Whole Wheat, Rye, Spelt, Seeded and Spiced Loaf
Around the same time as the last loaf -- I was still working days, and mixing dough in my off hours, either at night or in the morning -- I threw together the following ingredients:
- 750g ww organic flour
- 125g whole organic spelt flour
- 125g dark rye flour
- 50g wheat germ
- 1/2 c sunflower seeds
- 1/2 c pumpkin seeds
- 4 TBSP bread spice
- 680g + 50g = 730g water
- 20g salt
After mixing this, and adding the salt and the final 50g of water after a short autolyse, I managed 2 more turns before the bowl that the dough was in was covered with plastic and placed in the refrigerator.
There it stayed about 24 hours before it was taken out.
I like this bread, but it is quite fragrant, and not everyone likes the bread spice. I like it just fine though. The spice, eaten once in a while, makes me think that the bread is exotic. The seeds in the loaf make me think that it is special.
It is a bit denser than I wanted, but that is due to my inability to be here when I should have been stretching and folding it.
The long refrigerated fermentation left it quite sour -- which again, I quite like at times. I didn't actually notice how sour it was until the bread was almost a week old, and I was still eating slices of it. Is it possible that the sourness increased over time as the bread staled? Hmm.
Ever since I left cardiology nursing, and went into palliative care, I've remained curious about heart disease, because it remains one of our most efficient killers. So I've been interested as an outsider now about plaque buildups, homocysteine, the inflammation response, and the whole cholesterol, triglycerides controversy. The cardiologists I worked with knew a lot, and helped a lot of people, but they still didn't know what caused heart disease, nor could they fix it. They could suggest diet and lifestyle changes, and they could prescribe medications to reduce cholesterol, improve blood pressure, help the heart work efficiently, protect the heart against blood clotting, etc. For the best among them, their attention to detail with a wide variety of drugs made them seem more like artists than medical scientists.
I have a lot of respect for them and what they do, an endlessly boring job of mind numbing sameness, day in and day out. When I left, it was mostly my own frustration at nursing in that environment. It was part of my job to educate people about lifestyle choices. Not to smoke, for example, and the recidivism for that little lesson was somewhere around 99%. People who just a week before could not walk across the room to the bathroom, due to shortness of breath or heart pain, would have a cardiac intervention (the doctors would drop in a stent), the patient would suddenly feel better, and they could then be found sneaking back from a walk up five flights of stairs so they could have a cigarette. I mean, come on people! What kind of wake up call do you need?
And it is the same thing with diet. It is so hard to change personal eating habits, almost impossible to change cultural eating habits. Let's focus on bread, because that's what I'm interested in. There are empty calorie breads -- I'm thinking hot dog buns, for example, made with highly processed flour and sugar, salt and water, along with a host of other dough enhancers that make it easier to extrude through the machines. And intuitively we know that this kind of bread, along with all the other crap that the so-called developed nations eat, will bring on metabolic syndrome -- the whole overweight, supersize-me, fat-in-the-middle body type that ultimately gives you type 2 diabetes, heart disease, heart failure, heart attacks, strokes, and death. Some studies don't show a direct link with the bread itself, (because let's face it, it is hard to study human diet because of liars, cheats, and the huge variety of stuff that is available for people to eat, and that makes it almost impossible to include in any given study) -- which lets grain producers wipe their brows in relief, but again, it is part of the package of crap that we in the western world are eating that is bringing on ill health -- and some studies do show this direct link.
So when I go up to several artisan bakers (one right after the other) and ask for a whole grain bread -- which we know decreases our risk for heart disease, diabetes, and a range of cancers -- and I get told "we can't make bread without some bread flour or all purpose flour", I get angry. I get angry enough to try to make some whole grain bread myself. I get mad enough to prove them wrong. And I really think that the bakers have dropped the ball here. They are seeing a huge backlash now, of people who are utterly rejecting wheat and rye and anything else with gluten, because some people have gluten intolerance. Now a lot of people think they have gluten sensitivities -- which may be true, of course (or it may be simply that they are waking up to problems associated with eating this highly processed flour). But if they give up on wheat and rye entirely, they are also giving up on decreasing their risk of heart disease and diabetes and the other attendant problems of the metabolic syndrome, if only they would eat it as whole grain.
And when I learn that the millers who grind our flour are taking out the very best parts -- the germ, and the aleurone layer of bran -- because it makes it last longer on the shelf and lets them ship it farther, this too makes me shake my head in dismay. Millers are allowed by law to take out 5% of the very best of milled grain, and still call the finished product "whole".
And our government, which we elect to protect our interests, has mandated some minor improvements to processed flour, by requiring millers to add certain ingredients that are removed in the milling process (folate, and other vitamins, for example). And these elected officials don't mind if the millers take out 5% (but no more than that, please -- only for the most part, no one's looking, wink wink), and they are the ones who make the law that says its okay to still call this processed stuff "whole". If you are going to be eating a lot of hot dog buns, this is a good thing, you can give birth to kids without neural tube defects, and remain blissfully ignorant as you trot off to an early grave due to heart disease (one less elderly person that the government doesn't have to give a pension to, who left behind a kid who similarly isn't a drain on resources). But if you are interested in whole grains, this is simply misinformation, and the government has to be considered at least partly liable. This is my opinion, anyway.
So I buy a recipe book to help me make some whole grain bread, and I find lots of different recipes, but none address the flour problem, many just add sugar in one form or another to help improve the taste (which doesn't improve your chances with diabetes, lets face it), and more often than not, these recipes also include a lot of that processed flour in addition to just a little "whole" flour. Because you can add processed flour in a certain amount, and only some "whole wheat flour", and still by law, you can call this a "whole wheat bread". Again, I get angry because these recipe authors have dropped the ball.
It is my belief that as humans, we can no longer all follow a paleolithic diet. There are simply too many of us on the planet to all do so, unless we follow the paleolithic example of eating each other. We have moved on, as a species, and we have to learn to adapt and evolve to a neolithic, agrarian lifestyle. We have community mores and norms now that tell us, for example, that cannibalism isn't good. And I believe that grain is going to have to be the way we, all 7 billion of us (and climbing) feed ourselves. We have to find ways to make do with grain. And vegetables, and fruits, and animals, of course: but rather than building meals around "meat and potatoes" (as my mother used to say, when I'd asked her what's for dinner) we have to start building our meals around grain and fresh or fermented, local vegetables and fruit.
Grain is not poison. But what we are doing with it might be killing us in the long term as much as it is helping us to survive in the short term.
Notes to Myself
- All rants are the property of the ranter at the time of rant, and I take no responsibility for my future self which may have learned something more in the meantime, nor my past self which didn't know as much as the present ranter.
In other words, a rant is like a snapshot in time. Frequent readers of this blog would have known all this, but who, after all, is a frequent reader of my blog? Besides me, that is.
- Although I love whole grain breads, I realize that some people claim that they are hard to digest (I've written about this before). Furthermore, I think that one can overdo how much whole grain bread should be eaten (I've written about this before too: somewhere along the line I read a study that showed that one should not get more than 30% protein from the bread alone). In addition to fasting a couple of days a week, I fully intend to start fermenting vegetables the way Sandor Katz describes. Bread, at its best (i.e. sourdough), can only be prebiotic, since the high temperatures used to make it will destroy living bacteria. We need probiotic organisms for health. So I'm going to be fermenting some krautchi before long, inspired by Sandor Katz's book "The Art of Fermentation". We sometimes eat kraut on our bread now, but I bet a radish or carrot krautchi would go well with a bread like this too.