How come French people consume baguettes and wine and remain enviably skinny? When did carbs become your enemy? And how come us Americans are the nation most obsessed with healthy food score so high in obesity rate?
Growing up in Texas Art had a unique relationship to bread. You see, bread in Texas is like steak in Germany – beloved but hard to find.
Moving to Europe made a lot of things clear: one of them was the fact Art never had REALLY good bread. So he went on correcting that mistake. After some time he says he has become a true expert in German Brötchen (dinner rolls) and baguettes, he can tell the quality of bread just by taking a quick peek at a bakery.
We believe Art, 99% of the time we catch him with a baguette or a slice of bread in his hand. Art says the meaning of bread in Europe was once more than mere food. Take, for instance, a typical rye loaf with a cross like pattern on top. It used to be an actual cross. The cross was about faith. Bread and wine were prescribed by the Church, Art says.
Far from religion, bread became a ritual of a different kind. Today, we choose food not based on the rules prescribed by the Church, but based on tradition and pleasure. Both of them work well in moderation. Occasional cheating does not count.
RYE BREAD RECIPE
THE HISTORIC KIND
- 500 gr rye flour (type 1370)
- 100 gr rye starter
- 350 ml lukewarm water
- 1 Tsp salt
- 1 package 7g of dry yeast (use fresh, 20g if available instead)
- 2 TBSP rutabaga syrup (widely available in Europe, in absence use any molasses on hand)
- 2 TBSP Sunflower oil
- Mix the dry ingredients except for yeast. It is best to use a kitchen processor with a bread hook for this.
- Add water to yeast, mix well. The mixture should give you light foam when mixed, the yeast kernels should dissolve completely. Gradually add to the dry ingredients.
- Add molasses and your starter. Mix well for about 10 minutes on low setting. Add oil. Carefully form a dough ball with hands, rubbed with four.
- Flour a bowl and transfer your dough to it. Cover with a kitchen towel (the dough should be able to “breathe” so no plastic wrapping here.
- Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Preheat your over to 200C
- Fill a fireproof bowl with water. Put it in the bottom of the oven.
- Flour an over rack. Carefully put your bread on it. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross in the middle. Now you travelled back in time. Bakers of the 18th century would be proud of you. And also incredibly jealous about your oven. Also, you don’t have to haul wood from the forest or water from the well or both….
- Bake your loaf for 45 – 50 mins. Remove from the oven, let it cool on the cooling rack.
- For best results use steel* baking stone.
- If you make your own cheese or butter – G-d bless you. Pour yourself some Rheinish white and forget about all your sorrows. For others, be (strong) inventive. Creme fraiche and some greens can work wonders here as well.
*Thank you, Kate @lyukum for this tip!