Tuesday, 2 September 2008


I've been reading BREAD MATTERS: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Ownby Andrew Whitley (the founder of the Village Bakery) and have been held spellbound. There is more to bread than I ever imagined. I'm not a bread novice. I've been making my own for years and also studied how to make it at school but there was so much that I didn't know! The history of bread-making is fascinating - I didn't realise that commercial baker's yeast is a relatively modern innovation and I certainly didn't realise that aspects of modern industrial bread-making are to blame for the rise in intolerance to bread and gluten sensitivities.
Whitley has an amusing and authoritative authorial voice - he sounds slightly curmudgeonly but with a dry humour - and he really knows his stuff. His descriptions of the chemical changes within bread made traditionally versus the modern industrially made product will have you reaching for the flour bag vowing never to buy it again!
I have already put some of his tips into practice and have found improvements as a result. If you ever make - or want to make - bread, rolls, brioche, croissants, sourdough or anything remotely bread-related you have to read this book first. Some books that concentrate this intensely on one topic manage to make the whole thing sound complicated, Whitley talks about techniques for pages on end and yet simplifies them, making you think 'I could do that!'
The only problem is - now that I realise how much I didn't know about bread-making, I'm wondering how much I don't know about cake-making, jam-making, gardening, sewing.... I'be got a lot of reading to do!

No comments: