A few snowy Saturdays ago, a group of young women gathered at Local Source Market for a bread making workshop. Thinking back, it was an inspiring day. The kitchen was full, with music in the background and tempting scents sneaking from the ovens. Sylvia, our gracious instructor, happily gave us her time as well as her tried and true bread recipes. The group was not intentionally all female though, as Carey from the Urban Garden Project wisely says, “whoever comes to the workshop is the right person to be there.” We also finished the day with a potluck – a table full of goodies, chatter, and warm bread.
What type of bread did we bake you may be wondering. Well, we made three different breads. First, we made (lots of) whole wheat bread using Speerville’s Red Fife flour and NS honey.
Next, we made sprouted sourdough rye bread.
Lastly, we made Easter bread. The dough was so rich and smooth. Kneading felt terrific!
Our instructor was very pleased with the results – as were we!
A bit tired, we sat down to enjoy our potluck supper.
The recipes we used belong to our instructor Sylvia. They are a involved to copy out here but you are welcome to them if you’d like as our Food Action Committee library now includes Sylvia’s cookbook.
During the workshop, we had a lot of questions for our wise instructor. We asked about techniques, kneading, mixing and measuring; we asked about flour, whole white compared to unbleached; and we asked about local ingredients. Sylvia has lots of tips. One baking technique which I knew nothing of, is the proper way to measure dry ingredients. When measuring flour, never use your measuring cup to scoop from the bag as this will give you a skewed measurement due to the flour being packed down. The correct way to measure is to use a very large spoon to scoop the flour from the bag and place it into your measuring cup.
We left Sylvia with a few questions as well. In search of answers, she phoned Speerville. Here is a bit of what she learned: Speerville’s whole white flour and unbleached white flour contain raw wheat germ. Wheat germ can affect your bread so it is important to know where your flour includes it or not. [We had great success with it.] These flour also contain about 85% of the bran so, even though they are called “unbleached”, they are a lot different from the pure endosperm of the usual “unbleached” white. The gluten, which is wheat protein, in all Speerville flour, is made up of 2 main kinds. It is also high–nearly 14%. In whole wheat flour sold in the grocery store, one of these 2 proteins has been emphasized to the exclusion of the other. The Speerville person that Sylvia spoke to thought that this may be why so many more people today are sensitive to supermarket wheat. The balance of the 2 kinds of protein in their wheat–both the Red Fife, and their main kind, “Barry”– is similar to that in Kamut and spelt, so many people sensitive to usual wheat can eat theirs. In fact, they have people coming to them with a Dr.’s prescription for their wheat.
One last bit of information which Sylvia passed on to me is that the labeling of “whole wheat” in the supermarket is a bit misleading. As Sylvia understands it, “whole wheat” in the supermarket means white, with bran added back. “Whole grain”, on the other hand, means the entire berry. If you go to Planet Organic, or the Grainery, you can get the real whole grain flours.
There certainly is a bit of science behind bread making. Although, there is also something to be said for “feel” when it comes to bread. Knowing how the dough should feel is a tricky thing to learn. I suppose – like most things – practice makes perfect. I just need a few guinea pigs!
In all seriousness, I would love to host a bread exchange (reminiscent of the ever popular holiday cookie exchange). This exchange would include an afternoon of baking together (though using different recipes) and then exchanging. Interested?
Yours in food, Keltie