Whole-Grain Baking, Not Just for Hippies

In Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours, Kim Boyce destroys the notion that baking with whole-grain flour results in gritty, leaden cookies and cakes. Often using a combination of flours, she explains the unique flavors that grains such as teff, quinoa, and buckwheat bring to the baking table, then creates recipes that complement them instead of trying to sneak them into stuff under the guise of making things healthier. Barley flour has a sweet and creamy quality, she says, so it goes great with fruit like strawberries, which she folds into barley scones. Rye flour? Not as intensely flavored as your pumpernickel makes it seem—Boyce likes to pair its maltiness with basil and mint in zucchini bread.

Boyce's Graham Nuts

Formerly a pastry chef at LA's Spago and Campanile restaurants, Boyce brings a pedigree to these recipes. Quentin Bacon's photos add to the feeling of elegance. This is no hippie baking book—the apricot-boysenberry tarts, spiced muffins, and poppy seed cookies could be sitting at any upscale bakery. And Boyce is not a whole-grain purist: She frequently mixes all-purpose white flour with whole-grain flour in recipes, noting in the book's introduction that this is often necessary to maintain a light texture. (Read what Rose Levy Beranbaum has to say on the subject.)

Boyce's recipe for homemade Grape-Nuts appealed to us for its DIY-project quality, and it was easy to make, but we did find that it stuck really badly to our baking sheet when we followed the direction to "lightly butter" the sheet. We decided that two full tablespoons of melted butter were necessary to ensure the cereal would come off the pan without a chisel.

Overall, Boyce's cookbook is well suited for someone who is already into baking and wants to experiment with different grains (see our primer on whole grains to get started) to make something flavor-focused rather than health-focused.