Not everyone is lucky enough to find good bread easily, but with a bit of patience and perseverance, you could be making great bread at home. To inaugurate our upcoming bread master class, chef Eric talks a bit about the history of bread making and the good, the bad, and the ugly in the breads we eat almost daily.
I had the chance to take a 4-day long bread master class last year and the experience was mind opening. While there are many bread master classes throughout France, I choose to take that class in a small village name Cucugnan and the baker Rolland Feuillas. Rolland was a scientist in a past life. After a bit of a burnout he decided, with his lovely wife, to change his life. After an epic search, he found a windmill in a very small village, on top of a mountain (because it is windy there).
After he did the renovation of the windmill and started producing bread for the village, he concluded that his bread was not good enough. And a new long and epic search began again. Making good bread is not only about having the right techniques; it is bout having good flour. Good flour is the key. Good flour is today more than rare. Why? Because the wheat we are growing today used to make flour, even for professional bakers, has been transformed so much from the original wheat that it has lost flavor and nutritious quality. The reason is money. Growing the ancestral grains takes time, the quantities are less interesting, and there is more waste…
Let’s be truthful, big Lobbying from the likes of BAYER and MONSANTO are not helping! They have the monopoly on all the seeds that are used to make flour for commercial purposes and the only other users of these seeds are allowed solely to use them for experimental purposes. The interest of this commercial wheat is that it is so easy to grow, it has the same height, the taste is the same every year, it is easy to store, it does not need too much water, and it resists the cold and the sun. But we also destroy the soil with herbicides in winter and pesticides and fertilizers in summer, so what is this better? We have created wheat with no life… no flavor, no interesting nutritional qualities, contains a weakened gluten content, that we need to over oxidize the dough to make bread. The result is bread that makes you sick… No, I’m not going to make any friends in the pro-Bayer/Monsanto family, but it’s the truth.
Lots of people in France are taking risks and are now growing ancestral wheat – organically. This is the path Rolland has decided to follow. We name this “Paysan Boulanger” He went to Egypt to get some seeds from the original wheat, he went to other countries like Israel and Turkey and has started to reconstitute a wheat seed bank… and now he grows wheat to make his own bread. And the result is just out of this world. Eating his bread is like eating bread for the first time.
I wanted to tell you that story because I believe this too. To make good bread, healthy bread, you need good flour. These ancestral flours have so much to offer to us, bread is the base of the food supply of most people in the world. It has to be good – good taste and good for you.
Next time I will tell you the story of bread from the prehistoric time to the French baguette, but in the meantime find out more about our 3-day bread master class in Uzès, here.
But today you should go forth and make bread and I’ve got a recipe for you. Start taking care of yourself and make your own bread.