The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reinhart: BBA vs. Whole Grain Breads?

  • Pin It
Mason's picture
Mason

Reinhart: BBA vs. Whole Grain Breads?

Hi all,


I have been baking (mostly whole grain) breads for many many years, but need to add some variety to the repertoire.  My sourdough is almost perfect, and I can adjust timing I'm going to buy one of Peter Reinhard's excellent looking books.


I'm tempted to buy the Brea Baker's Apprentice, but Reinhart's "whole Grain Breads" is also tempting me.  Which is better for an experienced enthusiastic baker looking for a deeper understanding and more inspiration?


Is there much replication of content?  Is it worth having both?


Thanks in advance,


Mason.

Mason's picture
Mason

My main guide the last few years, by the way, is the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. I hope either of these would be a god complement to the knowledge I have gained from working with this book for more than a decade of baking.  


Conformations please?

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

I'd suggest checking each book out from your library, giving each a test run before investing. I've kicked myself for not doing this on several occasions.

janij's picture
janij

the 2 Reinhart's and Laurel's book.  I think it really just depends on what you want.  I have not had really great results with Reinhart's Whole Grains.  But the BBA was the first real bread book I bought and it will always remain as the book that got me going good on bread.  That being said.  I would look at Hamelman's Bread as well.  I think it has been the most influential for me.  I now just make up my own formula's based on what I want.  That is what Hamelman did for me.

Mason's picture
Mason

Honestly, the idea of trying a copy at the libary never ovccurred to me. I now have BBA and Brother Juniper on hold.  No libarary nearby seems to have Hamelman, but that book seems oriented to the professional.  I'll look for it in a bookstore and give it a read before I commit to that one.


Thanks for the advice!


Mason.

Janknitz's picture
Janknitz

Is one of the purchases I regret.  They didn't have it at my library and I looked at it several times at Borders before committing to the purchase (40% off, Thank goodness!).  


It is a very good read, BUT I have yet to try a single formula in that book--I find them a bit intimidating.  He has clearly scaled down commercial recipes for the home baker, but the quantities still seem large and the steps are very detailed and involved--and they require more time than I have to give.  It is a good reference, but I'm not sure if and when I will actually  bake from it.  Even with the discount it was a costly purchase when I'm supposed to be SAVING money by baking my own bread.  


THEN I found out that I could have gotten it through a "super search" process at the library where they can get books from other systems upon request.  DARN!

LindyD's picture
LindyD


Perhaps you haven't looked at the Hamelman Vermont sourdough formula, Janknitz.  It's a quite convenient bread to bake.


Like you, I have very limited time for baking, especially midweek after work.  I consider JH's sourdough formula my "daily" bread because it is so easy.  I refresh my sourdough before I leave for work, mix the flour, levain, salt and water upon my return home, do the bulk fermentation folds, shaping, then retard it until the next day when I  bake it after work.  I usually divide the dough into three equal pieces and form smaller boules or batards of about one pound each.


I had purchased a number of bread books by the popular authors, but it wasn't until I bought and read Hamelman's "Bread" that I actually learned how to consistently bake very good (and sometimes great) bread and more importantly, understood the process.


Admittedly, the book does contain a lot of technical information.   It also contains great information on flour, especially rye, and helpful techniques to control time and temperature.  I personally appreciate all the technical stuff and only wish it had been the first book I had purchased.


We all march to different drummers.  Jeffrey Hamelman is my preferred conductor.  


 

Kroha's picture
Kroha

Hi,


You have gotten losts of good advice already, but as someone who predominantly bakes with whole grains I just wanted to add my two cents.  I have all three books (BBA, WGB, and Laurel's Kitchen).  I LOVE WGB and have baked quite a few breads from it with great results.  It does have some breads I will not likely ever bake, such as whole grain challah or whole grain brioche.  Most, if not all, breads take at least 2 days to make (i.e. they require pre-ferment of some sort).  These pre-ferments usually take 20-30 min to make, and can then sit around for up to three days waiting for you to ba able to use them, so there is a lot of flexibility in scheduling.  Compare that with Laurel's Kitchen, where most breads can be made within a few hours, and you might think that it is a disadvantage, but...  the flavor of those pre-fermented breads is typically more complex and interesting than the ones that are faster to make.  Also, he uses the same approach for most breads, and once oyu have learned it, it is a breeze.  I repeatedly return to WGB over Laurel's Kitchen (even though I love her sour corn rye and cottage herb loaf) whenever I find myself able to bake tomorrow.  When I need bread today, it is Laurel's Kitchen.  WGB has a variety of breads, which can be made with commercial and wild yeast, and which contain a variety of grains, but all are 100% whole grain.  BBA is a wonderful book, and as far as theory and technique goes, BBA and WGB contribute unique, or at times uniquely delivered, information.  Both present forumlas and recipes in a clear, informative manner that makes them easy to follow.  Both books are beautifully illustrated.  I have learned a great deal from both.  BBA has a larger variety of bread formulas than WGB by the virtue of not being limited to whole grain breads.  As a result, I only baked a few of breads from it (Italian, French and Sweet Portuguese).  Whatever whole grain breads it contains are not 100% whole grain, though I am sure they are quite delicious.  


I hope this helps somewhat.  Good luck in deciding, and happy baking!


Kroha

Mason's picture
Mason

That was a very informative post, Kroha.  Much appreciated.


I read WGB in the bookstore the other day, enough to get the basic idea of his "epoxy" method, and wrote down the basic ingredients and method for the basic whole wheat loaf enough to try it yesterday but with the mother started created using a sourdough I have had for years.  I think it worked quite well (though I would double the amounts next time).


It --and other posts on this site-- also inspired me to try rising in an improvised banneton (cane basket and dishtowel) and baking in my improvised teracotta  cloche.  Apart from forgetting to turn down the heat half way through baking, the bread's taste is indeed far superior to any basic whole wheat that I have baked from Laurel's Kitchen.



 


 


 


 


After trying this method, I will definitely get WGB. And BBA, eventually.  But WGB first.  I've been dropping hints about BBA for my birthday next month.


I have managed to get some delicious breads from Laurel's book though (I agree about the sour corn rye). I find I adapt many of these recipes to my own tastes now, though.  


Although many of her breads can be made in a few hours, I rarely do that.  The book includes good advice about how to adapt bread recipes (yeast, temp, salt) to slower scheduling.    I have usually used an overnight sponge with my sourdough and then used that to knead bread the next morning that would be baked that evening. (Sometimes the bowl of dough comes with me to work, to be punched down midday.)


I hadn't realized just how much of a taste difference Reinhart's "soaker" method would make.  I'm going to play with that idea in other recipes, too.  e.g. when making oatmeal bread (I use Bob's Red Mill 5 grains, though) Laurel advises to let cooked grains sit out overnight.  I'm going to try adding much of the four to them, too, to make a soaker for the flour.


Obviously, I need the WGB book to see how to do that well.


Thanks again!


Mason