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Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own Paperback – 5 Feb 2009
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‘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
From the Author
Are you one of the many people who find that modern bread
doesnt 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 bakers 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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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...
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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