Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review Friday

It's occurred to me that I may own quite a number of books. They range in subject matter from history, trashy romance, Learning Ancient Greek, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, and more. In that library of books, I also happen to own quite a few crafting books. These books also cover all interests - Temari, sewing, beading, weaving, spinning, and, of course, knitting. I also own a few cookbooks. Anyway, I thought, since knitting is occasionally scarce on the blog due to my number of interests, I thought maybe I'd share some of my other interests (including knitting) by reviewing a book or two from my personal library every week according to my fancy. (A caveat: since I usually preview books from the library or at the bookstore before I buy, most of these reviews will probably be fairly positive.) One week, it may be cookbooks, another may feature sewing, probably whatever books I've been using or looking at the previous week.

This week's book is a new cookbook called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It's by Jeff Herzberg and Zoe Francois and is a follow up to their Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Both of these books feature "no-knead" yeast bread. You basically mix the dough, give it an initial rise, then stick it in the fridge. When you want a loaf of bread, you cut off a chunk, shape it, let it rise and bake it. This dough is wetter than the traditional, knead-it bread dough and for some reason (which honestly isn't well-explained, but maybe I'm the only one interested in the actual chemistry of it), that makes it work without kneading. It makes really good bread without a lot of effort. I'm one of those people who has spent time kneading dough out by hand as well as kneading it by heavy-duty mixer. I can't tell the difference in taste except that this is much easier! I've tried the 100% Whole Wheat Bread, Plain and Simple and with Olive Oil. Both were really good. I've also tried the cracker recipe from the whole wheat bread dough. It was a pain rolling the dough thin enough to work, but they were good. (I brushed them with oil and sprinkled a little chili powder on them. Yum.)

I like that there are lots of recipes to choose from. Something I didn't particularly like though is many of the recipes have varying amounts of regular old white flour. Since I make my own bread mostly to make it healthy and better-tasting than store-bought wheat, I'm sort of disappointed to find so many of the recipes do call for white flour because it supposedly produces a lighter bread. Yeah, well, there's a reason I'm making whole wheat bread. Yeah, it's a little denser than white, but it's whole wheat. They say you can substitute whole wheat, but you need to adjust the amount of liquid. I'd hoped they'd have already done that work for me. Anyway, having said that, the whole wheat recipes that I've tried are really good and will probably keep me pretty much in bread for a while. If you make bread, it's worth the purchase price for the whole wheat recipe alone, in my opinion. With the amount of bread I've made, I've already saved the price from not buying wheat bread in the store.

This book also features a few gluten-free recipes, but not having tried them yet, I can't attest to how they taste or bake up. Luckily I don't have to avoid gluten, but having to read labels religiously to avoid a couple of other things (do you know how many items contain sucralose these days!?), I can sympathize a little with having to avoid certain items, but really, wheat is everywhere. If I make one of the gluten-free recipes, I'll certainly post my opinion!

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Blogger Chris said...

I might have to check this one out of the library to try the gf recipes! :)

8:54 AM  
Blogger Zoe Francois said...

Wow, what a wonderful review. I'm so thrilled that you are already baking from the book and are enjoying the bread! There are nearly a dozen 100% whole grain breads in the book so hopefully you will have plenty of options. If there are others that you want to adapt to 100% whole grain come visit us at and we will help you figure that out.

Thanks, Zoë François

6:23 PM  

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