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Old 28-11-2014, 17:41   #1
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Breads of Different Countries

How interesting it seems to me, that with all the globalization going on, and convergence of everything, including cooking, that profound differences in breads continues so much unabated. I bet some of the culinarily inclined among us might shed some light on the reasons for this.

I've just had a midnight snack, on board, of crumpets and Golden Shred marmelade, and I can't quite get my mind around how the same people who produce the most ghastly bread in the world -- tied for worst with the bread of my own people, the Yankee nation -- soft and tasteless, no texture, no flavor, irrespective of whether white or brown -- could produce something as divine as the Crumpet.

This bread -- which I never quite realized was a real thing -- it always seemed like a joke, invented for the phrase "tea and crumpets" -- is like a small, thick pancake, made with lots of soda. I eat them on board with cream cheese and ham, with sour cream and caviar (when generous guests bring that), or simply with butter and marmelade, like tonight.

Why the English people, with access to such a delicious thing, would eat their own sawdust-like normal bread at all, is beyond my comprehension. My own people probably preserved, fiercely, their own traditions of hot, home-made bread on the table, because of the same problem. We had "Wonder Bread", of course, and Peppridge Farms Wheat Berry so-called Whole Wheat bread (hardly different from Wonder Bread in texture), but we consumed far more biscuits and cornbread, both, like Crumpets, heavily leavened, and full of texture and flavor (the guilty secret of delicious biscuits being -- lard). The only difference being that you had to make your own biscuits and cornbread, whereas Crumpets can be bought for 65p a package, at Sainsburys, or anywhere else in the UK.

Why cannot the English-speaking peoples produce edible bread? I am really puzzled by this. We are so ingenious at everything else. The first thing we do when tying up at Cherbourg is to rush off to the nearest boulangerie -- to buy the production there, which is made as if of an entirely different substance -- what, can't we buy the same flour over here? I don't understand. Is it the gluten content? Hard wheat? What's the difference, and why don't we have it? Even the stolid Germans have delicious bread -- adding different grains to the good, hard, flavorful wheat the French use. And the Russians make fabulous bread -- "black bread", dirt cheap, made from rye like many German breads, but with a different and incredibly pleasing flavor.

It must be the wheat. I remember the case when the U.S. and Canadians sold the Soviet Union a huge quantity of wheat at a knock-down price to help ease their latest production crisis -- must have been in the early '80s. I remember being shocked to read that the Soviets considered the delivered wheat to be inedible, and fed it to their cattle! What ingrates, I thought. But now I know better!!
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Old 28-11-2014, 18:33   #2
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

Most generic variety US bread is inedible. One has to get an artisan loaf and at quite premium to be in the vicinity of a decent bread. Not always great but much better than your run of the mill supermarket cotton like stuff that passes for "bread" here.

And the biggest culprit is the sh*tty flour used, the flavor of which is bleached out for the sake of conformity to some weird standard. Somebody's idea of a big joke I guess. These days even in the former USSR the bread I hear is now also so-so. Specifically due to the US and Canada flour they've been using lately.

And England has never been known for the quality of its breads. May be that's why. I mean - soda bread as a pinnacle of breadmaking? Really?
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Old 28-11-2014, 18:50   #3
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

When we first went to Mexico, I was surprised at the lack of gluten in the flour, although it surely makes nice flour tortillas. I imported gluten to add to the flour so that my yeast would help the bread rise, as I prefer yeast breads to chemically leavened breads.

Basically, the quality of your bread depends on the recipes used and the quality of the ingredients. Naturally, the makers of "Wonder Bread" are out to make a profit, and make "whipped air" for the masses. I very much doubt it would be profitable to make good bread cheaply as they do.

Bread takes time. Even the overnight bread requires two risings before baking, some recipes require 3 risings, and most people's lives do not lend themselves to getting up early enough to bake each day's bread. [It is the slowness plus the number of risings, plus the types of flours used that all combine to create the texture of the finished loaf.]

If you experiment with different recipes, you can soon learn to turn out bread that will both be nutritious and delicious.

Good luck with it.

Ann
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Old 28-11-2014, 19:00   #4
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

G'Day Dockhead and all,

As a fellow bread lover, and nominally a Yank, I'd agree that much of the store bought bread in the States is horrible. But, having lived in the SF area for many years prior to cruising, I can attest that any supermarket in the SF area will have a selection of wonderful sourdough loaves to choose between. This was already true before we sailed away in 1986, and is even better nowadays. You don't have to seek out some hidden boulangerie to get the good stuff, although that is always fun and sometimes rewarding.

So, there are outposts of decent baked goods even in the States! And if you really want to set the bottom of the curve, forget Wonder (f it is) Bread. Go to Mexico and have some Pan Bimbo. You'll never criticize WB again!

Cheers,

Jim

PS: The other approach is to bake it yourself (or, in my case, have Ann do it). Amazing what she can produce in a small, poorly regulated oven!
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Old 28-11-2014, 19:12   #5
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

That's a problem I don't have. Here in Miami I can get bread imported from Uruguay.
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Old 28-11-2014, 23:14   #6
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

I love bread. By far the best bread I've had was in Turkey, where you buy large flat loaves, still warm, that just cry out to be torn into pieces and stuffed straight into your mouth. I miss Turkish bread.

Here in Malaysia, good bread is hard to find as they don't typically eat bread here and most of the bread is overloaded with sugar. I make my own bread and usually put oats and/or bran into it to make it more interesting.

I sometimes make crumpets, however the recipe I use comes from Deliah Smith and uses yeast as opposed to soda. This is it!

10fld oz milk (275ml), 2fld oz water (55ml), 1tsp caster sugar, 1tbs dried yeast, 1tsp salt, butter for greasing.

You need a thick based frying pan and some egg cooking rings.

First of all heat the milk and water together in a small saucepan till had hot. Then pour into a jug, stir in the sugar and dried yeast and leave in a warm place for 10/15mins till there is a good frothy head on it.

Meanwhile sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and, when yeast mix is frothy, pour it all in. Use a wooden spoon to work the flour into the liquid gradually, and beat well at the end to make a perfectly smooth batter. Cover the basin with a tea towel and leave to stand in a warm place for about 45mins, by which time the batter will have become light and frothy.

To cook: Grease the insides of the egg rings well and grease the frying pan before putting over medium heat. Arrange the rings in the frying pan and when the pan is hot spoon 1tbsp of the crumpet batter into each ring. Let them cook for about 4 or 5mins: the first tiny bubbles will appear on the surface and then, suddenly, they will burst leaving the traditional holes. Now take a spoon and fork, lift off the rings and turn the crumpets over. Cook crumpets on the second side for about 1min only. Regrease and reheat pan and rings before cooking next batch. Serve immediately, generously buttered or, if reheating, toast lightly on both sides.

Makes about 12.

Still no substitute for Turkish bread tho.
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Old 28-11-2014, 23:33   #7
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

Dockhead is talking of merchants' bread. Ann Cate's got it right. Make your own bread.
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Old 29-11-2014, 00:12   #8
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

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Originally Posted by Seymore View Post
Dockhead is talking of merchants' bread. Ann Cate's got it right. Make your own bread.
Maybe if some kind souls publish their fav recipes ?
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Old 29-11-2014, 00:32   #9
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

British bread is terrible if you buy it from the supermarket - plastic packets of sliced air that go mushy in your mouth. However, if you try a traditional baker and there is almost always one in every town, the bread is much better.

We've been travelling around the Med for 6 years and I have yet to find a loaf that matches the granary that I can get from my local bakers in the UK. Hence I bake my own:

4 cups of bread flour - any combination you like
2 cups of warm water/milk/whey - whatever takes your fancy
1 tsp sugar
2 tsps salt
1.5 tsp dried yeast
glug of olive oil

Mix dry ingredients. Add oil and water, bring together and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
Place in an oiled bowl and allow to rise, in a warm draught free place, until doubled in size 1-2 hours.
Knock back and knead again for 2-3 minutes
Shape and place in an oiled loaf tin
Allow to rise until doubled in size, 30 minutes ish
Bake in a preheated hot oven for 30-40 minutes.
You'll know when it is done as it will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
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Old 29-11-2014, 03:52   #10
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

in the uk I can recommend the freshly baked Lidl Rye bread.
alternatively polish bread available in asda and other supermarkets.

everything else from uk supermarkets is basically inedible,unless conditioned at birth to eat it............with Marmite!

the way to go is a bread maker,just put your flour ,yeast and water in the night before,and set the timer.
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Old 29-11-2014, 04:21   #11
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

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in the uk I can recommend the freshly baked Lidl Rye bread.
alternatively polish bread available in asda and other supermarkets.

everything else from uk supermarkets is basically inedible,unless conditioned at birth to eat it............with Marmite!

the way to go is a bread maker,just put your flour ,yeast and water in the night before,and set the timer.
The problem seems to be the flour, which is like sawdust.

The bakery bread is rarely that much different from the supermarket bread -- pretty and handmade but inside just the same Even homemade bread!!

Just like in the U.S.

In France, the bread is as if made from a different material. And both the bread you get in French supermarkets and the bread you get in French bakeries. Why is it so different? The texture is completely different; the flavor is completely different (that is, there actually is flavor).

How can 100 nautical miles across the Channel make such a difference?

Is it the flour? Or is there some other secret? And why can't we replicate it here?
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Old 29-11-2014, 04:50   #12
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
The problem seems to be the flour, which is like sawdust.

The bakery bread is rarely that much different from the supermarket bread -- pretty and handmade but inside just the same Even homemade bread!!

Just like in the U.S.

In France, the bread is as if made from a different material. And both the bread you get in French supermarkets and the bread you get in French bakeries. Why is it so different? The texture is completely different; the flavor is completely different (that is, there actually is flavor).

How can 100 nautical miles across the Channel make such a difference?

Is it the flour? Or is there some other secret? And why can't we replicate it here?
after dabbling with sourdough for about 6 months,the quality of your flour definitely makes a difference.

I avoid using the supermarket "own" brands,rather buy the slightly more expensive proprietery granary flours.

also I only use "strong" flour,check the protein content,it varies a lot,the higher the protein content,generally the better the results.

also if you want a better texture,add in different flours from different grains and seeds/oats/rye/maise also use olive oil instead of sunflour oil to prevent sticking.

I find using a small amount of maise flour together with,a third strong white,2 thirds brown or granary with grains,some oats a dash of olive oil,salt and a strong yeast mix works well.

I don't use the instant yeast powder,rather live yeast activated with a bit of sugar and warm water then added after about 10 minutes,if not using sourdough solution.

works for me!
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Old 29-11-2014, 05:54   #13
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

One can get or make excellent bread in the US, just stay away from the large grocery stores for the bread or the ingredients.

Go to a decent bakery which are now in almost every city or town and excellent bread is available. If making your own bread buy the flour from a health food or specialty shop. One problem with commercial flour from the grocery (aside from the fact that is it processed, bleached and mangled beyond recognition as actual food) is it is usually old.

My last trip to Paris I did not get good bread at any of the restaurants. It was a poor parody of the real thing (maybe they were buying flour from the states). Germany had by far the best bread of any country I visited in Europe. I have not been too impressed with bread in the UK but confess I have not tried a crumpet.
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Old 29-11-2014, 06:08   #14
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

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The problem seems to be the flour, which is like sawdust.
Bingo! Ever done any epoxy filleting thickened with a wood flour and silica mix?

The wood flour used is actually very finely milled maple, same as used for popsicle sticks, rolling pins, and butcher blocks. This wood flour is FDA approved for human consumption.

You wouldn't know it but if you live in the states and eat crap supermarket bread, you eat it all the time. It is what you see on the ingredients list as "cellulose"

Can't say for sure, but I can only imagine this wonderful wood flour technology has been exported throughout the world and can be found wherever crap bread is sold.

Check your ingredients list. If you see cellulose, you're eating sawdust!
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Old 29-11-2014, 06:32   #15
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Re: Breads of Different Countries

Bread is kind of like beer--the broadly available commercial varieties here in the States are justly criticized as being tasteless and unappealing. But in the recent couple of decades, the availability of really good quality breads and beers have blossomed, due to the proliferation of small artisan bakeries and craft breweries. There is no excuse for settling for bad bread or beer any more!

Hud

p.s. Dockhead, I know you're talking about commercially available breads, but the bread described below is so good and sooooo easy to make, you may prefer to whip up a couple of loaves rather than run down to your local artisan bread store.

I was put on to "no knead bread" from another thread here on CF. Check out the New York Times video. The bread is dead simple to make and as good or better than artisan bread you can buy at small local bakeries. Even the "inventor", Jim Lahey, who owns the Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC, says it's better than bread that he makes in his bakery. Here's his recipe: Recipes | Sullivan Street Bakery . We make it weekly.

Regarding flour, my wife makes all our breads. She uses King Arthur bread flour for most of them, which is readily available in grocery stores. It makes bread and rolls that are worlds better than what's available commercially. Having a bread machine to make the dough or the finished loaves is a real benefit, as it eliminates a lot of fussy work.
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