Flour is the topic of today’s blog, yet I would like to list the ingredients of bread crumbs I recently bought without looking at the ingredient list. I guess sometimes I am just plain stupid to trust the wording PLAIN BREAD CRUMBS on the label. Here it comes:
Ingredients: Enriched flour( flour, malted barley, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate ( vitamin b1), Riboflavin( vitamin b2), folic acid, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oil, water, salt, contains 2 percent or less of yeast, molasses, honey, sugar, wheat gluten, whey, soy flour, whole wheat and rye and corn and rice and potato flour, butter, dough conditioners( mono and diglycerides, sodium and/or calcium stearoyl lactylate, soy lecithin, calcium carbonate), yeast nutrients( ammonium sulfate, calcium sulfate, mono calcium phosphate, distilled vinegar, skim milk, buttermilk lactic acid, calcium propionate( preservative), sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and eggs( contains wheat, soy, milk, eggs, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds)
If I am not wrong it came down to only 45 ingredients for PLAIN bread crumbs.
This lead me to the question what is all that and what does it to me? And while I am completely and utterly uninformed about the beauty and purpose of the half dozen other flours in my wheat bread crumbs there were a fact or two surfacing after a little research.
Talking about VITAMINS first: niacin a.k.a. nicotinic acid equals vitamin b3, riboflavin is vitamin b2, folic acid stands for b9 and thiamin goes under the name of vitamin b1. Those vitamins were added mainly after a study in the 1940 revealed a high disease rate was caused by mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Folic acid was added to the list of required vitamins in the late 90’s. Times have changed, just now many people are overfed and undernourished due to low intake of vegetables and absence of untreated foods in the TV dinner aisle.
EMULSIFIERS, such as stearoyl lactylate and mono or diglycerides are increasing water absorption and gluten strength, to me it’s like watering down a good beer with waste water.
SALTS AND ACIDS, such as calcium carbonate and mono calcium phosphate, adjust water hardness to optimize gluten development.
MATURING AGENTS, like potassium bromate, which is banned in some countries due to health concerns, is used to increase gluten strength. Substitutes nowadays include ascorbic acid or vitamin c, potassium iodate and azodicarbonamide(ada).
YEAST FOODS, like ammonium salts, improve fermentation of the dough.
BLEACHING AGENTS, like benzoyl peroxide and chlorine gas, whiten the flour. It is supposed to be destroyed completely by baking the loafs, though some studies report damaging consequences for certain consumers.
Those additives are geared to maximize the result, large scale operations use them to work vast amounts of dough, allowing some rough handling in automated equipment and maximize profit. For the consumer who not necessarily enjoys eating those additives this means a search for either the right flour or the right bread loaf.
To make a nice loaf of bread I prefer an all purpose flour, unbleached, unbromated. Some whole grain flour, up to 70 percent, any amount of seeds, soaked overnight, some bread spices and water. The longer it proofs, up to a day in the right environment, the better it gets.
Finally a word about all the different flours available here:
Pastry and cake flour usually carry less gluten, six to eight percent, to allow a crumbly, light texture. High gluten flour in return make a very elastic bread, able to retain more moisture. Whole wheat flour, also called Graham flour, contains all three parts of the kernel, bran, germ and endosperm. It is available in different granulations and though it has a protein content of 11-14 percent, it does not form as much gluten because of the bran particles cutting through the strands of the gluten.
A new addition to the market, at least for me, is white winter wheat. Whole white wheat flour has a sweet, mild taste and is golden in color. Made from whole grain, it is just as high in fiber as regular whole wheat. Summarizing my experiences with flour I would use caution as to where I buy my food and prefer to cook and bake myself. Apart from the social inflictions with friends and family there is a considerable health effect to profit from.