Phthalates In Food- When Labelling Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story

Over the summer months I’ve been reading rather than writing. I’m currently reading Nate Silver’s ‘The Signal And The Noise’, which is a fascinating look at the world of Big Data; not really the sort of thing I discuss here, but I would highly recommend it none the less. What might be more relevant to my readers however is a book which has made a huge impression on myself and my family; it has changed the way we look at many foods and has genuinely altered the way we source and cook ingredients. Continue reading

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Water Content Of Sourdough- Is Wetter Really Better?

I have a confession to make: I first attempted to take up sourdough baking around five or six years ago, but gave up after several weeks because of frustration. I couldn’t decide whether I was just a rubbish baker, or whether all the hype around sourdough was a case of everyone admiring the Emperor’s new clothes. Self-taught, using online resources such as The Fresh Loaf, I found my breads lacked structure, and resembled vulcanised rubber when being chewed. The dough was extremely difficult to handle, and refused to accept shaping into anything other than a flat ovoid. It’s hard to enjoy baking when the process becomes a bit of an ordeal, and the result is unspectacular. When my starter developed a mould infestation after several days of neglect, I felt almost relieved to allow it to succumb. Continue reading

What Is Diastatic Malt Flour?

I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with new ingredients this week; not only have I recently discovered a wonderful local Irish wholemeal flour, but I received a surprise package from BakeryBits in the mail.
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Phytic Acid- The Antinutrient In Your Bread

When it comes to choosing our breads and breakfast cereals, I think it’s fair to say we all know we should be eating more wholemeal/wholegrain products. There are several very good reasons for this- wholemeal flour, which includes more of the outer parts of the grain, is a good source of dietary fibre for one, and the great majority of us in the western world do not eat enough fibre to maintain healthy gut function. These parts of the grain also contain far higher levels of vitamins and minerals than the soft endosperm which goes into making white flour. In fact, almost 90% of some key nutrients are lost in the extraction process, making white flour a food with poor nutritional value. For this reason, flour millers are legally required to supplement these flours with B vitamins once the extraction process is complete in order to prevent widespread nutrient deficiencies. This seems a convoluted way of producing a nutritious¬†product doesn’t it- removing naturally occurring nutrients to later replace them with industrially-produced imitations. So we’re agreed- wholemeal all the way, right? Continue reading