Book Review - Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads

Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor by Peter Reinhart, Ten Speed Press, 2007

Whole Grain Breads is another of Peter’s offerings and a bit overshadowed in my opinion by The Bread Baker's Apprentice (BBA).  Given the healthy benefits of eating more whole grains, this book allows a person to bake tasty and healthy breads with minimal fuss.  He has an interesting presentation on bread at a TED affiliated event shortly after the book came out that is worth a look and gives a sense of his goals for the book.

The book has a nice narrative that outlines his motivation of the book and then a presentation that is similar in structure to the one in BBA for the process of making bread.  One should not feel cheated however because the discussion on whole grain ingredients, the processes needed to make grain soakers, and the different preferments are unique to Whole Grain Breads and well worth it.  There is a nice selection of formulas with some attempting to take traditional white breads such as challah or brioche and execute them using whole grain ingredients.  As with BBA, the formulas are well presented, accurate and well tested.  I actually like the format used to present the formulas in Whole Grain Breads better than BBA but that is purely a personal preference.  

I still come back to Whole Grain Breads on occasion and routinely bake breads either directly from the formulas or after a bit of artistic license.   I even used Peter’s Transitional Rye formula to reverse engineer my great-grandmother's Bohemian style rye that I remember for my childhood.  The original recipe that was handed down to me was the typical “use 3 to 5 cups of flour from the local co-op and add water until not to firm...”  Using the techniques from Whole Grain Breads as a Rosetta Stone, I was able to come up with a bread that has the favor profile I remember and has received “This is just like great-grandma’s” from my family.  If you want to bake whole grain breads at home, this book is well worth the investment.

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