Our oven broke a few weeks ago, rendering me clueless as to how I was supposed to make bread and cookies for my family. I have been making my own homemade bread lately because it’s cheaper and pretty easy to do if you have a dough hook or a bread machine, so when I had to step back into the bread aisle at the grocery store, I was at a loss. Since I have been making bread, I have learned quite a bit about the superfluous ingredients in grocery store bread.
I grew up on Wonder Bread, when my parents and most other people didn’t know anything different. But now there is information, and we can educate ourselves about what is going into our bodies and those of our families. So, I digress.
A Little Education Goes a Long Way
Standing in the bread aisle, I looked at the ingredients and thought, “Bromated? High Fructose Corn Syrup? Azodicarbonamide, Mono & Di-glycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (SSL), and Diacetyl Esters of Tartaric Acid (DATEM), and Lecithin? Yikes!” I turned to look at my kids and wanted to run out of the store screaming, hands waving in the air. But then the kids would still be sitting in that tractor-trailer-type shopping cart with the bench seat that makes people in the grocery store go running. Seriously, I have caused some major destruction trying to use those carts. Many a cereal box has been knocked to the ground and sharp corners in the congested produce area – forget it! All I can say is make sure those limbs and heads are inside the cart!
So what are your options when you need to buy bread? Obviously not everyone has the time to make their own bread. I hardly have the time but have found a really great and easy recipe that allows me to do so. You can thank me later when your family devours the first batch in one day. My kids had three pieces for lunch the first time!
I was able to find an organic bread on sale that day in the grocery store. Barowsky’s bread has minimal ingredients and is located in New England. Most of the time, however, organic bread is more than $5 for one small loaf! And it doesn’t even last very long. But the reason why cheaper bread lasts so long is because there are such gross ingredients in them. Put on your seatbelt and hold on – the list below may cause you to become dizzy and lose your balance.
Common Chemicals in Commercial Bread
- Bromate (or Potassium Bromate) is a flour “improver” that strengthens dough and allows for greater oven spring and higher rising in the oven. if too much is used, or the bread is not baked long enough or at a high enough temperature, then a residual amount will remain, which is known to cause cancer.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup is a man-made sweetener that doesn’t break down in the body the same way regular sugar does. Often it settles on our waistlines and causes cravings for more, which creates weight gain. It’s a vicious cycle.
- Azodicarbonamide is a bleaching agent. Besides making the bread whiter by reacting with cartonene in the flour, it is an orange, odorless, powder. Ew.
- Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides (DATEM) is another dough conditioner used to improve volume and uniformity. It is considered safe by the FDA, but a study in 2002, on rats, it showed “heart muscle fibrosis and adrenal overgrowth”.
- Mono & Di-glycerides are partially hydrogenated oils. If you haven’t heard of this I dare say you’ve been living under a rock.
- Lecithin is obtained from soy, which means genetically modified plants. Ugh.
If you can’t find bread with ingredients you can pronounce, try this recipe below. It’s so easy. I use a disco-era Tupperware Hamburger Press which makes it super easy to press similar-sized rounds. My KitchenAid Mixer needs to be fixed (sad face) so I have been using my Oster Breadmaker for kneading dough which works just as well.
Homemade Bread Buns Recipe
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp yeast
3 cups whole wheat flour (or 1/2 wheat and 1/2 white)
1/2 cup wheat bran (wheat germ is not the same thing – they won’t hold together the same way)
1 tsp salt
2 teaspoons canola oil (I used coconut oil for added health benefits)
Bread Machine Directions
For a bread machine, you can just layer the ingredients from wet to dry, then yeast on top and mix.
KitchenAid© Mixer Directions
If using a KitchenAid© Mixer with a dough hook, you can follow these directions:
- Add yeast to warm water and let sit for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the dry ingredients in a the bowl.
- Add the yeast and water mixture, oil and egg to the bowl of the stand mixer. Using the dough hook, turn the mixer on low and mix.
- Cover and let rest 1 hour.
- Your dough may be way too sticky. Add a little bit of whole wheat flour at a time up to one additional cup until you get a consistency that is able to be handled.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or grease with oil.
- Divide dough into 12-16 equal portions. I like to do 12 so the rounds are a bit bigger and puffier.
- Roll each portion of dough in your hands to form a ball, and then flatten it between your palms (or use a hamburger press like I did, just make sure it good and greased).
- Add some cornmeal or flour to the baking sheet so the buns don’t stick.
- Place it on the baking sheet and press down, working the dough into a thin 5-inch round. (If you don’t have a hamburger press, you can use the cover of an old container to measure the dough into a 5″ circle.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Allow the buns to rest for 30 minutes on the baking sheets so they can double in bulk.
- After resting, bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
These buns are great for sandwiches, breakfast bread, stews and more!
When was the last time your family made bread at home?
How do you get your children involved in the kitchen?