1 INTRODUCTION HEALTHY BREADS CAN BE MADE IN FIVE MINUTES A DAY, TOO!
We love food, and we love bread best of all. It was our bread obsession that brought us together for a cookbook in the first place. Our first book (Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking) created an unlikely team: a doctor and a pastry chef. But it turned out to be a great combination. One review of our book called us "the Chemist and the Alchemist," though on any given day we reverse roles at will. Our partnership worked because amateurs found the result extraordinarily easy, yet aficionados found it utterly delicious. In writing that book, we wanted to discard everything that was intimidating and make the pro cess fast enough to fit into people’s busy lives. Artisan Bread replaced the time- consuming traditional yeast bread method with something quicker, without compromising quality. This technique calls for mixing large batches of dough in advance, storing them in the refrigerator, and then tearing off dough for loaves as needed over two weeks. Quite a lot of people tried it, and our book became part of a home- baked bread revolution.
Along the way, we started our blog at www .artisanbreadinfive .com, so that we could be in touch with readers who had questions or comments. It became a place to share new information that we’d learned. It’s been great fun— people have even written poems to us about their bread. We’ve heard emotional stories about entire families making bread together: grandmas making pizza with their grandkids, and siblings baking long- distance (some even across oceans). Our blog space is a forum for feedback and requests, and the most common ones have been for breads with more whole grains, seeds, nuts, and even for gluten- free breads. The requests came from as far away as Europe, Asia, and Australia. It seems that the world is becoming a healthier place. People were asking for whole grain breads that they could bake themselves, but they still wanted the same five- minute method. So the idea for our second book came from our readers. Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day became our next logical step for making breads and even desserts part of a healthy diet.
We both eat some sugar, white flour, and butter. In other words, we’re not health-food fanatics. But that’s not to say we aren’t health- conscious. We both exercise, and ultimately we watch what we eat. We wrote our first book with the goal of getting people back into their kitchens to bake really great bread, with recipes mostly inspired by the Europe an tradition. That meant lots of white flour. We ate it in moderation while we tested the book, and believe it or not, despite the much- maligned reputation of carbohydrates, we didn’t gain weight. We were both pleasantly surprised. Bread and desserts can be part of a healthy lifestyle, so long as you eat them in moderation.
Whether you are looking for more whole grains, whether you’re vegan, gluten- free, watching your weight, trying to reduce your cholesterol, or just care about what goes into your body, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day has recipes for you. We all want to be healthy, and now we can do it without sacrificing flavor or precious time. It’s obvious why this would make sense for Jeff (the doctor). His background in health care and preventive medicine leads him to alternatives that are lower in calories, with healthier fats and higher fiber. Then, there’s his passion for bread baking, which led to the discovery we wrote about in our first book, making artisan breads quickly and easily. Not everyone needs to make their brioche without butter, but if doing so means that someone who can’t eat butter can enjoy fabulous brioche, then by all means let’s do it, and do it right.
That’s where Zoë (the pastry chef), comes into the picture. She grew up the daughter of hippies and cut her teeth on the ultra- healthy bread served at the Vermont commune where she was raised. In her twenties Zoë was a vegetarian; she didn’t eat refined sugar and headed off to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to follow her passion, pastry. Her goal: bake without refined sugar, but create ethereal pastries that didn’t weigh a ton and taste like sweetened tree bark. But while studying at the CIA, Zoë was tempted by the miracles of sugar, bleached flour, heavenly butter, and all of the other ingredients she had once shunned. She was being seduced away from the whole grains, fruit sweeteners, and carob that had been the staples of her counterculture childhood. Years later, Zoë would figure out a way to have it all: great-tasting but healthy pastries, desserts, and of course, breads.
So we both were drawn to write a new book that combines superfast bread with healthy ingredients. Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day is about taking the speedy methods of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and adapting them for breads made with less white flour (sometimes none), lower refined sugars, and healthier ingredients. We’re not going to claim that eating these breads is the key to a longer life. But we can show bread eaters who want to use more nutritious ingredients how to get results as delicious and fast as those they achieved with our first book. So Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day will not be 250 pages of preaching and scolding about health and diet; neither of us has the patience for that.
We’ll use the same wet, stored- dough method and we won’t make anyone knead. But as you’ll see, we’re switching to healthier alternatives: whole grains, canola and olive oils, nuts, seeds, natural sweeteners, and in some cases, gluten- free ingredients. Where white flour (or butter) is required, we’ve tried to decrease the total amount that goes into the recipe. And we kept active daily preparation time to five minutes for the basic recipes. We assume that this newfound interest in health hasn’t been accompanied by a newfound wealth of free time! A doctor and a pastry chef turn out to be a great match to create recipes that are not only good for you but that also taste fantastic. So now healthy eaters can have their bread (or pastry) and eat it, too!
As you read through the book, please visit our Web site ( www .healthybreadinfive .com), where you’ll find instructional text, photographs, videos, and a community of other five- minute-a-day bakers. Another easy way to keep in touch is to follow us on the social networking site "Twitter," at http://twitter.com/ArtisanBreadIn5.
Happy baking, and enjoy all the bread!
Why Eat Healthy Bread: A Wee Bit of Science
Being alive takes energy, and that energy comes from burning carbohydrate fuels with oxygen in our bodies (that’s called oxidation). Even though oxidation is perfectly natural and healthy, it releases some nasty chemicals. So does exposure to sunlight, chemicals, pollutants, and radiation. All that oxidation and energy can create what biochemists call "superoxide radicals," which we’ve heard of as "free radicals," high- energy chemicals that can do damage to our cells. Free- radical damage has a role in a host of chronic diseases, including cancer, hardening of the arteries, heart disease, stroke, and arthritis. The good news: Our bodies get help in getting rid of free radicals from phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemicals) and vitamins in our food, both natural substances with powerful health benefits. They act as potent antioxidants, chemicals that absorb damaging energy from free radicals. Phytochemicals with antioxidant activity tend to be richly colored: green, yellow, blue, and red. Some of the most colorful fruits and vegetables have the largest stores of phytochemicals. As you work through chapter 7, Breads with Hidden Fruits and Vegetables, you’ll feast your eyes on a stunning and colorful palette of breads. Substances like phytochemicals are the reason that the U.S. government recommends that you eat nine or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. These breads will help you do it.
Vitamins are essential helpers for the body’s normal chemical functions (metabolism), allowing the chemical reactions we depend upon to take place. Lack of vitamins cause some of the world’s most devastating but curable deficiency diseases, which have pretty much disappeared in the industrialized world. But deficiency diseases are the tip of the iceberg— many vitamins don’t just act as metabolic catalysts, they’re also antioxidants. This is especially clear for vitamin E. There is strong evidence that normal levels of vitamin E prevent heart, blood, muscle, and eye problems. Vitamin E is found in wheat germ (from whole grain wheat), vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts. Vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant, works in concert with vitamin E. Throughout the book, we’ll jump in with sidebars about the vitamins— vitamin A, the eight B vitamins (see Appendix, page 307), plus vitamins C, D, E, and K (please do not ask us why there is no vitamin F, G, H, or I!). Most nutritionists agree that vitamin requirements are best met through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, rather than by taking vitamin supplements. That’s not to say supplements aren’t ever helpful; they certainly can be when daily requirements aren’t being met through food intake. But the vitamins that occur naturally in food are better because they’re more easily absorbed through digestion than supplements are, probably resulting in higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants in our bloodstream and tissues. This book will help you put more of those natural vitamins and antioxidants into your family’s diet.
EAT YOUR CRUSTS! There’s evidence that the browning pro cess that occurs when you bake bread creates additional antioxidants. So bread crust is healthy in addition to being delicious.
There are a lot of wild nutrition claims out there, and we’ve steered clear of them in this book— we do not believe that there is a magic bullet to promote health or cure disease with particular food sources or supplements. But there are some scientifically based statements that will probably stand the test of time:
1. Whole grain flour is better for you than white flour. Because whole grains include the germ and the bran, in addition to the starch- rich but fiber- and vitamin- poor en dosperm (see chapter 2, Ingredients, page 7), whole grain flours bring a boatload of healthy substances into your diet, including phytochemicals (beneficial plant chemi cals), vitamins, and fiber. Those are pretty much absent from white flour. Iron, niacin, folic acid, riboflavin, and thiamine are added back in enriched commercial white flour, but no other nutrients— so whole wheat delivers more complete nutrition than white flour even when it’s been enriched. But there’s more— because bran and germ in whole grains dilute the effect of pure starch in the endosperm, the absorption and conversion of starches into simple sugars is slowed, so blood glucose (the simplest sugar) rises more slowly after consumption of whole grains than it does after eating refined white flour products. Complex, high- bran carbohydrates are said to have a lower "glycemic index," a measure of how fast your blood sugar rises after eating a particular food. The evidence for better handling of blood sugar convinced the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make two recommendations in their current guidelines:
• Consume a high- fiber diet, with at least 14 grams of dietary fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. For most people, that’s going to mean 28 to 40 grams a day (depending on body size at normal weight).
• Make sure that at least half of your grain intake iswhole grain. The recipes in this book will help you meet that goal.
2. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils are better for you than saturated fats (like butter and hydrogenated oil). See our ingredients list for a more complete discussion (page 18). Switching to these oils or other heart-healthy fat sources can benefit those with high blood cholesterol.
3. Low- salt breads will benefit people with hypertension, heart failure, and kidney failure. This applies to all our breads— they all can be made salt-free, though the flavor will of course be different.
4. Nuts and seeds contain heart-healthy oils. Though they’re concentrated calorie sources, nuts and seeds are rich in vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy fats (monoun-saturated and omega- 3 polyunsaturated fats).
5. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources for phytochemicals and vitamins. We have a whole chapter of breads enriched by fruits or vegetables, which are fiber- rich and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. We’ll discuss the unique benefits of the particular fruit or vegetable in sidebars next to the recipes.
And finally, a word of advice: Please don’t obsess about food. This is supposed to be fun. If you can put some healthy ingredients into your bread and you like the flavor, do it. Otherwise, eat something else.*
Making Your Own Great Bread Saves You Money
When the economy goes into a tizzy (and even when it doesn’t) you have to wonder why anyone is willing to pay $6.00 for a loaf of bread in specialty bakeries. If you buy your bread in a supermarket, you’ll still pay $3.00 a loaf. Making your own bread, on the other hand, is very, very economical. Even when whole wheat flour is 70 cents a pound (right at this moment in some of the stores near us), an entire batch of whole wheat bread uses a little more than two pounds of flour, costing about $1.40. It’s a few pennies more for yeast and salt, and you get four 1- pound loaves that cost about 40 cents each.
An added benefit: The world’s most heavenly source of home heating this winter will be your oven, cranking out the aroma of freshly baked bread.
*But we really, really like bread.
Excerpted from Healthy bread in five minutes a day by Jeff Hertzberg, Zoë François.
Copyright © 2009 by Zoë François.
Published in November 2009 by St. Martin’s Press.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.