Through the centuries bread has been so strengthening that we have called it the staff of life.
In the award-winning Bread Matters, author and baker Andrew Whitley reveals the weaknesses in today’s commercial bread, and rallies us to restore this staff of life to its true glory.
Whitley wants us to fearlessly produce a nutrition-packed, taste-filled loaf of our own.
He is a man on a mission, and passion drives his work. Quite simply, he wants us to eat bread made with natural ingredients, not the contents of a chemistry beaker, and bread that actually has a real taste.
In praise of bread, Whitley states, “There is a deep sympathy between organic agriculture and slow bread making. In both, the natural world is not an enemy, to be bludgeoned into submission by an arsenal of chemical weaponry. It is, rather, one element in a web of life that sustains us all.”
Whitley begins by revealing the chemical-laden methods of commercial bread making, some startling to discover.
Once the process is exposed, Whitley proceeds to demystify the process of home bread making so that we no longer turn to commercial products out of fear that we can’t possibly make a good loaf of bread.
He explains the tools in clear and simple terms, then, stating that “one of the beauties of bread is that it can be made with so few ingredients,” he offers a practical guide to the ingredients.
He continues with cooking basics, the five stages of breadmaking. These are detailed discussions, but simply written as Whitley’s goal is to lift the veil of mystery from our most basic food.
Whitley shares his expertise in 50 luscious recipes for breads of all types.
If one is a novice, one can start simply in the chapter called “First Breads and Rolls” making such tasty loaves as Milk Bread, Basic Bread or Rolls.
Even a newcomer to baking can jump straight to the chapter on sourdough. “Sourdough” — even the word strikes fear in the breast of many a baker, but under Whitley’s guidance, this ancient, time-tested method of breadmaking proves to be far simpler than expected and yields such breads as Russian Rye Bread, French Country Bread, Fruit and Nut Leaven Bread, even Spelt Bread.
Whitley offers a wide variety of breads. With compassion for those with celiac disease, he states, “People with a sensitivity to gluten deserve better than to be fobbed off with highly processed chemical additives.”
Even those not allergic to gluten can enjoy Potato and Quinoa Bread, or Ginger Cake and he includes recipes for the basics on which to build. Whitley includes a chapters on Sweet Breads and Celebrations which has festive recipes for Hot Cross Buns, for Stollen and Kulich.
The chapter entitled Easy as Pie has rich breads, often filled like pies with other ingredients. Here you will find recipes such as Calzoni, Pirozhki, Croissants, Pain au Chocolate.
Once you are baking up a storm you may find yourself with leftover bread, but Whitley wastes nothing and includes a chapter on what to do with those leftover pieces. He concludes with a list of resources so that your bread is made of the finest ingredients and is restored to the term ‘staff of life.
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.
— From inmamma’skitchen.com