Review: “Bread Revolution,” Peter Reinhart

Pros: Yum!
Cons: There were a number of recipes I couldn’t try
Rating: 4 out of 5 (provisional)

 

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

 

Bread Revolution: World-Class Baking with Sprouted and Whole Grains, Heirloom Flours, and Fresh Techniques, by Peter Reinhart, covers a handful of new ways to make bread.

First, bread from sprouted flours. My local Whole Foods carries sprouted wheat, so I was able to try some of these recipes. There’s a pancake recipe that’s divine, and we made a quick bread that was so good that we almost immediately made a second loaf just so we could try it with dried cranberries and pecans (yum!). This stuff is healthy, and I like the taste much better than plain whole wheat. I’d happily buy the sprouted wheat again in order to make more bread with it.

Second, bread from sprouted pulp. Not available at our store, so I would have had to order it. There are limits to how far I’m going to go and how much I’m going to spend to test a cookbook, so I haven’t tried those recipes.

Third, bread made from “whole milled” flour.

Craig Ponsford, one of my longtime baking heroes, believes that some serious misinformation is floating around, and that much of what we believe to be 100% whole wheat flour actually isn’t. …

As he told me, “It comes down to how the wheat is milled. I learned that most so-called whole wheat flour is actually fractionated flour, reconstituted during milling. …

“If you run the wheat through a stone mill, or even a stainless steel roller mill, and just collected it at the end, you’ll end up with a lot of large bran and germ particles, resulting in a very coarse whole wheat flour, which most bakers don’t really want. So the mills typically sift out the germ and bran early in the process and then run them through again, separately from the endosperm, to break them down into smaller particles. Then, usually after at least two such siftings and millings, it’s added back into the flour. …

“Once it’s separated and added back, it’s somehow different. Something changes and we don’t get all the nutritional benefits. It doesn’t perform the same way in baking, either, or taste as good, and it also doesn’t keep as well.”

I’m dubious about claims to higher nutrition when the person making the claims doesn’t say how that was measured and can offer no better explanation than “it’s somehow different”. At least the baking property claims can be tested, and Reinhart seems to believe that whole-milled flour does make a difference. Of course I can’t find it in this area, and after checking some of the online sites Reinhart recommends, only some of them actually provide enough information that I could be sure I was getting the right item. With having to scour the internet and pay for shipping, I’m just not going to try these recipes yet. Perhaps in the future when this sort of flour (hopefully) is easier to find, I’ll come back to this review and revisit these recipes.

Finally, many recipes in this book are based on a sourdough starter. Reinhart includes instructions on starting your own. I don’t know why, but I could not make this work. Maybe I should try again when the weather is different? I’m not sure. But if I get it working in the future I’ll come back and annotate this review. It should be noted that these recipes aren’t meant for people who want quick, easy bread. It’s for people who want to go the extra mile to squeeze every single last bit of quality possible into their breads.

I’m giving this cookbook a 4 out of 5 for now, but that’s provisional until I make that starter work and get some whole-milled flour!

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