Ring in the new year by baking bread at home

by Josh Sosland
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Probably anyone with at least a few years in grain-based foods has been advised at some point of an industry rule that when eating, one is never to pass the bread basket without taking a slice or a roll. “If you don’t eat it, break it up,” is the injunction aimed at always trying to boost per capita flour/bread consumption.

For a different sort of new year’s resolution, consider the following novel idea – baking bread at home. Not to replace but to supplement sliced bread. And not with a 1990s bread machine but by hand.

Newer bread cookbooks such as “Tartine Baking” offer detailed instruction making it possible for those of us whose handiwork skills do not extend beyond a computer keyboard to bake magnificent loaves of bread. Truly amazing loaves. More than just fun and fulfilling, baking bread turns into reality something that is at the heart of the grain-based foods industry but is an activity done by virtually no reader of this column.

Here’s something else you may not know. If you make bread with a starter (with apologies to our yeast suppliers), you will use flour each and every day even when you do not bake (which will be most days). For those unfamiliar, a bread starter is simply flour and water, with 80% of the mixture discarded at least once a day and replaced by a quarter cup of flour and more water. If 115 million U.S. households were to take this up and occasionally bake a loaf, 10.5 billion additional cups of flour would be consumed annually in the United States to feed the starter alone. That would equate to 29 million cwts per years, raising per capita consumption by 9.5 lbs.

Just as importantly, baking bread helps dispel nonsensical ideas suggesting bread is anything but wonderfully wholesome. Something to consider…

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