Bread - why I hate Americans

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KB
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:09 am Post

I write this with my jaw aching from having just gnawed through the toughest piece of rye bread in the history of bread products (probably). (Insert "since sliced bread" pun here.) It was a little like chewing through plasticine found behind the sofa four years after your toddler dropped it there.

Bread.

What is wrong this this f***ing country? Why is it impossible for anyone in the UK to make a decent fricking loaf of bread?

Bread in this country comes in two flavours: brown and white. Or you can have a sort of mix of the two, or a variation on either with a few seeds left in. And if you want it fresh, then the crust has to be four millimetres thick, presumably so you can beat the baker to death with it. ("The irate bread shopper, in the kitchen, with the loaf of bread. Because the bread was f***ing s**t!)

This is why I hate Americans:
• Tomato bread
• Rye bread
• Sour dough
• Pretzels
• Bagels with a whole range of toppings (the "everything bagel"! how I love thee!)
• Bread
• Bread
• Bread

I love tomato bread. Except in the UK if you buy tomato bread it tastes as though whoever made it just soaked a regular loaf of farmhouse white in a vat of Heinz tomato soup and then bunged it back in the oven for two hours.

Rye bread! My absolute favourite (and the spur of this particular angry rant). In America you can go into the crappiest, tackiest diner and still get good rye bread. You can go into nearly any supermarket and get a decent loaf of sliced rye bread. And it is lovely. Here? Nothing. Rye bread - like tomato bread and anything else that isn't brown, white, or grey with seeds - is a "specialist" bread. You might get it on the specialist shelf where they don't know how to describe things, in a health food store, or via an organic vegetable delivery company (as I just did). But it is related to the rye bread of America only in the same way that Jim Davidson is related to Bill Hicks by being a "comedian".

Pretzels! How hard can it be? When I used to commute through London Bridge, I would occasionally stop off at the pretzel stall in the walkway, knowing every time that it would be a disappointment, and it always was. Those pretzels tasted only like a memory of pretzels past, pretzels tasted in New York, like a pensioner kissing the bald pate of her shrivelled husband in memory of the shock of hair that made her love him. Grr.

The really depressing thing is that I lived in various different areas of London, each with different communities, for thirteen years, and you couldn't even get a decent loaf of bread there.

And I mean, have you ever stepped foot into the bread section of Sainsbury's or Tesco's? I would love to attend the bakery training day for the teenagers there. "Just stick it in the oven until you smell smoke."

So Americans, ye board majority, this is why I hate* you: while I sit here with my jaw feeling as though I've just performed fellatio on a herd of elephants, your palette gets to caress the fluffy goodness of decent bread products without having to travel 2,000 miles.

Ugh.
Keith

*Of course I don't "hate" you at all, I am just insanely jealous, but there's nothing like an attention-grabbing thread title, eh? What I really hate is how this country is constitutionally unable to make a decent loaf of bread.

P.S. If anyone has the recipe for a decent loaf of rye bread, please let me know. Have bread maker. Will bake.

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pink
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:22 am Post

I have a breadmaker too, and we've discovered that fresh bread is wonderful, hot, squishy, a complete failure to cut, but gorgeous to eat.

And the next day, you can use the leftovers to throw at squirrels. As long as the RSPCA doesn't catch you.

I like the seeded batch type if buying from a supermarket. It's soft enough to eat, but still interesting.

I hate baguettes. I think the french have a lot to answer for. Who wants a sandwich on a block of bread that once inserted in your mouth will result in all the fillings squeezing out either side via your cheeks, while your teeth completely fail to make any kind of indent into the bread itself. The net result being a flat memory of your sandwich and a wet stick lap.
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vic-k
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:45 am Post

KB wrote:I sit here with my jaw feeling as though I've just performed fellatio on a herd of elephants,
:oops: :shock:

Here y` go Hugh! Another one to steal!
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:01 am Post

Cheers, Vic. Got it!
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juh
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:26 am Post

Hi Keith,

I am just now baking a rye bread. (I'm German of course!) ;-)

I'll eat it with a toast to you!

juh

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KB
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:32 am Post

Argh! Actually I should have mentioned Germany too... I had some lovely bread during a weekend in Frankfurt. And you have good cheese, too (which we do have in the UK - although great for bread, America is terrible for cheese).

And you forgot to tell me the recipe!

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Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:47 am Post

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yum... so tasty :P

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Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:02 pm Post

I love bread. Good bread. And here, in Melbourne Australia, we have lots of good bread. There is a bakery 30 seconds walk from my house. It's barely average, almost British by Keith's description, but it's there. The greengrocer, just 15 seconds walk from our house, sells *awesome* bread. I don't know why. There are at least 2 bakery cafes within a 1 minute walk that sell great bread, a supermarket that sells OK bread and another supermarket that sells an astounding selection of wonderful breads (but it's closer to 4 minutes away, it takes commitment to go there).

Why am I telling you this? It's not to tease Keith, although that does have an appeal. No, it's to give Keith vicarious pleasure in my misfortune: my wife has decided we are on a diet. No bread.

No bread!

Oh sure, I can go buy it on my own. My wife says that's fine. Luckily, I've been married long enough to see the lie. And lived long enough to know that the imposed marital guilt, and the stale bread in the freezer (ever tried eating a loaf of fresh sour-dough rye on your own in one sitting? Don't!), last too long to be worth it.

So I wake each morning to the smell of the bakery. And walk past the green grocery and their fancy bread (no, I really don't know why) And see the fresh croissants in our favourite cafe (some of the best in Melbourne) and try to ignore the hurt look in the baker's eye as I say "just a coffee today". Because I don't. Eat. Any.

After reading Keith's piece, I wish I lived in the UK. At least then it wouldn't matter...
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:33 pm Post

Mr Blount,
This thread is turning pornographic; a paean in fact, to the unbridled lust fuelled, satiation of desires, as enshrined in, 'The Hedonist`s Ten Commandments'
MR Blount wrote:I've just performed fellatio on a herd of elephants,
Mr Blount,
Purely for the purposes of psychological profiling, would that be, African or Indian.
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Eldritch
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:36 pm Post

Without British bread there is no toast and butter. :?
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pink
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:47 pm Post

My mother used to freeze bread. I hated the aftermath of that.
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Skallegrim
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:54 pm Post

Not so sure about messing with elephants.
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:09 pm Post

We are a bit spoiled by all our bread options here in the states. In Vermont it seems there is a boutique bakery in every town. But it hasn't always been that way. Thirty years ago I spent a year bicycling around the country and once out of the northeast it was almost impossible to find anything on a grocery shelf but Wonder Bread. If you've never had Wonder Bread let's just say you haven't missed anything. Wonder Bread is good for one thing: Rolling it into tight little dough balls for use as projectiles in a food fight. If you were ever unfortunate enough to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Wonder Bread, well, you might still be trying to unglue your tongue from the roof of your mouth -- a good remedy for that fellatio problem, I suppose.

Steve

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Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:20 pm Post

Snort bakes all our bread from scratch. No bread maker, just a mixer and an oven. We got disgusted with US bread when we started looking at causes for some issues and realized that the store breads available to us were more chemical than bread. Now we can't eat bread anywhere but home.

I can give you a recipe or two, but we found that it is the ingredients more than the recipe that determine success. The big ones are:
1. Fresh yeast. Got to have it.
2. Supply of high gluten flour. This is what give the springiness to the bread.
3. Consistent oven temperature. Use a thermometer IN the oven, not the dial gauge.
4. Room temperature supplies. #1 above is very temp sensitive.
5. Time. You just can't rush it.

That said, we buy all local flour in bulk (50lb bags of all purpose, high gluten, 25lb for specialty flours like rye), yeast from a local producer, eggs from local hens (starting our own flock of hens right now), but butter from the supermarket. We go through 50lb of flour in a 2 week interval. We really don't save any money, but we are all much heather and eat less (quality over quantity).

As to recipes, look into the books by Father Dominic. Everything from basic white bread to meat pastries. His apple braids are amazing. Snort has won at least one (but I think there are 2) baking "competitions" using his recipes (yes she credited him with the recipe). If you are really desperate for an immediate fix I will get snort to tell me her current white bread method. Then you just swap out 3/4 cup of the white flour for 3/4 cup rye flour to get rye bread (for stronger flavor increase the swap amount).
Jaysen

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Thu Oct 01, 2009 1:28 pm Post

Skallegrim wrote:Not so sure about messing with elephants.

That explains why KB was doing … um … what he was doing. I can't imagine the elephants getting too upset over that.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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