Bread – The Staff of Life

Posted: May 14, 2017 in The Shrinking Head Bakes!

The other day my partner and I were at a dinner party where one of the guests was extolling the virtues of cutting down on starches and sugars in response to the other guests compliments on his weight loss.  My heart went cold.  My greatest fears were realized when, inevitably, my partner mentioned that perhaps this was something we should consider.

I love bread.  I eat bread, in some form, pretty much every day.  And I love baking bread. I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to take bread baking courses.  I’ve taken the same course more than once because I loved hearing all the details and science and professional baker insights!  My dream is to travel the world learning to bake bread in every culture. The fact that every culture has some sort of bread like substance to me says that this is one food worth keeping in the repertoire.  Now I will agree that over processed, sliced, white bread from the grocery store is not healthy, tasty or particularly satisfying, but if that was all that was available, I’d eat it.

There has been a lot of flack about gluten and wheat and how bad it is for you. Suddenly half of my social circle is gluten intolerant. One of the bread class instructors (http://www.brasseriebread.com.au) argues that it isn’t the wheat that is to be blamed, but the processing of mass produced breads that is causing the dietary distress.  The bakers at Flour Station (http://www.jamieoliver.com/news-and-features/features/artisan-bread/) suggest that artisan breads are easier to digest because of the longer fermenting and proofing process where the enzymes have more time to start breaking down the gluten.

I have looked at the empirical research about gluten intolerance and the findings are mixed.  Some suggest that there are very specific biomarkers that may make it difficult for some people to digest, while other articles suggest that it is predominantly in the minds of the sufferers.  One summary article concludes that Non-celiac gluten sensitivity should be considered a subset of irritable bowel syndrome and probably occurs in small number of people (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4406911/).

I, personally, thank my lucky stars every day that I am not gluten intolerant, or have celiac disease, or a wheat allergy.  I bake bread every weekend and sometimes during the week. Kneeding dough is my zen.  And with outcomes like this? Who could resist?

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