Will someone please tell me why there are 30 ingredients in my store-bought bread? I'm trying, really hard, to feed my family healthy food. I really am. But I am starting to realize that the bad stuff sneaks in, no matter what I buy.
I suppose I brought this on myself. I had just finished reading In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, by Michael Pollan, and then I foolishly followed it up with King Corn, starring Michael Pollan (again) and Ian Cheney. So let's just say I have been operating on Michael Pollan overload. Still, both the book and the movie make some really good points. One of which is:
The only real way to make food healthy is to make it myself.
So, back to my bread situation. Why so many ingredients? I will never know, but I'm pretty sure that half of them have to do with shelf life, and the other half are probably making it lighter, fluffier, sweeter or whatever.
I occasionally like to bake bread. Actually, I like the idea of baking bread, and the smell of baking bread, more than I like baking bread. A while back I noticed this article in Mother Earth News that talked about how to bake bread in 5 minutes a day, no kneading required. Obviously, cooking and rising time are not included in the 5 minutes. The keys to this method are a very wet dough and a tray of water.
Maybe a little good old-fashioned faith doesn't hurt either. Any day you want bread, you cut off a piece of dough, shape it, let it rest, and bake it. As the dough ages (up to two weeks) the sourdough flavor get stronger and the bread gets even better. I made the first batch (replacing some of the white flour with whole wheat...yes, I have to sneak that in) and it was amazing.
I used up the last of my first batch as pizza dough. I'm going to experiment some more, but I think having a bowl of dough in the fridge is going to be a regular habit. Once you master the basic recipe, there are lots of variations to try.
More recipes are available in Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois's book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking. Enjoy!