The Bad Boys of Baking!

Sorry, but if you were thinking this blog was going to be about the créme de la créme of contemporary bakers you’re wrong. It is about the ingredients that give desserts a bad rap; processed wheat, refined sugar, carbohydrates, and fats.

If I’m committed to Jane’s challenge, I need a solid base to launch this campaign from. So, do I just pick a diet? Is that the answer? I have tried “generic” diets in the past and found that they did work, but were very restrictive. I was eating the same things over and over. I hated weighing my food for every meal; or counting out how many chips or nuts I could eat. It felt forced and unnatural; I never got used to it. It got boring. I began craving those foods that aren’t the best choice again (and you know which ones I’m talking about). Crudité and sparkling water just doesn’t cut it.

Bread and pasta are to an Italian as air is to life. Crusty bread, great virgin olive oil, a little salt, make an ideal meal for an Italian. Add some fresh basil, garlic, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella and you just turned it into a feast. Transforming a $2.00 dish into a $12.00 primo piatto. Bread is an Italian’s anti-depressant, a reason to wake up and look forward to the next day.

Bread is often mentioned in the Bible. It is synonymous with the divine. It is referred to by different names and eaten on special days. While out in the dessert on retreat, Jesus is tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread to feed his hunger. He responds by stating that, “4It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” Bread is transforming. It is the embodiment of God. Jesus establishes the sacrament of communion during his last meal before being crucified by stressing that every time we eat bread and drink wine together; we nourish our bodies, minds and souls by uniting with God himself.

Bread is not an easy thing to give up, especially for me. But I must confess I feel the need to do so. Why does bread have to be so bad?

As I started compiling a list of nutritional information for each food group, I realized that every grain and cereal is basically made up from the same chemical nutrients; carbohydrates being the foremost ingredient. The differences are in the amounts each contains, how they are chemically configured, and how our bodies are able to process them turning them into fuel. So might there be a chance to make bread that is worthy to eat and at the same time reduce its harmful properties? I sure hope so! What can I substitute those bad boys with to make this happen? I need more info.

Frustrated and anxious, I began my quest to get informed. I decided to head out to and explore one of my havens; the used book department at Barnes and Noble in Paramus. As luck would have it, I found three books that seem to be really good prospects while searching through the reviewers copies.

The first book I found was Delicious Baking for Diabetics, by Angelica Kirchmair, published by Skyhorse Publishing, © 2014. This should inform me on ways to cut down on the sugar and high glycemic foods.

The second book was Flavor Flours, by Alice Medrich with Maya Klein, published by Artisan, © 2014. This book focuses on newly rediscovered grains and cereals. Recently, you may have come across the term “ancient grains”. They are becoming more popular because of the interest in searching for alternatives to wheat flour. They have also become popular because of the gluten-free craze that has come into focus lately. I’m hoping this book will be insightful and inspiring to use new flavors while reducing the dependency on processed wheat flour.

Lastly, I picked up a book by Silvana Nardone entitled, Silvana’s Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen, published by Houghton Harcourt Publishing Company, ©2014. With this book I am hoping to learn about how to reduce the fat and carbohydrate content I would normally use.

So now it’s time to get down and dirty. My emphasis is going to be on substituting ingredients that I would normally use with new alternatives, reducing the amount of ingredients I can’t change to create new twists on traditional recipes that are more nutritious, but easy to swallow, and still taste great.

Keep your fingers crossed and keep an eye out for some reinvented favorites.