All grains contain peptides that mimic morphine or endogenous opioid substances. This is where I deal with my latest loaf craving. Get your bread-based exorphin fix here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Whole Wheat, Spelt, and Oatmeal Pickle Loaf

Whole Wheat, Spelt, and Oatmeal Pickle Loaf

Brine from homemade bread and butter pickles, newly 'emptied'
We finished off a jar of homemade "bread and butter" pickles, and I decided to use the leftover juice in a bread.  I'd made bread with dill pickle juice in the past (e.g. here), so I suspected it would work.  Still, I had no idea whether it would taste okay.

Sometimes experiments work out.  With no apparent reason other than it seemed like I should be using them, now, I selected some spelt and some oatmeal to accompany my whole wheat flour.

Here is the baker's percentage of this loaf:
  • 80% whole wheat flour
  • 20% whole spelt flour
  • 5% oatmeal
  • 5% wheat germ
  • 20% sourdough starter
  • 1.5% sea salt
  • 23% old pickle juice from a jar of sweet pickles
  • 75% water

Whoa.  What's that Hydration?
Let's stop a moment and discuss the hydration of this dough.  I knew that by adding oatmeal, even this 50g per 1000g of whole wheat flour, would soak up some of the water.  So my original intention was to have the hydration about 80%: I would, if I started at 75%, be able to add another 5% of water with the salt, as per the Tartine method.  However, I was also adding 23% pickle juice to the mixture.  Now this 230g of juice was not all liquid.  There were some particles floating in it: some mustard seed, some pickled onion slivers, a few chunks of the pickled cukes themselves.  And the juice contained a bit of vinegar, a bit of sugar, a bit of ginger and salt and whatever else the recipe called for.

I asked my wife for a copy of the pickle recipe, so I could post it here.  She could not find the actual recipe she used, in her canning "filing system" -- an old canning book, cover falling off, filled with lots of pieces of paper from other sources.  We found several recipes for bread and butter pickles, just not the one she used.

Anyway, the point is, if you add the water and the juice together, you get a whopping 98% hydration -- although that is not strictly true, since the juice contains bits of other things.

Mixing it
Still, when mixing it together, it was extremely wet, especially at first.  I was sorely tempted to add some more flour, but I persevered with the folds and turns Q30 minutes in the bowl, and after about 3 1/2 hours, the dough could actually be lifted without dripping through the fingers (as long as you were quick).  And the gluten was developing, and not just a sloppy mess.

In the beginning of those folds and turns, I assumed that I would eventually just solve the problem of its sloppiness by simply turning the dough into a pan.  But by the time I finished the bulk fermentation and gentle mixing stage, I decided to try some freestanding loaves.

Baking it
And they turned out fine.  I gently turned them onto a pizza peel and set them on hot stones with steam in the oven.  There was an edge of one bread that dripped down between the tiles I had in the oven, but the crust formed before it could drip too far.  The only result of this was, the one bread was a bit misshapen.  These loaves had nice oven spring, rising appreciably.

This bread sagged a bit, and the crust formed around where it dripped off the side of the pizza stone.

Eating it
Now bread and butter pickles are a sweet pickle, so there is quite a bit of sugar in the brine.  And this bread was sweet.  Too sweet for my taste, of course.  But my wife liked it, especially for lunch.  Lots of flavour.  But not a breakfast bread, for sure.

Notes to Myself
  • Homemade pickle juice shouldn't be just tossed away.  You can use it in a bread any time.
  • Why did this bread hold together, at that level of wetness?  Why did it have such good oven spring, despite the sagginess of the dough, the sloppiness of the extra hydration?  My best guess is that the sugar in the brine was tasty to the yeast, who ate enough of it so that they put out a lot of extra gas.  This is fairly evenly distributed throughout the crumb, though, so you don't see a lot of irregular and overly large bubbles.  The expanding gas kept the shape of the loaf, even as the dough was sagging.  

Yet Another 17 Percent Rye Bread and Food Security

Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread with 17 Percent Rye Flour and Wheat Germ

This is my everyday bread, these days: a sourdough bread, made in the Tartine style, using some rye flour.  People talk about "comfort food."  This is mine.

The iconic symbol of "comfort" is Linus of Schulz' Peanuts fame, sucking his thumb and holding onto his "security blanket."

That's my segue to talk about food security.

What Food Security Means
When a community talks about food security these days -- in this post-911 world -- images of bioterrorism arise.  How safe is our food -- from its origin, during its transport, at the point of processing, and in the delivery of its nutritional payload in our GI tract?  At any stage along the way, food can be tampered with.  We have to trust those people who handle our food, to be secure in the knowledge that our food is not going to harm us.

Malevolent tampering wasn't always the concern.  During most of the history of humans on earth, food security meant finding enough to eat.  Agriculture mostly fixed that problem, but it brought with it other troubles.  It allowed our population to grow, but it changed the face of the earth, as we took out forests and swamps, and planted our food.

Then there was a time when food security meant little more than food safety.  We discovered that food had to be grown correctly, stored correctly, transformed correctly, to avoid things like plant diseases, bacterial contamination and other hidden but natural processes that might threaten our human frame.

And then we discovered that our best intentions didn't always give us the security we needed: we grew plants with insecticides, pesticides, herbicides to make yields higher, and pasteurization and irradiation to cut down on the natural threats, only to discover that our food had new safety concerns: our interference in the natural order of things led to unnatural health problems.  Cancers, heart disease, pancreatic and kidney failures increased in our population.  We didn't always know if we were gaining or losing ground, when we tried to achieve food security using these tools.

But there is yet another meaning to "food security."  Just as countries strive to be self sufficient in energy, they also strive to be self sufficient in feeding themselves.  To be self sufficient in food is to be secure indeed.  But is it possible?  How much land does one actually need, to grow one's own food?  Well, it depends on where you are.

Here in Canada, we depend largely upon the benevolence of those in warmer climates to send us fresh fruit and vegetables in the winter months.  We have a great many resources in Canada, we have plenty of land and water that is the envy of many other countries: but we are not self-sufficient in many things, our cold northerly climate prevents it.  "Eat local," we are told -- and we can, and we do, in the summer and fall, when food from our gardens and fields is plentiful.  But in the winter months, we are bound to our fruit cellars, our canned goods, or our imported fruits and vegetables for our sustenance.  We are dependent on a vast network of transportation to provide food for our far-flung population.  The farther north you go in Canada, the more expensive this network becomes, and the cost gets added to the cost of the food.  It thus becomes very expensive to live in the far north.

This bread
Ah.  My comfort bread.  Thumb-suckin' good.  This bread sustains me.  I am secure in the knowledge that it is the best bread I can make at this time.

My hope is that one day I can also be secure in the supply of the grains that go into making it, growing my own, using organic seed and methods.

Then I need only beware of those who might sow tares.

Notes to Myself

Maca-Enhanced Sex Bread

Maca Enhanced Sex Bread

I had fun writing about the last maca root sourdough bread I made so I thought I would make another.  The taste of a maca loaf is quite different from what you'd expect.  I'll call it interesting.  You wouldn't get the same result from, say, a loaf made with turnip flour.  It boggles my mind that a root can give you this kind of taste in a bread.  I have read somewhere that the raw root smells a bit like butterscotch. The scent of the maca flour is distinct.  I cannot liken it to anything else.

The claims made for the root make it worth trying more than once.  The increased sex drive would seem to be a bonus.   Not that I can offer anything but anecdotal evidence, of course.  But others can offer more scientific evidence:

Why we eat
A short time ago (in a blog about bread made with coconut flour, in the sidebar rant about functional foods) I asked the question, "why do we eat?"

It turns out that this is not such a stupid question.  Karissa Reiter, for example, asked a similar question and wrote a short 2011 Ph.D. thesis at Texas State University San Marcos entitled "Eating on Purpose: creating recipes from the scientific effects of food on the mind and body," in which maca root plays a small supportive part.  She gives recipes for maca brownies and smoothies, trying to get the maca root to the 2.5-3.5g/day required to feel the various effects.  The effects are: increased sexual desire, increased sexual satisfaction, improved mood, better quality of life, etc.

Maca Loaves

How do you measure Quality of Life?
As a palliative care nurse, I often hear my coworkers speak of patients who are dying, and whether or not they enjoy "quality of life."  Quite often this phrase is used to justify whether medical treatment of underlying disease is the correct approach or not: if there is no hope that the underlying disease process can be prevented, stopped, or reversed, and if attempts to do so result in worsening the quality of life, then we have to question whether it is ethical to do so -- even if there is a chance of increasing the quantity of life.

But how does one measure quality of life?  When you look up maca root on the Internet, you run into a number of studies that use a particular scale, which has become a typical measure of subjective satisfaction, and a way to quantify quality of life.  From what I have been able to determine, the SAT-P Satisfaction Profile questionnaire was developed by Callegari and Majani from Montescano Italy; it is difficult to find on the Internet, but apparently it can be purchased here.

The questionnaire/scale was introduced in the 1999 International Journal of Mental Health (Majani GCAPA. A New Instrument in Quality-of-Life Assessment The Satisfaction Profile(SAT-P). International Journal of MentalHealth. 1999;28(3):77-82and in the 1999 Quality of Life Newsletter.  It seems simple enough to use.  You give a subjective rating, from 0 (extremely dissatisfied) to 100 (extremely satisfied) on various "items" of your life (there is supposed to be 32, but the newsletter only gives a list of 31, in 5 different "factors" -- see below).  The data received can be graphed on a radar for the items, and a histogram for the factors.  The radar view is kind of cool.

Although the scale is a good one, it does not "weight" the "items" according to a person's subjective preferences, nor does it deliver all "factors" that a person values.  For example, some people might value their work more, and their spare time less, skewing the two factors where these items appear.  Maybe some people don't even value sex.  And the scale seems particularly deficient in its measure of spirituality.

The SAT-P is not the only Quality of Life scale in use.  Another, to provide just one more example, is the SQLP, introduced by Dazord, A. et. al. (1998). "Quality of Life Assessment in Psychiatry: The Subjective Quality of Life Profile (SQLP) - First Results of a New Instrument." Community Mental Health Journal 34(5). pp. 525-535.  This scale queries 36 items, organized around 4 "life domains" -- functional life, social life, material life and spiritual life.  In addition to rating the "degree of satisfaction" of these items, the items are weighted according to "importance attributed" to the reported satisfaction, as well as "degree of anticipated change."

 Results of the Baking
I liked this bread.  Don't know if I could eat it everyday, though.

I understand that you have to eat 1.5-3g of maca a day for at least 12 days to perceive a difference in your libido.  This is a novelty bread, and as interesting as it is to eat, I doubt that I could eat it continuously enough to get any perceived increase in "sexual desire".   

Future Maca Loaves
I imagine the 'functional food' marketers making bread like this and selling it widely.  Then, a few years down the road, we might see warning labels on every loaf:
WARNING: The surgeon general has determined that increasing one's libido without having some outlet for that desire may lead to increased frustration and episodes of road rage; while sex with partners may result in children or disease.  Practice safe sex.

Notes to Myself
  • There are supposed to be 32 items in the SAT-P scale, but the newsletter where I found this described only gives 31, as follows:
    • I Psychological functioning
      • Mood 
      • Mental efficiency 
      • Emotional stability 
      • Self-confidence 
      • Problem solving ability 
      • Psychological autonomy 
      • Self-control 
      • Social image 
      • Couple relationship 
      • Family role 
    • II Physical functioning 
      • Resistance to physical fatigue 
      • Physical wellbeing 
      • Physical appearance 
      • Physical mobility 
      • Level of physical activity 
      • Frequency of sexual intercourse 
      • Quality of sexual intercourse 
      • Resistance to stress 
    • III Work 
      • Type of work 
      • Organization of work 
      • Professional role 
      • Work productivity 
      • Financial situation 
    • IV Sleep/eating/leisure 
      • Amount of sleep 
      • Quality of sleep 
      • Quality of food 
      • Eating behaviour 
      • Amount of spare time 
    • V Social functioning 
      • Relationship with other members of your family 
      • Relationship with your friends 
      • Relationship with your colleagues
  • I continue to look for a copy of the SAT-P scale, and I may include a link to it in the future if I can find it.  
  • There is a PREVIEW of the book, in Italian, on the Internet, which contains among other things, this table of items in its complete form (but not the complete test).  Because the .pdf file is copy protected, one cannot easily cut and paste the Italian into English to see what the authors are saying, but you can go to the link via Google Translate.  From a careful comparison of the table in the preview with the above list, the last item that seems to be missing falls under function IV Sleep/eating/leisure:  
      • Leisure activity
  • Bread Satisfaction Scale
    You could build a similar subjective scale for a homemade bread: a subjective rating, from 0 to 100, rating your satisfaction with the bread in various aspects.  Just off the top of my head, I would ask for factors regarding taste, perceived healthfulness, keeping ability, crumb density, crumb organoleptic quality, crust, ability to cohort with spreads and fixings, and presentation.  These factors could be weighted in terms of personal preference: for example, you may not value the crust as much as the crumb, etc.

    Perhaps I will think of this a bit more to see what I can come up with.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hemp Whole Wheat Loaf

Another Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread, with Cracked Hemp.

Last time I made this, I thought I should decrease the hydration a bit.  This time, I decreased the hydration, but it didn't improve the rise of the dough.  The water still oozed out of the dough, made the proofing basket sticky, and then gave me some trouble when I transferred the dough to the hot Dutch Oven.  Overall, not a major improvement.  And it didn't even really make the dough easier to work with.  It is still way too tight to develop the gluten well.

But the crumb is very moist, and the bread tastes good.  I will still play with hemp in bread, it is very interesting.  But I haven't mastered it.

Some of my recent posts have been overlong, and I'm a few breads behind.

Who Owns the Land
I said last time that my concerns over the conglomerates who put additives in our food, and who buy up land to control resources, led me to question who owns our land, who grows our food.

It turns out that the research has already been done.  I am reading a book that deals with that subject: Pearce, Fred (2012) The Land Grabbers: the new fight over who owns the earth. Beacon Press.

The first line grabbed my attention:

"Soaring grain prices and fears about future food supplies are triggering a global land grab."  

Pearce's second chapter is no less interesting.  He succinctly and methodically explains how the recent failure in the banking infrastructure left investors looking at commodity futures.  The problem with this is, it destabilized the price of food.  It made millions of people hungry, and put millions more at risk of starvation.

And I talk on about my bread, and giving the stale pieces to my chickens.  It makes me sick.

I recommend this book.  Pearce is an excellent writer, with important things to say.  Important things for me to hear.

'Nuf said for now.

Notes to Myself
  • As usual, links to Amazon are not an endorsement of their service.  There are no ads here.  It is just convenient for me to put their link here so interested people can find out more info.
  • This bread lasted great, remained moist, but it ultimately stales like any other bread. 
  • Try giving away a loaf of bread for every bread you make -- not just to your friend, but to someone who needs it.  Perhaps the food bank.  Would they take it? 
  • Here's what I'd try next time, with hemp:
    •  ww flour 80% 
    • ground hemp 20% 
    • wheat germ 5%
    • water 65% - increase to 70% at the salt add, if you dare.
    • salt 1.8%

Saturday, January 19, 2013

17 Percent Rye and a Thought Experiment

The Bread
The excuse for writing today: a whole wheat and 17% rye sourdough bread made in the Tartine style.  As usual, 5% wheat germ is added to the mix.  This is one of my favourite breads lately.  This was a fine loaf.

Now that we're fed, lets let our minds wander.

My recent critique about Andrew Whitley's book, "Bread Matters" made me think.  Was my supposition true -- i.e. that mills and bakeries would use the cheapest sources of mandated flour enrichment ingredients?   I realized I didn't know.  I had never been placed in that position that mills or bakeries are in -- i.e., having to buy certified, mandated ingredients for their products.  What would I do if I were them?  Time for a thought experiment.

On Thought Experiments in General

Einstein liked to perform thought experiments.  Since there was no other way he could sit in his Swiss patent office and simultaneously travel the same speed as a photon, he imagined it.  And by fine-tuning his imagination with mathematics, he was able to come up with some pretty nifty truths. 

I'm not going to pretend that I'll rock your worldview with ideas the way his theory of relativity did.  I won't use math.  But nevertheless, lets take a trip together in our imagination, even as we sit here in our chairs, staring out and back at each other through the safe anonymity of the Internet.

This Thought Experiment
You love baking bread for friends and family, and have dreams of expanding your customer base and opening an artisan bakery.  Of course, you want your bread to be the best possible, and you want to keep your prices low and quality high to attract what you hope will be devoted customers.

Let's say you have already sourced a farmer's field of certified organic grain for your bakery.  You would like to label your bread and advertise it as "organic" but to do so, you would have to lock in a contract with the farmer to ensure supply (or grow it yourself).  You have to mill it in facilities that provide for the organic seal of approval (or do it yourself).  And you want to offer only whole grain breads. 

The problem with whole grain breads is that they do not rise as well as breads made with less bran.  To compete with those breads that rise well, and that consumers seem to like and expect and demand, you may decide to remove some of the bran.  After all, if you don't give the consumer what they want, you will go out of business.

Even if you were to make a miche like the one put out by the famous Poulaine bakery in France, which uses newly milled flour with 80% extraction, my understanding is that it must be enriched, by law.  

This represents a new dilemma for you.  Where do you source the enrichment ingredients?  You still want to label your bread 'organic' or 'natural:' what sort of guarantee do you have that your supplier of enrichment ingredients uses only organic or natural raw material?

Another alternative is to leave the bran and germ wholly intact in your flour, but to get the flour to perform like white flour, and build a loaf that customers expect, you could add some dough conditioners.  Once again, you would be looking for something sourced 'organic' or 'natural.'  What kind of supplier of dough conditioners would you need?

Finally you may find that you are having difficulty finding a suitable market nearby for your loaves, which have suddenly become more expensive for you to make.  You can reach a nearby city and sell them there, but you will have to transport the bread.  And you may need some sort of preservative to ensure that the bread isn't all stale when it arrives.  Again, you need to source something that can be labeled 'organic' or 'natural.'

Suddenly your bread is full of strange ingredients.  What happened to your determination to make quality bread?

All additives -- be they vitamin enrichment, dough conditioners, or preservatives -- are not natural. They may be derived from organic, natural resources, perhaps, but they are not natural.  When you use them, you are compromising.  You threaten the "whole grain" status of your bread, you threaten its "natural" claims, and you probably threaten its "organic" label.  

And yet, we tend to think of vitamins as benign, even necessary.  They are legally mandated for many foods, and have come to be accepted practice.  Maryann McCabe of the University of Rochester has examined our North American attitudes toward vitamin supplements in her anthropological work, "Vitamin Practices and Ideologies of Health and the Body."  She is mostly talking about over-the-counter vitamins; but the same attitudes prevail amongst us for the hidden additives that we've put in flour.

In short, we have been 'sold' on vitamins.  McCabe outlines the fascinating history of our attitudes regarding vitamin supplementation, and how vitamin suppliers have cashed in on our willingness to forego proof over wild claims for their use.

Sourcing the Ingredients
Lets return to our thought experiment, and one of the most important questions that arose: where do you go to buy vitamin enrichment for your organic flour?  Where do you go to buy other ingredients for your dough so you can make bread that the marketplace seems to demand?  

I began to research suppliers of enrichment products by taking a poll of the baking industry magazines (see endnotes, below), and to take a look at various trade organizations and their membership.  I didn't expect to find all suppliers, of course.  But it gave me a start, and a way to begin to learn about what's out there.  The magazine BakingBusiness, for example, points us to a page full of bulk enrichment suppliers, and articles within the magazine contain other clues for suppliers.  Other magazines (e.g. ModernBaking, BakingManagement) give comparable clues.  Similarly, Allied Trades of the Baking Industry (ATBI) gave me several different possible suppliers, and other trade organizations likewise pointed me in the right direction.

I quickly learned that there are no little guys in this fortification business.  A lot of mergers and acquisitions happened as recently as 2010.  Various manufacturers build their raw materials and their business from different sources: rice, beans, dairy, sugar beets, etc.  Many of the big players have gone on to purchase land (worldwide), to supply their agricultural raw materials*.  And most have ties to patented, proprietary processes and/or a vast pharmaceutical distribution network.  It became difficult to unravel which company owned which company.  Not all were manufacturers, many were simply building premixes of vitamins and other additives for Industry and bakeries.  There were too many to look at.  For example, while researching one company, I found them listed on this webpage, which gives a list of countless other "ingredient manufacturers"-- including vitamin manufacturers.  It rapidly became clear to me that I could not research them all in a timely way.

Certainly, there is a lot of money to be made in supplying legally mandated additives to food, flour and feedstock; or else, it takes a lot of money to get started in the business.  The profitable small companies are soon gobbled up by ever-larger companies.  And where there is a lot of money, there is always the possibility of corruption.  

And as soon as I had that thought, that is when I learned of the huge scandal in the vitamin industry.

Vitamin Cartel
The only reason I heard about this huge anti-trust case was because it broke records for how much in fines ($500 million for Roche alone) the companies and individuals involved had to pay for price-fixing.  It turns out vitamin manufacturers have been gouging consumers for years:

"The Vitamin cartel is the most pervasive and harmful criminal antitrust conspiracy ever uncovered," declared the then-Antitrust division chief Joel l. Klein.  "The criminal conduct of these companies hurt the pocketbook of virtually every American consumer -- anyone who took a vitamin, drank a glass of milk or had a bowl of cereal."  -- Gibeaut, J. (2004) "Antritrust American style: prosecutors fear their cartel-busting efforts will fizzle if US courts are opened to global price-fixing litigation" ABA Journal 90: April pp. 55- 

What was the crime?  Well, several vitamin-manufacturers got together to form a cartel which enabled them to fix prices, stop competition, and rake in huge profits -- so much money in fact that these world-record setting fines are hardly a deterrent.  How many manufacturers?  I have not seen all of them listed.  There may have been as few as 8 companies, or as many as 19 in the cartel.  After looking at several articles, I found this New York Times article (Barboza, D. (1999) "Tearing Down the Facade of 'Vitamins Inc.'" The New York times, Oct 10, 1999) and it had more vitamin manufacturing companies listed than any other (in the process of writing this up for the blog, though, I found lots more info here, and if you read no other link from this blog, this entry is it: Connor, J. (2006) The Great Global Vitamin Conspiracy 1989-1999, draft copy):

  • Roche (Switzerland)
    Holding company for Hoffman-La Roche (etc.), global pharma/health care supplier.
  • BASF (Germany)
    Global diversified chemical company, largest in the world, with ties to Monsanto.
  • Rhône-Poulenc (France)
    Global pharmaceutical and chemical company; mergers turned it into Sanofi, divestments into Rhodia, etc.
  • Takeda Chemical Industries (Japan)
    Global pharmaceutical co., among top 15 in world, largest in Japan and Asia.
  • Eisai Pharmaceutical (Japan)
    Global pharmaceutical co., among top 25 in the world
  • Daiichi Pharmaceutical (Japan)
    Global pharma co., 2nd largest in Japan.
  • Lonza A.G (Switzerland)
    Global pharma and biotech co.
  • Chinook (Canada)
    One time 'dominant' vitamin supplier (pharmaceuticals, feedstock, etc.) in Canada, with global assets.  They (ultimately -- not right away) cooperated with authorities for a reduced fine; are now 'Chinook Global'.  Recently fined for impairing water supply of their home base in Ontario. Balchem Corp then purchased their global choline assets.  To me, it looks like they were taken apart -- just like Rhône-Poulenc.
  • Ducoa (US)
    Once the number 3 premix vitamin supplier in the US, with ties to Dupont and ConAgra, now taken apart and assets sold to Nutreco of the Netherlands.  They copped a plea; could it be mere coincidence that they have been dismantled?
  • plus several other vitamin makers:
    • E. Merck - Is this the US Merck, or the German Merck?  Dunno. All under EMD.  Does chemicals, pharmaceuticals, bioscience, etc.
    • Hoeschst - Became Aventis after merger with Rhône-Poulenc; now subsidiary of Sanovi-Aventis
    • Solvay - Brussels.  Makers of sodium bicarb.
    • Akzo - They make paint, etc. but they are global chemical materials handlers.  Think salt,  think food stabilizers, and coatings.
    • Degussa - Chemicals business (pharma) purchased by Evonik in 2006.
    • Reilly - in 2006 they joined with Rutherford to become Reilly Industries Inc. Vitamin B3.
    • Nepera - in 2002 purchased by Rutherford.  Plant in NY had environmental issues.  Vit B3.
    • Mistui -- Huge conglomerate, with interests in everything, including minerals and grain.  These guys are serious.
    • UCB - Brussells, conglomerate. International biopharma.
    • Kongo - Japanese-based.  Into chemicals, nutriceuticals.  Global reach.  Vitamin B1 etc.
    • Sumitomo Japanese-based, global conglomerate, lots of mining and minerals, wide reach.  Huge, and getting bigger.
    • Tanabe - Global pharma corp.; merged with Mitsubishi 2007.

Roche is the #1 supplier of vitamins in the world; BASF is the #2 supplier.  Rhône was the whistle-blower in the anti-trust suit, and they got some immunity for their help in the lawsuit (see what happened to them?).  The total fines, to governments and in civil suits, amounts to over 3 billion dollars, for companies and individuals in the companies.

Supply of raw vitamin ingredients is easily a $1 billion dollar-a-year industry.  As one anti-trust lawyer put it, ''There's no reason to believe this won't happen again.''  Cartel members were raking in the cash: remember, they were supplying government mandated ingredients that had to go into products that are ubiquitous.  But, they got greedy, and began to enter the premix business.  They began to squeeze out the competition -- their customer base.

It was the middle men, the ones who purchased the raw vitamins, and combined them in premixes, who found that they could not buy vitamins from any supplier, at any price, or were being undercut by these newer players in the market.

In 1999, the cartel began to unravel and many of these problems finally came to light.

What will be the result of these fines?  I predict that litigation will drive further price-fixing and illegal activities underground.  Next time, rich crooks, getting richer on enrichment, will be better prepared, and more careful.  They'll be harder to catch.  They will be hiding in plain view, using umbrella corporations and octopus arms of industry, each paying lip service to their corporate ideals of sustainability, organic and natural sources, innovation, and people skills.  They will tell us what we want to hear, as they rebuild the public trust in their brands.  And just when we are complacent, they will gouge us again.  A few pennies from everybody, a government-mandated marketplace, and they cannot fail to rake in cash by the truckload.

How cynical I have become.

Meanwhile: Results of my Bread
I like this bread I have made.

There are no enrichments, dough improvers, or preservatives.  I can make this on my own.  I can give one of the loaves away.  I don't have to worry about trying to sell it to people who just don't get what I'm trying to do.  I don't have to comply with government regulations, since it is whole grain.

No lies.  No collusion.  No hidden ingredients or motives.

I have no interest in owning a bakery.  I have no interest in making white bread loaves, which seems to be what the market demands.  Bless you, if you think you can make a go of it and make only artisan whole grain breads in this marketplace, in this day and age. Bless you, if you have come up with an organic grain to use that isn't somehow owned by the biggest pharma or agra corps on the planet.  Bless you, if you try putting together a bakery and you can remain true to your original impulse to make quality bread.

Einstein probably had no desire to travel the speed of light, knowing it to be impossible.  But the thought experiment had a purpose -- it was a way to learn about the universe.  That is what this flight of fancy of mine is all about.

Notes to Myself
  • I began researching who supplies vitamin enrichment to bakeries one at a time, to try to get a handle on the industry.  ModernBaking's search function lead me to a few articles that mentioned some suppliers of the fortification of flour and dough.  I began to investigate them.  I couldn't possibly investigate them all in a timely way.  But this is what I discovered, in the order of my investigation:
    serves the baking industry with enrichment products, premixes, additives, etc.  They are owned by CSM (more on that later), and seem to be under CSM's North American Division, BSNA (Bakery Supplies North America), along with the BakeMark brand.  They are based in the US in Kansas, but they have 21 plants in the US and a couple in Canada.  Their "purpose," according to their mission statement, is "To improve the quality and sustainability of life."  I have to admit that it seems rather strange to hear the CEO say this with a straight face on an online video, but apparently they are consciously trying to build "sustainability" into their business practice by reducing waste, reducing costs, and sourcing ingredients in ecological ways.  Kudos.  Bakeries can buy their dough completely ready to bake.  Or you can build your own dough using their premix fortifications (the various NutrivanTM blends); or you can just add their fortifications to your own flour.

    is the North American division of Glanbia plc, an international corporation that has headquarters in Ireland.  They rose to dominance via Irish cheese and dairy products, and entered the nutritionals marketplace in 2003 after acquiring German-based Kortus Food Ingredients Services; in 2008 they bought Canadian Pizzey's Milling.  Without a hint of irony, "Glanbia" means "pure food" in Irish.  They style themselves as the "architects of nutrition".  They sell a number of premixes or they sell individual vitamins and amino acids for their bakery customers.

    is another nutriceutical corp owned by CSM.  Purac is essentially the leg of a multinational corp that grew out of the fermentation of sugar, who now defines their "food solutions" in these terms:  safety, shelf life, taste, salt reduction and mineral fortification.  They do a lot more than fortification, of course (including making plastics and biomedical fibers), but specifically for bakers, they have products for acidification, sensory enhancement, shelf life extension,
    sodium reductiontexture improvement, and label friendliness.  They are concerned about health too, or else, give lip service to it.  Unfortunately, their webpage links on mineral fortification are broken.  E.g. this link is currently down, so I can't find out any more information.  It looks to me like they have 5 premixes which mostly are geared to fortify dairy and other drinks with calcium and other minerals.  I assume that I can't find much info about Purac for bakeries because CSM sells bakeries through CSM Bakery Supplies North America, leaving the lactic acid wing of the business to Purac.

    from Crowley Louisiana, has a long family history of working with rice; since 2011, they have expanded into Ohio.  They have since branched out into the fortification business.  Apparently many of their nutrient fortifications are built from rice -- eg. Nutra-riceiron rice and Vit-a-rice .
    The standard fortifications can be encapsulated in a proprietary molecule-sized shell (think of a coated control-released aspirin, designed to get through your stomach before releasing its payload.  This is the same idea only much smaller).  Vitamins wrapped in the SupercoatTM are heat resistant, and survive your baking process.  The Wright Group provides a huge range of other proprietary products for bakers -- conditioners to improve loaf volume, texture, and dough stretchability; and emulsifiers and enzyme premixes to extend the shelf life of bread; and they will even custom-make enrichments to your own specs.  Because the premixes are proprietary formulas, you won't know any more than the consumer about what is in them (they tell you how to label your product).  But relax: the company is certified by every quality control stamp of approval from Kosher to FDA Bioterrorism free.  They take allergens seriously and they often guarantee their product to be GMO-Free.

    is the Central Sugar Company (CSM Bakery Supplies - North America), which got its start from the beet sugar industry and is now the largest supplier of bakery products and ingredients in the world. They grew through mergers and acquisitions.  They bought Unilever in 2000, and in 2010 Best Brands in the US.  They also own Caravan and Purac (see above).  According to Wikipedia, they have been under financial pressure for several years, and have now sold off their sugar divisions to become more profitable.  They also own HCBrill, BakeMark, Artisal, etc.

    Pharmachem Laboratories 
    ("we make ingredients work") is an international business headquartered out of Kearny, NJ.  It is a network of corporations that serve different industries (food, beverage, fragrance, etc.), but it all grew out of the purchase of the single Stanley Blackman lab, which supplied nutritionals ("who bought it?" I asked, but found no answer.  The current CEO is David Holmes -- but maybe not the same D.Holmes, businessman, who has a wiki.  Pharmachem's David Holmes seems to be slightly web invisible).  Pharmachem holds patents for the manufacture of glycoproteins, and phaseolamin (Phase 2 white bean extract), and they own several brands of neutraceutical blends. They've expanded quickly since 1979.  Along the way they have acquired or purchased the use of the NovasomeTM microvesicle encapsulation process, to deliver payloads of vitamins, drugs, etc. to the spot in the body or food product where they are intended to go.  They claim they can deliver enrichment that can be labelled "organic" and "natural," and they are interested in sustainability and giving back. They can supply a wide range of ingredients to bakers.

    SunOpta Ingredients Group
    seems to focus on fiber additives, but their byword is "sustainable" and their method is "continuous improvement."  They have access to (and partially own) Opta mineral resources (steel, magnesium, etc.), and the Mascoma Biofuels.  They've grown rapidly by ensuring organic and natural sources; they grow their own proprietary soybeans (I assume they are organic), they also use corn and sunflowers for their ingredients.  They have a lot of ingredients that bakers can use -- but I don't think they sell the raw vitamins to add to flour, in the thought experiment I described.

    I stopped at this point in my research because I was getting bogged down in trying to find out who manufactured the actual vitamins that enrich flour, and was discovering more and more companies that seemed to mostly just add vitamins to premixes for sale to industry and bakeries.  And I found it difficult to unravel which companies owned other companies.  It was becoming clear that various manufacturers built their raw materials and their business from different sources: rice, beans, dairy, sugar beets.  And most had ties to patented, proprietary processes and/or vast pharmaceutical distribution.  And it was at this point too, that I first learned of the vitamin cartel, so my interest shifted.

    Had I continued, I would have looked at a few more of these:

    • AMF Bakery Systems (Richmond VG) - mostly equipment manufacturing for highspeed bakeries; I don't see vitamins.
    • BCW Food Products, Inc. (Dallas TX) - based on what I can see of their Product line  I don't think this company is involved in vitamin and mineral fortification, but you can get other dough additives here.

    There are more listed here at the Biscuit and Cracker Manufacturing Assoc (BCMA) member list; and the Allied Trades of the Baking Industry (ATBI) website, and the Grain Foods Foundation webpage.  There seem to be a lot of these bakery trade organizations.  I suppose if you want to keep abreast of what your competitors are up to (or if you want the skinny on the next cartel that is going to form), you want to have lots of contacts, lots of friends and join lots of trade organizations...

  • * Who is buying up land will be the next thing that has to be researched.  Who owns the fields that grow our food?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Yes, Bread Matters

Whitley's "Really Simple Sourdough Bread"

I asked for and received Andrew Whitley's book, "Bread Matters: the state of modern bread and a definitive guide to baking your own" (2009) for the last holiday.  I've been dipping into it here and there, so maybe its time to give a little report or review on it.

Whitley is a U.K. baker and author and organic grain supporter who has started a crusade against unfermented bread.  His book contains a manifesto for the "Real Bread Campaign," which Whitley helped start.  I grew interested in his book after I read about him on Farine's blog, following Whitley's 2012 talk at the Kneading Conference West.

I really love the first few chapters of Whitley's book.  I wish that I had found it 3 years ago.  I might never have had to blog a single word, nor would I have had to discover on my own many of the things he mentions.  It has been a very time-consuming process, wading through the corporate obfuscation and deliberate lies of  the baking industry, all the while researching science articles and learning the different recipe methods for baking bread.  It has been fun, with many side-trips along the way, but Whitley's "Bread Matters" would have brought me here much quicker.

I find it quite exhilarating that Whitley has chanced upon many of the same articles I have, in my curiosity and browsing.  He has come up with the odd article I haven't seen, of course (e.g. Chapter 2, the first 2 endnotes, re: linking excess calcium and prostate cancer, and excess iron with lung cancer), and I'm always eager to learn new things about my favourite topic, bread.  Nice.

However, I have to admit that I'm left scratching my head a bit over the rest of his book: his recipes.  For one thing, Whitely totally ignores baker's percentages, because he believes they are obscurest and misleading.  Using grams in the recipes is enough, he says, to scale any recipe (and he does give grams, and ounces, and even volume measurements for each bread).  I can't really say that I'm convinced, especially when he indicates in the text that when you do scale recipes, you have to adjust the yeast levels.

And maybe he's right, maybe the whole baking hobby crowd (and bakers in general) are too focused on baker's percentages, which use the concept of percentage in a non-standard way from mathematicians and the rest of the world, and the use of the term "baker's percentage" confuses a lot of people who are new to the baking usage (me included).  And the percentages are often used in different ways; once you begin using terms in a non-standard way, the lid is off, and basically anything goes.  Communication suffers.  Furthermore, the use of baker's percentages tends to focus the attention on hydration, which seems to be a North American quirk, whereas I find that European recipes seem to be more concerned with ash content of various flours, and temperature of the dough.  In practice, though, it comes down to how the dough feels and acts, and that's not something that can be easily spoken or written in words, nor imparted by formula. 

Nevertheless, I worked out the baker's percentages for his first recipe (to see what sort of hydration he aims for!  I admit it!)  This is Whitley's "Basic Loaf", a basic, straight-dough whole grain bread:

  • stoneground ww flour 100%
  • salt 0.8%
  • water 67%
  • yeast 1.3%

I decided to make this loaf to see what might happen.  Its been a long time since I made a commercially yeasted bread.  

But for my purposes, the recipe right away had to have some changes made to it.  I don't have any stone-ground ww flour.  I have ww flour from the local Arva Flour Mill, and I know that it was slow-milled in a roller mill.  Because of this, and because of what I learned here, I will put back some bran and wheat germ, to the amount of 5%, to make a literally true, rather than legally true, whole wheat flour, which will simulate stone ground whole wheat flour.

Simulating Stone Ground Wheat Flour by rebuilding it

Incidentally, Whitley gives this same fact -- that some of the germ and bran is removed, even from whole wheat flour -- but he doesn't give us this clue on how to rebuild it, if we don't have stone ground flour at hand.  And really -- how many of us do have access to freshly stone ground flour, unless we live beside a mill or grind it ourselves?

So here is my recipe:

  • roller milled ww flour 90%
  • wheat bran 5% 
  • wheat germ 5%
  • salt 0.8%
  • water 67%
  • yeast 1.3%
before kneading

after kneading

before rise

after rise

proofed and ready to bake
(I baked mine in a roasting pan)
Whitley isn't a fan of adding water to the oven to make steam for the beginning of the bake to allow the bread to rise farther; he says it adversely affects the temperature of the oven.  I've had good results with that method, though, and even better with a Dutch Oven style of baking, where the moisture from the rising loaf is itself contained inside a vessel, as steam, and this allows the bread to rise with the moisture.  So my loaf was baked in a roasting pan, to simulate this part of the Dutch Oven baking.

Beyond Basic Loaves
Whitley quickly moves beyond these simple straight doughs, through the intermediary steps of preferments (sponges, poolish) and then he heads into sourdough territory.

No extra bran this time just extra wheat germ, with Whitley's Really Simple Sourdough Bread

I decided to try his Whitley's "Really Simple Sourdough Bread" Recipe as well.  As before, I give here an interpretation of his recipe, using roller-milled whole wheat flour, with added wheat germ to get it closer to the stone ground he calls for.  Here is the baker's %:

  • roller milled ww flour 95%
  • wheat germ 5%
  • water 70%
  • sourdough starter 16%
  • sea salt 1.6%

The amounts given in his original recipe are very small, and there is no way this amount of dough would make a bread that would fill the standard size tin here in North America.  I made another at the same time, which used the baker's percentages I'd figured out, and put that dough in a different tin, a larger than usual tin.  And that was too much dough.  So my feeling is, every recipe in this book would have to be scaled or tweaked for the average North American user.

The nice thing about this recipe is, I can make a loaf like this with my sourdough, rather than tossing it out when I am just refreshing the dough.

The book contains a lot of recipes, and I'm sure that I'll be checking out more in the future.  It will take me a while to go through them all.

But here's the one big complaint I have with the book (and it might be a selling feature for you, who knows?)  While his text extols the virtue of whole grains, and organic flour, he nevertheless includes some all purpose or bread flour in many recipes, as most other recipe books do.  For an example of one of his recipes that does this, already online, you can check out this recipe from the Guardian's Food and Drink section.  It is a little more involved than the basic recipe above.  See how he uses a mix of white and wholemeal flour?  That is the way most of his recipes read, even though he says you can make it using only wholemeal.

The Next Thing I Need to Know
Now here is the problem I have with this: although he is careful to list additives and weird ingredients that go into Chorleywood type industrially-puffed loaves, he scarcely mentions the vitamin enrichment of the denuded white flours.  I expected him to tell us the source of these vitamin enrichments, not just tell us why they are there, or what else we are missing.

Because it seems obvious to me that the mills who are required by law to put these vitamin enrichments back into the flour after taking it out will use the very cheapest ingredients.  What is the source of these ingredients?  Who sells them?  What chemlabs make them?  Are they made ethically?  Is their sourcing environmentally sustainable?  Would they be acceptable to vegetarians?  Are they truly healthy in the amounts typically consumed?  These are all questions he has asked of the other ingredients that industrially baked loaves carry.  For example, he discusses preservatives like calcium propionate (E282), which "may be a carcinogen;" and he mentions L-cycsteine hydrochloride (E920) which "may be derived from animal hair and feathers."  But he doesn't tell us anything about the source of vitamin enrichment that has

  1. been mandated by law in most nations in the world, to some degree, since the widespread adoption of roller mills
  2. allowed for the widespread proliferation of processed foods that use denuded or fortified flour, even though studies extol the virtues of whole grain

The point is, now more than ever home bakers need help in making whole grain bread.  They don't need yet another recipe book that tells them its ok to put only SOME whole grain in their bread (that leads quickly to acceptance of the misleading baking industry-oriented mislabelling of "whole wheat" as merely containing some whole wheat flour). The next thing that happens is, the home baker puts more and more white flour into their loaves, less and less whole grain, and suddenly there is no further reason to bake at home.  These home loaves become the same damn thing you can buy anywhere.

It really takes a dramatic turn in intention to be a home baker today and INSIST that whole wheat must mean whole grain, like I've been doing.  I know, because I often feel the pressure.  The pressure to bake white loaves is intense and seems to be embedded in our culture now.  Chorleywood extrusion processes have changed the taste of our society.  When you say no to that, you are actually stepping outside the norm.  It gets more and more difficult to stick with whole grain.  Home bakers need to know that its ok to insist on whole grain.  In my opinion, that is what Whitley's book should have focused on, in the recipe section.  But instead, his theme seems to be, above all else, just bake it yourself.

It may be that he hopes that people will begin to notice taste differences in the loaves, and will eventually insist on stone ground whole grain as their baking experience develops (as it has done in my case).  Indeed, the recipes do seem to take one on a journey from simple to ever increasingly difficult methodologies and more complex tastes.  But this book doesn't insist on whole grain.  It insists on artisan loaves, home-made loaves.  It gives lip service to organic.  But it misses the boat on whole grain.

That's my opinion.  

I do like Whitley's book, I do appreciate all that he's done for the home baker.  He has been baking far longer than me, he has forgotten more about bread than I'll ever know.  But I wanted to learn the next thing, and it wasn't here.  To me, Bread Matters, and it matters more to me than it apparently seems to matter to many other people.  That is why I expected this book to make a profound difference to me.

Truly, his book deserves a very careful look.  It's already given me a lot of food for thought*.

Results of these breads
I'll never make his basic loaf again.  Not very interesting.  Simple enough, just not enough time to develop fermenting flavours.  A bit too yeasty for my bread snob tastes.

Whitley's Basic Bread
Whitley's Basic Bread

Original Recipe amounts make an extremely tiny loaf.  But nice crumb.

Whitley's Really Simple Sourdough Bread

First attempt at scaling the recipe gave me too much dough for one tin (the tin I used for this dough was extra large)

Lots of Flavour, in my opinion: a bit too sour for my wife's tastes.

The simple sourdough bread has possibilities.  I like its simplicity, but I'll still have to adjust the times for my own batch of sourdough.  Every sourdough is going to have its peculiarities, I guess.  I liked the taste of this one, but my wife complained that it was "too" sour.

Notes to Myself
  • * For example, my questions about the additives put into white flour has made me curious enough to do a bit of research on that myself.  Expect more info soon.
  • All of Whitley's recipes will have to be tweaked for the North American home baker.  Because he hasn't included baker's percentages, will this be harder or simpler for the average hobby baker?
  • Next time you make a tin of Whitley's Really Simple Sourdough Bread, try these amounts for a standard size North American tin.  No guarantees, but this is the next experimental amount I would try, in my tweaking of this recipe.  It amounts to 80% of what I used for the extra large tin above, but in the same baker's percentage ratios.  It is about triple what Whitley gives:
    • 760g ww flour
    • 40g wheat germ
    • 128g sourdough starter
    • 13g salt
    • 560g water
  • UPDATE: this bread had amazing keeping abilities.  I left a heel of it in a plastic bag in my bread cupboard, and it was less stale after a ten days than bread made just 4 days before.