinch of salt. A very informative and life changing read...
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars follow the instructions and you can't fail 5 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I made some attempts at making bread some years ago. The loaves would have made admirable house bricks, or with appropriate decoration, fake gold bullion bars. I gave up. Bread machines then became available and I started making loaves again. This time with more sucess but I find the loaves a little "cakey". I ultimately moved to France and for the last 5 years I have been enjoying (mostly) the offerings of the french bakers. But don't be fooled, it's not always everything it's cracked up to be. With the recession biting, I decided to dust off the bread machine and start baking my own "cakey" loaves again. Not the best but I know what goes into them.

I then stumbled across an old Garden Organic mag and found this book reviewed. I decided to give it a shot although I did wonder if it would be hot air, since even here in france the local artisan made wholemeal organic loaf is dry and bricklike, so how could I possibly do better?

Well I can confidently say, having read this book, I have easily surpassed the offerings of my local bakery! It takes relatively little time. Make the dough the night before in the Kenwood Chef with the dough hook, takes maybe 10 minutes, shape it the following morning and bake. Much easier than getting the car out etc and saves me a bit of cash. Over the couple of weeks I have owned this book I would say it has easily paid for itself (I can make a 1kg loaf - organic wholemeal - for less than £1).

So far I have made only the basic loaf, wanting to perfect that but it would be quite easy to manage on just that. Although there is a whole range of exotic breads you might like to try (and I probably will eventually). Incidentally I find that the loaves cook really well on a gas barbeque sat on a metal tray dusted with flour.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good reading, good recipes 15 July 2010
By K. Gill
I was first put on to the British artisanal bread movement by an article in Jamie Magazine (July/Aug 09) beautifully photographed by Chris Terry. I wanted to know more, so when I took a trip to London later last year, I picked up this book. It's all about the evolution of the bread industry and the ingredients which go into industrial loaves and why you should prefer artisanal breads and even try making your own at home. Whitley owned and ran a bakery from 1976-2002, and this comprehensive work, grew out of his experiences during that time. I like the book because it thoroughly explains every aspect of bread making and its ingredients, what techniques and ingredients are necessary and which aren't (`debunking' other bread book instructions), provides troubleshooting advice, and provides recipes for all great British baked goods. The recipes uses quite a range of flours, and many of the recipes build on each other, so once you've learned the basics, you're unstoppable. For a beginner, this is a perfect book, and is not as technical as the Bourke Street Bakery. What it lacks in terms of photographs of technique, it more than makes up for in clarity of text. The images in the book are also quite beautiful. Whitley offers "Bread Matters" courses at Macbiehill Farmhouse, Lamancha, West Linton in the Scottish Borders
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bread Bible? 6 April 2013
By Rubeto
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having bought and consumed the following four 'bread books' lately: 1. How To Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou 2. The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard 3. Dough by Richard Bertinet 4. & this one Bread Matters. It is my opinion that this book by Andrew Whitley is the best; if you want to understand why we should all at least have a go at making your own bread. It is explains in detail how to make the 'proper' bread that Andrew is championing. For me, the opening 49 pages about the current state of bread in the UK were extremley enlightening; so much so that i would say they were the best 49 pages I've read in any book for quite some time.
The remainder of the book covers in detail (far more than the other three books) the process that needs to be followed to make you own breads - of many different types. It is not just a recipe book, its bread culture, science, history and methodology in one great book. I refer back to this book far more than the others. I thought the opening of the book was so good I even gave it to my Mum to read - she was amazed too at the state of what the majority of us perceive to be 'bread'.
for what its worth the other three books rank in this order (after Andrews); 2 How To Make Bread by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou. Great layout, great pictures, nice recipes, new and effective (though not efficient for me) methodology. 3. Dough by Richard Bertinet. DVD good for those that learn better by seeing, rather than reading. No sourdough section. He does make things nice and simple and his skill is obvious. 4. The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard. Nice but the regional focus did not quite hit the mark for me. That said some really nice recipes, and Dans photos that he took himself adds a very personal element to the book.

But in summary - - - Bread Matters will be my 'bread bible'. I would recommend that anyone interested in bread (not just recipes) should buy it and enjoy being enlightened. Then join the Real Bread Campaign.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview on how the industry sees how to make ...
Great overview on how the industry sees how to make bread. One of the most fundamental part of our food chain... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jan Van Sweevelt
5.0 out of 5 stars I really love this book as it has really opened my eyes ...
I really love this book as it has really opened my eyes to all aspects of bread making. Found some sourdough recipes tricky to make but this is really my doing (and the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sarah Hallett
4.0 out of 5 stars Bread Matters book
I read about this book in a goody magazine and it is as good as described. Highly recommended. Very informative.
Published 4 months ago by Jack Degnan
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality
This book is especially good for the info on bread rather than the recipes themselves. For those who love bread, this is a must have!
Published 5 months ago by Aftiti
1.0 out of 5 stars Gluten free section is full of fail.
I looked at this book for the gluten free section at the back. Every recipe I have tried has been an utter failure.
Published 8 months ago by Chloe
5.0 out of 5 stars Pages of information on bread
Very informative book on making bread for all levels of bread bakers. Managed to get some very good loaves of bread from following all the handy tips. Read more
Published 9 months ago by partygirl
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
this book is a worthwhile purchase to anybody that makes bread and anybody that is interested in making bread, it is suitable for all levels. Read more
Published 10 months ago by eltel07
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Great book as it has open my eyes to the world of processed breads. As a keen baker I try to give my family homemade products. Great tips and methods used. Glad I purchased.
Published 11 months ago by Sasha
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Have baked loads of stuff and intend doing much more. Everyone in the family are enjoying the fruits of my labours!!!!
Published 13 months ago by jules
4.0 out of 5 stars Bread Matters
Yes, it does ,and I am attempting to make my own because I cannot stand the shop 'pap', whether supermarket rubbish or private bakery. Read more
Published 16 months ago by M. Jordan
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