Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's the deal?

For a while now, I've been fascinated with eating better. I don't just mean healthier either. I mean also eating with awareness, ie. awareness of the source of one's ingredients, awareness of how processed the food is that one is consuming, awareness that it is far better to consume a smaller amount of food of superior quality than to gorge on something that comes from the laboratories of mad food scientists. Many things have helped shape this awareness, from reading books by authors such as Michael Pollan, to documentaries on our industrial food system, to a desire to increase my health and lose weight without giving up my love of good food.

Being an avid amateur baker, I've become fascinated with the topic of baking prior to the advent of boxed mixes which involve mixing egg and oil with an unidentifiable powder to produce something akin to "baked goods". Going even farther back, I'm curious about how we baked prior to the advent of white flour.

Bleached white flour, or all purpose flour, is a relatively new concept. It was one of the first processed foods out there and was an early example of making something shelf stable, as well as bending nature to our whim to provide properties we find desirable, through removing it from its original state. We get many desirable traits from this processed ingredient. It allows our breads and cakes to rise higher due to gluten content and no fiber to get in the way of forming air pockets, it becomes shelf stable because the oils that would make it go rancid are removed, it allows us an easy building block for baking by giving us a one size fits all flour for multiple applications. However, this processing also removes the germ and bran, which contain the nutritional parts, leaving only the crushed endosperm. Lost are the nutritional oils, fiber, protein, as well as depth of taste.

This blog is going to be about two things. Firstly, it will be about a love of baking. Secondly, and most importantly, it will be about my attempt to remove bleached white flour from my baking and my kitchen, subbing in not only whole wheat flour but also making use of the wealth of other grains out there that have been lost to the modern diet. I'm no expert on science or baking. A lot of what I do will be experimentation. I will share my results and what I learn. I document this in the hopes someone else might find value in this subject.

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