The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads suitable as first artisan book, or...?

mini_maggie's picture

Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads suitable as first artisan book, or...?

I am still a neophyte to bread baking, but have been having great luck with dry yeast breads which has encouraged me greatly, and I'm really enjoying learning from all of you.  I would like to venture more into some artisan breads and sourdoughs, but am really interested only in whole grain recipes, mainly for reasons of health and nutrition.  My question is, is there enough of the basics covered in Reinhart's Whole Grains book to start there, or do I need something like the Bread Baker's Apprentice to build a knowledge foundation before progressing?   Thanks for any insights shared!

Windischgirl's picture

Whole Grains was actually the first baking book I bought when I first attempted artisan baking.  I liked Reinhart's approach in that it made bread do-able for the working person...make the soaker and the preferment and then you have 3 days to get it together.  Perfect for a life with work and kids that might be unpredictable.  And I find Reinhart very gently guides you through the steps and writes in a fashion that will help you feel as if you can do this.  AND be healthy at the same time!

I learned to make a starter from Nancy Silverton's La Brea baking book, which was so traumatizing--the scale of ingredients was enormous and the recipes were written in an intimidating fashion for a newbie...once I had an active starter and had added some classics to my collection (Hamelman's Bread and Leader's Local Breads) I gave it away.  It was really a very advanced book, but the person who gave it to me had no idea.

However, I haven't baked out of WG in a long time--lent it to my dad who bakes and I got out of the habit of consulting it.  You now reminded me that I ought to pull it off the shelf and put it on my nightstand.  What else makes better bedtime reading than bread?

mini_maggie's picture

I'm not the only one taking a bread book to bed! 

Multi-day bread projects will never work for me if they're not flexible, for sure.   Thanks.

charbono's picture

Reinhart’s WGB is a good book, but it mainly geared to one technique – the epoxy.  It’s verbose and repetitive.  It doesn’t cover stretch-and-fold or 100% sourdough.

Other good choices for whole grain baking are The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book and King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.'s picture

Ken Forkish's Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast.  No surprise from me, as I've posted fairly glowing comments about it here already.  Not perfect, but should get more neophytes to the objective with minimal frustration than any other I know.  Eases the beginner in with generous preferatory basics followed by separate chapters on straight, pre-ferment, hybrid, levain then (not all that) advanced levain bakes, each with only a handful of recipes.  Not overwhelming or as diverse as other basic books (e.g., Hamelman).  Plus pizzas.  As I've said elsewhere, I wish I had it (and he had published it) a year ago.  Highly recommended.

And if it's whole grain baking you're after, there are plenty of them in there - though not as much as PR's WGB which is 100% that.  PR's BBA is getting dated with regard to currently fashionable (justifiably so) methods and objectives.  Still a good book though, but I'd go for something more current, like Forkish.


spsq's picture

"Reinhart’s WGB is a good book, but it mainly geared to one technique – the epoxy.  It’s verbose and repetitive.  It doesn’t cover stretch-and-fold or 100% sourdough."

I agree totally. 

As an intermediate bread baker who focuses on whole grains (at least 70% in most of my breads), I eventually discovered that the stretch and fold method gives the best results in crumb, lightness, and texture (at least for me).  Using sourdoughNeither of which are included in WGB.  It's a solid book - the WW struan is one of my favourites - but diversity and experimentation are not it's strong points.

Try getting a few (dozen)  books from your library, and try before you buy. Or go to Amazon and read through customer reviews of bread books.


mini_maggie's picture

Thanks all for the very helpful comments and suggestions.  Not sure if our little library even has a cooking section but I'll be sure to check now.