What makes a good bread a good bread?

Today I want to share with you some old texts that are my main source of inspiration in healthy bread baking. They were written in the second half of the 19th century by Ellen G. White: a prominent Christian writer, lecturer and an active and influential health reformer. The following is a collection of excerpts from her book “Counsels on Diet and Food” chapter 18:

The Staff of Life

“Religion will lead mothers to make bread of the very best quality…. Bread should be thoroughly baked, inside and out. The health of the stomach demands that it be light and dry. Bread is the real staff of life, and therefore every cook should excel in making it”.

Religion in a Good Loaf. Sourness in bread is totally unfit for the human stomach.

“Some do not feel it is a religious duty to prepare food properly; hence they do not try to learn how. They let the bread sour before baking, and the saleratus (baking soda) added to remedy the cook’s carelessness makes it totally unfit for the human stomach. It requires thought and care to make good bread. But there is more religion in a good loaf of bread than many think”.

No soda or baking powder

“The use of soda or baking powder in breadmaking is harmful and unnecessary. Soda causes inflammation of the stomach and often poisons the entire system. Many housewives think that they cannot make good bread without soda, but this is an error. If they would take the trouble to learn better methods, their bread would be more wholesome, and, to a natural taste, it would be more palatable”.

No Milk in Yeast Bread

“In the making of raised or yeast bread, milk should not be used in the place of water. The use of milk is an additional expense, and it makes the bread much less wholesome. Milk bread does not keep sweet so long after baking as does that made with water, and it ferments more readily in the stomach”.

Light and sweet (not sour), small loaves thoroughly baked

“Bread should be light and sweet. Not the least taint of sourness should be tolerated. The loaves should be small, and so thoroughly baked that, as far as possible, the yeast germs shall be destroyed”.

Hot from the oven: no good to eat

“When hot, or new, raised bread of any kind is difficult of digestion. It should never appear on the table. This rule does not, however, apply to unleavened bread. Fresh rolls made of wheaten meal, without yeast or leaven, and baked in a well-heated oven, are both wholesome and palatable”.

Zwieback

“Zwieback, or twice-baked bread, is one of the most easily digested and most palatable of foods. Let ordinary raised bread be cut in slices and dried in a warm oven till the last trace of moisture disappears. Then let it be browned slightly all the way through. In a dry place this bread can be kept much longer than ordinary bread, and if reheated before using, it will be as fresh as when new”.

Old is better

“Bread which is two or three days old is more healthful than new bread. Bread dried in the oven is one of the most wholesome articles of diet”.

The Evils of Sour Bread

“The stomach has not power to convert poor, heavy, sour bread into good food; but this poor bread will convert a healthy stomach into a diseased one”.

“In many families we find dyspeptics, and frequently the reason of this is the poor bread. The mistress of the house decides that it must not be thrown away, and they eat it. Is this the way to dispose of poor bread? Will you put it into the stomach to be converted into blood? Has the stomach power to make sour bread sweet? heavy bread light? mouldy bread fresh?”

(It seems that EGW didn’t know rye sourdough in her times in The States. The sour bread she talks about is certainly wheat sourdough bread, which is very sour. I do not like it and, of course, I don’t bake it by principle.- Carlos Perrone).

Hot Biscuits

“Hot soda biscuits are often spread with butter, and eaten as a choice diet; but the enfeebled digestive organs cannot but feel the abuse placed upon them”.

No hot biscuits

“Hot biscuit raised with soda or baking powder should never appear upon our tables. Such compounds are unfit to enter the stomach. Hot raised bread of any kind is difficult of digestion”.

Whole-Wheat Bread Better Than White

“Fine-flour bread cannot impart to the system the nourishment that you will find in the unbolted-wheat bread. The common use of bolted-wheat bread cannot keep the system in a healthy condition”.

“For use in breadmaking, the superfine white flour is not the best. Its use is neither healthful nor economical. Fine-flour bread is lacking in nutritive elements to be found in bread made from the whole wheat. It is a frequent cause of constipation and other unhealthful conditions”.

Grains in Bread May Be Varied

“All wheat flour is not best for a continuous diet. A mixture of wheat, oatmeal, and rye would be more nutritious than the wheat with the nutrifying properties separated from it”.

No Sweet Breads sweetened with sugar

“Sweet breads and cookies we seldom have on our table. The less of sweet foods that are eaten, the better; these cause disturbances in the stomach, and produce impatience and irritability in those who accustom themselves to their use”.

“It is well to leave sugar out of the crackers that are made. Some enjoy best the sweetest crackers, but these are an injury to the digestive organs”.

(To see the whole chapter visit: https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_CD.305&para=384.2356 )