As Good As Bread

“You know Pastor, baking is a real art. Especially bread baking. There is something so divine about it. It is a pure alchemy. And all alchemical elements are there: flour that comes from the earth and represents material, water that you mix with flour to make the dough, air released by the yeast fermentation that makes dough rise, fire that bakes the bread. It is fantastic. And the aroma of hot bread released during baking is the most pleasant fragrance for our senses. Think about that for a moment, Pastor. Any food aroma that we like, no matter how much we like it, gets overwhelming after a while… but nobody ever complains about the smell of baked bread. And you know why? Because it is divine. It is magic – the magic of the craft.” ― Stevan V. Nikolic, Truth According to Michael

As it’s brought to the table, bread embodies all of the essential earthly elements. There’s also the quality of goodness. The Italians have a saying, buono come il pane, literally meaning “as good as bread.” Simplicity is another element found in good bread. It’s magic and its craft. Many will say that it’s, “elusive,” “fickle,” or “damn hard to make.” Where others claim that it’s a menace to our health and should disappear from the dinner table.

 

If “nobody ever complains about the smell of baked bread,” how has it strayed from the “divine” only to become the work of the devil? I have had many conversations with folks who suffer from celiac disease. The Celiac Disease Foundation estimates that approximately 1 in 100 suffer from the disease (celiac disease is an immune response that attacks the small intestine). It raises an interesting dilemma, “How do I practice ‘the magic of the craft’ and continue to bake bread responsibly?” This baker is not prepared to give up on using wheat and rye flours. I have found that there are a few steps that can be taken to help those who are mildly gluten intolerant, but have not been diagnosed with celiac disease.

 

At Bakewell Farm, we believe the first step is to practice and promote the craft of sourdough baking. The sourdough process benefits from much longer fermentation times allowing for the production of phytase. Phytase is an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid present in grains–allowing us to absorb beneficial vitamins and minerals. Go to the following link for more information: http://sustainablefoodtrust.org/articles/sourdough-and-digestibility/. The second step is to source organic flours that have a higher extraction rate. High extraction flours are milled to retain more of the nutritious whole grain. The third step is to source ancient grains such as emmer, einkorn, and protein-rich Kamut (Khorasan wheat). These heritage and ancient grains tend to register lower on the gliadin scale. Gliadin (the water-soluble component of gluten) is the protein not tolerated by individuals with celiac. These steps, along with adjuncts such as nuts, dried fruit or sprouted whole grains, will restore bread to a status of sustenance, and once again become le pain quotidien.

 

Marc Jalbert, Founding Director of Bakewell Farm, a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to apply “bread-centric” educational programs for building community while engaged in the practice of public service. Please visit us at: www.bakewellfarm.org