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

4.6 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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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 (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,271 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

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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