Book Review: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

I bought this book several months ago, and my wife and I have been baking our way through it ever since.  Let me say right up front that the folks at King Arthur do a great job of creating and testing their recipes. Everything we have made from this book has turned out great the very first time. The recipes are well written and easy to follow, and the ingredients in the recipes are specified by weight as well as volume, which is the only way for measuring flours in my opinion.

When I first got the book, I really expected to be baking mostly the bread recipes. But I have found that while the bread recipes are good, it’s the recipes in other areas that are really tempting me to try them out.

Like the Pineapple Upside Down Bread Pudding. Now, I don’t make bread pudding at home a lot. Even though I love to eat it, I usually consider it to be full of empty calories. But when you make it with whole grain bread, it suddenly moves into the healthy category, at least in my book.

When I got ready to make this bread pudding, I had plenty of whole grain bread in the freezer, but I thought this was a good excuse to try one of the whole wheat bread recipes. I chose the 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, and I was not disappointed. All too often, 100% whole grain breads are heavy and strong tasting. Not this loaf! It had a moist, tender crumb and a fine, soft texture. I will be making this bread again. It’s ideal for sandwiches and croutons, though I admit it was also pretty tasty with just a little butter slathered on it. We refrained from eating it all, and saved enough of it to use some in the bread pudding, along with the other breads from the freezer.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (click on any photo to enlarge)

If you like the flavor of pineapple upside down cake, you’ll love this bread pudding. With a topping made from butter, brown sugar and pineapple, and still more pineapple mixed with the bread cubes, this pudding was moist and full of flavor. I took most of it into the soup kitchen where I volunteer and everyone there loved it. They did everything but lick the plate clean. Actually, we may have even done that, now that I think of it! At 241 calories per serving it’s not diet food, but it also has 3g of fiber. All the recipes in this book include the nutritional information per serving, which is something I like to see in all cookbooks.

Pineapple Upside Down Bread Pudding

My wife joined in the recipe testing and made a batch of scones using the Oat and Currant Scones recipe. She made the Cherry Almond variation, which substitutes dried cherries for the currants and adds almonds. They turned out yummy. This recipe uses whole wheat flour, oat flour and rolled oats for the whole grains. We stuffed ourselves on these for a couple of days then froze the rest. We found out they are even good straight from the freezer.

Cherry Almond Scones

And since biscotti is one of her specialties, she had to try out the Triple Cinnamon-Pecan Biscotti recipe. With cinnamon powder, cinnamon flavored chips and cinnamon sugar on top these were a real treat for a cinnamon-lover like me. These were lighter and more cakey than her usual Italian-style dunking biscotti, and we both gave them a two-thumbs up rating.

Triple Cinnamon-Pecan Biscotti

I was intrigued by their version of Chocolate Crinkle cookies, which called for whole spelt flour. I’m always looking for more ways to use spelt in baking, because I love its delicate, nutty flavor. And what’s not to like about chocolate cookies? With cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate chips, these dark treats were amazingly light textured. They were a big hit with the soup kitchen crowd too.

Chocolate Crinkle cookies

I’ve also tried the recipes for Cornbread, Easy Banana-Walnut Bread, and the Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins. All turned out to be delicious. I’ve shared these goodies with a lot of different people, and they were all well received. People are always surprised to find out they are made with whole grains.

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

So if you are interested in adding more whole grains to your diet, like I am, I would recommend you give this cookbook a try. There’s something in here for everyone, from pancakes and quickbreads, to yeasted loaves, flatbreads and sourdough breads and waffles.


As for me, I’m looking forward to trying more of the recipes in the months ahead, like the Ciabatta Integrale (a whole grain version of the classic ‘slipper’ bread), the Toasted Sesame and Sunflower Loaf, and their whole grain version of Morning Glory muffins. With slightly over 600 pages in this book, I’ll likely be trying the recipes for several years to come!

DISCLAIMER: I did not receive a copy of this book for reviewing. I bought it at full price and was under no obligation to review it favorably, or review it at all.

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11 Responses to Book Review: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

  1. Ali says:

    This review makes this book oh so tempting… I lurve breads, but they are so highly caloric, even the whole grain ones, and I am weak. It is much easier to have never baked them than to try and resist them when they are in the house. Love that square skillet for cornbread!

    • Villager says:

      The ‘caloric factor’ is one reason I took some of the recipes in to the soup kitchen. That way I could share the calories with others! 😀

  2. GrafixMuse says:

    Thank you for posting this review. This cook book is one I have been considering. I make a weekly loaf of the 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread using the recipe from the King Arthur website. Even non wheat fans like it when made with KAF 100% White Whole Wheat.

    • Villager says:

      We use a lot of the White Whole Wheat flour. It also well in recipes where you just don’t want the full flavor of regular whole wheat flour.

  3. I’m going to need a bigger cookbook shelf! 😉 I’m glad you reviewed this book, and am encouraged that the recipes are working out so well. The 100% whole wheat bread looks great, not brick-like at all. I wonder if Hamelman wrote the bread recipes for this book. It wouldn’t surprise me. His own ‘Bread’ book is great, and very instructive, and last I heard he was one of the lead instructors at KA. Think I’m going to have to pick up a copy of this book…and maybe a gym membership while I’m at it! 😛

    • Villager says:

      I’ve got Hamelman’s Bread book, but I haven’t started baking my way through it yet. I’m still trying to test/taste more recipes from the BBA.

      I have the gym membership, but with all this baking I need to utilize it more often! 😉

  4. Thomas says:

    That pineapple upside cake looks sooooooooo good. My mouth is watering just looking at it. I love King Arthur flour. I may have to splurge and pick up this book.

  5. Christina says:

    Fantastic! You’ve been raving about this, and now you’ve really raved, so I must, must find it in the library. I can’t wait to check it out. Everything that you’ve made from it looks scrumptious.

  6. We love King Arthur’s books — have the 200th anniv. edition.

    With all that baking though, aren’t you afraid you are going to need a larger pair of pants? No matter how healthy the whole grains are, they still have the same number of calories as the white ones.

    • Villager says:

      You are so right about the calories. The King Arthur recipes don’t necessarily skimp on butter and sugar either. But my rationale is, if I’m going to eat sweets or dessert I want it to be well-made and not full of crappy ingredients. Also, making it ourselves we KNOW the calories that are in what we are eating. When you eat out it’s hard to know exactly what you are eating.

      I do believe that eating things made with whole grains is more likely to leave me feeling full and satisfied than when I eat stuff made with highly refined grains.

  7. One thing I really like about the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book is that is includes the nutritional info for each recipe. That makes it very easy to exert some portion control and be fine. I love that cookbook. The recipes can be pretty elaborate in terms of the number of steps, for example the Ciabatta Integrale: let the dough rest overnight, fold it over three times at one hour intervals, make in a loaf, rise, bake. But everything I’ve tried from it has turned out well, even bread from homemade sourdough starter.

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