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Thoughts on King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook?

Really, I'm just curious, because I've seen a lot of you mention it! I don't know that I'll ever buy it. I looked through it last weekend at Barnes and Noble thinking, what could I really use a whole book devoted to whole grain baking for, but I was amazed at all of the recipes! It's such an extensive baking book, at least it looked like it. So, I'm curious... how is everyone liking it so far and what are you baking with it? (I did see a recipe I wanted for Butter Brickle Biscotti, but then I saw their magazine had that particular recipe, so I bought that issue.)

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  1. I'm kind of curious too. I figure I can maniplulate most standard recipes to include whole grains if I want to, and others, like genoise, I can't see making with whole grain. What does this book add to general baking knowledge?

    1. omg! I love this book! I've bought a few books in the last 3-4 months- this has been the best one yet. So far I've made scones, well, I'll have to look at home to see what else I've made. I'm interested in using whole grains, so I substitute whole grain flour for white flour in recipes (half & half sometimes as a compromise). One of the good things about this book is the specific background and info they give you on working with whole grain flour (letting it rest, etc.) It's going to be my new baking bible. I'm hoping this is the start of a trend in healthier cooking. Highly recommend! Love all the different whole grains they cover as well.

      2 Replies
      1. re: morebubbles

        Have you made anything "sweet" from it? I've been looking at a lot of the cake recipes and might start with those.

        1. re: debbiel

          Not yet! The pie recipes look good to me. I already use mostly whole wheat flour in my pastry, so it would be for the fillings. The cake recipes look good to me as well-as does the 'whole grain pancake mix' . Please let us know what you make!

      2. I love this cookbook, and I have baked a number of things from it. I am a fairly novice baker, and I have had good results with everything. No, really!

        The explanations are well written and clear. The pictures, not all color, are helpful.

        Things I've made (and enjoyed): WW foccacia, pizza dough, WW sourdough, fougasse, beer bread, irish american soda bread, WW pie crust, etc., ad nauseum . . . .

        I am about to try either the WW baguette or ciabatta integrale.

        Really, I have nothing but good things to say about this book.

        1. First, I should fess up to loving cookbooks. Once I take the time to sit down in a bookstore and look through a few cookbooks, my partner just assumes I'll be buying at least one and he wonders where oh where I'll put it.

          I picked this book up a couple of weeks ago when I went on a "I want to be a home baker" shopping spree. So far, I have only read parts of the book; I haven't actually cooked from it. But there are so many things I'm looking forward to trying. I'm pretty new to baking other than occasional pies, cookies, and brownies. Unlike julesrules, I do not yet feel I can just manipulate standard recipes to include whole grains. If you're comfortable with doing that and have a good collection or repertoire of baking recipes now, you might not have reason to buy it.

          When I finally get around to baking from it (probably in the next couple of weeks), I'll try to remember to post some reviews.

          2 Replies
          1. re: debbiel

            Yeah, me too, I just bought 5(!) new cookbooks, hence my hesitation in buying this cookbook. I probably shouldn't have asked.... :-) Chowhound has made me spend money on lots of things!

            1. re: Katie Nell

              You could always check the book out of the library for a test drive.

              The chowhound homecooking tab is definitely running up here (specifically the baking tab). And it's not just the cookbooks. I have more (quantity and variety) chocolate for baking, way too many types of flours to keep a handle on them, dried fruits and nuts coming out of the woodwork, and for the first time ever multipe types of cinnamon in the house at one time. All part of my attempts to cook my way through Baking from my home to yours and to bake great bread. But oh it has been fun!

          2. I love the King Arthur catalog, and the Bakers Store in Norwich is one of my absolutely favorite places BUT I have several KA cookbooks and many issues of the Bakers Sheet newsletter - and a lot of the recipes have real problems. I looked at the Whole Grains book, but didn't get it because of the problems I've had with their other books.

            1. I have this book and used number of their recipes. The chocolate genois cake worked great without any tweaking. I baked about 5-7 bread recipes. The bread recipes were hit and miss for me. Some of the bread recipes needed tweaking. The only cookies recipe I tried was peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies and they were ok. Need some more tweaking. We mostly eat whole wheat in our family so it is not that we are not used to how whole wheat tasted.

              1. I just got this cookbook, and I really like it so far.

                So far I've made only one-count'em-one recipe, but it was a winner: the peach oatmeal quick bread (except I used frozen strawberries instead of peaches). I've marked another dozen recipes I want to make, like Hummos Bread and Spelt Popovers, but most of the recipes have too much butter, cream, or eggs for me to attempt (my husband's on a low-cholesterol diet).

                What I like best about the book are the tips for working with whole grain flours - I think I can use this info to subsitute whole grains in other recipes.

                The King Arthur web site has some similar whole grain recipes, but the ones in the book seem to be better/simpler/different - I'm guessing that they did more testing and tweaking for the recipes in the book.



                1 Reply
                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  "..tips for working with whole grain flours" etc.... Totally agree with you. It's reference and recipes.
                  Katie, this is a great book for you I think, in your search for healthier cookie recipe for your husband's grandma. I counted almost 40 recipes for cookies and bars in the book.
                  Also, there's ' light texture' stuff like croissants, angel food cake, pie crusts, (whole gran eclair pastry!), etc -stuff one doesn't immediately think of when thinking of whole grains (normally considered heavy...)
                  I made the Apricot-Filled Cranberry Scones, which were excellent. The recipe calls for whole wheat flour, spelt flour and a-p flour. You get a choice of using 1 cup of half-and-half or evaporated (I used fat-free evaporated). Just an example, but I like when recipes take lower fat into account. Anyway, they were delicious. I have lots of other recipes in the book earmarked. Extensive book, it seems that everything is covered. I really like it!

                2. Last night I baked the ciabatta integrale. It was great. Nice interior, crispy exterior.

                  We ate it warm out of the oven topped with bleu cheese & honey. Really tasty "dessert!"

                  1. I've had it from the library and made some recipes: muesli pancakes, banana oat pancakes, brown rice pancakes, apple raspberry oat crumble (without almonds), wheat thins, irish porridge bread, cinnamon swirl oatmeal bread, classic crunchy chocolate chip cookies, salted cashew cookies, all oats cookies, and russian teacakes. I was unhappy with the brown rice pancakes, but it was partly my fault. I didn't separate the egg whites to lighten the batter. The recipe could have been better written, because this suggestion is an asterisk at the end of the instructions. The egg is the ONLY leavening, and I was using cold leftover rice, so I should've known to take this extra step. That's my basic criticism with the entire book: some of the recipes could be better written. There is a great deal of instruction in the text of the cake and sourdough bread recipes, which is nice, but they missed the mark on others. The russian teacakes, for example, had a weird texture because they instruct you to grind rolled oats in the food processor with the walnuts for 30 seconds, which will get the walnuts finely ground, but not so with the oats. Thus, the cookies are slightly gritty. Using oat flour or starting with only the rolled oats, then adding the walnuts after an initial grind would be a better choice. Some of the bread recipes seem to have been taken from a bread machine manual, and are little more than a list of ingredients, while others go into great detail with technique. The oatmeal bread that they gave a cinnamon swirl option isn't really the ideal dough for a swirl--you need something with more gluten. The other oatmeal bread I made was superb. The book's uneven, in short, but many of the recipes are quite good. I also learned about new flours I hadn't used before, namely barley. So, I think it's definitely worth your consideration, expecially if you don't already have a lot of baking books.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: amyzan

                      When this book first came out, I thought: "Good grief, another book I don't need." But when I was given a Country Living flour mill for Christmas, I realized that most of the whole grain recipes I've found in other sources piled on the "improvers" and the grains got lost. Even the recipes in Breads from Laurel's Kitchen use more eggs and milk than I normally use--the apotheosis of all that being her Featherpuff Bread, which is good, but it isn't a grainy bread. I needed something to help me understand grains. So when I also got a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas, I bought this book. The few recipes I have tried have been very good. But the most interesting thing is the way it has got me thinking about grains differently than I did before. I certainly have a better understanding of them. If you will be doing a lot of whole grain baking, I would highly recommend this book. If you are going to bake with whole grains only every now and then, it is still worth checking out of the library. My next project, when my kitchen duties come around in the monastery, will be a pie with a wheat/oat crust. The filling will be apricot creme from Marcella Hazan's Marcella's Kitchen, topped with meringue.

                    2. Last night, I made the Herbed Spelt Popovers from the cookbook. They were great, but they didn't puff up much - they were more like popover-flavored muffins.

                      I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of spelt, started with cold eggs, and baked them in an ancient oven with serious temperature-control issues. Perhaps that's why they didn't "pop." All that said, these things were YUMMY!!!! We each ate two, even though they're really filling. (I had to physically restrain my husband from eating all of them.)

                      I'm now on a quest for spelt flour in town (yeah, I know I can mail-order it from King Arthur as a last resoort) so I can try the popovers again with the recommended flour. But I'll make them again with the whole wheat pastry flour, too.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        I've purchased it a few times from my favorite: Seward Co-op.

                        I need to remember to pick up some more so I can try the spelt pancakes.

                        1. re: dotMac

                          Thanks for the info! I need to look harder when I shop - I go to Seward, too. But I found spelt flour at the Wedge.

                          By the way, those whole-wheat "popover muffins" freeze and reheat very nicely. I defrosted one in the microwave for lunch (about 5 minutes on level 1, so it wouldn't get tough). It was almost as good as the freshly baked ones!


                      2. Thanks for all the reports everyone... keep them coming! I'm going to check it out from my library as soon as amyzan returns it! ;-) Ha ha! Just kidding... well, not about the checking it out from the library part!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Katie Nell

                          I returned it today, a few days before the due date. Enjoy! Oh, and I also made the ciabatta integrale that was reported on earlier. I think I overbaked it a bit, because there was a minor wet dog emergency, but the flavor is fantastic. I made sandwiches with it for lunch, yum!

                        2. Just made the lemon barley scones this morning. As others have mentioned, my experience didn't exactly match the directions. The recipe called for me to cut in the butter, then mix in the liquid ingredients, then knead briefly. After that I was to pat the dough into a rectangle or a circle and cut into wedges. The dough was more like a thick batter--much too soft and moist to kneead, pat or cut. So I formed them like drop biscuits. They were delicious anyway.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: doctor_mama

                            Thanks for posting about the lemon barley scones! They're next on my list to try (after I make the Hummos Bread).


                          2. I love this book too! So far I've made the pumpkin bread multiple times and I tried the banana bread last weekend. Both are delicious. I also successfully made one of the yeast bread recipes. This book is so great because it offers a whole-grain alternative to typical white-flour recipes. If you are expecting results that are identical to average baked goods, you'll be disappointed. There is definitely more of a heartiness and denseness to the recpies I've made, but I find that very appealing. Also note that this is not a diet book: although the recipes are healthier for their use of whole grains, most are still full-fat and full-calorie calling for real butter and sugar.

                            1. I just made the Classic Peach Pie this morning and it was: Amazingly good. Recommend the recipe highly. I had frozen some peaches last September, sliced, unpeeled. So I followed the instructions in the book–separate ones for fresh and for frozen peaches. Terrifically useful. For frozen you cook them for 10 mins then mash slightly. I made my own whole wheat crust, made the filling as instructed-except instead of 3/4 c sugar+2 T, I used 3/4 c sugar minus 2 T (flavorings: nutmeg, cinnamon, a few drops almond extract, lemon, 1 t rum!). Made the crumble topping (..grind up some rolled oats, use the rest whole). When I was ready to put it together, my filling was not cool, but I proceeded anyway. It was 6 a.m. & I wanted to make sure it would be ready before I went to work. The results: Fabulous. The crumble topping looked like a big oatmeal cookie melding on top of the pie. I had a piece at 9 a.m. and confirmed it tasted as terrific as it looked. A taste of summer in February…
                              In spite of the filling having gone in warm, the crust did not suffer.
                              debbiel, in case you’re considering this sweet recipe, it’s worth it.

                              1. I ran across a clear error in some directions in their Baking Companion book and I called the baking hotline that they have listed (either in the book or on their website). The customer service rep. knew of the error and gave me the correct instructions. So, if you ever find something in their cookbooks that doesn't make sense, give them a call. If they know about it, they'll give you the correct info. If they don't know about it, then they can add it to their list of errors to correct for future editions. I think also that if you go on to their baking forum: www.bakingcircle.com (you do have to register to look at the forum), they may have an errata list for the Whole Grain cookbook.

                                1. I LOVE this book. So many great recipes in there!

                                  Here's my report for the Apple Walnut Cake (YUM!)


                                  And I also made the Morning Glory Muffins... great for breakfast! YUM!! :)

                                  Thanks for the reminder, I've been meaning to try more recipes from it! :



                                  1. I think my biggest complaint about the book (full disclosure: I still haven't cooked from it, just read it over since checking it out from the library) is that it's too apologetic about using the whole grains. The introduction to every recipe seems to talk about their machinations to make the recipes more like AP flour recipes or how somebody tasted item X and didn't even realize it was whole grain. I guess this is probably just a comment on how much further there is to go before whole grains are accepted as a valid 'class' of food to be eaten. I never expect something made with spelt instead of AP flour to taste like it was made with AP flour. If I wanted AP flour flavor, I would bake with AP flour!

                                    Of course, that's just a tone issue and is separate from the (probably more important!) issue of whether the recipes are well written and the products taste good!

                                    1. I made the banana bread yesterday and it was great! I noticed it uses a bit less fat and more banana than my grandmother's recipe, but was ALMOST as good. The honey really does something to the taste and texture, too.

                                      Their wording was kind of odd for how to use the foil covering, though. I thought I was supposed to bake for 50 minutes with a foil cover, remove it, then bake for 10 more minutes. Turns out it was 50 minutes then 10 minutes with a cover. I ended up with quite a carmelized crust nearing burnt and a funky top. But otherwise a great bread.

                                      1. what about the Bob's Red Mill baking book? I couldn't resist when I saw it at BJ's-- (strange to find in a store that has little or no whole grains, but that's another subject). haven't made a single thing from it yet, though-- anyone tried baking from it? curious to hear your experiences; maybe it will motivate me to open the book!

                                        1. This weekend I made the Wheat Baguette.

                                          I followed the recipe to a T, and got medium sized holes. The book does note that if one adds more water (within reason, of course), larger holes will form. I will try adding more water in the future.

                                          I loved the end product. The exterior wasn't as crusty as a tradtional white flour baguette, but I really enjoyed the chewy interior.

                                          1. Tonight I made the whole wheat challah. The recipe called for whole wheat pastry flour, which I think was a good choice, making the loaf a little lighter than if made with regular whole wheat flour.

                                            Overall, it was easy to make, and I will definitely make this again.

                                            Some slices are currently marinating in Grand Marnier French toast "juice," getting ready for tomorrow's breakfast. Can't wait.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: marthadumptruck

                                              I just saw this book on the Amazon "top sellers" list. This sounds awesome, especially given all the positive comments here! One question though--the recipes use 100% whole-grain flour, not a mix of whole-grain with refined flour, right? (If I missed the answer in the above thread, then apologies)

                                              1. re: meesha

                                                Sadly not, some recipes use other whole grains and some recipes use mixes with AP and other flours.


                                            2. I made two pies from this cookbook this weekend.
                                              1. The blueberry pie. Blueberries are cooked for 1 hr in red wine or blueberry wine, I had blueberry wine so I used that. The whole wheat crust takes some baking powder & orange juice (unusual, for me). It's very good. I thought I could cut back a little bit on the sugar and on the thickener (flour in this recipe).
                                              2. The cherry pie. Sour cherries (I used frozen) are used, flavored with a bit of almond extract and thickened with small tapioca, then topped with an rolled oat/brown sugar/butter etc mix. The crust is made with ground up rolled oats and unbleached white I believe, I can't be sure right now. This came out very well and it's pretty, lots bright red oozing at the edges.
                                              I had 5 guests, the 2 pies were 'taste tested'. Four of them prefered the cherry pie, by far. Two of us preferred the blueberry pie. One guest said the cherry pie was something like her grandmother used to make.
                                              For myself, I liked it a lot but I wasn't absolutely crazy about it. I'll have to make it again though, for my friends! Oh, and I served each pie wedge with a small scoop of caramel and sea salt ice cream on the side, which was delightful!

                                              1. I really like this book, everything I've made so far has been a keeper recipe, the honey brew wheat bread is our staple (I may get the names slightly wrong since it's packed up with the rest of my kitchen right now), the peach oatmeal bread is great, I've made it a bunch of times; I also made the sour cream muffins and they were requested again (and they were really easy). I have some issues with their directions, especially for the yeast bread recipes (which I've voiced on other threads) but since I am trying to make healthy baked goods for my family I was excited to get this one. I would highly recommend it!

                                                1. Well, I bought it... surprise, surprise! :-) One thing I know is on my list are the Cheez-it-like crackers... my dad is a Cheez-it fanatic, so I'm going to make these for Father's day. I haven't received it yet, but hopefully will soon! Grandma has requested a lemon cookie next month too, so I need to see if there's something along that line in the book.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                                    For the holidays, I made these great lemon sugar snap cookies from the MS Baking Book. They were a huge hit.


                                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                                      Have fun with the new book Katie Nell!

                                                      I finally cooked from this book just this weekend. I made the all oats, all the time flourless cookies. We really loved these...chewy, nutty, rich. Very good. I also made the honey cake. This was so-so, but I made enough silly mistakes while cooking it, and it smelled good enough, that I'll likely give it another try. I think it might be great with a marmelade or some mascarpone cheese.

                                                      1. re: debbiel

                                                        Yes, we loved the all oats, all the time cookies!

                                                        Thanks for the pointer to the lemon cookies beetlebug- I'll check them out!

                                                      2. re: Katie Nell

                                                        Ugh, guys... I ordered the Vermont Cheese Powder from KA to make the Cheez-it look-a-likes, and we tried some on popcorn this weekend and it is just WAY too faux-tasting! I know my dad will positively hate it! :-( Now I don't know what to do with all this stinkin' cheese powder and what to do about the crackers!!

                                                        1. re: Katie Nell

                                                          How disappointing! And I was looking forward to hearing your report on those Cheez-it crackers. Maybe if you do a separate post on cheese powder you'll get some good alternatives to the stuff from KA.

                                                      3. I just made the devil's food cake, in cupcake form. They're quite tasty with good crump. I didn't use "good" cocoa powder, just what we had on hand for chili. I'll have to try them again with some high quality stuff. The cupcakes have to go into the office tomorrow, or I'll devour them.

                                                        Maybe next I should try something remotely healthy...

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: debbiel

                                                          Chocolate cupcakes, sounds good, haven't had those in a while! Will look at the recipe.
                                                          And I think chocolate IS healthy!! : )

                                                          1. re: morebubbles

                                                            Thank you for the reassurance on the chocolate morebubbles! The cupcakes were scarfed up at the office. No one seemed to be put off by (or notice, perhaps) that they had whole wheat flour and yogurt in them.

                                                        2. Have you tried any more recipes? The Legacy Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting is a very good snack cake. I have made several of the muffin, scone, pancake, cookie and granola recipes without a problem. Some of them instruct to rest the dough/batter overnight to hydrate the flour, so you have to plan ahead, and several recipes call for flours that aren't available everywhere. But, my overall experience has been good.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: staceyr

                                                            I was just looking at that recipe yesterday. What is boiled cider vinegar or apple juice concentrate? Is apple juice concentrate frozen apple juice, melted? Do you just boil cider vinegar? How long? I have some apples I want to use up soon.

                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                              Are you sure it is boiled cider vinegar and not just boiled cider? Boiled cider can't be made at home (so they say in the catalog) it is a product you can purchase from King Arthur Flour. Apple juice concentrate is just the frozen stuff, melted.

                                                              1. re: PrincessBakesALot

                                                                Yes, sorry, boiled cider. I'll just go with apple juice concentrate. Thanks!

                                                                1. re: PrincessBakesALot

                                                                  I bet you could just boil apple cider down and make it syrupy, but I'm a rebel! :-)

                                                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                    I do this every fall. My CSA gives us fresh unpasteurized cider every week when in season. I usually boil a gallon down to a syrup consistency and keep it in the fridge in a mason jar. It is great as a sweetener for plain oatmeal (and not too sweet like sugar) or a dollop added to apple pie filling when making a pie. KAF sells boiled cider for a ridiculous price considering it is literally just boiled cider.

                                                            2. I've been baking with whole grain 2-3 items per week for several months now. And have borrowed two KAF cookbooks to study them from cover to cover. What I've noticed about their recipes is in the details, which give rise to quality. Details don't matter too much at a novice level, when your experiments are more likely to be screwed up by other elements such as hydration level and temperature. Once you get pass that stage, you can easily take white flour recipes and substitute with whole wheat with some mild adjustment of hydration. It will give you something edible. But if you press for excellence, it's in the details. For example, the KAF cookbook recommends using orange juice to cover up the bitter taste of whole wheat flour. I tried that and I could really tell a difference. Then I experimented with other fruit juices, like kiwi; and the result turned out awful! So that's a piece of details that only an expert can tell you. Then, I compared the KAF's recipes with some similar whole grain recipes from JOY, Bernard Clayton's bread, Peter Reinhart's, etc. KAF's recipes tend to use more ingredients. On average, every recipe has over 8 different ingredients. Some recipes use 24 ingredients. With time, I've collected most of the ingredients they use, but if you bake only occasionally, then you may wonder if you want to go for such a hustle. KAF's also use more unusual ones, such as Dutch-process cocoa powder, Frangelico liqueur, whole wheat pastry flour, barley flour, etc. Some people like to go all the way to mail order these items, but I only go for something cheap, fresh and handy from my neighborhood grocery store. I tried a few of the KAF recipes using atta flour (the flour used for naan) instead of KAF whole wheat, because it was newly stocked up in my neighborhood store. The results turned out good and very well-received by those who have been feeding on my baked goods. Of course other than myself and a few baking experts, most can't tell what I use, and all they care is that the bread/pie/cookie tastes good. The authors of the KAF cookbooks claim that their recipes yield the best-quality results when you use their flours. Maybe that's true, but I've succeeded using just grocery store brands too, as long as I manage the hydration properly. As with all baking recipes from all sources, the amount of water and the length of time are variables that depend on your own kitchen, and the weather.

                                                              1. I LOVE this cookbook. It is probably the only reason I get any whole grains in my baking :) I have 183 favorite recipes already, and 67 recipes I would not make again. Yes, I bake a lot from this book :) There have only been a handful of "bad" recipes; most of them just come down to personal taste, and how prominent you like the taste of whole grains. Their brownies are my all-time favorites, and I love love love so many of their breads. They also have great pancakes, scones, biscuits, tortillas, pita bread, crackers, pizza dough, puff pastry, eclair dough, etc. There is really such a great variety of recipes. You also get a huge introduction to other types of whole grains besides whole wheat flour and oats. You can still make about half the recipes if you only have those on hand, but because of this book, I keep the smaller bags of specialty flours in my freezer (easily found at your natural foods market, and sometimes at the regular markets, and always at kingarthurflour.com). One other note; you'll see which recipes you like to have your whole grains in. Personally, I think they elevate most loaf breads and are great (or better than white flour) in rolls, brownies, quick breads, pancakes, and bars. I don't always like whole grains in very simple flavored things where they remind me of a pancake too much, like genoise or other simple cakes or scones. I've learned where I just prefer white flour, but I think it's a personal taste. Anyway, this is a great company and a great cookbook; if you have the room on your shelf, I highly recommend it!!

                                                                1. I am reviving an old thread since I just took this book out from my library. I made the banana crunch cake last night. Wow, was it good. I reduced the sugar in the batter by one ounce and it was perfect sweetness for me. I used the optional chocolate chips but think I'd prefer it without the chocolate.

                                                                  I like this book because it is making me use ingredients I haven't really worked with, like oat flour and spelt. Plus, I always have tons of rolled oats on hand. A quick whiz in the food processor and I have an almost unending supply of oat flour!