What is “Real Bread?” According to the The Real Bread Campaign, co-founded in 2008 by Andrew Whitley and the charity, Sustain, it is bread that is made without artificial additives or processing agents. At the very basic definition, bread contains just flour and water, and a little salt for flavor and sometimes sugar. The Real Bread Campaign is a community effort to support local bakers and the art of breadmaking, and the effort has spread to over 20 countries.
Homemade Bread at Home
Baking bread at home for me is both cathartic and energizing – it gives me an outlet during a busy day and both relaxes and energizes me. From the first addition of yeast to the water and watching it foam, to kneading it and dividing it into loaves. I have to admit that having a convection bread maker has made the process so much easier and at times I don’t even think about the process; I just love the feeling when I grace my dinner table and make my kids’ sandwiches with unprocessed bread. I’m a busy mom and run from practice to practice, and having a machine knead it for me is wonderful.
Making bread now is quick and easy even though the process still takes more than 3 hours to complete. And every single loaf made this way from my very basic bread recip tastes just the same as the previous.
What is Slow Bread?
Enter in slow bread. Slow bread is more than just spending time kneading and causes you to actually think about the fermentation process. It uses less yeast and needs a much longer fermentation time. It is in this fermentation process that the flavors of the bread come through. Not only does the crumb of the bread improve along with the digestibility of it, but the actual flavor improves as well.
Chris Young writes in the introduction:
Increasingly, however, Real Bread Bakers are reminding people that long and slow tends to be far more satisfying than a quick finish. Far from farinaceous folly, a long-proved dough has more time to develop flavour, tends to produce a less crumbly loaf, and in the case of genuine sourdough, might even offer health benefits.
Slow Dough: Real Bread and the Recipes
This is The Real Bread Campaign’s first cookbook, and the 90 recipes it contains are wonderful. The recipes were contributed by bakers in the industry, and all have been tested. Their names and a brief bio are alongside each recipe.
You’ll find everything from a very basic white loaf using ‘old dough’ to boost flavor to a gorgeous beetroot sourdough. The cookbook begins with a great overview of the slow bread movement and what the bread really is all about. Terms, techniques, ingredients, and equipment are defined, and really great info is presented on the kneading process with Q&A (How do I knead? For how long? How do I know when the dough is properly developed?).
The bread recipe chapters are divided by how the bread has been leavened: pre-ferment, long ferment, and sourdough. The last chapter incorporates the bread leftovers into new menu items.
This is a perfect companion for home bakers and those who bake for a living. It is refreshing that this is more than simply a collection of slow bread recipes but a full guide on why and how slow bread is good to bake.
According to realbreadcampaign.org, all author royalties of this book go to support their campaign.
Pulla is a Finnish cardamom-spiced coffee bread. This version is a long ferment dough made into buns.
- 15 green cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon fresh yeast
- 3 1/2 tablespoons softened butter
- 3 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
- Crush the cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle, discard the husks and grind the seeds.
- Rub the yeast and butter into the flour, then add the milk, egg, sugar, salt, and cardamom and mix thoroughly. Cover the dough and leave to rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight.
- Grease a large baking sheet with butter. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieced, shape each into a ball, and place on the baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Cover and leave to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the top of each pulla with beaten egg and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
This recipe was adapted from Slow Dough Real Bread: Bakers' Secrets for Making Amazing Long-rise Loaves at Home by Chris Young and the Bakers of the Real Bread Campaign, Nourish Books, 2016.
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.