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Friday Bread Basket 2/10/23
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain. Thanks kindly to everyone who chimed in on my request for Breaducation ideas and recipe testers so far. I’m excited by your enthusiasm, and am looking forward to coming through your thoughts and responding here soon. And thanks also for all your get-well-wishes, too. I am finally starting to feel—if not actually well—at least like wellness is on the horizon.
Whatever you do, don’t Google ‘naked barley’
Goya Magazine published a story last month about “naked” barley, a naturally hull-less form of barley, a grain that is native to Kargil, a remote desert region along the border between India and Pakistan:
Like many desert environments, Kargil is a land of extremes. Temperatures range from a low of -50°C in the winter to a high of 38.4°C in the summer. It has a short growing season of 5 months and average annual rainfall of 337 mm. Out of a total area of roughly 14000 sq. km, only 117 sq. km is cultivated. Despite this, it has been self-sufficient for most of its history.
Nature is bountiful in ways that are not always evident to human sensibilities. It is true that Kargil’s harsh environment limits the local diet to a few key sources of nutrition, primarily nes or naked barley (scientific name: Hordeum vulgare). Lack of quantity does not mean a lack of quality, however.
Naked barley is a supercharged form of barley. The hull falls off during harvest—hence the term ‘naked’. In other forms of covered barley, the hull is removed in a process called pearling, which takes away much of the nutrient-rich bran. By contrast, naked barley is a whole grain….
In Kargili folk wisdom, consumption of naked barley promotes adaptability to the harsh extremes of a cold desert. In the summer, after the hard labor of planting and harvest, a paste made from barley is applied to the lips to cool down the body more effectively than a drink of water (not so easy to come by in a desert). And in the winter, barley tea is drunk in copious amounts to ward off the bitter cold. Naked barley has anti-inflammatory and cooling properties that are useful in the hot dry summers and immunity-boosting properties that help in winter.
The “pearled” barley we normally consume has had its hull and most of its bran removed mechanically, while naked barley retains the bran intact, making it a “whole” grain. Researchers at OSU have been doing breeding experiments to create varieties of this healthy grain that are optimized to grown in less harsh climates, one of which has been dubbed “Buck” (har har).
Bassinage Pro Shops
Eater just shared a video profile of Una Pizza Napoletana’s Anthony Mangieri and the pizza-dough-making technique he borrowed from French bread bakers, bassinage:
Mangieri says he spent his youth reading books all about baking, including French and Italian styles of bread baking, implementing what he learned into the techniques that he uses at his restaurant. “I’m constantly changing my techniques — the idea is set on where I am trying to go, but the recipe is changing,” Mangieri says. “The flour percentage mixtures [changes]; I mix a lot of different flours every day.”
One of his dough-making secrets that has stayed consistent is adding more water to the mix toward the end of the process, which keeps the dough hydrated.
“If you add this at the beginning of the dough it doesn’t come out the same way; the secret is to add more water in like the last five minutes of the mix,” says Mangieri. “For many years, no pizza makers were doing this, this is rooted in ancient French bread baking techniques.”
French Toast Chocolate Bar. Rum and cinnamon ganache soaked toasted brioche and salted maple sugar caramel. Using bread as an inclusion is unusual but I highly recommend it - I soak the toasted brioche through completely by pouring the loose ganache over the toasted slices of brioche and then pulling a vacuum to soak it through. I first came up with this idea over a decade ago and used it as a flavor in one of the individual bonbons in the sampler box we sold at Hudson Chocolates. But this mold shape made me want to revisit it and tie in the shape with a corresponding flavor.
The New York Times reports that, as food prices continue to soar, (paywall alert, sorry) more and more people are turning to bread machines to make bread at home:
A year ago, Mekayla Garcia, a stay-at-home mother in San Angelo, Texas, bought a 1999 Breadman bread-making machine at Goodwill for $7, nearly the same price she pays for her weekly loaf of organic bread. She cleaned the machine, searched for the recipe guide online and made white bread that same night.
“I swear by it,” said Mrs. Garcia, 24, who uses the machine to make bread dough, which she then bakes in her oven. She bought the bread maker so she could save money as food prices rise. “The bread is just perfect. And who doesn’t love homemade bread?”
The bread maker — an appliance that mixes, kneads, proofs and bakes bread a loaf at a time — found new fans during the early days of the pandemic, as shoppers worried about food shortages and home bread-baking became a sign of the times. But recent inflation has given the machine another boost. Social mediainfluencers, especially on TikTok, have contributed to the resurgence.
I bristle a little at this trend, but then I remember that most of these bread machiners probably never made bread from scratch before and some of them will inevitably discover that they can achieve even better results without the devices.
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy weekend.