My topic for the blog today is Bread.
I bet those who know me well thought that B would be for Books! But although reading and books course through my veins, Bread is indeed the staff of life, at least for me!
I am a diabetic with a great love of bread. A problem? Oh Yes. But I try to eat sourdough whenever possible. According to the University of Wisconsin, “Sourdough is a white bread that is low on the glycemic index. For a 1-oz. slice, sourdough scores a 52 with 1g of fat and 20g of carbohydrate. Sourdough is a rather lean dough that obtains much of its robust flavor and texture from the sour mix that ferments over time adding leavening, as well as flavor. While it is a white dough, the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Center for Integrative Medicine’s Glycemic Food Index ranks sourdough lower than most in scoring making it a favorable option for diabetics.”
But rather than bore you to insanity with statistics, I will instead treat you to some fun recipes and some fantastic quotes about bread itself.
I recently discovered this yeast bread at Baker Bettie’s. It has no added sugar and entrances the palate with rosemary and kosher salt, in a simple and easy recipe that is great with soup. Even though it is a yeast bread, it requires no kneading. Go to the webpage for all the details – here is a brief once-over of the recipe:
FIRST, you must have a cast iron 12 inch skillet
- 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ tsp if measuring from bulk yeast)
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- ½ TBSP kosher salt
- 4⅓ cups all-purpose flour (any flour you like, depending on your needs and likes)
- olive oil
- Combine yeast and warm water in a large bowl.
- Using a wooden spoon add 1 cup of the flour and then the salt and mix until combined. Stir in the rest of the flour, one cup at a time, until completely incorporated.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a lid that is not shut completely. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
- Do not punch down the dough. Lightly oil the bottom of a cast iron skillet (a 10″ or 12″ skillet works well). Sprinkle a good amount of flour on top of the dough and then cover hands with flour. Take all the dough and shape into a disk. (it will be sticky)
- Place in the skillet, cover loosely with a towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF.
- Drizzle a little more oil over the top of the bread, and slash the dough with a knife creating an X. Sprinkle with coarse salt and rosemary leaves.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is a deep brown color.
“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” – M.F.K. Fischer
Why do I love bread? Despite my cutting back (a LOT!) on carbohydrate foods, I feel the earnestness of bread in many aspects of my life. I do not have an issue (e.g. Celiac disease) with bread or whole grains. As mentioned in a website article, “I believe in eating real food, in balance, in its whole form, according to an individual’s needs, for the sake of nourishment and good health, all the time.” (Laura of Heavenly Homemakers) Moderation in all things! But bread also is the food of poetry and beauty. The classic and romantic poet, Omar Khayyam is very well-known for his Rubaiyat, and this quote:
“A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” I love this in the 1st translation by Edward FitzGerald:
(Quatrain XI in his 1st edition:)
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.”
The feeling here of fullness and rightness, brought along with the loaf of bread (food) a jug of wine (drink) a book of verse (something to share and read) and thou (the one most beloved, is a gift both to the mind and the spirit.
A feast for the senses – bread smells so good, wafting from our kitchens to tickle the nose. A well-cooked loaf teases the eyes with the joys to come and when the loaf is sliced and passed out, the sense of completeness grasps our tongues lightly, mixing with the flavors, the added butter or jam.
Christianity is awash with biblical metaphors which involve bread. The word Bread or Manna was used over 200 times in the Bible the most well-known one from John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
And for me, it is a way of sharing yourself – homemade bread as a gift to your family, embellished with the use of your hands, and perhaps, as with me, homegrown herbs, as a way of saying you are important to me.
Cornbread. I have my grandmother’s cornbread stick pan and find it a loving and enjoyable way to make bread beyond the yeast or quick breads. This is a great recipe to experiment with flours.
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup yogurt or 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons melted butter or 3 tablespoons margarine
- Pre-heat oven to 350.
- Grease an 8-in square pan with butter.
- In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients.
- In another bowl combine the wet ingredients.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing only enough to thoroughly combine.
- Spread into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch.
- Serve at any temperature.
Southern Cornbread in a class by itself:
“The North thinks it knows how to make cornbread, but this is a gross superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite as bad as the Northern imitation of it.”
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835-1910)
From an autobiographical sketch, 1898
And there you have it. My paean to bread. How about you? How do you feel about bread?