For now I’m asking you, not telling you – why is bread bad for me? If you ask Google it’ll give you 169, 000, 000 reasons in just 0.35 seconds.
To summarise it’s generally thought:
- Bread is bad – especially if made out of wheat
- Gluten is the devil
- It’ll make you fat
- It’s low in essential nutrients
- Bread is full of sugar
When I first started out on my Paleo pilgrimage I avoided the stuff like the plague. And if I dared to so brazenly let my hand dip into the bread basket at a restaurant I felt I should spend the next week in a confession booth.
The best bit about my nutritional therapy studies means I’ve started to question so many of my own foodie choices to help others shape their own. I’m increasingly subscribing to The School of Sensible (and delicious!) and am forever determined to get first hand insights from the experts. And that’s where my visit to The One Mile Bakery comes in.
The bakery is run by Elisabeth Mahoney, a journalist, home cook and baker inspired by the way her mother cooked: daily and seasonally in her tiny kitchen with an emphasis on simple, nurturing and nourishing food. The One Mile Bakery delivers handmade bread, soups and preserves within a one-mile radius of its kitchen in Cardiff. Treats are delivered by bike. I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear I was a little bit in love with Elisabeth after an evening in her company at The Introduction to Baking Bread.
The class is taught from Elisabeth’s beautiful Llandaff home and the warm welcome further extended by Elisabeth’s apprentice, Amy. There’s tea on tap and nothing but glee filling a mesmerising kitchen (so many gorgeous receptacles and bags and bags of flour!).
The class kicks off with informed and educated discussion around why the humble bun is getting such a bad rap. In short, the bread so commonly consumed nowadays is risen far too quickly, it’s injected with a ton of unpronounceable additives that give it this barbaric cotton wool like consistency and let’s not get started on the significant salt and sugar additions. And therein lies so many of the problems associated with bloating, discomfort and the apparent declaration that bread is lacking in any nutritional benefits. But what about the proper stuff?
Proper ingredients for proper bread:
Yeast: fresh, dried and instant are all fine if they’re allowed to do their rising job as intended
Water: lukewarm so it doesn’t kill off the yeast
Flour: stoneground is by far and above your best and most superior bet – more of the original grain than milled flour means its easier to digest and full of nutrients
Salt: don’t sweat it. There’s probably more in that carton of soup you ate for lunch…
And that’s really it.
After the scene was set we got straight to work. Elisabeth and Amy sure make you earn the light supper (they lie about that – it’s a veritable feast!) that’s provided half way through the evening.
But whilst a hard graft, stretching and kneading is so wonderfully therapeutic. And the sensory pleasure of dough all over my hands transported me back to childhood times of Play Dough and papier mache gone by.
This particular course teaches three loaves: a white farmhouse tin, a pain de campagne and the choice of wholemeal or seeded spelt. There’s the bonus towards the end of the evening of a six stranded plait challenge and a demo of Elisabeth’s Mum’s famous oat soda bread (please admire my wares at the top of the post).
I genuinely had one of the best nights out in a long time. I was part of a group of strangers that gelled so brilliantly all with wonderful stories to tell – including a surgeon researching treatments to save more victims of pancreatic cancer. What are the chances, eh?
Elisabeth is both an inspiring and incredible teacher. And that’s perhaps what I liked best about this course. I really will make the loaves again, starting with the far more straightforward soda bread.
There’s something so truly beautiful about bread I’d never really appreciated before. The kneading, the proving, the rising. But the sharing? The sharing just made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. I got my husband out of bed to share a mouthful of the soda bread that simply wouldn’t keep as well until the morning (how very Nigella of me, I know…), I took my pain de campagne to the office where, for the first time in forever, we all sat at our desks with a cuppa and a piece of hot, buttery toast. We really must do more of that.
You really must head to The One Mile Bakery.
Where do you stand on bread and grains? Is it something you avoid or embrace?
**DISCLAIMER: believe it or not, I wasn’t paid to write what may seem like a total gush-fest, I genuinely enjoyed it that much. Elisabeth did however kindly give me a spot for free following my request to review the course for this blog.**