The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Two new books on the shelf

Floydm's picture

Two new books on the shelf

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.

* * *

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.


hanseata's picture

I own the "Bread Matters" - I made the very nice Arkatena Bread from it. The Danish one looks very interesting, too. As if I didn't have enough bread baking books....

Too much to bake - too little time!


Janetcook's picture

It has been awhile since I have bought a new baking book but I can't resist Home Baked now that you have written the review stating that it uses organic whole grains....hard to come by books that include whole grains so I jump for those that are brought to my attention.  Something fun to look forward to as the weather changes and my baking turns to using more rye in my doughs...not sure why that happens but it does.  Dried fruit content goes up too :-)

I have watched a video of Andrew Whitley and I did borrow a copy of his book from the library.  Nice to listen to him and to read as what he says makes perfect sense.  

Thanks for the reviews.

Take Care,


Janetcook's picture


Home Baked arrived in yesterday's mail.  This book is elegantly written and put together.  The cover is nice and thick making for a good solid book that feels as though it will withstand a lot of use :-)  It also has a slickness to it that will make cleaning much easier - wise publisher knowing how bakers tend to touch things with floury hands.....  I have already selected at least 3 recipes that I want to bake NOW....but they have to get in line with the rest of my recipes-in-waiting.

This book is filled with lots of quips about Danish 'customs' which makes it a nice book simply to read too.  The story of how the authors got started on their farming/milling/baking journey begins the book and is similar to how  many people who find themselves working with grains in some capacity or other get started....It would appear as though many are 'called' by their craft and the call does not stop until the challenge is taken.

This book has a similar appearance to How To Make Bread for those familiar with that other outstanding book for it's simplicity and great photos.

Thanks again Floyd for bringing this book to my attention.

Take Care,


Jessica Weissman's picture
Jessica Weissman

This looks like a wonderful book - I have had my copy for a week or so.  Brings back memories of my six months working in Aarhus, Denmark.

But I'm having trouble with two things.  

First, all recipes specify fresh yeast.  Fresh yeast seems very hard to come by where I live outside Washington DC (if anyone has a source please let me know).  That's not so bad because it is straightforward to substitute active dry yeast for fresh.

Second, many of the recipes specify "sifted wheat flour" or "sifted barley flour" or "sifted rye flour".  There are definitions in the back of the book of these flours, but not in terms that make me confident I can find a US equivalent.  "Sifted wheat flour" is defined as "whole grain wheat flour without the coarser bran particles but with the fine bran particles...minimum protein content 12.5 percent."  How do I reproduce this?  Do I just use something like King Arthur bread flour with a little bit of whole wheat flour added?  Any ideas?

"Sifted rye flour" is even more uncertain, given the randomness of rye flour in the US.  The definition is "whole grain flour with 15 to 20 percent of the bran removed".  This sounds darker than medium rye but not all the way to full dark rye flour.  Mix full grain rye with medium rye in some proportion?

Any ideas, given that I'm just not going to mill my own organic grain, even for recipes as tempting as these?

-  Jessica

Janetcook's picture

Hi Jessica,

To simply put an answer to the questions you post....My method is to improvise with what you can find locally.  I do mill my own organic grains so that piece isn't a problem for me.  As far as fresh yeast goes....I tend to tweak all recipes so that they can be baked with a sour dough starter.  Granted my end product won't be 'authentic' but it is the best I can come up with and I haven't received any complaints :-).

I have never purchased flour from King Arthur but I have looked at their catalogue and their selection appears to be quite diverse.  You might be surprised by what you can find locally with a bit of digging.  To me that is part of the fun of trying new recipes.

Take Care and Good Luck in your search.


hanseata's picture

Jessica, I bake European breads all the time, and German bakers use mostly fresh yeast, too. It's easy to convert the formulas to active dry or instant yeast:

100% fresh yeast = 50% active dry yeast = 33% instant yeast.

You can skip the fresh yeast preparation (mixing it with liquid, sugar and and a bit of flour) and proceed as you would with active dry yeast (dissolving it) or instant yeast (just adding it to the other ingredients). And add the sugar or honey used for the fresh yeast preferment to the other ingredients.

Europeans have other flour types (graded by the ash content) than Americans. And they have several medium wheat, rye and spelt types. Unless you import those flours you have to improvise a bit, but it's all doable. For the "sifted rye" I would use medium rye, for the "sifted wheat" a bread flour/whole wheat mix. If you have a crumb shot of the bread you can probably gauge by its color how high the percentage should be approximately.

If you don't like the result, try the sifting (with "sifted barley" you have to do that, anyway, I never saw other than whole barley flour), or change the ratio next time you bake. And don't obsess if you can't do an exact replica of the original. There are so many variations of different breads, from bakery to bakery, and region to region. Even if your bread is not 100% the same as the original, if it comes close, and tastes good - who cares!

Happy baking,



jweissmn's picture

Thanks - I'll just follow my instincts and hope to get close, based on the bread porn shots in the book.  Even if I don't get precisely what the authors intended, it will still be good.

breadsong's picture

Hi Floyd,
Thank you for writing about Home Baking - I hadn't heard of this book. The Scandinavian breads and whole grains sound wonderful; I wanted to buy it even before I read Jeffrey Hamelman's beautiful introduction to the book on the Amazon site.
I hope you get lots of enjoyment from this book, and also Mr. Whitley's.
:^) breadsong

wassisname's picture

Looks like I'm buying another bread book.  I checked the "Home Baked" table of contents on Amazon - how can I go on without knowing what a "Swedish Baguette" is all about?  Well, I can't.  Thanks Floyd!

Marcus's picture

The list just gets longer and longer.  Both seem attractive, esp the Danish one, given Chad Robertson's recent slant toward their traditions, flours etc.

Thanks for posting!



loydb's picture

I've got Home Baked on the way.

 edit: Great book, I need to sit down and figure out where I want to start. And I need to get some spelt :)



kitcar's picture

Looks like there is one left in the Toronto area, which just happens to be my local Chapters :)