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Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own Paperback – 5 Feb 2009

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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: 19 x 3.8 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 56,306 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.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. R. Brown on 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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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Horse Lover on 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 By K. Gill on 15 July 2010
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Alexander on 16 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is very important to those who feel tired, bloated, unwell or even suffer IBS after eating mass produced bread.Indeed it is important to everyone who eats bread. This book carefully explains the reasons why, certainly in the UK, it is possible to sell us bread which is substandard and contains unclear additives. You sense the mass produced bread industry has a huge political weight behind it given the poor product it is allowed to peddle (strangely it seems only UK bread that causes people problems - much of the continental breads must be better made).

Unlike most books on similar subjects, this one gives you the answer. The recipes are fantastic and if you are a complete hapless idiot in the kitchen like me, you'll be surprised at the simplicity of making bread and what you can do. Frankly I can do it, anyone can and the sense of achievement is wonderful!!

I thought I would not be able to eat bread again because of the effects it had on my digestive system but this book has changed that. Truly fantastic.
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