Monday, May 16, 2011

Bread. Need I say more?

            Well here it is the first of many food blogs that I will be writing.  The hardest thing is just to get something going and not have a blank screen looking back at me. I think I have a pretty good topic to start off with because it’s close to my heart and everyone that I make it for loves it just as much as I do.  Bread!
            Yes bread can be as simple or as complex as you would like and really depends on how dedicated you want to be.  There is some bread that takes days even weeks to prepare before it hits an oven others can be oven ready in ten minutes.  The one that I am now making on a regular basis takes about three total hours to make from flour to loaf. This is the one that I will try and discuss as much as possible in this blog posting but there is so much that goes into making this bread and really anything else you chose to make that the receipt may get lost in the details of other processes.
            Really what is at the heart and soul of cooking? Is it the ingredients, recipe, or the process of combining all the ingredients of the receipt together? Well it’s kind of the same as saying what came first the chicken (very tasty btw) or the egg (also tasty). Without ingredients there would be no receipt and without a receipt there would be no process of assembling said ingredients together in proper order to get the desired end result (which is delicious food).
            You may think, “What’s the difference between a receipt and a process for cooking ingredients?” Well not much as it turns out. There are receipts that are a large list of ingredients with a little blurb at the end saying something about mixing this into that and shove in an oven or pot. I might call that a receipt but not really a process for cooking anything worthwhile. A really good receipt would have a list of ingredients then a two page outline of how to prepare said ingredients.  However who among us have the patients to read and really get to know how to assemble the dish they are going after if it was two pages worth of text? I would for one. If someone took the time to really put time and effort in writing down the exact steps on how to assemble ingredients and the process it took to make the best “insert dish name here” I could heck ya I would read the whole thing multiple times.

            My process for making Wheat Flax Bread (WFB from now on) starts out simple enough. All-purpose flour, wheat flour, and ground flax seed are the main portions.  There comes (in no particular order) salt, butter, milk, water, and yeast. Sound pretty boring so far right? With a list like that I can see your thinking. Nothing on the list is really exciting except maybe the ground flax seed.
            Since this is my first blog and you don’t know me or my cooking style I will let you know that when it comes to cooking I am pretty much a control freak. I think if you poled chefs around the world you would find that nine out of ten would say they are also control freaks. I like the best quality of ingredient that I can afford. Saying that I cannot always afford the best ingredients out there for the dish I’m about to prepare. If I’m limited on budget then I take to comparing like items to see which one has the least added ingredients (check out cans of pinto beans in the store you’ll see what I’m talking about). Bread and meats (another blog) are my favorite things to cook because the control of all ingredients is left up to me.
            With bread all-purpose white flour is the base of it all and is the most nutrition less thing in all bread because of the processing that takes place. There are some bread makers that have said they make bread without flour I’m not exactly sure how that is done and deserves some research. So my thought was to reduce the usage of white flour and add other things to make up more nutrition.
            Wheat flour can be deceiving in the store. It is most of the time placed next to the white flour and the store making sure that the stores' brand is the most prominent and cheapest. I say fine be that way I’ll look under or over or on the whole foods isle for quality wheat flour. Buy the less expensive white flour because they are all pretty much the same (I’m not saying there aren’t higher quality white flours) so then you can spend a bit extra on good quality wheat flour. I buy a good quality brand that is made by a company that’s been around since the 1900’s doing the same thing grinding good quality flour. I do this because wheat flour is much better for you than any white flour. There have been studies done by people much more scientifically smarter than me and you could search the facts if you so desire. All I’ve ever heard is the less processing that goes into an ingredient the healthier it is.

            Ground flax seed is a new ingredient for me and I’ve only been using it to make WFB. I tried it in some yogurt and on oatmeal and the only thing that I noticed was texture was a bit grainy feeling there was no flavor change that I could detect. Cooking the flax seed in the bread is a different story. It does not bring a huge amount of flavor to the bread but does add a bit of nuttiness and if you have a mouth for textures (like I do) you will still notice that there is something in the bread possible not fully cooked and still a bit hard. Well that’s just the flax seed showing itself again and it’s not a bad thing. Adding the flax gives this bread a really big lift in nutrition which is what I was going for so the kids will still get bread for toast and sandwiches but eat something healthier that the store bought over processed loaves. Here again look up flax seed and the health benefits on your own if you desire there is a search engine just waiting to help you.
            As far as the rest of the ingredients I use what I can get my hands on in a smallish city that I live in. I get sea salt, unsalted and salted butter, and yeast from the local bulk grocery store.  I buy them this way because it’s cheaper to buy four pounds of butter at once then to buy it from the chain grocery store one pound at a time. Really for all the ingredients except for the wheat flour I get from the bulk store so that does save money but takes up space in my kitchen and pantry. I go through food at my house fast with five people so saving money on stuff is a good thing.
            Well this is the end of my first blog.  How did you like it? I will put my second blog up when I get it written and will finish out my bread process (can you say cliffhanger?).