Book Review: Bake Your Own Bread (and Be Healthier)

A Fair Trade Book? Possibly…

Title: Bake Your Own Bread

Author: Floss and Stan Dworkin

Date: 1972

Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

ISBN: 0-03-091886-3

Length: 197 pages plus index

Quote: “Bread baking is a lot like married love. The first loaves of bread you make are not the best you’ll ever make, but they’re better than any you’ve ever bought.”

The subtitle of this book is …and Be Healthier. True? Yes, in the sense that your kitchen probably contains fewer germs than a commercial bakery, and if you eat or freeze your bread while it’s fresh you won’t have to add any preservatives. When you start using whole-grain flour and meal you’ll be even further ahead.

That said, it’s also true that for some people, e.g. this reviewer, good health will not be possible until we stop eating bread altogether. Sad but true. The good news is that, once we achieve gluten-freedom and reprogram ourselves to think of wheat products as things that made us sick rather than things we crave, reading and even using this book won’t make us hungry.

Other people can safely eat bread in moderation, but when they bake bread and have it in the house they tend to binge-eat it. Some of these people are undiagnosed celiacs who will be cured of stubborn chronic conditions when they go gluten-free. Others are allergic to one or more of the other chemical compounds of which wheat is made, but are not gluten-intolerant, and may be able to use bread as long as they don’t binge.

Unfortunately, people in either of those two categories are likely to be drawn to the idea of baking their own bread. Binge-eating homemade bread may be a little safer than binge-eating factory-produced bread, but if you’re a carb-craver who really likes bread, baking bread may be a bad idea for you.

If you are not, and are not feeding, a carb-craver, you’ll enjoy having a book that contains complete recipes and detailed instructions for 34 different kinds of bread. Bread has its place in a balanced diet for most people, and learning to make your own is definitely worth the trouble. Baking bread at home is a great rainy-day treat for children; they’ll love all the mixing, kneading, and shaping. And you’ll always have not only good food to pack in a box lunch, but a conversation piece to take to parties and a gift your friends will recognize as “from the heart.”

Bake Your Own Bread also contains a long rant, unfortunately still mostly accurate, about the hazards of using factory-made foods. It’s not much fun to read but it does explain some, not all, of the emotion with which people discuss the pros and cons of “natural,” “organic,” and home-cooked food. Why do I say “some, not all”? Because in 1972 food crops hadn’t been genetically modified; selectively bred, yes, but bred only for traits that occur naturally in the plant genus being bred. The new hazards of gene-spliced foods, made from plants that have had DNA from animals or disease germs spliced into them, are only beginning to be confirmed. Much of the new information about these new hazards is still available to the general public only on the Internet; type “genetically modified grains” into your search engine if you want to spend a lot of time online becoming increasingly perturbed. Or you could skip the unpleasant reading and just start buying local organic grain.

Is Bake Your Own Bread a Fair Trade Book? I think it still qualifies. Floss Dworkin died recently, “suddenly” and “too young,” in her late seventies. Her obituary lists Stan Dworkin as a survivor. There’s quite a lot of information about Stan Dworkin on the Internet but, so far as I’ve read, what’s not about the books he co-authored with his wife is about a younger man by the same name. If you send $5 per book + $5 per package to either address in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, I’ll make a more diligent effort to find out whether and where the co-author of this book is living, and send $1 per book to him or a charity of his choice. As always, the “per package” shipping fee means that if you want four copies of this book, or the Dworkins’ other books or other books of similar size, you send me $25 and I send Dworkin or his charity $1 for each book by him in the package.

Bread image from Agathabrown at Morguefile: