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Customer Review

on 14 March 2009
I've been baking my own bread for about two years now and although I prefer artisan bread books by Dan Leader for example (Bread Alone and Local Breads, which both deliver spectacular results with wonderful crispy, chewy crusts), Beatrice Ojakangas's Whole Grain Breads is certainly a book I use frequently. There is no doubt about it - her breads are healthy, incorporating wholewheat flour, grains and seeds and they taste lovely too (most of the time anyway).

The first chapter provides you with recipes for basic wholewheat breads using various flours: mostly white and wholewheat bread flour and rye. Then there's a chapter on breads with fruits and nuts, and a further chapter on breads with grains, such as millet, bulghur wheat, rye and barley flakes, corn meal, rice. She also includes a chapter on sourdough breads both plain and with various additions. There are also yeasted coffee cakes and finally low-gluten breads made out of buckwheat flour or spelt. It has certainly introduced me to ingredients I have never used in my breads before, including buckwheat, millet, rye flakes and rye berries.

I would just like to warn readers that although the book is called Whole Grain Breads, most of the breads are actually made using mostly white bread flour with a small addition of rye or wholemeal flour(or sometimes both). So the breads you bake will not be 100% or even 50% wholegrain; more like 15-20%.

The only downside of this book is that it does not really produce spectacular results that you could give to your guests... a number of the breads have turned out "doughy" - it could be due to the wholewheat flour which is included in almost all the recipes, but I suspect it is also her old-fashioned method of mixing the ingredients and leaving them to rest for 20 minutes and then kneading for 5 minutes. I'm not quite sure how the gluten is supposed to develop after 5 minutes of kneading. After a few flat breads I have increased the kneading time to 10-12 minutes and this gives slightly better results, but I still would only bake these breads for myself alone rather than offering them to guests.

Another negative aspect is its American origin which of course results in American products; for example the book contains numerous recipes requiring Rustic Grain cereal, 3-grain, 5-grain, 7-grain or 10-grain breakfast cereals; I have never seen anything of the sort in England even though I often visit the health food shop to get my ingredients! I never know whether our muesli is 3-grain or 7-grain, which seems to be a standard in the USA.

Apart from these 2 setbacks I enjoy using this book and even though doughy, all the breads I have made so far were lovely and I enjoyed them anyway...how can you possibly not enjoy your own bread, warm from the oven with a smear of butter??
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