Customer Reviews: Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours
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on September 8, 2011
I am very disappointed in this cook book because all the recipes call for atleast 1/2 white all purpose flour. If you are trying to learn how to bake with 100% whole grain flours then this book is not it.
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on July 9, 2012
I'm a novice, somewhat health-conscious, baker. As other reviewers noted, the recipes are not 100% whole-grain based, but as sweets with plenty of sugar, they are not meant to be wholesome. They are just somewhat healthier than the average dessert. The author's stated goal is to bring out the extra flavor and texture inherent in the unusual grains.

I've tried several recipes by now, following all directions very closely as I haven't much baking experience, and all have come out truly fantastic. The textures and flavors are richer than most baked goods - they're not overly-sweet and overly-processed. So far I haven't baked anything that hasn't been followed by a request for a recipe (the ultimate compliment:) I've tried the Quinoa Cookies (absolutely delicious and unique), Molasses Bran Muffins (super healthy with only 2 spoons sugar & 3 spoons butter, all whole grains), Peach Ginger Muffins, and of course the whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies that so many reviewers raved about. I plan to and am looking forward to trying many other recipes!

My only qualm is that too many recipes are 'wasted' on pancakes, waffles, and granolas. Oh, and more pics of the finished product would've been nice (instead of as in one recipe, a pic of the empty muffin tin!) Nevertheless, I'd highly recommend this book. I'm glad the other reviewers nudged me into buying it.
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on September 3, 2011
Here's why anyone who loves to bake should buy this cookbook: Kim Boyce has an unparalleled talent for clear instructions. I've made the ginger snaps, the focaccia, the crumble bars, the figgy buckwheat scones and the ricotta crepes, and they have ALL turned out so nicely. I love to bake but have never worked with whole grain flour other than whole wheat before. Her techniques are so well-described and so simple to execute that everything has turned out as great or better than anything I've ever made with all-purpose flour.
I recently changed my diet quite drastically to cut out processed foods. My "binge food" used to be cookies, so the fact that I can still bake and use minimally processed ingredients is pretty exciting. Not only is it healthier, but it turns out that these different flours make for much more interesting baked goods. It tastes BETTER. Read the introduction and other material before the recipes. It explains what to do if you don't want to use any all-purpose flour and how that changes the chemistry of what you're baking (use more liquid, less, etc).
Kim Boyce writes about flour like some write about wine; she understands every flour right down to its flavor notes and even its historical and anthropological significance. A fascinating, delicious and easy-to-follow cookbook.
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on July 25, 2011
I have made five-six recipes so far. The apricot boysenberry tart was really good, although the dough could've been a little sweeter. Then the chocolate persimmon muffins which were ok, but 33 minutes of baking (minimum time suggested) were too long. The quinoa porridge was... inedible. Too many spices with the earthy taste of quinoa is not, in my opinion, a winning combo. It was a whole new experience for me not being able to eat something I've made. Chocolate chip cookies were good, but not the best you can imagine. Barley porridge with fig compote is a standout, not too sweet, very comforting and healthy. However, I'll try to make other things to convince myself this book deserves more than 4 stars.
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on June 30, 2012
This book should come with a warning -- you won't be able to stop baking from it!
We've used almost every recipe in this, some many more times that once. (Scones!)
A great book to introduce your family to unique flours. We've tried every chapter but the ones using rye. Can't hang with the rye. :)
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on January 13, 2012
There's a reason Kim Boyce begins Good to the Grain with a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. For many of us, whole grains evoke notions of healthfulness and wellbeing. And while whole grain cooking certainly entails those virtues, Kim's chocolate chip cookies boldly announce her real mission with this book: showing all of us that baking with whole grains opens new frontiers of flavor and texture.

It actually took me some time to finally make my way to Kim's chocolate chip cookies. It wasn't until after I'd discovered the magic of her iced oatmeal cookies, which have the familiar flavor of the store bought version, elevated by a judicious dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. I'd already fallen in love with Kim's banana walnut cake, which replaced most of the usual flour with ground walnuts to amazing effect. Her maple pecan granola, with its caramelized maple and butter finish, had won me over months before. And her millet flatbreads had taken a greek feast to astonishing new heights.

Which brings us back to those chocolate chip cookies. What cook doesn't search endlessly for the perfect recipe? I've tried many along the way. Cook's Illustrated and the New York Times' versions topped my list. And then came Kim's. Whereas the New York Times version would have you buy two kinds of flours, premium chocolate disks, and wait an agonizing 36 hours before baking, Kim's cookies turn cold butter and whole wheat flour to perfection in mere minutes. Her instructions to round three tablespoon-fulls of dough onto the sheet pan ensure that each cookie offers crispy edges and a chewy center. There is none of the heaviness sometimes associated with whole grain baked goods; instead, the whole wheat lends a tender, chewy crumb, and develops a rich, caramel flavor, which perfectly complements the dark chocolate chunks.

Indeed, these cookies attest to the fact that Kim is concerned first and foremost with flavor and texture in this endeavor. Which is not to say that Kim doesn't find a way to lighten up some of her baked goods along the way. It's just that when she does so, she does it for a reason. The apple butter in her muscovado sugar cake contributes a depth of flavor that brown sugar never could. The prune puree, infused as it is with fresh squeezed orange juice, enlivens her bran muffins without resorting to refined sweeteners. Where she swaps out butter for yogurt or milk for buttermilk, she's doing so for subtle tang those products bring to the finished product.

Many of the recipes I've tried from Good to the Grain were worth the price of the book individually. The hardest party about it is deciding what to try next, with beautiful photos pulling in opposite directions.
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on February 26, 2011
I like this book so much - everything I have baked so far is incredibly good - and it is hard to eat "just one" serving. The buckwheat fig scones won great reviews from friends and family. The filling (figs simmered in wine and port) is sooo good by itself. I am looking forward to baking everything in the book. I especially appreciate the variety of grains used and am learning so much about what is needed to get these same friends and family to like healthier eating.
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on March 11, 2010
Ex-Spago pastry chef Kim Boyce has turned her talents to creating great foods using healthy, tasty ingredients in "Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours."

Beautifully photographed by Quentin Bacon, the 75 recipes range from cookies to scones to porridges, all using one or more of 12 kinds of whole-grain flours, including rye, buckwheat, amaranth and teff.

Included is a chapter on cooking with fruit to make jams, fruit butters and compote, resulting in such flavorful ideas as rhubarb hibiscus compote, three-citrus marmalade and apple butter.

Some of the recipes are unusual but all promise great taste: quinoa and beet pancakes, chocolate babka, rhubarb tarts and honey hazelnut cookies are among her offerings. The advice is practical and clearly written, making the recipes well within the range of even a relatively new baker.

A conversion chart for measuring weights and sources for the flour and other specialty items are also included.
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on October 11, 2013
I've made a number of recipes from this book now, and all were delicious. There are a few recipes that I'm holding off on, because of the cost of the ingredients. As an example, the much-praised whole wheat chocolate chip cookies in the first chapter calls for two sticks of butter and 8 0z. of bittersweet chocolate (not chips) for 20 cookies. Also, some specialty whole grain flours are rather expensive, especially amaranth and teff flours.

As a more personal rant, I don't understand why any person who is health conscious enough to make pie dough from spelt flour would then use only shortening for fat. Kim Boyce explains that she prefers using shortening rather than butter, lard, or a mix for her pie dough, but it seems like a waste of spelt flour to mix it up with fake fat. You could probably substitute your preferred fat mixture in the recipe, but I haven't tried it. I also couldn't help but snort at her suggestion that "the next time you're in Paris" to pick up a type of spatula only available in France.

Regardless, I love baking from this book. Using different flours adds great flavor, and the porridges and pancakes make great weekend breakfasts. Most of the recipes contain some form of wheat flour (or other gluten element, like barley or kamut), but many of them use whole wheat, rather than white. If you want to introduce yourself or your family to wheat alternatives, or if you simply enjoy baking, you will love this book.
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on January 28, 2014
Lovely recipes. However, it should be noted that the vast majority of the recipes in this book still use AP wheat flour along with different flours, so if you are hoping to get away from wheat or gluten with this cook book, that's not what it is. But the recipes are a vast improvement in nutrition over straight up AP flour baking.
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