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Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own Hardcover – September 15, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

'What an important book; passionate and polemical and full of truth. The chapter too on gluten-free baking is original and inspiring.'Bee Wilson, Sunday Telegraph and New Statesman 'This will be the most important book on baking since the publication of Elizabeth David's "English Bread and Yeast Cookery".' Rose Prince 'Makes for interesting reading, and Whitley makes the information accessible by using easy-to-follow tables where appropriate...Throughout the book Whitley has dotted interesting historical footnotes to recipes and practical tips to recover from baking disasters. The book is comprehensive in its span of recipes and its examination of the baking process.' Caterer and Hotelkeeper 'A superb and necessary new book.' Bee Wilson, The Sunday Telegraph 'Every bit as feisty as the title implies...a good sense book that includes recipes for sour-dough and gluten-free baking.' The Independent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

In 1976, Andrew Whitley converted a stone barn next to his house into a small bakery. There, he refined his bread making techniques and grew his own organic fruit and vegetables. In 2002, he founded Bread Matters, an organization devoted to improving the state of bread. He teaches baking classes and continues his mission in Cumbria, England. In 2008, he was one of the founders of the Real Bread Campaign in Britain, which works to increase the production and enjoyment of wholesome bread made without additives.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0740773739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0740773730
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #905,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Liat2768 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This author is quite simply passionate about bread! He is very openly on a mission to open the eyes of the public to the empty calories and harmful chemicals that have been masquerading as bread for decades now.

The first quarter of the book may turn some readers off since it is quite 'dry', but it is probably the most important part of the book!The author details the modern process of commercial breadmaking with all it's faults and dangers. Then he moves one to reiterate that making bread is not the mystery so many of us think it to be. The layout, while dull to look at, is chock full of excellent information on tools, methods, bread making steps and descriptions of ingredients. The explanations are clear and in a simple language that makes the book accessible to most readers.

The 50 bread making recipes in this book are scattered in chapters titled :
First bread and rolls
Simple Sourdough
Bread-a meal in itself
Of crust and crumb
Sweet breads and celebrations
Easy as pie
(and Miraculously!) Gluten Free baking!!

(on a personal note the last chapter will be a lifesaver for me since, two weeks after getting this book, I discoverd that my son is allergic to Gluten!)

I have tried out a few of the recipes in the 'first breads' chapter (Basic bread, Milk Bread) and one from the Sweet breads chapter. All turned out great although, having baked bread before, I was skeptical of the consistency of some of the doughs. What was great about the book is that the author forsees the questions that will pop up in the novice or experienced baker's mind (shouldn't I add some flour now? This is way too sticky!) and addresses them promptly in the recipe.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bread Matters is a punny title, the kind loved by the British, who we learn quickly now eat forty-five per cent less bread than fifty years ago. Yet they are beginning to look American. SO Mr. Whitley is writing for his people lest they cruise the American path of morbidly cheap "food". Criticisms of America are mine only. The polite Mr. Whitley has the decency to scold only his own.

Bread was good for us before we let go of it to the corporate bakers. If you are interested in corporate malpractice, this book is for you. If you want to understand, for good and for bad, bread as a nutritionist would, this book is for you. The information here is important if you imagine carbohydrates to be bad. If you worry about glycemic response there is food here for thought and for life. If you just want to make a good loaf of bread, you can use this book to learn how, but it is only half the reason to buy it at most.

Ultrafast dough, used by corporate bakers is as pernicious as every other "ultra" facet of our ultra marketed ultra miserable society. Ultra fast dough is the product of ultra fast chemicals that puts you into that ultra dirt nap.

Bread is not to be hurried. Mix ingredients and let them rest rather than jumping straight into kneading. Give your little enzymes a head start and they will help you back by developing structure while you knead later.

Go slowly to load enough water. Enjoy icky sticky by lofting your dough and kneading in the air. The dough will leggo your fingers soon enough.

Same with rising. Slow. I even take extra days to make a new starter when I move to let the local yeasties find it and add their tang. Beers used to be so local because their own yeasts had a natural radius of around 25 miles.
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Format: Paperback
The first 50 pages of Bread Matters are a criticism of modern industrial bread and the following 300 are a wonderful instruction in both the theory and practice of traditional breadmaking. The author has over thirty years of experience baking organic bread and it shows. This book is used as the textbook for the classes he teaches in the UK.

A broad range of detailed recipes for making the range of different types of bread are logically grouped and discussed in a very conversational manner detailing not just one way of doing something but various ways of dealing with situations that occur when baking bread. Included are everything from a recreation of Roman spelt and raisin bread to dark Russian bread to French brioche.

Much of the criticism of this book would probably be silenced if the opinion part were at the end of the book instead of at the beginning! It is easy to disagree with certain statements or to question the scientific validity of some of the author's minor points but it would be a shame to let those sorts of details cloud the gift of bread baking knowledge the author has presented here to the reader and which form the bulk of the book.

Most everyone will accept his basic premise, that traditional, organic bread, which is free of unnecessary additives and which takes full advantage of the properties of microorganisms that work on the dough, is much better than industrial bread in almost every way.

Many good university professors veer off into personal opinions and theories and that is what makes their classes interesting. You can enjoy listening and learn quite a bit even if you don't always agree your teacher. The same is true here. Accept the author's personality and you can really learn a lot from this book. I have baked bread before without truly understanding what was really happening and now feel very enlightened for having read Bread Matters.
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