Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dem little tiny pigments

Honestly tried to write yesterday, and I was so tired, couldn't do it. Late nights and early mornings caught up with me. I started somethin', wasn't happy with it.

Yesterday afternoon, I headed in the store for something, I spotted a woman, looked familiar. We looked at each other, and she spoke first. Said "I was talking to you last Wednesday at the Aville market". As she spoke I remembered her. She is an older woman, maybe seventy. Old enough that chances of her reading this and me being wrong about her age, are slim. She was with another older woman. They asked questions about all of our offerings. She ended up purchasing a loaf of cracked wheat bread. I'm sure I mentioned this bread before. We use a high percentage of PFD. I think it's 100 percent. So it's 100 organic, stone milled whole wheat, and 100 bread flour. We put a lot of both honey and molasses in it, even some sugar. It is also the last thing out of the oven when we leave for the market. I have to take oven pads with us, it's that hot when we get there. We bake twelve rounds in a sheet pan, with a high extender. So they all bake together with soft sides. We just break them apart as we sell them. SHE CAME IN LOOKING FOR THAT BREAD. The very reason we participate in these farmer's markets. To get more folks in the store. I was ecstatic. We didn't have the bread in the store. She said she would be away this Wednesday night, but ordered three loaves for Thursday. She said "it made the best toast".

I had another thought about the mixing stage of a bread dough. It's all cause and effect. Every little thing you do, has an effect on the result. Examining the baking process from A to Z, if you are off a little at each step, in the end, you will be way off. We start with unbleached flour. This flour yields a much creamier coloured crumb in bread. Bleached flour is treated with chlorine. Flour bleaching is done for a couple reasons. Going way back, bread with a whiter crumb was the bread of society. Only simple folk ate bread with a brown, or darker crumb. The bleaching step also "dries out" the flour. Bleaching soft wheat, bleached cake flour, is drier. It will help absorb the excess liquid it takes to dissolve excessive amounts of sugar in a cake mix. The flour particles that get bleached out are the caretenoid pigments in the bits of bran and germ. It is commonly known that unbleached flour will have far more flavour, in bread, than bleached flour. If a bread dough is over mixed, more oxygen is absorbed by the gluten web and the caretenoid pigments in the flour loose their colour and a lot of flavour. Again, the difference will be slight, but if you're off a little here and off a little there....

One of the advantages of attend a basic Bread Baking I class, is tasting loaf after loaf, side by side, of loaves baked with different flours. All fermented differently. Who would have time to do that in a busy bake shop? I've done this here at home and in Europe, both wheat and rye. The differences are astonishing. Busy bakers taste their bread today. Try different flour tomorrow, and try to taste by memory. Can't be done.

I always, always, think back to what Craig Ponsford told me "if it comes off the mixer properly mixed, the rest is downhill".


Blogger Laminatrix said...

There's a fascinating book by Laura Shapiro, "Perfection Salad," about women & cooking at the turn of the last century. One of the major themes of the book is how American women were turned toward things like white bread and canned vegetables and away from the "peasant" and "immigrant" foods of their mothers. The book is in paperback and probably available at the local bookstore.

July 14, 2009 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Jory Downer said...

Difficult to accept that we are of the generation that can remember the last century. When I was younger, the last century was a long time ago. That is the very point in time that I was referring to. I think that the Americans at that time wanted to be differentiated from the influx of Europeans. Then came the need for white, white flour, so the farmer obliged, then came the chemists who started bleaching, and using bromates. They also genetically modified the crops to create more endosperm, per bushel of wheat. It goes on and on.

July 15, 2009 at 6:26 AM  

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