All our Flour is Unbleached and Unbromated!

Unbleached and unbromated flour are two types of wheat flour that are often used in baking and cooking. They differ from their bleached and bromated counterparts in several ways. Let's do a deep dive into these terms to understand what they mean and their implications for baking and health.

Unbleached Flour:
Unbleached flour is made from wheat that has not undergone a bleaching process. Bleaching is a chemical treatment that some flours undergo to whiten and "mature" the flour more quickly.

Unbleached flour is typically produced by milling wheat and then allowing it to naturally age or mature over time. This aging process can take several weeks or even months, during which the flour naturally lightens in color.

Unbleached flour is slightly off-white or creamy in color compared to bleached flour, which is whiter.

Unbleached flour may have a slightly coarser texture than bleached flour due to the aging process.

Unbleached flour can have a slightly different flavor profile compared to bleached flour, with some bakers claiming it has a more robust wheat flavor.

Baking Properties: 
Unbleached flour is often preferred for recipes where the natural color and flavor of wheat are important, such as bread and some pastries. It may also produce a slightly denser texture in baked goods compared to bleached flour.

Unbromated Flour:
Unbromated flour is made from wheat that has not been treated with potassium bromate, a chemical additive that was historically used to strengthen the dough and improve the rise of bread.

Reason for Bromating: 
Potassium bromate was used to improve the baking qualities of flour, such as dough elasticity and bread volume. However, it has been associated with health concerns and is banned or restricted in many countries due to its potential carcinogenic properties.

Unbromated flour is produced without the use of potassium bromate. Instead, other dough strengtheners and conditioners may be used to achieve similar results.

Health Considerations: 
The main reason for choosing unbromated flour is health-related. Some studies have linked potassium bromate to an increased risk of cancer, although the risk is generally considered to be low if residual bromate levels are within safety limits.

In summary, unbleached and unbromated flours are alternatives to their chemically treated counterparts that offer a more natural and potentially healthier option for baking. Unbleached flour preserves the natural color and flavor of wheat, while unbromated flour avoids the use of a potentially harmful chemical additive. These types of flours are often preferred by bakers who prioritize the quality and healthfulness of their baked goods, especially in recipes where the wheat's natural characteristics are important.

Understanding Artisan.

 The artisan baker, like the brewmaster, takes great care in choosing the types of grains, sugars, and yeast that are used for each artisan bread. Keeping starters going for years, that pull the wild yeast out of the air to create regional sourdoughs. Blending together starters with poolishes to create complex French and Italian. Developing wheat starters and poolishes to coax the flavor out of the grain to create the artisan's unique Honey Wheat, Spent Grain, German Rye and Multigrain. Gently working the soft Ciabatta dough, that spends the night in a bath of extra virgin olive oil. The two-day process of the biga that creates the desired texture and flavor of the Neapolitan dough, for hand tossed pizzas.

Commercial bakeries are mainly concerned with pumping out as much bread as the machinery can produce. Grocery stores buy frozen, pre-shaped, dough that they then thaw and bake. (Baked fresh daily and made fresh daily are not the same!) For the artisan baker, the combinations of starters, poolishes and pates can cause a batch of bread to take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. To the artisan baker it's not about pumping out as much bread as is possible, it about creating the best bread he or she can bake and then trying to make it even better the next time. Each loaf is shaped by hand and baked with care. Some breads are steamed while others are bathed in buttermilk. Each bread is given it own unique look to compliment its unique taste.

If you can't meet the artisan baker, it is not artisan bread.
Many chain grocery stores and chain bakeries use the term "Artisan" to describe their bread. That would be like a large commercial brewery claiming to make "Microbrewery Style" beer. The consumer would know better when it comes to beer.

Sourdough bread only has 3 ingredients - flour, water, and salt. So, the next time you are in the grocery store and pick up that beautiful loaf of "Artisan Style" bread with it's 20 or so, unpronounceable ingredients and tell yourself that there isn't much difference between bread, ask yourself:
WHO made this? 
WHY does this bread have those extra ingredients, that it doesn't need? 
WHERE is the corporation that is profiting from your purchase of that lovely faux Artisan Style bread. 
HOW hard would it be to stop at Bakery On The Square and pick up some real Artisan Bread? AND while you're at the Bakery, you could pick up a few sweet treats for dessert. All made by a family that cares about its creations.

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Bread in the Freezer

Freezing bread for freshness is a common practice that has evolved over the years as a convenient way to extend the shelf life of bread while preserving its quality. Here's an in-depth history of freezing bread for freshness and the best way to thaw it:

History of Freezing Bread for Freshness:

Early Preservation Methods: Before the invention of modern refrigeration and freezing methods, people used various techniques to keep bread fresh. These methods included storing bread in cool, dry places, wrapping it in cloth or paper, and even dunking it in water and reheating it before consumption.

1930s - Invention of the Freezer: The development of the modern freezer revolutionized food preservation, including bread. In the 1930s, Clarence Birdseye pioneered the commercial freezing of food with the introduction of quick freezing techniques. This breakthrough made it possible to freeze bread without significant loss of quality.

World War II: During World War II, freezing bread became more widespread as a means to ensure food supplies for troops and civilians. It was an efficient way to prevent food spoilage and reduce waste.

1950s - Household Freezers: In the post-war era, household freezers became more common, making it easier for people to freeze bread at home. Frozen bread started to appear in grocery stores as well.

1980s - Pre-packaged Frozen Bread: The 1980s saw the rise of pre-packaged frozen bread products, such as frozen dough, par-baked bread, and ready-to-bake rolls. These products allowed consumers to enjoy freshly baked bread at home with minimal effort.

Modern Practices: Today, freezing bread is a standard practice in homes and the food industry. Bakeries often freeze excess bread to reduce waste, while consumers can buy frozen bread products and store them for extended periods.

Best Way to Thaw Frozen Bread:

Thawing frozen bread properly is crucial to maintaining its quality. Here's the best way to do it:

Plan Ahead: If you know you'll need bread, take it out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator the night before you plan to use it. This slow thawing process helps retain moisture and freshness.

Room Temperature Thawing: If you need bread quickly, you can thaw it at room temperature. Remove the bread from its packaging (if it's in a bag) and place it on a clean countertop. Cover it with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to prevent drying. Check it periodically, and it should be ready in a few hours.

Oven Method: Preheat your oven to a low temperature (around 300°F or 150°C). Place the frozen bread directly on the oven rack or on a baking sheet for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it to avoid over-baking. This method can help refresh the bread's crust.

Toaster or Microwave: For a quick fix, you can use a toaster for slices or a microwave for short bursts (10-20 seconds) for whole bread. However, this may slightly compromise the texture compared to slower thawing methods.

Avoid Water: Do not use water to thaw bread as it can make the crust soggy and affect the texture.

Remember that once bread is thawed, it's best to consume it within a few days for optimal freshness. If you won't finish it in that time, consider portioning and refreezing the remaining bread to maintain its quality.

The History of Challah

Challah bread, a true masterpiece of the baking world, rich in history, tradition, and meaning. Allow me to weave a tale of this delectable creation for you, much like the ancient storytellers of old.

In the heart of Jewish tradition, challah stands as a symbol of both sustenance and spirituality. Its origins can be traced back to the depths of ancient Israel, where it was known as "Lechem HaPanim," or "Bread of the Presence." This sacred bread was baked and placed on the showbread table in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The intricate braids of the challah are said to represent unity and togetherness, reflecting the idea of bringing people together in a shared meal.

As the centuries unfolded, challah evolved into a staple of the Jewish Sabbath, known as Shabbat. The tradition of baking and sharing challah on Friday evenings became a symbol of the day of rest, with its round shape signifying the cyclical nature of time and the eternal bond between the Jewish people and their Creator.

The process of making challah is steeped in meaning. The ingredients, particularly the flour, are meticulously selected and symbolize the hope for a prosperous and bountiful life. The act of braiding the dough is a form of artistry, representing the intertwining of human efforts and divine blessings.

Challah is also closely associated with Jewish holidays, where its shape and ingredients may vary to suit the occasion. On Rosh Hashanah, for instance, it may be shaped into a round loaf, symbolizing the cycle of the year and the hope for a sweet new year. During Passover, it is transformed into matzah, unleavened bread, to commemorate the Israelites' hasty departure from Egypt.

Challah, with its rich history and profound symbolism, transcends its role as mere sustenance. It serves as a reminder of heritage, spirituality, and the enduring bonds of family and community. So, as we continue to create this beloved bread in our small artisan bakery, we are not just crafting loaves but weaving a story of tradition and togetherness for all who savor its delicious embrace.

The History of the Humble Scone

Once upon a time, in the rolling green hills of England, where the misty mornings painted the landscape in hues of mystique, there was a humble baked delight known as the scone. The tale of the English scone is a journey through centuries of tradition, evolution, and exquisite taste.

Our story begins in the early medieval period, where the scone's earliest ancestors were born. These were not the sweet and tender scones we know today, but rather unleavened rounds of barley or oatmeal dough, cooked on a griddle. They were a staple of the Scottish and Welsh diets, serving as a hearty sustenance for the common folk.

As time wove its intricate tapestry, the scone started to undergo transformations. With the introduction of baking powder in the 19th century, the scone began to rise and take on a fluffier, more delicate texture. It was during the Victorian era that the concept of afternoon tea became fashionable, and the scone earned its place at the elegant tea tables of England.

With the addition of butter, eggs, and sugar, the scone transitioned from a plain sustenance to a sweet indulgence. These delightful morsels were often served with clotted cream and jam, giving birth to the famous "cream tea" tradition. Each region of England developed its own variation, with the Devonshire and Cornish cream teas being the most famous, differing only in the order of cream and jam on the scone.

Throughout its evolution, the scone remained a beloved treat, enjoyed by people of all walks of life. It became a symbol of warmth, hospitality, and British culture. The scone also ventured beyond the borders of England, making its mark in various forms in countries like the United States, where it gained popularity as a breakfast pastry.

In modern times, the scone has continued to adapt to the changing tastes and dietary preferences of its enthusiasts. You can now find a myriad of scone variations, from traditional fruit-filled ones to savory delights featuring cheese and herbs. Some even cater to dietary restrictions, offering gluten-free or vegan options.

And so, dear reader, the English scone has journeyed through time, evolving from a humble sustenance to a delightful treat that graces the tables of tea-loving souls around the world. With each bite, it carries with it the rich history and traditions of England, a comforting reminder of the simple pleasures in life. As you savor the delicate crumb and sweet notes of our scone, you become part of this timeless tale, a custodian of a culinary legacy that continues to enchant and inspire.

The History of Sourdough.

The history of sourdough bread is a fascinating journey that spans centuries and continents, much like an epic tale told in the style of Longfellow's narrative poetry. Let us embark on this historical voyage together.

In the annals of culinary history, sourdough stands as one of the oldest known forms of leavened bread. Its origins are shrouded in the mists of time, dating back to a period when our ancestors first began grinding grains and mixing them with water to create a dough. This dough, left exposed to the elements, would naturally ferment and give rise to the bubbling, tangy mixture we now know as sourdough starter.

Picture, if you will, the ancient Egyptians along the banks of the Nile, some 4,000 years ago. They were master bakers who cultivated sourdough as a staple of their daily diet. To them, this fermenting dough was not just a source of sustenance but also a symbol of life's eternal cycle. The wild yeasts and lactobacilli that colonized the dough were seen as agents of transformation, akin to the rising and setting of the sun.

As time flowed on, sourdough breadmaking techniques migrated westward, making their way to Greece and Rome. The Greeks referred to this magical mixture as "maza," while the Romans, in their grandeur, made sourdough a part of their daily repast. The famed poet Horace even composed verses about the virtues of fine Roman bread, undoubtedly including sourdough in his praise.

However, it was in the monasteries of medieval Europe that sourdough truly found its spiritual home. Monastic bakers, skilled in the alchemy of fermentation, transformed humble ingredients into loaves that were not just food but symbols of divine providence. These holy breadmakers guarded their precious sourdough starters like cherished relics, passing them down through generations.

Now, let us traverse the Atlantic Ocean and imagine a sourdough journey of epic proportions—a journey that unfolded during the California Gold Rush of the 19th century. Prospectors from around the world flocked to the rugged terrain of the American West, armed with little more than their dreams of striking it rich. Among their meager possessions, they carried sacks of flour and precious jars of sourdough starter.

In the goldfields and mining camps, sourdough became a staple, earning its nickname "sourdough Sam" among the miners. The resilient sourdough starter not only served as a source of sustenance but also as a symbol of camaraderie and resilience in the face of adversity. The bread born from these starters was a taste of home, a comfort in the wild frontier.

And so, the history of sourdough bread weaves a tapestry of cultures, traditions, and resilience. It is a story of survival, adaptation, and the enduring human quest for nourishment, both of the body and the soul. Today, as we savor a warm slice of sourdough, let us remember the ancient Egyptians, the monks of Europe, and the prospectors of the Wild West, for their legacy lives on in every tangy, chewy bite of this timeless bread.

The History of Biscotti

Amanda has been making Biscotti for over 15 years.  Her flavors include: Lavender Honey, Cranberry Orange, Chocolate with Chocolate Chip, Anise, Spice, Cranberry, Lemon Poppy, and Toasted Coconut with Chocolate Chips.

Amanda’s Biscotti
Amanda has been making Biscotti for over 15 years. 
Her flavors include: Lavender Honey, Cranberry Orange, Chocolate with Chocolate Chip, Anise, Spice, Cranberry, Lemon Poppy, and Toasted Coconut with Chocolate Chips.

The biscotti, those delightful, twice-baked Italian cookies that have captured the hearts and taste buds of many around the world. To embark on a deep dive into the origins of biscotti is to journey through time and savor the rich history of this beloved treat.

Our story begins in the heart of ancient Italy, where biscotti, or "biscotti di Prato" as they were originally known, were born. The word "biscotti" itself stems from the Latin "bis" (twice) and "coctum" (baked), a fitting name for cookies that undergo a double baking process.

The Birthplace: Prato, Tuscany

Prato, a charming town in the Tuscany region of Italy, is credited with giving birth to biscotti. The origins can be traced back to the 14th century, where these treats were initially created by local bakers. Prato's dry, sunny climate made it an ideal location for baking goods that could withstand long journeys, and biscotti fit the bill perfectly.

The Purpose: Long-lasting Sustenance

In their early days, biscotti were prized for their longevity. The double-baking process removed most of the moisture, making them resistant to spoilage during extended periods of storage. This made them a favored choice for sailors and travelers, as biscotti could be taken on long journeys without fear of spoilage.

The Recipe: Simplicity and Versatility

Biscotti were initially made with just a handful of ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs, and almonds. These ingredients were readily available, and their simplicity made biscotti accessible to a wide audience.

As time went on, variations emerged. Almonds were sometimes replaced with other nuts or dried fruits, and flavorings like anise or citrus zest were added for extra flair. This adaptability allowed biscotti to evolve with changing tastes and preferences.

The Renaissance Influence: A Staple for the Elite

During the Renaissance period, biscotti took on a more refined role. Wealthy families in Italy enjoyed them as a delicacy, often dipping them in Vin Santo, a sweet dessert wine. The crunchy texture of biscotti made them an ideal companion for sipping wine or coffee.

Modern-Day Popularity: A Global Treat

Today, biscotti have transcended their humble beginnings in Prato and can be found in bakeries worldwide. Their enduring popularity lies in their versatility; they can be enjoyed on their own, dipped in coffee, tea, or wine, or even used as an ingredient in desserts like tiramisu.

In conclusion, the journey of biscotti is a tale of simplicity, versatility, and endurance. From their humble origins in the sun-soaked town of Prato to becoming a global treat enjoyed by people of all backgrounds, biscotti's story mirrors the very essence of Italian cuisine: simple, yet bursting with flavor and history. So, as you savor Amanda's biscotti with your next cup of coffee, know that you are indulging in a centuries-old tradition that has enchanted palates throughout the ages.

Sourdough Starter from 1893

 I would like to talk a little bit about sourdough bread. More specifically, our sourdough bread.

We have two starters that Paul uses to create Andover Sourdough.

One date back to 2004. The other dates back to 1893.

The 2004 starter is used in Paul’s white sourdough. He uses unbleached, unbromated stone ground-aged bread flour for this bread.

The 1893 date back to a mining community in Cripple Creek, Colorado. This starter is used in Paul’s Multigrain, Whole Wheat Sourdough, and all of our Rye bread.

In his book ‘Sourdough Culture’ Eric Pallant writes about the history of Sourdough and, in particular, the 1893 Starter that we use here at Bakery On The Square.

When we were in Meadville, we owned The Creative Crust Bakery. Eric apprenticed with Paul for research for his book.

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