Thursday, January 18, 2007

King Arthur Whole Grain Baking

The Vermont-based King Arthur Flour Company is America's oldest flour company--it was founded in Boston in 1790—and has always been a good source of fine baking ingredients and equipment, largely through The Baker's Catalogue, their online/mail-order business. Among the 1,000 items that King Arthur sells are their own home-grown baking books, including their most recent effort called King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking (The Countryman Press, $35).

I was really impressed with the attitude of the folks that developed the more than 400 recipes for this book, because I share their sentiments exactly about whole grain baking. Here's what they say in the intro to the book:

"This book is about flavor. It's not a lecture on why you ought to eat more whole grains, because you know that already. We set out to make whole grains taste great...We were determined not to accept any recipe with a comment something like, 'Tastes good for whole grain.'"

The book is filled with traditional baked goods that you would never expect to have whole grains in them: pound cake, eclairs, puff pastry, sticky buns. This is really what it's all about, learning how to improve the health profile of the foods you eat without turning them into drudgy health food.

Of course "good-for-you" foods can be a tough sell to kids, and the authors have addressed that: "If [your kids] try our brownies, cookies, cupcakes, breads and muffins, they'll never know (unless you tell them) about the whole grains in the recipe....We're not advocating hiding whole grains; however, many of us are parents and we know how hard it can be to get picky eaters to eat what's good for them."

Though clearly the recipes in the book have had a nice health makeover, the bonus is that they also sound delicious. Here are some that have tempted me: Chocolate Caramel Bread Pudding, Cheese Coins, Maple-Walnut Oat Bread, Pull-Apart Cranberry-Pecan Buns, Fudge Pudding Cake and Blueberry Cream Pie.

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