Note: More pictures to come!
Bread has always been an interesting topic for me and there is a past post where I talked about bread and butter and the idea that around the time we started removing the butter from our fridges and counters we started seeing more gluten intolerance.
When I was a kid I would pilfer butter and bread in the moonlight while everyone was sleeping. Bare chested I would take a plain slice of Wonder bread, spread a thick layer of butter on it, fold it in half and smash it together, and eat it.
[A superior butter transport is in fact raisin bread which allows 2 sometimes 3 layers of butter before caving in under structural stress. I studied this. The raisins act as miniature tension rods.]
Sometime in my 20’s I did this diet where I eliminated bread from my diet. I read things about gluten, gliadin, schizophrenia, gluten ataxia, various autoimmune disorders, etc., and decided to throw my main butter transport ship out the window. I most certainly ate less butter as a result.
This past year I really began to branch out in experimenting with various sources of carbohydrate. I largely avoided wheat before that, aside from the occasional sprinkle in stews and gravy. So I decided to spread my cheeks and blow a nice medium winded gluten free fart over the Internets gluten dusted bible and investigate it’s pages further. I started looking for plain breads that were made with no oils. I’ll give you a dollar for each loaf of bread I found without oil (feel free to laugh and/or cry on that one).
I finally found some local artisan bread (artisan is short for hippies in garages charging high quality prices for low quality shit) at Whole Foods, had it sliced and began to nibble on it with butter. I made some grilled cheeses, some garlic bread at one point, etc. It was good, I was excited, but after a while I lost interest, it didn’t rekindle my childhood memories of bread and butter, and I’m definitely not the type of guy who wants good bread to sit down and eat a loaf of it, I just need a proper transport. And honestly I’ve never found in all these years a suitable alternative to bread and I’m not the type of guy to settle for anything but the best. So I went without it. I moved on and began to look at approaching the bread problem myself, got a book, did research, figured out the problem, and then never followed through because of work related activities. But my plan was to work on my own starter and use long fermentation times. Stuff like that takes a lot of time to work on.
I was on Netflix one day looking for something interesting to watch and saw the Cooked documentary up there. See I really hate food documentaries, they give me reflux. But I couldn’t find anything, so I bit my brain tongue, turned it on, and prepared myself to be transformed. It turned out it was 4 episodes. I watched them all and was pretty impressed.
I liked all the episodes but the episode where they featured the Berkshire Mountain Bakery caught my eye, this guy did shit the right way and the one thing he said that I could experimentally test was the “spit test”. He said essentially that with fake bread you always have to have something to wash it down (I would agree), and that real bread causes your mouth to produce saliva as it begins the digestive process. So I looked to see where his bakery was and boy was I a happy camper when I found out he was only a few hours away.
There were two locations within 30 minutes of each other. One was like a pizza slash cafe type deal and the other was were the magic happened and the main bakery.
The town the place is located in was small and reminded me more of how New England is supposed to feel whereas Connecticut seems more like a ghetto the size of a state. I grew up in a conservative religious family and my father was essentially a fanatic. When you grow up that way and your brain develops and starts thinking freely you develop this kind of weird sixth sense. You know those small towns were everybody is polite and nice but you know they are engaging in candle lit cannibalism? Yeah that kind of town where even the hippies are conservative. I can detect that 10 miles out. I can’t be sure if it’s some type of electric field I’m tuned into or the faint smell of witches burning in the air.
The purpose of this trip was the spit test to see if this bread made my mouth salivate and to decide whether or not we would place a bigger order online to store in our freezer. We tried some samples, and holy shit, not only was my mouth salivating and producing an abundance of spit, but for 30 minutes after it was like my mouth was watering. We bought some raisin bread, various different named breads, a chocolate croissant, and some other things Elyse picked out. Everything was priced much less then what I’d expect for such a labor intensive product.
We then went over to their pizza and cafe place. Ordered a cheese pizza and waited about 15 minutes. It smelled wonderful. At first when we opened it was kind of strange seeing actual real mozzarella on a pizza as real mozzarella when melted has almost a wet rubbery appearance that can be off putting. So we went out in the car to try it while we were driving home. Holy crap, easily the best pizza I’ve had in my life and growing up I’ve had pizza from all the major pizza regions. The pizza crust was done the same way, slow fermentation, it caused elevated spit production, and there was not lead ball sitting in my stomach after eating it.
The entire experience was enlightening, stimulating, and the kind of thing I associate with curiosity and that curiosity eventually took us on this adventure. That is the way life should be, for better or worse, an adventure.
Beyond the butter, there is the bread, and if the bread sucks it ruins the butter and that is not a good thing. There are things that happen during slow fermentation that don’t happen with manufactured starters and other methods that are used to speed up the bread making process. I think there is good reason to believe that something is fundamentally changed when bread is done right and I think there are very few people who are reading this who have ever had a real piece of bread and felt the sensation, the tangy taste, the light spongy moist texture, and the pleasure of a proper butter transport.
[Europe your bread is better then America’s but this isolated bakery just beat you with a stick.]
In my past post I talked about how when we stopped putting butter on our bread it seemed like we started having an elevation in gluten intolerance and allergies. Not only did we stop eating butter on our bread we stopped making bread right.
If your feeling dangerous give it a try if you can. They have a $50 order minimum but it can be frozen. If you are in search of a butter battle ship this is the one, see on you on the starboard side, look for the guy having the left over roast beef sandwich.