Monday, August 2, 2010

But who is counting?

Well, the book calls it 'Five-Grain Bread'.


So, I guess to tell the story behind the story, a little explanation is in order.

WARNING:  Weird Story Ahead - Not for the Squeamish!!!  Skip ahead to the place it says 'WARNING ALERT OVER' if you would like.

My Mother suffered from some delusional issues - I guess we all suffer from delusional issues - but my family as a group suffered from our mother's delusions.  And trust me, there are plenty of stories I could back that statement up with.  But she had a lot of wonderful qualities as well, and I would not presume to sum up her existence on a simple bread blog.

But to be certain, she was really into conspiracies, alternate medicine, chiropractors, homeopathy, Communists, religions, yadda, yadda, yadda...

But she was also one hell of a good cook.  So much so that she cooked on the river barges towards the end of her life, and was sought-after as a cook.  A Seriously Good Cook.

But, to the point of this story, she had read somewhere that we all needed our intestines cleaned out.  She was convinced that there was at least 20 years of accumulated steak residing in my stomach, releasing toxins that would most certainly make me go bald, renounce her religion du jour, and maybe even cause me to (gasp!) get married.  It was simply her duty to render aid that would assist me to get it cleaned out.  Now, she knew that there was no way that I would go along with several methods she and some of the siblings would use, such as...    ...uh, No.  Not going there.

Let's just say that she had several other ways of ensuring intestinal cleanliness and let it go at that.

But she figured that she could get to us with food.  She started to doctor the food with psyllium seed ( the plant that is the basis for Metamucil) and flax seeds.  Both were effective means to obtain their intended result, and both means would be accompanied by a chorus of, well, earthy sounds.  Oh the stories I want to tell...   ...the same stories I have tried so hard to forget.

Well, I tell you all that much of my long-past personal life, just to tell you the reasons that I hate flax seed.  I hate psyllium seed.  Matter of fact, I am pretty squeamish about anything that might change the daily routine of my stomach in such a dramatic fashion.

So when the Mellow Bakers came out with the five grain bread, I counted on my fingers the types of grains I knew were 'safe'.  When I got to the Fifth Element ( whoaa - that was a sci-fi Freudian slip!) of Hamelman's book 'Bread', I stopped in my tracks.  There is no way that I am using flax seed, I thought.

Then I remembered, and smiled: We are Seriously Mellow here!   Yay!!!


So I used some spelt instead of flax and moved along.  I also sprinkled the top of the loaf with sesame, but that was mostly by habit, not design.  And it did not hurt anything, in fact if was pretty complimentary.

For a highly grained bread, this one was a surprise.  It uses enough AP flour and yeast that you get a really nice ferment that is easy to make, and actually pretty quick to make.  I did not have the courage to make a free-form loaf, and the dough had the consistency of a sourdough wort-mother with grains tossed in for good measure.  It could have handled it OK, but it would have looked a lot like focaccia bread.

I eyed the finished loaf warily, not too sure that this was going to be posted as an August bread or a 'Bread Disaster'.  Once it cooled slightly, I tried it and I was quite pleasantly surprised.  While it is hardly a favorite, I will keep it in mind for the next time we get a visitor or neighbor that wants a multi-grained bread, but does not have more than a half day to wait. 

And when you add Sister Demeter's Cherry Jelly - it becomes superb.


  1. Hilarious!

    Well, I did not know the power of flax - I have a bag in my pantry, used it once for one of Dan Lepard's breads a couple of years ago

    I don't remember if there were "issues"... :-)

    on a side note, my Grandmother used to swear by tablespoons of a white liquid sold in Brazil, the translation of the name would be "milk of magnesia". Not sure if it exists here or which name it goes by. It tasted horrible, I remember hiding whenever I saw the blue bottle around :-)

  2. Sally, I do know that whole flax seeds, by themselves, would bother much. I was just having a flashback to an earlier Xmas. My brother-in-law passed a HUGE portion of blue scalloped potatoes to my wife's plate. The potatoes had oxidized to a unique blue hue, and they were laced with psyllium seed. Back then, my Darling Bride was too embarrassed to object in front of my Mother. I was not.

    Now that was a long ride home, but not for the reason you might think. Our Mother had even laced the cookies that year. She got us all.

    We have Phillips' Milk of Magnesium in most pharmacies here in the states. Chalky stuff!

  3. My mother believed in prunes (ha-ha dried plums, who is kidding who?) and cod liver oil.
    There are those maternal relatives that have what I call "hidden superstitions" that direct their thoughts and motherly instincts.
    And sometimes they are correct. But not always.
    Thanks goodness we have evolved to be mellow.
    Nice blog! Anet

  4. Delightful post Steve as always! So you won't be making Dan Lepard's best ever gluten free loaf which is laced with psyllium husk? No? I haven't been tempted as yet either. Though I get on ok with flaxseed in a soaker, but the great thing about this baking lark is that you and your tum are now in charge and not your Mum, Yay! I think the obsession with regularity belongs to an earlier generation - family stories - I have them too. My favourite is the one where my Dad was sent away to school (war - evacuation etc etc) and went on .... protest as he didn't like it there. My Gran came and took him home once she got 'wind' of it. All true.

  5. Steve,
    I am laughing so hard. Your mother sounds like she was ahead of her time. Places around here offer therapeutic cleansings....