Around the World in 80 Bites – Bite 25

Bite 25 – Bread

Man cannot live on bread alone but Kimberley can. I love bread! No matter where I go in the world nor what type of cuisine I encounter there is always some sort of bread. It’s the one thing that every culture has in culinary common.

quick, yeasted, un/leavened, flat, loaf, buns, rustic, sourdough, enriched, artisan, plain 

And the bread beat goes on…

Bread is the one food I have been eating my whole life and have never tired of it. I have now earned my artisan bread baking certificate and continue to put it to good and regular use. Occasionally I am without my daily bread but too long without and all is not right in my world. Bread is the staff of my life.

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Using whole grain well

I’m down with brown and white’s not alright – the truth about whole wheat versus whole grain

There are three parts to grain kernels: germ, bran and endosperm. Whole wheat usually only contains the latter two while whole grain contains all three. Whole wheat flour is sometimes just white flour with the bran added back in. The texture is quite granular. Other brands of whole wheat flour are mildly refined (only the germ is removed) and the texture is smooth. Some breads advertise “made with 100% whole wheat” but check the ingredient list. Often these breads are made with a combination of refined, or white flour, and 100% whole wheat flour. This is an example of marketing trickery. Breads made solely with whole wheat and/or whole grain flour usually add extra gluten to help with dough structure.

If going for whole grain buy stone ground flour and store in fridge if not using right away. If using whole wheat flour, add wheat germ to the mix and store along with the wheat germ in the fridge. Wheat germ and wheat bran are readily available in most grocery stores.

In commercial flour production the germ and bran are removed resulting in protein and nutrient loss. The essential oils contained within the germ degrade with the heat from the milling of industrial machines. This along with expedient bulk production, long storage capacity and transportation requirements make the removal of the good stuff necessary.

Whole grain is a thirsty flour. Adjust liquids accordingly or add applesauce, banana or other puréed fruit (dates, raisins) to the mix to retain moisture. Whole grains also produce a denser dough. Use a small percentage of a lighter flour (eg brown rice flour, whole wheat pastry flour) to balance the heaviness. Handle the dough gently, don’t over knead and throw in some wheat gluten to help with the conditioning of the dough. The addition of a sourdough starter and some nuts/seeds also greatly enhances the flavour of whole grain loaves.

Bastille & Baguettes

It was 22 years ago,
The bread decree did state…

that in order to be considered a true baguette, the bread

*must only contain these 4 ingredients: wheat flour, salt, water and yeast
*must be sold in the bakery where they are made
*must never be frozen

This décret pain law was rolled out on September 13th 1993 with the aim of protecting the quality of one of France’s most famous breads: the baguette. Further to this, a baguette is characteristically long and thin with straight line slashes down its middle. It should also ascribe to a certain length (about 55cm) and weight (about 300g).

The best baguette in Paris
BBC – Travel

Bread in France is serious business. It is a cultural institution that perhaps has helped to shape the France we know today.

fraternité, liberté, egalité

The politics of bread played a significant roll role in the French Revolution. Crop failure and food scarcity led to an increase in the price of bread. This apparently led to the infamous statement “let them eat cake” (actually brioche) which many historians believe was never uttered by the Kim Kardashian of her time, Marie Antoinette. The peasants revolted, in part, because of bread prices. Even in the 1700s, food security was a huge issue.
Regardless of who said it, or if it was even said, the sentiment speaks to the social issues during that time: the inequality of the classes, economics and privilege.

Causes of the French Revolution
Site: Bonjour La France

There are number of other food stuffs that are protected by law. To carry the champagne label, champagne wine can only be made in the Champagne region in France; otherwise it is just sparkling wine. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese must contain rennet so any vegetarian ‘parmesan’ cheeses are just imitation. Rennet is the stomach lining from ruminants. It is needed for the coagulation (‘solidification’) of milk in the cheese making process.

It is becoming more common to see variations of the baguette: mini ones, whole wheat ones, baguette ‘crackers’, froze and  store-bought, homemade, etc. but just know these items are breaking the decree. The revolution in bread continues. Vive la revolution!