Bread and Baking

The Other Difficulty with Wheat

I’ve been a bit under the weather for the last two weeks and I missed posting.  The heat hasn’t helped as summer has finally arrived where we live.  I will be out of town for the next month, visiting my daughter, so posts may remain hit and miss.  Regardless, I will be adding more links in this post and some of the others once I’m settled in.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer.

In my last post, I talked about the difficulties with processing wheat into a usable flour and how it removes the nutrients in most cases.

Still, it’s perfectly possible to create a whole wheat bread that is healthy and highly nutritious.  You just can’t do it through mass production.

Whole wheat flour is obviously made from the whole grain, which retains the grain’s natural oils.  Oils which go rancid almost immediately once the grain is ground.

Prior to industrialization, grains were harvested and stored.  They were ground as needed in the local mill and used quickly in the daily baking.

Before that, grains would be hand ground immediately before use, so the flour never had a chance to become rancid and it retained almost all of its nutritional value.  This is how wheat became the “staff of life”.

Nowadays, our wheat is harvested, sits in hot silos for who knows how long, is eventually processed into flour, which sits indefinitely on a store shelf or is baked into bread that sits in a warehouse or on a store shelf for weeks.

The only way to avoid this is to grind your own wheat, immediately prior to baking.

Various types of wheat are available for mail-order.  A good source of grain mills is Lehman’s Hardware Store in Kidron, OH.  They have a website and offer both hand cranked and electric grain mills. They can be contacted at  http://www.lehmans.com or 877.440.9354.

Obviously, fitting this type of baking into our busy modern lives isn’t always easy, but it can be done.

It requires the above equipment, a good cookbook and a freezer.

My favorite bread cookbook is the Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown.  It’s basic recipes make several loaves apiece and it offers a wide range of recipe ideas.

(Links coming next week)

Bread and Baking, Chemical Sensitivities, Food Sensitivities, Food Tips, Meals, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Wheat

I am extremely fortunate not to be gluten intolerant among all the other food sensitivities I have.  I am, however, wheat sensitive.

Over seventy years ago, my mother’s doctor told her that if she ever wanted to lose weight and keep it off, she had to give up wheat, specifically baked goods.  Back then, doctors were trained to read the body’s signs. They knew things without resorting to a myriad of tests and they trusted their knowledge.

My grandmother’s doctor could look at her hair and know whether or not she needed more thyroid medication.  It was a good thing too, because the problem that runs in my family does not show up in today’s standardized tests.

So,  other  than gluten, what are the problems with wheat?  There are two other major problems with wheat, especially in the United States.  The first is that it has almost become a mono-culture.

According to prevalent statistics, 70-80% of wheat grown in the US is winter wheat. The majority of the remaining wheat grown in the US is hard red spring wheat. We grow wheat that is higher in protein and gluten which is better for mass bread production.

In Europe, for the time being at least, a softer wheat, which is lower in protein and gluten, predominates.

But we now export 55% of our spring wheat crop around the world.

And wheat can be found in almost all processed foods.  If your body is bombarded constantly with the same ingredient over and over, it can lead to a myriad of health problems.

Unless you search specifically for unbleached, unenriched flour, all flour in the US is enriched with vitamins and minerals.  This policy began during World War II as an easy way to get extra nutrients to the troops, who were eating poorly at best. Processing wheat into flour, especially white flour, removes the nutrients, so adding vitamins such as Thiamine and minerals such as iron, seemed like a sensible thing to do.

However, Thiamine is a sulfur based B vitamin and iron is hard to digest for many people.  So for families like mine, you’re getting a double negative effect from the wheat in commercial products.  It lead, in our case, to inflammation, water retention, weight gain and digestive problems.

The rise of the processed food industry, heavily dependent on wheat as a main ingredient, has led to over-exposure to an almost mono-culture product that is chemically modified in the name of better nutrition.

Next week:  The Other Difficulty with Wheat

Bread and Baking, Recipes

Vegan Banana Coconut Muffins

I’ve been making this recipe for years. Originally this was a recipe for Banana Bread, gotten from my mum, but I switched to simply putting the batter in muffin tins because the oven I was working with cooked them more evenly. Now, I’m just lazy, because I’ve found the loaves are a bit too hard to get right. They’re either over or under done, but which ever way you choose to make them, is up to you.

Over the last couple years I’ve made some new friends who are vegan, and my sister developed lactose intolerance, so I’ve had to modify. I also moved to the UK, where it’s very hard to find Crisco (an American shortening) and it’s quite expensive if you do find it. To that end, I have listed my modified recipe below:

¾ cup sugar
½ cup coconut oil
½ tsp salt
2-4 mashed banana
¼ cup sour milk*
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour

*To make sour milk, mix ¼ cup milk of your choice, I use oat typically, with ¾ tsp of cider vinegar and let sit for a few minutes.

Start by mixing sugar and oil together, add bananas and mix until you have a smooth batter, this can be done by hand or with a mixer, then add salt, baking soda, sour milk, and flour and mix. You’ll want to look for a fluffy and airy consistency. I’ve never had an issue with over mixing but it is possible, just like with pancakes. You’ll end up with heavy muffins/bread.

This recipe originally called for 2 eggs but I’ve found it doesn’t really make much difference as the bananas act as their own binding agent. If your batter seems a bit too dry, simply add an extra tablespoon or two of your non-dairy milk.

Preheat your oven to 325F, 180C

For bread bake 1 hour or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean.

For muffins bake approximately 20-25 minutes, checking often after 20 minutes. For me I go by smell. As soon as I smell it wafting out of the oven, I check the muffins and 9/10 they’re done.

Enjoy!

Caitlin