Whatever Wednesday Cookbook Review: Whole Grain Breads By Machine or Hand

My dog-eared copy of Whole Grain Breads by Machine and Hand by Beatrice Ojakangas
My dog-eared copy of Whole Grain Breads by Machine and Hand by Beatrice Ojakangas

This is not a book for those of you who can’t have gluten.  This book does have five recipes in a chapter entitled “Nonwheat Breads” but two of them have spelt, and I think that spelt is still problematic for some folks.  In any case, this review is geared for those who can eat wheat and gluten, but not eggs and milk.

When I first realized that I was really and truly going to have to cut all milk out of my life, I had a huge adjustment to face with respect to bread.  When it comes to every day bread, sandwich and toast bread, I’m cheap as hell.  I wanted to buy store brand or one step up from store brand sliced bread that you could get for less than two bucks (I haven’t bought a loaf of bread in two and half years, what’s a loaf of Country Kitchen Oatmeal Bread run these days??). Most of the breads out there fitting this description have milk in them. Now, I’m aware that I could buy artisan bread in the bakery section of the grocery store that would be milk free. It was also too expensive for my blood for day to day use, although I’d be happy to buy it for entertaining friends. So, according to my Amazon account, I bought my first bread machine on May 30, 2010.  It was very inexpensive, because I didn’t want to blow a whole lot of money on something I was trying for the first time and wasn’t sure I’d use. The first loaf of bread I made according to the recipes that came with the bread machine could have sunk a canoe if properly propelled. It was so dense that I felt like I had a brick in my stomach after eating it. After having read the reviews of the bread machine on Amazon, which stated that the thing worked great, but that the recipes in the manual were garbage and to go get a bread machine book, I asked around at my knitting group (Mary Kate and I are both knitters) which met at a bookstore. No one had any specific advice, but our friend Linda got up to go look around and came back with Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand by Beatrice Ojakangas.  I bought it at retail at a now defunct Borders store, but you can get it at Amazon, or ask your local retailer.

I have used the recipes in this book so often, that I wore out the first bread machine and had to purchase a second on March 31, 2012, once again according to my Amazon account.  My copy is fairly dog-eared, stained and has some minor water damage, but since I can still read the recipe and my handwritten notes, it’s all good.  There are two hundred recipes in the book, and after paging through the book I would say that I’ve tried about 40 of the recipes.  There are very few recipes that need modification.  Of those that do, I’ve been able to substitute nonfat dry milk with with rice milk powder or soy milk powder (except that I’ve discovered I really don’t like soy), milk with the alternative milk replacement product of your choice (I use rice milk), butter with Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread or Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, and buttermilk with the alternative milk replacement product of your choice and a little bit of vinegar. The very few recipes with cheese and egg, I’ve just ignored (although I’m considering attempting to use chia seed as an egg replacement). There are chapters on breads made with sourdough starters and with sponges, but that just takes more planning than I’m normally able to manage, so I have not tried those recipes either. Maybe during my staycation at the end of the month, I’ll manage a long yearned-for sourdough…ha..haha..ha.

In any case, I love, love this book.  And one of the things that I love most about it, is that each recipe tells you how to make the bread by hand, by using a heavy-duty mixer (like a KitchenAid), using a food processor, using the bread machine and baking it in the bread machine, and using the bread machine to make the dough and baking it in your conventional oven.  How cool is that? So when I wear out the bread machine again, I can make it in my mixer until the new one shows up. (No disrespect to my bread machine.  For what I paid for it, and the kind of work out it gets, it’s a miracle it lasted that long the first time, and I liked it so much I bought the same one the second time around.)  The other really cool thing is that each recipe has the ingredients for three different size loaves, a sampler loaf, a regular loaf, and an large loaf.  I use the regular loaf for the 1.5 pound loaf setting on my bread machine and the large loaf for the 2 pound loaf setting.

Our two standby recipes are Maple Oatmeal Bread and Country White Bread. We pretty much make a loaf from each of these recipes once a week.  These are great with any kind of sandwich and for toast. I eat a lot of toast because I pretty much gave up dry cereal as I can’t find a milk alternative that I can stand on cereal.

We’ve also made some of the more elaborate recipes, like the Beer and Mustard Rye Bread, Eleven Grain Buckwheat Bread, Ten Grain Cereal Bread, Chocolate Walnut and Wheat Bread (yummy!!), Cinnamon Pecan Wheat and Rye Bread,  Caraway Onion Rye Bread, Rustic Grains Bread, and Oatmeal Seed Bread.  There really hasn’t been a bread we didn’t like.

This is a great book for anyone (except anyone who can’t eat gluten or wheat).  However, for those of us with food allergies to dairy and egg, there are so many recipes without either ingredient, and the substitutions I described above work so well, that I can recommend this book wholeheartedly.

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