Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Whole Food Adventures: Bread

Bread is delicious, plus it really can be pretty good for you. The problem is that most breads that sell in the modern world are chock full of preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, Monosodium Glutamate, you name it. Just check the loaf of bread you’re eating. Odds are it has any number of things in it that will cause you to scratch your head wondering why it’s in your bread. Often times, the bread that you can buy direct from a grocery store bakery is going to be better, but typically the only guarantee is the reduced amount of preservatives.

Catherine and I did some price checking, and we’ve found that a loaf of bread from the Moscow Food Co-op is just about the same price as the healthiest bread we can find at the grocery store, plus as Co-op members, we get every 11th loaf of bread free. It’s not much, but it’s nice.

However, you can’t really talk about bread without getting into the topic of grains. I’ve discussed whole grains before, and I can’t think of anyone who thinks that white bread is even good for them, at least compared to wheat bread, but even then many people argue for lacto-fermentation of grains being the only way to really get all the nutritional possibility out of a grain as it contains. As such, the suggestion is to use buttermilk, yoghurt, or some other fermented milk product as the base liquid in you bread, and then let the dough sit for at least 12 hours, preferably 24.

As part of this, I’ve make a batch of yoghurt dough using our food processor and the kneading blade (it’s plastic, and shorter). The recipe is simple:

            1/2 lb butter, room temperature
            1 cup yoghurt
            1 tbsp salt
            3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour or spelt

Begin by creaming together the butter and yoghurt in your mixing bowl, this can be done with either a food processor, stand mixer, or a hand mixer, and then add in the salt and the flour. I ended up having to add a bit more yoghurt to get a nice ball forming, but after a few minutes, I had a nice ball walking around the inside of my food processor, which told me I was done. I removed this out to another bowl, and put a cloth over it.

What’s this dough good for? Well, it’s supposed to make a good tart crust, possibly even for a pie, though I’m not sure it would be the best pie ever made. Or a pizza crust. Really, any thin partially bread-like application and it should work well. Just use a bit of white flour when you’re rolling it out to keep it from sticking. Note that this is an unleavened bread, so it won’t rise. The book we’ve been working from since we started this experiment has some pretty nasty things to say about yeast-risen breads, and I’m not sure I agree with her sentiments to be honest. But I be doing more research on this issue, and coming back with a post of risen breads, since non-risen breads just don’t work as good for sandwiches.

In the meantime, think a bit more about your breads, read the label, and try to buy from the bakery. Not only will it almost always be healthier, it probably tastes better too. You can go a long way in food by spending just a little more for quality stuff.