Well it has been a while since I have been fired up enough to post a rant, but this rant has been a long time coming. I don’t believe in complaining about something if you don’t have a solution or an idea to make it better. So I have been doing research and working out a solution, so here I am with a bread revolution! I am here, in Valkyrie fashion, with a wooden spoon in hand ready to stick it to The Man, right in the ribs, into the heart of things. Which man?, you might ask. The Man of crappy, awful bread. I have had it with bread. I am sick and tired of going to the grocery store and spending over 20 minutes in the bread aisle looking for a single loaf that doesn’t contain CORN SYRUP and then being charged $5 a loaf for my time. I am even more tired of going back 2 weeks later, picking up that same bread and now seeing CORN SYRUP in there. I am tired of all the “Whole Wheat”, “Hearty Grain” and otherwise “healthy” breads containing not only corn syrup but also enriched flours and a huge list of ingredients, half of which I have no clue what they are. What I hate the most are ingredients like “sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup”.
I mean who are they trying to kid and why are either of these things in a freaking whole wheat pita to begin with???
What is happening to the food manufacturers? Do they think I am so gullible and stupid that I will buy bread with a list of ingredients as long as a 5 year old’s Christmas list to Santa? Well they better think again.
I know that there are only 4 ingredients in bread: Flour, Water, Yeast and Salt.
If you want to get fancy, you can add warm milk, maybe olive oil, honey or perhaps some seeds and nuts. That is it. I mean why is there niacin, iron and vitamin B in my store bought bread? Oh, it is because food manufacturers have stripped the flour of all its natural proteins and nutrients so they have to add them back in the flour as an after thought, to try to make it better and healthier. Well you better try a little harder, because I am FAR from convinced.
And please explain to me why there are dinosaurs in my bread, things like, Stearoyl Lactylates and what about Guar Gum?
I thought gum was what you glue things together with, or stick under your chair in school. Why are you turning humble, beautiful, simple bread into a science project? It is unforgivable. Bread which is one of the cornerstone foods of human life is getting an ugly makeover.
I for one REFUSE to buy another loaf.
I will not buy into the crap, I will not support this destruction of bread. Next time you are at the store, I ask you to take a closer look at the bread aisle and really take note of all the crap they are trying to feed us and pass off as food. I implore you to take a stand and say no to crappy bread, full of dinosaurs, bubbalicious and all sorts of other ingredients that do not belong in bread!
Okay, okay, I know we are all busy and already spend a lot of time in the kitchen feeding our families and making fabulous meals.
I mean who in the world has time to make homemade bread all the time? WE ALL DO.
It is simple, it takes no time (literally 5 minutes at the most) and it is healthy. Something you can feel good about eating. Let’s take back the bread! Here is how.
First, I know I am not the only person out there who has started making their own bread, but I have found that there is a way for us, the people who hate kneading, to make fabulous, artisan breads in just minutes.
The first recipe I came across was the famous no knead bread recipe from the New York Times. It is a wonderful recipe, very easy to make and yields a wonderful rustic loaf with a crunchy crust and a soft inside. I made this bread several times before coming across this book:
Artisan Bread in 5- Minutes a Day. I went to the bookstore, sat down with this baby and a whole new world opened for me. I first made a modified version of the Light Whole Wheat (making it a bit heavier in the wheat department) and it was so nice and spongy on the inside while retaining a crunchy outer crust. From there I moved on to the 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. The beauty of this book is there are a group of main bread recipes – like European Peasant, White Boule, Pumpernickel and Rye, and from them you can make a whole host of things like pizza, baguette, flatbreads, pita, foccacia, naan, lavash, rolls, etc. But there is also recipes for making pretzels, bagels, brioche and a whole host of other goodies! All simple and easy, and readily available.
The key is that you make enough dough to make about 4-5 loaves of bread (small loaves, but loaves) and then the dough keeps in your fridge for a week, sometimes 2 , depending on the recipe. You just pull off what you need and bake. It is really a revolution in bread making for the home cook. I suggest you try it today!
Here are the two I mentioned to get you started:
Light Whole Wheat Bread
(Makes 4 1lb. loaves)
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 TBS granulated yeast
1 1/2 TBS salt
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used about 3)
5 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour (I used about 3 1/2)
Mix yeast, salt and water in a 5 qt. plastic bowl with lid (not airtight). Mix in the remaining dry ingredients WITHOUT kneading – using a spoon, heavy duty stand mixer or 14 cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment) just until mixed completely. Do not over mix, or knead. If you are using a spoon, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour, that is fine, just don’t knead.
Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temp for about 2-3 hours. Until dough rises and then collapses. The dough can be used for baking at this point, but it is easier to handle if you put it in the fridge for a few hours. This dough keeps in the fridge for 14 DAYS!
When you are ready to bake, place one baking shelf on the top most rung that your broiler pans can fit. Place the other shelf towards the middle. Preheat the oven to 450 and place a baking stone, dutch oven, or large Pyrex bowl into the oven and let it heat up for about 20 minutes.
Remove a grapefruit sized ball of dough from the bowl and shape into a ball. Allow it to rise for 40 minutes (it will still bake beautiful bread even if you skip this second rising). Slash the bread using a serrated bread knife, or snip the bread using kitchen shears. Slide loaf onto hot stone or place in cooking vessel. Pour one cup of water in your broiler pan and place it on the top rack. Place bread on lower shelf and cook for 35 minutes until deeply brown and firm. Allow to cool before slicing and eating.
100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
(makes 3 1 1/2 lb loaves)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 1/2 TBS granulated yeast
1 TBS plus 1 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
5 TBS neutral flavored oil (I cheated and used hazelnut)
6 2/3 cups whole wheat flour (avoid pastry or “graham flour”)
Mix yeast, salt, honey and oil with the milk and water in your 5 qt. bowl or food container. Mix the remaining dry ingredients in the same way as the last recipe. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temp for about 3 hours. The dough can be used after the initial rise, but it is easier to handle when cold. This dough can stay in the fridge, covered (but not airtight) for 5 days.
When you are ready to bake, lightly grease a 9x4x3-inch loaf pan. Using wet hands scoop out 1 1/2 lbs (cantaloupe sized) handful of dough. This dough is very sticky and it is easier to handle with wet hands. Quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around the bottom on all four sides, rotating it a quarter turn as you go.
Drop the loaf into the prepared pan (you can also do this free form by following the instructions in the above recipe). You want the pan to be more than half full. Low the dough to rest for 1 hour and 40 minutes. After that time, flour the top and slash with a serrated knife (or snip using kitchen shears).
Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350F. Position the rack the same way as in the previous recipe. When it is time to bake, pour 1 cup of water into the broiler tray and place the bread in the oven. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until deeply brown and firm. Allow to cool completely in order to make reasonable sandwich slices.
If you like these recipes, I really suggest that you buy the book. It is really quite a remarkable thing. it is liberating to kiss the bread man goodbye and not pay $5 a loaf anymore for decent bread. Not only that but your kitchen smells like a bakery and there is nothing better than fresh bread!
Let’s start a bread revolution! Who’s with me???