Have you ever wondered why, when you bite into a piece of freshly baked artisan bread, the flavours are so intense and flavourful that it borders on the divine? Well, as any good bread baker will tell you, one of the secrets to good artisan bread lies in the integrity of the grains with which they are made. There is a reason why bread is often dubbed the ‘staff of life’. In their wholeness, grains are a wondrous food source, and this is the reason why artisanal bakers use only unadulterated stone-ground flour.
Our most commonly used grain - wheat - is packed full of sublime goodness. The wheat kernel is composed of the outer bran layer, the germ and the endosperm. Many of the nutrients are concentrated in the bran and germ. The kernel is rich in vitamins B and E, protein, unsaturated fats, minerals and carbohydrates. When wheat is stone-ground, all the components of the grain and the goodness that lies therein are retained in their natural, original proportions. This is what gives artisan bread its sweet and nutty flavour, making it robust and full of texture.
What happens during the modern manufacturing of wheat is an entirely different story. The noble wheat kernel is completely compromised by a process of separation. The milling of grain is accomplished by means of “separators, scourers, magnets, and washer-toners”. During this process, steel rollers crush the grain, and the flour released from the endosperm is separated by sifters into different grades according to fineness. The bran and germ of the kernel is completely removed in the process, and with it the many vitamins that are inherent in the grain.
It is hard to believe that a seemingly innocuous slice of mass produced bread can be such a degenerate food. Many people have no idea what it is they are ingesting when eating commercial bread. If people take the time to find out, they can make a more informed choice when buying bread. Mass produced bread forms such a big part of the daily diet of much of the world’s population and the milling, refining, bleaching, enriching and the addition of so many chemicals has led many to question the health implications of eating this type of bread.
Which takes us back to whole grains.If left untainted the way nature intended and merely stone- ground in all their glory into beautiful flour – they are not only healthy and nutritious, but also delicious!