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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Inedia Rye Bread

An Inedia Bread?

We've all heard of vegetarians, fruitarians. and vegans.  But it was only a couple of years ago that I first heard of breatharians.

Yes, apparently there are some people who believe that they can live on breath alone -- from which they draw prana or life energy.  There are fewer and fewer breatharians these days, though: as you can imagine, many of them are dying out.

There is a current trend among artisan bakers to make breads with wide, irregular holes.  I'm guilty of loving the look of the crumb of a bread like this too.  But I had to chuckle at a couple of other bread forums and blogs that I've recently perused.  Chazzone at Sourdough Companion was back baking after many long years, and  remembers baking with grandmother.  The reason she kneaded her dough for so long, we are told, was to eliminate these irregular holes.  Now Chazzone finds that the artisan community is striving for them.  What gives?

And the excellent bread-baker/blogger Farine, in her wonderful series on the baking of Gérard Rubaud, reports that Master-baker Gerard says of "les bulles" (the bubbles): "on ne les mange pas."

I've spoken of it before several times.  In fact, one of my most popular (20 views!) blogs has been about a "jelly sieve" bread.  I assume that the "huge" popularity of that particular page is merely a fluke: no doubt someone has googled the words "jelly" and "sieve" for no good reason and they get steered toward my page.  Sorry about that.

The trend toward ultimate airiness can only end in a bread that has no crumb at all.  An empty bread, a bread full of air.  A bread that only a breatharian can love.

A plain "rye" bread

This is a whole wheat bread with about 20% whole rye flour.  It was made in the Tartine style, with wild yeast starter, lots of folds during the bulk fermentation, and a long (though not over-night -- it has been a long time since I did the over-night, refrigerated way of) proofing.

Toppings for a bread like this?
The past little while, when I bake 2 loaves like this, I deliver one to a friend.  Lately I've been getting gentle complaints from this friend that the holes are too big, and he "can't put anything on them" -- it just drips right through. 

But I like to lightly toast a bread like this and then scrape a minimal amount of butter or peanut butter on top and have it ooze through.  If a lot gets onto the plate below, I feel I'm putting too much topping on anyway. 

However, jam has a different viscosity, it flows differently.  It can blob right through the big holes without even touching the bread.  Black Currant Jam may be the exception, you can sometimes spread it thin enough that it won't flow like that, but it doesn't seem to work as well with strawberry jam or blueberry jam.  And of course jelly is out of the question.  So I don't use much jam or jelly for topping my irregular-holed bread.  It's too bad, because we preserve our own jam, and it is marvellous.

I simply love quality cheese, again sliced very thinly, atop such loaves.  The bread doesn't have to be toasted.  A couple of slices of this bread and some well-aged cheddar (for example), and I can work like a slave for hours and hours.  For me, it is the perfect take-to-work lunch bread.  I usually don't have enough time to eat anything more than a couple of slices of bread for lunch anyway.  So I need something insubstantial but filling.  I need a bread with contradiction.

I'm not going any closer to the breatharian ideal than this.

Click on the picture to see the prana

Notes to Myself
  • A certain number of holes is necessary for the bread to rise.  They are caused by the yeast, in their respiration.  In the old days, bread dough would have been pounded down to avoid these huge irregularities.  But these days, it seems to be a mark of an artisan-made loaf.
  • Germans typically like a denser loaf.  If you give them bread like this, they complain loudly of being ripped off.  "This is where the baker and his wife climbed through," they will tell you.
  • Take a deep breath, and eat.

1 comment:

  1. I really hate holes in my breads or in cheese. I don't want to eat the air or pay for it. I love wholesome and substantial food. That's way I don't visit The Fresh Loaf as often as I used to be. The leaders of the community treat bread baking as a craft. I respect their approach, but the main reason of baking breads at home (in my opinion) is feeding a body and soul.
    I have found your baking and writing genuine, so I even though I'm a quite impatient person, I read your blog with pleasure and share my opinions (even if my English is not as good as I wish it was).