Commercial Bread: What Have They Done With the Taste?


| 9/28/2009 12:57:41 PM


Tags: bread, locavore,

KC ComptonFor the past several years I have been lucky enough to have access to not one, but two really great local bakeries, WheatFields in Lawrence, KS, and Farm To Market Bread Co. in Kansas City, MO. Their bread is everything bread should be – crusty when it’s supposed to be, chewy when that’s called for, and always full of nutrition and flavor.

WheatFields Bakery is in Lawrence, Kansas.This rich, satisfying, delicious experience of bread stands in stark contrast to a couple of recent encounters I’ve had with off-the-shelf breads, and the difference is both appalling and sad.

On Saturday, I attended an outdoor art fair and fundraiser for some friends’ church. The art was beautiful and the weather was perfect. When it came time for lunch, I asked careful questions about the hot dogs (Nathan’s All-Beef Kosher dogs, thank you very much) and decided they were OK to be one of my twice-yearly hot dogs (don’t get me started on hot dogs, just Google and get ready to be shocked and disgusted).  I got the dog, and was happy to see that thoughtful, intelligent people had stocked the condiments bar and knew one must have sauerkraut and brown mustard to create a decent dog.

I settled in, took a bite and couldn’t believe my taste buds. What was that in my mouth? There was the yumminess of grilled hot dog, the sharpness of sauerkraut and mustard, but what was that other ickiness?  

It was the bun. It looked like a hot dog bun. It was the color of a hot dog bun, and of the appropriate shape. But as soon as it got to the mouth, any resemblance to bread completely ceased. I don’t even know how to describe it. How do you describe a texture of something completely without texture? Or the flavor of something completely lacking in flavor? It was just … white material taking up space in my mouth.

And as I pondered this alarming “food,” I looked down at the hotdog in my hand, to see the rest of the bun literally dissolving before my very eyes. I’ve never seen a piece of bread surrender so completely and utterly to the moisture in the food it’s supposed to surround. It was like toilet paper, there one minute and dissolved the next.

susan_7
2/4/2010 6:48:18 PM

I'm as appalled by the PRICE of a loaf of store-bought bread as I am with the bland taste and flimsy texture. A decent loaf at a major grocer where I live is $4-$5! Who can afford that? I was buying the same bread for a while at a discount at the local Oroweat store, but then I started baking my own from scratch--what a difference! I've been using Bronze Chief whole wheat flour, and I like the results.


jean picard_2
12/23/2009 1:30:02 PM

Well, KC, true to my word in my comment of 10/26/09, I did not have another hot dog or hamburger until I could have it on my own homemade bun. Thanks for motivating me to take the time to develop my own bun recipe. What a difference! I'll have to query Jean Teller about it. My bread article is in the Jan/Feb issue.


jean picard_2
12/23/2009 1:29:03 PM

Well, KC, true to my word in my comment of 10/26/09, I did not have another hot dog or hamburger until I could have it on my own homemade bun. Thanks for motivating me to take the time to develop my own bun recipe. What a difference! I'll have to query Jean Teller about it. My bread article is in the Jan/Feb issue.


robyn dolan
11/13/2009 8:27:47 AM

LOL!! Two words - cardboard and paste. This is how I have been describing storebought (not fresh bakery) bread for years now. I occasionally have to suffer through it, but even travelling try to take my own homemade bread, which I make with organic wheat berries I grind myself, or since my grinder died and I haven't been able to afford a new one, with organic ww flour. This time around it's Guido's. Last time I tried the regular whole wheat flour from the supermarket. When I got home and compared it too what I had got from my natural foods store, it was obviously lacking in texture and "stuff". I added in bran and wheat germ and decided if nothing else, I had to spend the extra money for the organic flour until I get another grinder! Oh, and about the hot dogs, I do not have a good recipe for buns, but do enjoy them on a thick slice of homemade ww or rye!


jimmy cracked-corn
11/13/2009 8:10:35 AM

It isn't just food that has this disturbing trend. Almost every consumer product is currently being offered in a version that "LOOKS" like the intended product, but is in fact so far inferior that you would be better off to make do without the item. Everything is being dumbed down to meet a price point. You only have to fool the consumer as far as the cash register and you've won already.


kc compton_2
10/26/2009 11:02:58 AM

If you're willing to share your hamburger bun recipe with us, I'll post it and attribute it to you! I did hear back from the Wheatfields' baker about what makes the difference. It isn't just the flour--she says it's also the type of yeast they use, an ultra-fast yeast so they don't have to wait around for those pesky little critters to grow. It's sort of like yeast on steroids and tastes a bit that way, too. Ick. On the other hand, I bought some great Farm To Market bread last night and had toast with homemade strawberry jam on it for breakfast. Now that's the High Life! --KC


jean picard_2
10/26/2009 10:17:08 AM

"There was no there there." Words I, too, have said about commercial bread. That is why I bake my own breads, always using high-quality, organic flour, either Bob's Red Mill or King Arthur. When I had my first hot dog in years just the other day, I was reminded that I have not yet developed my own hot dog and hamburger bun recipe -- something I will be doing before I have my next hot dog or hamburger. Your comparison to toilet paper was a real motivator!





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