The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

book reviews

Floydm's picture

This past week I've acquired two new baking books worth mentioning here.

The first is Home Baked: Nordic Recipes and Techniques for Organic Bread and Pastry by Hanne Risgaard.  Hanne and her husband run Skærtoft Mølle, an organic mill in southern Denmark and home to one of the world's largest bread festivals each fall.

The extended title pretty well sums up the contents of the book: lots of recipes and beautiful photos of Nordic breads prepared with organic whole-grain flour. Whole wheat, spelt, and rye flours all play prominent roles, as do both sourdough and commercial yeast. There are a few more conventional options too like hamburger buns.

Jeffrey Hamelman, who penned the forward, calls attention to the final section of the book entitled "Leftovers." Indeed, some of the ways of using up old bread such as the Rye Bread Layer Cake and the Rye Bread Porridge with Whipped Cream recipes look quite intriguing.

I've not had a chance to bake from Home Baked yet, but this looks to be one of the more substantial baking books coming out this fall and one worth checking out.

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The other book I just acquired isn't new but is new to me: Andrew Whitley's Bread Matters.

Andrew Whitley is co-founder of the Real Bread Campaign in the UK and gave the keynote at this year's Kneading Conference West. In his presentation he told compelling stories about his experiences running a small bakery that uses mostly local ingredients and how a local bakery can play a pivotal role in forming a strong rural community.

Bread Matters is one part baking guide like Bread Bakers Apprentice and another part political manifesto along the lines of Omnivore's Dilemma. In it Andrew argues strongly that there is a direct correlation between the reduction in nutritional content -- and the increased use of enzymes as processing aids -- in the increasingly industrialized bread being consumed in Britain and the increase in allergic and negative health issues being experienced throughout society. His articulation of his position is worth hearing, and whether you buy his argument or not the recipes and baking instruction section of this book is substantial and impressive. I've marked a number of pages to come back to once I have a starter going strong again.

A special note for Canadians: I found a copy of Bread Matters this week at a local Indigo bookstore. It was the 2009 edition, hardcover, and in the clearance section. Original retail price $42.99, I got my copy for $9.99! If you check the website you can find out if there are any copies at that price available near you. For under ten bucks, picking up this book was a no-brainer.

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