The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Techniques in Reinhart's New Book - Application to Whole Grain Breads

mariajef's picture

Techniques in Reinhart's New Book - Application to Whole Grain Breads

I have just noticed that Peter Reinhart has a new book called "Artisan Breads Every Day ." I have three of his other books, and prize his whole grain book, since whole grain breads have been my focus over the last 20 years. I don't have the new book but in looking "Inside the book" on Amazon, notice that Reinhart addresses the "stretch and fold" and cold fermentation techniques, and he also addresses naturally fermented ("sourdough") breads.  While he has addressed cold fermentation In the past (in his pain I'ancienne recipe in the apprentice book), I'm curious as to how this would apply to whole grain breads.

And, unless I missed it, Reinhart did not talk about "stretch and fold" technique in his whole grain book. 

I don't really feel like buying another bread book, esp. one that's not focused on whole grain baking.  But am wondering how Reinhart's discussion in his new book would affect an whole grainer's approach to baking.  

Any ideas?



Janknitz's picture

And I'm not happy yet--I haven't tried any of the techniques or formulas yet, so my opinion may change.

So far I am finding his explanations of techniques and the reasons why the gluten still develops without preferments or kneading kind of unfocused and not matching his usual thoroughness. There are strange inclusions in the book (a 5 page spread on what he intends to cover in the NEXT book?)

I don't see much difference between his formulas and other no knead proponents (yes, there is less yeast than the 5 minute people, but you cannot store PR's dough anyhwere near as long).

And the breads still require a lot of "hands on" time. His "lean dough" formula requires 4 S&F's at 10 minute intervals over a 45 minute period. That's precisely the time and attention I want to avoid spending when making a no knead bread! And some formulas (e.g. croissants) may be no knead but still take almost as much hands on time as their traditional counterparts. The overnight rise to develop flavor and give control can be done with kneaded doughs as well.

As I said, the jury's still out but I may regret this purchase (on sale-thank goodness) in the long run.

Janknitz's picture

OK, I tried the bagels in Artisan Breads Every Day, and I must say I'm impressed.  They were very easy to do and taste great.  

I shaped them after the overnight retardation and that was the only hard part.  The dough was pretty tough and resistant, even after a rest.  But it's hard to find room in a fridge for a whole tray of shaped bagels.  

The method was easy as pie, and the results highly worth it.  So I'm not sorry about the purchase anymore, and I'm eager to try another recipe :o)  

I don't think I ever would have tackled bagels with PR's original recipe, so I'm glad that I have this book instead.



farina22's picture

Have you tried Nancy Silverton's bagel recipe? My Brooklyn-born husband and our East Coast transplant friends (me included) all agree that these are at least as good as H&H bagels from back in the day and I think they are better than PR's. It does call for retarding that tray overnight though. If you already have a wet starter, these bagels are very easy if your mixer can handle a very stiff dough. I have a DLX that does it with ease. I'd be much less comfortable using a Kitchenaid.

Mebake's picture

In his book, Peter emphasizes on two new techniques, which ultimately result in more or less same outcome as artisan bakers.

One is delayed fermentation, where the fermented part of the dough (BIGA) is allowed to ferment outside the fridge for approx. 1 hour, and then left to retard in the fridge for 24 hours and upto 3 days. The reason why this is done, is to allow the enzymes in the dough to slowly break up the starch in the dough into simpler sugars easily digested by yeast and bacteria (if sourdough), and thereby giving the bread a sweeter and more digestable properties.

The other part of the dough (SOAKER), which happens to be the remaining half, is left to autolyze, strengthening gluten as it sits, and allowing enzymes to do their work.

Second key technique is the epoxy method, as peter calls it. The method is about cuting the BIGA and the SOAKER into tiny bits by a knife, and mixing them up to form the final dough. I'am not quite sure as to the significance of it, but it has helped me in firming up the final dough to pass the windowpane test.

Hope this Helps..



mrfrost's picture

Video of Reinhart explaining the "epoxy" method and his whole grain philosopy/techniques.

Scroll down the page to the "Whole Grains.." review to see video player.

Should also be on youtube, somewhere.

mariajef's picture

Thanks for your comments.

But you're talking about his techniques in the whole grain book, which I have and have used extensively.  I was hoping to find out if his new book has any applications worth using in whole grain breads.

buckeyebaker's picture

I have similar issues with comparing the newest  book and the WGB (and earlier BBA). As one of the 400 testers for the new book, I wasn't convinced the new recipes were any "better" or "worse", but they do make the process less labor intensive in that soakers, etc are not used, thus cutting out the preliminary 8 hrs, allowing for a more spontaneous -- hey, i'm out of bread, gotta throw something together.  Has anybody made struan from WGB and new book, and can compare the final product from both? I have made both, but haven't done serious side-by-side comparison. The newest version is certainly easier (no biga or soaker), but does it compare in taste/texture to the version in WGB? I find myself gravitating toward the new book, and integrating some of the features of WGB as well, eg. I always throw in some of my starter to replace the 'biga', and i occasionally use the soaker method when using oats, flax, etc.

So the question is -- which version of these breads (pain rustique; struan; rye, etc) actually taste better overall? If there's really little difference, then maybe it makes sense to replace biga/soaker method with the delayed cold fermentation.

Basically, I have too many books now, and yes, while they are variations on a theme, there are still little differences: jULIA cHILD VOL 2 ON BREAD; rEINhartz 3 books (which to follow?); Hamelman which I still use as a basic rfeference; Lahey's new book; and Lepart, which I'm still reading and assimilating. Too many good choices!!!

Janknitz's picture

that PR finished the Whole Grains book just as the no kneads hit the collective consciousness. 

So here he is in the Whole Grains Book (and BBA) saying that it takes at least 12 steps (including mise en place!) to make a good bread (seriously, that video where he talks for 45 minutes about the importance of every one of those 12 steps really made me think NO WAY could anyone work for a living and have time to make bread his way too!), and that various preferments, kneading, some cold fermentations and other intensive steps are so vital to developing gluten . . . when along come these no knead books that say NOPE, you can make good bread without all those steps and fussing. 

From what he says in the introduction, he tried the no kneads and was surprised that they worked so well.  It made him rethink his own processes.  This book (Artisan Breads Every Day) seems to mostly come down to a reworking of many of his formulas to acheive similar results without many of the steps he thought were essential. 

One one hand, that's OK with me.  I'd rather that I bought this book, in which the formulas seem at least doable for a person who cannot devote her entire waking hours to making bread (I have read library copies of the Whole Grains book and BBA, but not purchased them for that very reason).  On the other hand, there's not that much that's new or different in this book for the money. 

I will say that some other book authors are using their websites to great advantage by POSTING  new ideas that apply to forumlas they have already published in their books (and the side benefit for them is keeping their audience interested in those books, hungry for new books, and gaining new readers).  They don't make you go out and buy a new book to  just to learn about these new ideas based on already published works, though they may apply the newer techniques to NEW formulas in subsequent books.  If I already owned the previous two books and bought this as well, I think I would be a little resentful of paying so much for what I already paid for once. 

Janknitz's picture

Delayed fermentation is not new.  Didn't PR himself discuss it in Brother Juniper's Bread Book about twenty years ago????  I think that's one of the places I first learned about it and have put it to good use for all these years.  Besides developing flavor, it gives me back some control over the timing, and was especially helpful to control the fermentation when we lived in Hawaii with a very warm kitchen. 

PR only very briefly touches on the fact that the delayed fermentation eliminates what he calls the  "epoxy method" in one paragraph in the new book. 

ermabom's picture

I've made both struan recipes (from WGB and Artisan Bread every day) but I haven't done a side by side comparison.


I was a tester for the new book and what I find myself doing is mixing and matching recipes. If I have the time, I go through the WGB recipe method. If I don't, I use the recipes from the new book but I don't adhere to the ratios of bread and other flours. I just add flour based on what I want the end result to be.


What I like about the new book is the less hands-on time. I also found the S&F technique useful in the WGB recipes where sometimes the dough is more wet. Since you don't add any water in the final epoxy mixing, if the soaker hasn't absorbed all the water, you end up with a wet dough. I find that many whole grain mixtures vary in their absorption of water. When I first started baking from WGB, I added flour when this happened and ended up with very dense breads. Now I S&F or let it sit overnight and bake in a clay baker a la no-knead recipes and it all works.


So I guess I view this as an alternative in terms of technique but not necessarily resulting in improved bread. Just equivalent bread.




prairiegal's picture

I have both the Whole Grain Breads and Artisan Breads Every Day books.  And while I am not all that experienced at baking and have really not much time available to me, I have to say I prefer WGB even though the steps are not as simple as those in ABED.  ABED just does not contain enough whole grain recipes.  I had expected it to have more, since PR talks about whole grains so favorably in WGB, and I was disappointed to find only a few in the new book that relate to whole grains.  I purchased the book because I liked the ABin5 convenience but trust PR's science better.  However, in ABED so far I haven't found an explanation of how to convert the AP recipes over, and I realize that a more experienced baker could figure this out, as perhaps could a baker with more time - but that's why I bought ABED in the first place - lack of time and wisdom.  And a complicating factor is that I use only organic flours, often hand-ground, which means that any experimenting I do beyond that gets me hopelessly confused if something doesn't turn out.

Overall I will probably stick with WGB.  You can double up the recipes in WGB, and store the biga and soaker in the fridge for a day or so after the initial room-temp period, which means that mixing is really the main time-consumer, in comparison to the ABED method.  I haven't figured out how to 'glue' the two together and still use stretch and fold, which I quite enjoy.  If I don't have to drag out my KA that's a real plus.

There is a lean bread in ABED which my family really loved, and I will make that again.  However, my reservation about that particular bread is that with so little room-temperature fermentation I am not sure whether the "anti-nutrients" will be neutralized (I realize this is a little contraversial but I like a longer fermentation).