The Fresh Loaf

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A neat book that I don't have time for

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Floydm's picture
Floydm

A neat book that I don't have time for

I'm returning a neat looking book to the library because I just don't have time to do it justice right now. That book is Celebration Breads: Recipes, Tales, and Traditions. It has celebration breads from all over the world and throughout the year. It looks like it has some very good recipes. I'm blogging it so that I don't forget about it when I have more time to experiment.

I'm also returning Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. Definitely a classic, just really not up my alley. Too many recipes that make my wife go "ew" when I read the name, like "Mediterranean Garbanzo Bread" or "Soybean Bread." For folks with wheat allergies it looks like a real good one though.

I baked a buttermilk bread last night, trying another loaf of sourdough today. We're having red beans and rice with collard greens for dinner, so I think I'll also have to whip up a batch of corn bread to go with it. Yum.

Comments

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Ha! Funny you say that. I just wolfed down a sandwich made from Laurel's soybean bread.

I admit, it sounded funny to me too. But it's a surprisingly high rising bread (relatively speaking) with mild, warm flavor and a very moist texture. The salt needs to be boosted a bit, but as is, its taste to nutrition ratio is excellent.

Sometime this month, I'm going to try it with sourdough, see how that does. A moist and tasty loaf of super-nutritious sourdough whole wheat is very appealing to me.

And, BTW, her Featherpuff Bread, though a bit bland, has the most amazing rise I've ever seen in a 100% whole wheat bread. I made some yesterday, and the damn things won't fit in my breadbox. They're ungodly big. On Saturday, I'm making that recipe with sourdough, to see if I can get the loft I like to link up with the sourdough flavor I love.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm sure the soybean bread and the garbanzo bread are quite good. They just aren't my thing.

It seems like in the artisan bread movement there are a couple of streams. One grew out of the 60's health food movement and focuses on the nutritional value of home-made or multi-grain breads, occasionally at the expense of taste. Another comes with more of a "rediscovering the old traditions" motivation and focuses on learning how people made traditional breads before bread baking was industrialized. There is definitely overlap between the two, as one sees reading the discussions on this site. For example, both side agree that organic, less processed ingredients make healthier, tastier bread. But in other areas they part, such as on whether white bread is a good thing or not.

I grew up in the Bay Area and ate way too much health food growing up, much of which tasted awful. For me the real revelation was learning that one can make incredible tasting breads at home. I also travelled in Europe and was blown away by the flavor of their breads. So I tend to have less interest in baking a healthy soybean or garbanzo bread and more interest in making a great, crusty baguette (though, I'll admit I make a mean lentil loaf). I'm not knocking the health food approach though... there is plenty of room in this movement (and on this site) for all of us.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

That's an interesting topic in itself. I'd never quite thought of it that way, but I think you're right -- the bread revolution that started in the 70ies-ish era really does incorporate those two strands.


Actually, I got into baking bread primarily because I wanted decent tasting whole-wheat bread. It's just impossible to find in the grocery store. The 100% whole wheat stuff tries to imitate Wonder Bread, and the decent tasting stuff is almost always mostly white flour, with a touch of whole wheat.

Anyway, my wife and I had just recently become parents, and I was intent on making sure that our daughter grew up eating well. But, of course, no one eats well if the food tastes like "health-food" -- soggy sunflower seeds, mealy and dense bitter brown bread, bland and pasty curd of God-knows-what with sprouts. Ick.


That's why I used the term "whole food," because "health food" has so many awful taste connotations. I think the two movements are starting to come together, actually, or, at least, the whole food folks are trying to emulate some of the techniques of artisan baking. Peter Reinhart's forthcoming whole-grains book should be a big step in that direction, and the KAF Whole Grains book also makes great strides toward baking tasty whole-wheat and whole-grain bread. Many of the basic techniques I use in baking bread have come from books on how to make great white-flour bread.

But whole wheat really is a different animal, and I think that anyone who's trying to get 100% whole-grain breads that taste like the best artisan white breads is destined to fail. I doubt I'll ever make a whole wheat baguette that's as tasty as the great white baguettes I've eaten (and, once, I think I even made a pretty good one). But, then again, I don't think I'll ever eat a white sourdough bread that's as satisfying or tasty as the whole-wheat sourdough I'm now regularly pulling out of my oven.

My daughter is a picky eater -- greens, vegetables, even potatoes and fruits, it's like pulling teeth just to get her to taste any of them. And once she's tasted something, getting her to actually injest it is a whole other matter entirely. Thankfully, she just inhales the whole wheat bread I make. Knowing that she's, at the very least, eating heatlhy bread makes it all worth it. The fact that it tastes good to me as well is gravy.

sphealey's picture
sphealey

> Anyway, my wife and I had just recently become parents, and

> I was intent on making sure that our daughter grew up eating

> well. But, of course, no one eats well if the food tastes like

> "health-food" -- soggy sunflower seeds, mealy and dense bitter

> brown bread, bland and pasty curd of God-knows-what with

> sprouts. Ick.

 

Personally, I think you are doing the Laurel cookbooks and healthy foods a bit of an injustice here.

 

There is no question that the first edition of Laurel's Kitchen (the cookbook) was closely tied up with the Berkley "health food" movement of the 1970s, since it was a key part of the development of that culture in the first place. And it is true that many of their first efforts did not have the best taste to American palates.

Now, there are two caveats to that. First, many of my peers, having examined and rejected that food style when they came of age in the 1970s and 1980s in favor of "tastier" stuff, are now making the usual middle-class-American-male rounds among their doctor, the cardiologist, the stress testing lab, the blood lab, the operating room, and the pharmacy. While most of those "health food nuts" still look fairly lean and healthy. I don't think that is a coincidence.

 

Second, after eating mostly from-scratch, vegetable-based foods for the last two years I find that I can no longer eat the kinds of foods that standard American culture in the oughts classifies as "good". I can make cakes from scratch, for example, that I like and can eat a reasonably amount of, but I have not been able to stomach a piece of processed cake in over a year - my body rebels. And I don't think this is a coincidence either.

 

But hey - taste is important too.[1] The sages at Moosewood Resturant in Ithica NY, as chronicled by Mollie Katzen, really picked up and ran with this, creating whole-food dishes that tasted as good or better than anything else out there in any cuisine.

 

By the time the Laurel conglomerate got to the 2nd edition of Laurel's Kitchen, and the LK Bread Book, even they were willing to acknowledge that they had gone a bit too far from cooking for taste. So they adjusted many of their recipes (at the same time reducing the fat content of many) and outright dropping quite a few that were too Berkley-ish (including the original "health nut bread", which I really want to try if I ever get a 15 hp mixer).

 

So, if you work through the recipes in LKBB you will find that most are not "health foody" at all, and those that are often taste quite good if you give them a chance. You will be surprised at what happens to cooked beans when you add a small qty to dough for example.

 

Well, that's enough of a rant. I recommend giving LKBB a try. If you really don't like it then look at Mollie Katzen's Enchanted Broccoli Forest: lots of good healthy bread recipes in there too.

 

sPh

 

[1] Prior to Katrina surveys showed that the average resident of New Orleans lived 12 years less than the average American, and tha they were fully aware of it. But that they liked their diet so much they preferred to eat it and die young. To each his own.

 

PS Can anyone get blockquote to work in any form? I can't.

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Personally, I think you are doing the Laurel cookbooks and healthy foods a bit of an injustice here.


There is no question that the first edition of Laurel's Kitchen (the cookbook) was closely tied up with the Berkley "health food" movement of the 1970s, since it was a key part of the development of that culture in the first place. And it is true that many of their first efforts did not have the best taste to American palates.


I wasn't attributing soggy sunflower seeds et al to Laurel's book. Quite to the contrary. In both the Bread Book (the edition I have anyways) and Laurel's Kitchen I think that they do a fantastic job of making healthy food taste fantastic. Health food got a really bad name from food that just tasted ... well ... bad. The breads I've made so far have tasted great. Well, they can use a little tweaking here and there. A touch more salt here, the addition of a pre-ferment there, but overall, her project was primarily to show that, in fact, it is possible to make tasty, light whole wheat bread. And she succeeds!
Second, after eating mostly from-scratch, vegetable-based foods for the last two years I find that I can no longer eat the kinds of foods that standard American culture in the oughts classifies as "good". I can make cakes from scratch, for example, that I like and can eat a reasonably amount of, but I have not been able to stomach a piece of processed cake in over a year - my body rebels. And I don't think this is a coincidence either.
Again, I agree. The worse the food is for me, the worse I feel. There's a vending machine down the hall from my office, for example, and any time I break down and go grab a Snickers, I feel great for 60 minutes, and then feel depressed and unable to concentrate for most of the rest of the day.

That's partly what I was trying to get at later on in my post. Whole-grain breads don't taste like white breads, but that doesn't mean they taste bad. It's different, but still very, very tasty.
So, if you work through the recipes in LKBB you will find that most are not "health foody" at all, and those that are often taste quite good if you give them a chance. You will be surprised at what happens to cooked beans when you add a small qty to dough for example.
I've made both the black bean and the soybean breads -- both were very good! I was, suffice to say, shocked. I can't wait to see what her sprout bread does -- first, though, I've got to get a new food processor. Mine's busted and I don't fancy grinding up those sprouts by hand ....
PS Can anyone get blockquote to work in any form? I can't.
Yes! :-). You have to click "disable rich-text" first. Once you do that, though, you'll also have to use HTML codes to break your test, for instance.
Floydm's picture
Floydm

I'm part of the flock of kids that grew up around Berkeley in the 70s and 80s. We got to be the guinea pigs for many of our parents' health food experiments. The intentions were good, but a lot of the food tasted awful. The kids who grew up in strict health food houses spent more of their allowances on nachos and candy than most of the rest of us. And my completely-subjective-and-can't-back-this-statement-up-in-any-way impression is that many of those kids in the strict health-food homes came out physically smaller and with more food allergies or weight problems in later life than the kids who were fed a better balanced diet. Food was viewed as a something to be feared, not loved.

First, many of my peers, having examined and rejected that food style when they came of age in the 1970s and 1980s in favor of "tastier" stuff, are now making the usual middle-class-American-male rounds among their doctor, the cardiologist, the stress testing lab, the blood lab, the operating room, and the pharmacy. While most of those "health food nuts" still look fairly lean and healthy.
Lean and healthy but... not necessarily happy. There is this ascetic quality to many "health food nuts" that depresses the hell out of me. Sure, you may live longer than everyone else, but if all you eat is kale and lentils are you living a rich live? I'd rather have lived 70 years to its fullest than 90 denying myself any pleasure.

As important as diet, I think what has kept many health food nuts healthy is exercise. American automobile-centered life is unhealthy. Many Europeans eat relatively high fat, high alcohol diets and stay in decent shape because they walk around more than we do. I'm no fan of the cult of the body health club industry, but I make it a priority to get at least casual exercise everyday. So far, I believe that is keeping me in decent shape. Time will tell.

Second, after eating mostly from-scratch, vegetable-based foods for the last two years I find that I can no longer eat the kinds of foods that standard American culture in the oughts classifies as "good".

I'm with you there. I can't stomach junk food any longer. I'm sure I could build up a tolerance again if I wanted to, but I don't. And I certainly respect the health food movement for rejecting junk food and the industrialization of the food industries. None of my comments should be taken as a defense of a diet of burgers, fries, chips, and soda, just that including a balanced amount of meat, dairy, fats and starches shouldn't be rejected. And, hell, if a burger once a month would really hit the spot, why not? Moderation in all things.

But hey - taste is important too. The sages at Moosewood Resturant in Ithica NY, as chronicled by Mollie Katzen, really picked up and ran with this, creating whole-food dishes that tasted as good or better than anything else out there in any cuisine.

I have Moosewood on the shelf and I've tried to get into it but it has just never done it for me. I do like a few of the recipes, but Mollie a sage? Not for me. Perhaps it is a generational thing? Or an East Coast/West Coast thing? It seems like the West Coast kids at my college always had Laurel's Kitchen on their shelf and the East Coast kids had Moosewood. I prefer Laurel's Kitchen, but maybe that is just because it is what I grew up with.

I'm sure LKBB recipes taste good. I just don't have any interest in finding out what bean tastes like in a loaf of bread. For those who do, right on.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Can anyone get blockquote to work in any form? I can't.

I just enabled the indent/outdent buttons, which do blockquoting. And, yes, you can always drop to the source by hitting "disable rich-text".

sphealey's picture
sphealey

> And, yes, you can always drop to the

> source by hitting "disable rich-text".

 

Actually, I have tried that on several occasions as well (I am fairly familiar with basic HTML tags). Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Seems to be very hit-and-miss.

 

sPh

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Seems to be very hit-and-miss.
Yeah, overall I think TinyMCE, the WYSIWYG editor I'm using, has made this site easier for most people but it is buggy.
PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

JMonkey,

I didn't quite laugh out loud, but I did grin broadly when reading your comment that "Anyway, my wife and I had just recently become parents, and I was intent on making sure that our daughter grew up eating well."  We started out with similar intentions.

 

We  jokingly refer to our firstborn as our "granola child" and her younger sister as our "twinkie child".  With Daughter #1, it was whole-wheat pasta, cheese without artificial coloring, hand-made baby foods, organic granola, etc.  With Daughter #2, our standards relaxed considerably, as we began to realize that we could provide good nutrition without being quite so extreme in our selections.  No, she didn't really live on Twinkies and Cheetos and Kool-Aid.  We still had our own garden (organic, of course) for fresh vegetables.  We still bought a lot of our groceries through a natural foods co-op (they had fantastic foods at very reasonable prices).  We bought meat from local farmers whenever we could.  We baked a lot of whole-grain bread at home.  It's just that we began to see food selection as a continuum and that we could exercise good judgement about which items, and how much of them, to include in our diets in such a way as to benefit our children and ourselves. 

 

Now, I realize that every household makes the same kinds of decisions every day.  They have to consider what they know to be good for them, what they like (hopefully those two overlap considerably), the cost of those foods, and the amount of money they have to work with. From those, and other factors, they choose what to feed their families.  Some are nonchalant about those choices, some are passionate.  Some are willing to let their neighbors enjoy the choices they make, some have a missionary fervor to influence their neighbors' choices. 

 

Your daughter (who is absolutely beautiful, BTW) will also choose what she wants to eat.  For now, taste, texture, odor and visual cues will be the predominant factors in her selections.  Things she likes now will probably fall out of favor as she matures.  Things she won't touch today may become favorites at some future date.  She will be influenced by the knowledge you provide her about what is healthy and nourishing.  She will be influenced by what she sees her friends eating.  She's probably already starting to be influenced by advertising, too. 

 

I'm just happy to hear that her parents are concerned for her health and that she gets to grow up knowing just how good homemade bread can be.

 

PMcCool

Floydm's picture
Floydm


I think the two movements are starting to come together, actually, or, at least, the whole food folks are trying to emulate some of the techniques of artisan baking.

Agreed: the artisan bread and slow food movements are trying to combine taste, quality, sustainability and health. That is a good thing.

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Had to interject in this serious bread discussion....Beauty and the Yeast!!!

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

I like that. Yeah, she's my fave. Right now, she just kind of pushes the dough a little bit, and then gets bored, but I'm sure it won't be many years before she bakes her own bread.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Not to worry.  I came home to my 21 year old son after 6 months in China to find fresh milled flour (and not much else) in the fridge.  Guess all those years of baking in front of him had an influence. :)  Mini Oven