Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bread and soup

Breadmaking- what a homey art ! Few things can say home as loudly as the smell of fresh baking bread. Something about it says comfort, security, nourishment and so much more. Breadbaking used to be one of the primary skills of the home maker, and then things changed. The country went off to war, women left the home in the pursuit of keeping up the munitions for the troops and cooking changed. Bread became white, enriched to build strong bodies 12 ways, packaged and sliced. The convenience factor won out, and breadbaking went the way of sock darning. Later  the art was revived, and it lead to the invention of the bread machine, so that every kitchen could enjoy fresh bread without all the work.  And then there are a few of us rebels who still kept making bread the old fashioned way, by hand, until we determined to do this thing called weight loss. For numerous reasons, true breadbaking and calorie counting do not mix. It's not for he reasons you might think !

There are numerous low calorie, points calculated health bread recipes out there ! Each and every one substitute less healthy ingredients for whole grain, nutritionally superior goodies like wheat bran, molasses and more. Each says that a loaf of bread serves 16 slices, and calories are calculated accordingly. Each gives a precise list of ingredients, and this is where they prove they have been created by a person who has never made an edible loaf of bread in their life, and does not understand the first thing about real bread making !

Bread is a science , as well as an art. The science part comes in when you break bread into what it actually is, and that is a restaurant for a tiny living animal named yeast. Yeast requires carbohydrates to feed and excrete gas , and gluten to form a neat little bubble to trap the gas and make the product rise. Yeast is a happy little diva who refuses to live in an environment that is too warm or too cold. Gluten needs just the right conditions to swell in order to make a light product that we find appealing. This environment is affected by the atmosphere that surrounds it. If you make bread on a dry day, you will be using less flour. If you use the same recipe on a humid one, you will use more. Proper , edible, rising bread is made by feel and not math. You begin with the basic ingredients and add enough flour to produce a  soft, non sticky ball of dough that feels almost identical to a babies behind or your grandma's arm. Scales and measuring cups cannot discern this.

For a long time I have skipped baking bread  in favor of the pre packaged, presliced, calorie calculated commercial stuff. It is killing me ! I decided to pull out some of the Weight Watchers recipes I have for home made bread this week  and give hem a try. Yesterday's supper was planned to be cabbage , potato and ham soup with butternut oatmeal bread- very fall, very healthy and yummy sounding !. I was hoping with the soup to come up with something that would feed 4 instead of 4,000, and a specific recipe would help. No go- I think soup has magical properties to feed 5,000 with just a stone and a teardrop ! I worked on the bread, following the recipe exactly, and discovering that the humidity in the air was requiring more flour. A lot more flour ! 2 and a half cups more flour to be exact !. This changes the calorie count of the final servings substantially. It is also impossible to cut a sandwich bread type of a loaf into anything more than 16 slices without needing a laser or a skilled surgeon at the ready. I was kind of crushed ! How would I be able to make home made bread and stay withing the Weight Watchers program guidelines ??

Dinner time came , and the vultures ( also known as husband and son) saw the bread, and I realized not only is it impossible to slice a loaf into any more than 16 servings but there is no controlling these men with fresh baked bread. The soup they were being polite about, but fresh baked bread for dinner ? I could have easily asked for the Hope Diamond and have it paid for by a willing sacrifice of their limbs and they would agree. It was very, very good, and it made me think of a new policy for this house -

Fresh made high fiber bread will be accompanied by very low point soup and a whole 
loaf shall be planned for the meal.

I think that is going to be the answer. As to soup...not sure how to work that one yet !


spunkysuzi said...

Very true!!
I usually make bread every winter and i usually have split pea and ham or beef barely soup with it. Tonight is butternut squash soup :)

Baby Stepping said...

MMmmmmmmm, homemade bread. I'm waiting impatiently for our pizza oven to be done so I can bake some Italian Herb bread in it.


Anonymous said...

Omg, I love bread too. I'm a total bread nut...Last night when we went out to a restaurant, I limited myself to 1 1/2 pieces :) Also, this is a great time for soup. I've already made cream of asparagus and split pea soup this week. We're planning on split pea for dinner tonight!

Marisa (Loser for Life) said...

I am out of control with fresh baked bread, too!

Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

I'm still enjoying making bread every week. We all love it, but I use it for sandwich bread which cuts down on it for snacks. I just made minestrone soup a few days ago - yum!