Bad bread should die: say those who defend slow fermentation, sourdough and raw material of high quality. A whole army of ‘breadies’ willing to claim back true bread.
If you’re a good bread lover, your worst nightmare is to close your eyes and see a huge freezer full of pre-cooked and frozen dough waiting its turn to get to the oven and be then sold as artisan bread. Nowadays we demand quality. As Beatriz Echeverría, founder of El Horno de Babette, points out: “It’s fundamental that people demand having good bread at home. As soon as we get used to that, it will be very difficult to go back”.
To obtain that unique product, though, we ought to respect tradition and not turn our back on the key elements: using slow fermentation and sourdough. This “allows for a number of chemical processes to be produced, making the bread more aromatic and digestive. When you speed up this process to increase economic profit and obtain more bread in less time, you’re doing your customer a disservice”, states Beatriz. A good, fast fermenting bread hasn’t been invented yet. Xavier Barriga, owner of Turris, explains the role of sourdough: “It gives flavour, aroma, lastingness, character… Working with it you don’t have to use additives and yeast, it’s a certain concept of baking”.
Most definitely, richer and more digestive bread. And if quality is based on tradition, innovation comes in the variety of flavours. Rye with raisins, whole meal with candied orange and poppy seeds, olives and nuts, onion… A wide variety ready to conquer and retain customers who have been consuming less bread for decades due to poor quality and flavour (“if it doesn’t give us pleasure, why bother?”, asks Echeverría) and the myth that it makes you fat. These new professionals are taking charge of the quality and flavour part, renewing the world of baking with their effort and philosophy.
It’s not so easy to dismantle the fattening myth, though. Carmen Baudin, alma mater of Harina bakeries, confirms that “there are a lot of impediments as far as nutrition is concerned. Now we hear that cow milk is bad, like red meat or cold cuts… When I was little, we heard the same about olive oil and blue fish. Bread has had a bad press for years, so we have it internalised, there are children who say they don’t eat bread because it makes them put on weight. And the gluten free fashion diet has its impact too”.
Fortunately, as pointed out by Xavier Barriga, “the message is changing and it is recommended that we eat around 150 grams of bread a day”. A ration of happiness that can last in your memory. “I’m talking of the acid and perfumed rye bread you get in Switzerland and Germany. For me, discovering rye was like realising that there is life after wheat”, he says. Beatriz evokes “the bread of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York” and Carmen still gets excited by “the aroma at the Galician Bread Museum”.
The Perfect Bread
Crust: It’s a good sign to find a good crust: roasted, aromatic, crunchy, golden. It protects the bread and allows it to last longer.
Crumb: It should be elastic, fluffy, off-white, with a honeycomb appearance.
Aroma: The intense, marvellous aroma of bread. If it doesn’t smell of anything, suspect and leave right away.
Flavour: It should taste of bread and not yeast: that’s the key. A delicate, nuanced flavour, hinting at the cereals and lactic acid. Don’t be fooled by the “flavour” of hot bread.
Weight: Good bread is heavy and not light. If that’s not the case, then yeast has been used to shorten the production process