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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining polemic and great recipes - what more could I ask?
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.

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Published on 9 Jun 2007 by Paul Lynch

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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Passionate about good clichés
I don't doubt the sincerity of the author and his passion (dread word) for 'good' bread (never ever bad bread) but I could have done without page after page of rants about the state of the food industry. I can find that free of charge in any newspaper, magazine or TV programme and it's all become very smug and boring. I guess I should have been alerted by the title...
Published on 23 Oct 2008 by Poddy


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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining polemic and great recipes - what more could I ask?, 9 Jun 2007
By 
Paul Lynch (UK) - See all my reviews
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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. My rye starter worked exactly as he predicted, and is currently producing a series of fantastic wholemeal rye loaves and French country style wheat and rye (which he calls Cromarty Cob). The doughs all come out somewhat wetter and more fluid than the author describes, but bake successfully (which is what really matters). He also suggests baking at 220-240 C for an initial period, which my last two domestic ovens refuse to reach (they all lie about their temperature, too, which is a very common problem).

Bread Matters is joining my bookshelf alongside Ed Espe Brown, Elizabeth David, Laurel's Kitchen and Nancy Silverton. I can't say any better than that.
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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
By 
buffalob. (New York, NY, United States) - See all my reviews
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
By 
Paul Savident (London, England) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Recipes, a treatise on healthy eating and humour too, 13 May 2007
By 
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
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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
By 
D. NICHOLLS (LONDON United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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. .

Norman Douglas believed that "All culinary tasks should be performed with reverential love ... The true cook (being) the only perfect blend of artist and philosopher" offering us "the choicest gift of God."

Bread is that gift. And Bread Matters is clearly a labour of love. It should sell like hot cakes
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breadmaking as a metaphor for revolution, 6 April 2008
As a complete novice to breadmaking, I was stunned by this tour de force. I had not realised that we are eating such rubbish in the average sliced pan. This book shows how ordinary mortals can bake delicious and nutritious bread from two ingredients (flour and water) using time as the third ingredient. Along the way, the author decries the state of modern UK bread - soft gooey pap which reflects the sickening influences of the nanny state and big business. I have followed the recipes and produced bread which is consistently devoured by my three kids. They take three slices each into school for lunch every day and are mobbed by their friends for 'a taste'. In a way this is a sad book because it highlights how much we have lost in our rush to make fast cheap food for the masses. On the other hand it is a clarion call for revolution! If I can bake bread, anyone can. I urge all readers of this review to buy this book, for its fascinating history, biochemistry, biology and political content... and most of all for the tasty bread it teaches the reader to create. Well done for a heroic effort Mr. Whitley!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation, 9 Oct 2006
This book is essential for those who have an intolerance to modern, shop bought bread. Andrew will open your eyes to the great experiment that the Chorleywood process is on the general population without thought to nutrition.

If you value your food, and wonderful bread in particular, then this is the book for you. Buy it.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sourdough rye proves a success for novice baker...., 26 Sep 2006
By 
Martin Campbell (Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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It's a really good book, clearly illustrated and thoughtfully written. As a professional photographer I appreciate the photographs, as a first time novice baker who just produced his first Sourdough Rye bread by following Andrews clear and well explained instructions, I will appreciate the book for its recipes. I have posted a longer review with images on Cumbria's on-line food magazine, called [...] it covers the food scene in Cumbria as well as producers like the Organic Village Bakery originally set up by the author Andrew Whitley.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative & Inspirational, 9 July 2009
By 
Daniel L. Young (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
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Want to know about bread? Thinking about baking again, or starting? Buy it. Packed full of more information about commercial bread than you will probably want to discover followed by a demystifying approach to making your own - after a class at R Bertinet's in Bath and this along with another couple of books I ain't stoppped baking!
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