First Impressions: The gorgeous photo of that seed-studded loaf drew us in right away (and made us hungry!). This is a sturdy hardcover with a 16-page insert showing full-color photos of various recipes from the book. The recipes are printed in a clear and legible typeface, and they look easy to follow.
The Angle: This second book from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François is geared toward folks who love their bread but also want to incorporate more whole grains and healthy ingredients into their diet. The authors work hard to dispel the idea that "whole grains" mean "boring and tasteless" with enticing recipes like Turkish Pear Coffee Bread and Wild Rice Pilaf Bread.
The Recipes: Most of the recipes in the book are slight variations on their master recipe for a whole wheat loaf. This is made with about 3/4 whole wheat flour and 1/4 all-purpose flour, and it follows their signature method of quickly mixing the dough, letting it rise, and storing it in the fridge until baking. This master recipe also uses a good dose of vital wheat gluten to help improve the bread's structure, since whole grains don't have a lot of gluten on their own.
The recipes aren't all just whole wheat, and they include a nice variety of other grains like rye, spelt, oats and barley. Seeds, diced and shredded vegetables, dried fruits, and herbs are also added for flavor, texture, and health benefits.
The book also includes an entire chapter on gluten-free breads and pastries. These recipes use the same easy 5-minute mixing method as the regular loaves and make use of ingredients like brown rice flour and xanthan gum. If you follow a gluten-free diet and have been craving a bread fix, definitely take a look at this section!
Other Stuff: The authors include nutrition notes for many of the ingredients used in their recipes. If there are specific vitamins or nutrients you've been trying to work into your diet, these notes can be a helpful guide.
Strengths and Weaknesses: All in all, this book is an approachable, friendly, and very useful guide to baking with whole grains. Even if you've never baked a loaf of bread in your life, this book gives you the tools and the confidence to pick up a packet of yeast and bake.
The recipes are inventive and inspiring, and take us way beyond the dense bricks of whole wheat our parents forced on us as kids! We made the master recipe several times, baking it as a loaf, pizza, and stuffed bread. You can see the result of our loaf above!
The constant emphasis on health and nutrition did feel a little over the top at times. Reading that garlic will help lower our cholesterol or that basil is a source for Vitamin K can be useful information if you're starting out a new diet, but personally, we're more concerned with whether or not the bread actually tastes delicious with those ingredients.
Recipes for Right Now: Cinnamon-Raisin Whole Wheat Bagels, Rosemary Flax Baguette, Apple-Barley Bread, Turkish Pear Coffee Bread, Gluten-Free Parmesan Bread Sticks, Cinnamon Crescent Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing.
Recommended? Yes, especially for folks who would like to eat more whole grains and healthy ingredients in their daily diets. This book is also a great choice for people who would love to start baking, but are nervous about working with flour and yeast!
Buy the Book: Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, $19 on Amazon.com
Related: Working with Yeast: Be Not Afraid!