In palliative care, we generally try to ascertain a person's values before making any recommendations for treatment. A person's goals, fears, desires (and the family and culture's values) all play a role in placing a person on a scale that ranges from aggressive treatment for disease (with the goal of prolonging life at the cost of all else), and the other end of the scale which accepts death and attends to comfort (sometimes even at the cost of life's prolongation). The one in the driver's seat, supposedly, is the person him or herself. The person's values determine our options for treatment. What we are trying to determine is Quality of Life. And it turns out that QOL, like pain, is simply what the person says it is.
The scale is never an all-or-nothing line in the sand. Persons with disease frequently start out at one point on the line, and as their illness progresses, their position on the line may change.
No illness or person is that simple, of course. None of us are so one-dimensional. Multifactorial analysis must take place, and since we are humanists, it rarely if ever gets done with mathematical precision. We use our gut, our intuition, our inclinations that seldom get so concrete that we can put them into words.
What does this have to do with bread?
A short while ago, Sweetberry commented on one of my blogs and stated matter-of-factly their priorities in making bread: (1) healthfulness, (2) taste, and (3) presentation. While it is nice to have all three in a single loaf, if you could take only one or two with you to a desert island, these priorities might be correct. Bakers (think Peter Reinhart, for example) sometimes put (2) taste before (1) health, but they have a traditional reason for this: if people do not like a baker's product, they will not buy it, and if they do not buy it, the baker goes out of business. I think that is why Reinhart says "taste is king". A bread might be the healthiest bread in the world, but if it tastes like yuck, no one is going to eat it, so the healthiness doesn't matter anyway. And similarly, if a loaf is not pretty, people are not going to be attracted to it to try it. So even these three named values have complex interactions that are difficult in practice to keep straight. And what are the unnamed values, inherent in making your own bread? Grasping for words, I'll list:
- the smell of the house after a successful bake;
- the exorphin rush of a melt-in-your-mouth stinging hot crumb;
- the spine-straightening sense you get when you finally know you can do it yourself, feed yourself;
- the satiation felt even several hours following a slice of hearty bread that says "I am content: I require nothing more."
All of these (and more) add to my QOL.
While it is important for sustaining my body, mind, and emotions, making bread for me is not a matter of life-and-death (unlike my day job). Oh, I know: like any junkie, addicted to his exorphin rush, I like to say "I can take it or leave it. I can walk away at any time." But I know it is not entirely true now. I don't think I can stop making bread.
just a couple of ordinary Tartine country bread loaves for my sweetie. I bumped the hydration to 78%, and even that small difference made them a little sloppy for me to handle.
And since I liked the last rye bread I made, for today's rye bread I tired bumping the rye flour content to 50% while increasing the hydration to 85%. This fermented quickly, and probably should have been baked at the 3 hour mark instead of the 4 hour mark, of proofing. The dough started to become unstable, and I had some difficulty getting it into the dutch oven. That is why these 50% rye loaves became slightly misshapen.
|Some sloppy Tartine Country Loaves in back, some ugly 50% Rye loaves in front. Grapes too.|
The Tartine Country Loaf is the same as it ever was. For some reason, these loaves turned out a little blonder than I remember. That's okay, I don't have to eat them. They are for my sweeter, who prefers a paler loaf.
The rye tastes okay, but the one I made the other day with less rye was superior in taste as well as appearance. This one was a bit more sour, probably a result of that extra hour of proofing that it didn't require.
|Ugly, misshapen 50% Rye loaf|
|I'll eat it anyway, with thanks.|
Still a good tasting bread. Healthy, tastes okay, looks only so-so. I have achieved what I value most more or less -- In that order. But there were other benefits in doing it all myself. Even if I did burn my arm when moving the 500 degree F Dutch Ovens in and out of the oven.
QOL. You can taste the difference.
Notes to Myself
- Keep the rye flour content less than 50%, for best taste.
- Watch your proofing times. If the dough is ready at 3 hours, don't leave it an extra hour or you will only increase the sour content and the gluten will begging to break down.