Thursday, October 22, 2009

BloggerAid View and Review: "King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking"--A Cookbook Review

As I have mentioned before, I am a member of BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine, a group of food bloggers from across the globe, working to alleviate world hunger. As a member I was able to contribute an original recipe to "The BloggerAid Cookbook" which goes on sale very soon and most importantly, the profits from the sale of the book will be donated to the Friends of the World Food Program. 

A few months ago I signed up for BloggerAid's View and Review program. It is a fun program that pairs food bloggers with products and cookbooks to review, generously provided by the publishers and food companies. A couple weeks ago I got my first assignment, viewing and reviewing "King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking" from the talented people at King Arthur Flour. I am going to be honest here, my feelings were a bit mixed upon learning I was receiving this book. On the pro side, I am all about whole grains--they make up the bulk of my diet; on the con side, as I frequently (and quite loudly!) proclaim, I AM NOT A BAKER! I admire bakers, I often wish I was an accomplished baker, but I have a long-standing fear of yeast and especially of baking bread, so it is not something I have a lot of experience or skill at. Thus there was a certain level of intimidation in receiving a GIGANTIC book, (612 pages & over 400 recipes) all about baking. 

Once I had the book in my hands however, I began to get excited--this isn't a book of just bread recipes, there are plenty of healthy whole grain recipes in a number of different areas. The book has chapters on Breakfasts, Quick Breads, Muffins, Coffecakes, Biscuits & Scones, Crisps, Cobblers and Puddings, Flatbreads & Crackers, Yeast Breads, Sourdough, Cookies and Bars, Cakes, Pies & Quiche and Pastry as well as a chapter detailing the different grain varieties: The Whole Grains and helpful sections on cooking grains, ingredient weights, resources to buy and a glossary of terms. This is one big whole grain resource and after reading through it, I can't imagine there could be any valuable information on the subject that didn't make it into this book! The fact that it comes from the experts at KIng Arthur Flour gives it instant street cred. I may not be a official baker but I know quality and if you look in my pantry you will find many of their fabulous products--for instance, I am never without their White Whole Wheat Flour or their Traditional Whole Wheat Flour for the things I do actually bake like muffins. Now, I just had to choose a recipe or two to make and post about.

Although my book ended up studded with many yellow post it notes, I finally settled on 3 recipes to try: Orange Cloud Pancakes, Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas and finally (because it is King Arthur Flour and I figured I should at least attempt a yeast bread), The Easiest 100% Whole Wheat Bread Ever. With the book, my trusty apron, whole grain King Arthur Flour and some mustered up courage, I set out to "road test" this book.

First up, the Orange Cloud Pancakes--how do you not want to try something with the words "Orange Cloud" in the title? I get cravings for pancakes approximately twice a year and then I usually end up making a batch of banana pancakes (this is Hawaii you know), but this recipe with its cottage cheese, whipped egg whites, white whole wheat flour and orange juice and zest really appealed to me. I also figured pancakes would be an easy way to get started. Yes, I know it is not truly baking but flipping pancakes requires some skills too. 

The recipe is easy and goes together fairly quickly even including a 10-minute resting of the batter before the egg whites are folded in. In no time at all, the scent of orange was wafting through the kitchen and I had a plate of fluffy, delicious pancakes ready for brunch. 

If you are trying to sneak some whole grains into your household's diet, these pancakes are a great way to do it--the texture is so light you would never know that they are better for you than the average pancake and the cottage cheese adds some extra protein. The maple syrup (Real Canadian maple syrup just in case you are wondering Natashya!) really compliments them and I served them with orange slices and a small scoop of cottage cheese. This is a definite make-again recipe.

Next I moved to the Whole Wheat Tortillas. I buy tortillas made from whole wheat all the time, but I wanted to try my hand at making them and wanted to use them for a burrito recipe I was trying for a weekly cooking event. The recipe only uses four ingredients: white whole wheat flour, salt, vegetable oil and water, and it went together very easily. I did a half batch, which gave me 6 tortillas. 

I struggled with my tortilla rolling but it was not the book's fault. It was muggy and hot in the kitchen and I am of little patience (read GRUMPY), when it is like that so my tortillas were a bit too small and thick for burritos, but the flavor was good and they worked well for tostadas. I will try building my rolling skills again when I am in better humor and our trade winds are back.

And finally...baking...and with yeast...YIKES! You would think I would feel confident with a recipe titled "The Easiest 100% Whole Wheat Bread Ever" but frankly that title is pretty intimidating. If I mess up a complicated recipe I can blame it on the level of difficulty or the recipe itself, but screw up a recipe that is "the easiest EVER!" and I end up looking like an idiot. Luckily, the recipe is REALLY easy and may just be idiot-proof. I did stress a bit, unsure if it was going to turn out, but turn out it did and I had a gorgeous, surprisingly soft, dark loaf of healthy and yummy bread to show for it. 

Spread with a layer of yogurt cheese and topped with some of my homemade passion fruit curd, it was darn near perfect. I just may be SORT OF A BAKER now! I would make this again and encourage you to try this easy recipe, especially if you too are intimidated with bread baking. 

The Easiest 100% Whole Wheat Bread Ever
"King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking"
Yield: One 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf, 16 servings
Baking Temperature: 350 Degrees F
Baking Time: 45 minutes

"If you've never baked yeast bread, but want go dip your toe into the (lukewarm) water, this is the loaf to start with. Unlike most yeast breads, this one isn't kneaded; instead, the very fluid dough is simply beaten in a bowl for several minutes, then spooned into a bread pan. An hour later, it's ready to pop into the oven. The result is a coarse-grained, moist, easy-to-slice loaf a lot like a quick bread. Spread thin slices with flavored cream cheese; the extra fiber in the bread will assuage any guilt you feel about the richness of the cheese!"

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) lukewarm water
1/4 cup (2 ounces) orange juice
3 Tbsp (2 1/4 ounces) molasses
3 cups (12 ounces) traditional whole wheat flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) non-fat dry milk
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast

Thoroughly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch pan. It's important to grease the pan well, as this bread tends to stick if you don't. 

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Beat the mixture vigorously for about 3 minutes: an electric mixer on medium-high speed works well here. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.

Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and let the dough rise for 1 hour; it won't fill up the pan. It also won't dome as it rises, but will remain flat across the top. While the batter is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Uncover and bake the bread for about 45 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 minutes. The bread is done when it's golden brown on top and an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 190 degrees F. Remove it from the oven, and after 5 minutes use a table knife to loosen the edges, then turn it out onto a rack. Brush with melted butter, if desired; this will keep the crust soft. Cool the bread for 30 minutes before slicing.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (1 slice 49g): 21g whole grains, 95 cal, 4g protein, 17g complex carbohydrates, 3g sugar, 3g dietary fiber, 183mg sodium, 154mg potassium, 2mg vitamin C, 1mg iron, 35mg calcium, 100mg phosphorus.

"Whole Grain Baking" is one wonderful book for inexperienced bakers like myself, or experienced bakers who want to increase their whole grain baking knowledge and skills and really anyone who is interested in healthier baking. If you don't already have it, it would be a great addition to your wish list or a great gift for your favorite foodie. It is detailed--lots of hows and whys and interesting information, but it reads really well. I am very happy to have it in my collection, and successfully making my first yeast bread has given me a dash more confidence and made me want to try some more. I will be working my way through this book and trying more recipes--it will take me awhile to even get through all the recipes I placed sticky notes on. A big thank you to King Arthur Flour and to the View and Review program at BloggerAid for giving me the opportunity to try such a great book! 

Speaking of BloggerAid and the Cookbook, here is a sneak peak at the cover.

Pretty cool to think my Curried Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Toasted Almonds is in it! Guess what I'll be getting everyone for Christmas this year?! ;-) (BTW--Please ignore that last comment if you are on my Christmas List, I want you to be surprised!) 



  1. I think I would have been intimidated by this book as well, but you did an awesome job reviewing it! Everything you made looks great and I am ridiculously impressed with your tortillas. That bread is also drool-worthy. You have inspired me to experiment more with yeast!

  2. Welcome to the dark side Deb. Before long we'll be hearing about your baking obsession. :). Your review was thorough and entertaining and I love what you chose. It just shows us that because it's more scientific doesn't mean that it's something to fear. Great job!!!

  3. Yep, I do beleive you are a baker now. You're one of those people.

  4. The KA cookbook is all-encompassing and definitely intimidating. I wouldn't have known where to start, but I love what you chose. I love the sound of "orange cloud" pancakes, those sounds yummy. I've tried tortillas, years ago, and mine weren't a success. I think there must be a sort of trick to it?? However, you bread looks great!! Congrats to you! Baking bread just might become one of your new hobbies:D

  5. Deb ~ It’s been said, "Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.", but it looks like you are a master baker.

    The orange pancakes sound awesome! Thanks for posting your reviews...

  6. Deb, I'm so glad you found the confidence to tackle some baking - with yeast, even! - with our cookbook, and that you had some tasty success! I hope you get years of inspiration and enjoyment from it. Thanks for the great review.

  7. Oh, I would love those delicious looking Orange Cloud Pancakes right now with my cup of coffee instead of a regular old breakfast bar!

  8. Nice review, Deb. The books from KA are like an encyclopedia to me and I love them for that reason. The recipes you tried look great. Congratulations on the inclusion of your recipe in the BloggerAid cookbook.

  9. The whole wheat bread look amazing. I'm going to try it.

  10. Hi Deb! I've enjoyed reading through your blog. I've made whole wheat tortillas before and end up frustrated almost everytime. To me, it's a lot of work & I am never completely satisfied with the outcome. Too thick for me usually.

    I lived on Oahu (Pearl City & Pearl Harbor) from 1990-1993. It is paradise!! Wish I'd had my digital camera back then. I'd have a lot more pics.

  11. So glad you are using real Canadian maple syrup! ;-)
    You did such a fabulous job with your review, you baker you!
    This is definitely one of my top ten baking books. A wonderful reference for new and experienced bakers alike.

  12. Deb, I seriously pondered if I should buy this book. I'm such a big fan of KAF and I do enjoy baking.
    How are the pictures? I'm so visual, that I really need to see a photo of what I'm going to make.
    Great recipes choices, too.

  13. I really should try making tortillas on my own too!

  14. Deb,

    All of these creations look fabulous! I agree, King Arthur flour produce high quality products.

    For the tortilla, did the instructions call for the dough to rest? I've never made tortillas in Hawaii, but I know that it needs to rest for 20 minutes to absorb all of the flour, and make it more malleable.



  15. Never used this flour which is a shame! It would be worth it to give a try for another cake.

  16. LMAO on the Christmas List comment!! Tee hee. Great review!!! All three recipes look absolutely amazing :D

  17. Joanne--Nice to hear. I may have inspired myself to experiment more too! ;-)

    Giz--thanks for the chance to review the book and go to the "darkside"! ;-)

    Pam--still "sort of" but closer! ;-)

    Kim--for me it was all the rolling w/ the tortillas--not fun in a hot kitchen. ;-)

    George--thanks for the inspiring words!

    Allison--thank you so much for the opportunity. It is a wonderful book and I look forward to more adventures with it!

    5 Star Foodie--they are a really yummy pancake!

    Mary--thanks! The KAF books really are great resources.

    Easy Recipes--I was surprised at how easy it was too.

    Denise--yes I agree--there must be a special talent needed for them! ;-)

    Natashya--only the best for my pancakes! ;-)

    Debby--more step by step details and drawings than true pictures so take a look at see if it is enough for your preferences. I found it enough as it is so detailed.

    Kat--give them a try and tell me your secrets!

    Fresh, Local & Best--the dough did sit twice and was pretty flexible--I think it was my lack of rolling skills and patience!

    Duo--you have to try KAF white whole wheat--it is awesome.

    girlichef--thanks! ;-)

  18. Deb, when I saw you'd reviewed our book, I had a moment of trepidation; as authors, we're always hoping everyone will love what we write, and I was a bit anxious about whether you liked it. PHEW! Sounds like you did. Thanks so much for your kind words, and I hope you now have the confidence to term yourself a baker - because you are! Good luck with BloggerAid - thanks for your good work. PJ Hamel, King Arthur Flour baker/blogger

  19. great job on all three accounts! I love King Arthur Flour. I'm particularly intrigued with the pancakes. Although my youngest would "love me more" if I made homemade wheat tortillas.

  20. great job. I think i would be equally grumpy with the tortillas.


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