Good to Grain – Book Review
Rating: **** (4 Stars)
Skill Level: Moderate
One of my holiday presents in 2010 was the Good to the Grain cookbook. The world of whole grains and the variety of options available today is simply amazing. Kim Boyce wraps this world into a nicely photographed book of 75 recipes covering 12 flours. The list of flours includes:
Graham Flour (Although not one of the chapters listed above)
Clearly if you are going to tackle this book your list of flours in your pantry will expand considerably. I thought I had a lot with over 13 flours already in the pantry. These are also not the $4 for 5lb bag varieties so get ready to open up the pocketbook.
The book provides an interesting introduction into baking with whole grains and how Boyce soon realized that unbleached all purpose flour still finds a place in many recipes to balance the earthy tones of many of these flours. It also provides the gluten or proteins that may be missing in some of these flours.
The chapter introductions describe the flour, some history and tips on the use of the flour. Of course Boyce described some as smelling like straw or dirt when first opening a package. It makes you wonder why go to the trouble and expense to bake with these flours. This is where the book has a minor shortfall in that it should have discussed some of the nutritional benefits of some of the flours, if any, and nutritional fact on the recipes that I believe the primary audience would want. However, I believe this is as much a journey into experimentation and exploration beyond what you know and this is where Boyce provides her genius and some great tips. She has rigorously tested ratios to make sure that these recipes are good tasting and interesting, removing the black cloud surrounding whole grains and baking in the same sentence.
The pictures by Quentin Bacon are stunning, making reading the book so much more enjoyable. The book can rest on your book case or coffee table. The combination of the concise but clear writing of the author with the beautiful photos will keep you reading this one cover to cover instead of grazing through it as I have often done with other cookbooks.
Recipes I noted for trials included Carrot Muffins (Spelt), Maple Danish (Rye), Cheddar Biscuits (Kamut), Honey Hazelnut cookies (Amaranth), Corn and Gruyere Muffins (Corn) and finally Grahams (Teff & Graham). This is a short list but where we will probably start in our exploration. Boyce provides a good list of sources for the flours. Some can be found at a Whole Foods or similar grocer but you may find that many will need to be mail ordered from a source like Bobs Red Mill.
Overall, we were very pleased with the content, quality and effort put into this cookbook and highly recommend it for anyone interested in whole grain baking. However this book should not be confused with a book that has low calorie, low fat recipes. If it were not for the lack of nutritional information this would have been five stars. Perhaps her publisher can get something out there on the internet as a supplemental.