Welcome to Food Wars, where we break down store-bought products and compare them to our homemade counterparts. Judging is based on ingredients, nutrition, cost and taste. This month’s challenge is buttermilk bread. Let the battle begin!
Until a month ago, I was like most Americans and I bought my bread at the store. We ran out of bread and I thought that it couldn’t possibly be that difficult to make. So I attempted my first batch of bread and it while it was good, I wasn’t sure I wanted to put forth the work to make it every few weeks.
My second batch was the potato buttermilk loaf you see above. One slice and I was hooked. It was delicious and suddenly I didn’t mind the work that it took to make. While it took a little bit of time, baking bread wasn’t rocket science and it didn’t require crazy ingredients or skills to make.
However, what SOLD me on never buying store-bought bread again was this:
Unbleached enriched wheat flour, buttermilk, sugar, yeast, soybeal oil, salt, water, wheat gluten, calcium propionate, monoglycerides, calcium sulfate, citric acid, soy lecithin, calcium carbonate, datem.
Do you see more black or more red?
I see more red, and that concerns me. Why? Because as I was reading the list of ingredients in Orowheat’s Buttermilk Bread, I highlighted those that I wasn’t completely sure what it was, and changed its color to red.
In a single store-bought loaf of bread, there are more ingredients listed that I don’t know, than I do know.
Oddly enough, add some flour, eggs and a potato to the black ingredients listed and you easily have homemade bread.
Let’s break these unknown ingredients down just a little bit. It is Food Wars after all and we need to be informed in this battle.
Enriched Unbleached Whole Wheat Flour: It’s easiest to break this down going backward. “Whole wheat flour” is good. We want the “whole” before the “flour.” “Unbleached” is good too, because we all know it’s not good to eat bleach. “Enriched” is tricky. It sounds great, but what it means is that when the flour was processed from the wheat, important minerals and vitamins were lost and they put synthetic (fake) minerals and vitamins back in to make up for it.
Soybean Oil: While it sounds healthy, soybean oil is just another form of vegetable oil. It’s highly processed and thus doesn’t have many nutrients left for us. Surprisingly, it also has more fat (and yes, the bad fat) than butter (the real kind).
Wheat Gluten: Wheat gluten is the protein derived from the wheat germ and gives bread its rise and fluffiness.
Calcium Propionate: This is a preservative to help prevent mold and spoilage. Apparently though it’s been deemed “slightly toxic” by Pesticide Action Network North America…
Monoglycerides: A product of the lab, this is a manufacturered agent that increases loaf volume and aids in creating a smooth, soft crumb.
Calcium Sulfate: Also known as PLASTER OF PARIS, this is an active ingredient in “enriched” flours and is also a preservative.
Citric Acid: A natural preservative that adds a sour taste to foods (maybe to enhance the taste of buttermilk?).
Soy Lecithin: Naturally found in soy beans, soy lecithin is extracted and used to help keep dough from sticking and to aid the rise.
Calcium Carbonate: A preservative and anti-caking agent and not harmful in small doses.
DATEM: An acronym for Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Ester of Mono- and Diglycerides, this builds the gluten network in the dough so that the bread is softer. It’s usually derived from soya bean oil and it’s chemically created in a lab.
Wow… I’m suddenly really afraid to read any other labels in my house. I don’t really know I how I feel about eating fake vitamins. What’s wrong with real ones? I’m not completely and utterly opposed to soybean oil, but why not choose butter if it does the same thing? Calcium propionate and calcium sulfate scare me. You want me to eat something that’s been deemed toxic?!
And intentionally ingest plaster of paris?!?!
I’m willing to give a little on the ingredients that help with the rise and such, but it all just seems so processed.
To be fair, here’s the nutrition information and ingredient list for the homemade version:
Potatoes, butter, yeast, buttermilk, eggs, sugar, salt and bread flour.
Anyone have any problems with those ingredients?
Me neither. Let’s move on then, shall we?
One loaf of Orowheat’s Buttermilk bread costs $3.19 at Target.
After breaking down the price per unit for each ingredient in the homemade version, the total cost for the recipe is $2.99. The recipe makes three loaves, so each loaf costs $0.99. (This could be reduced even further if you chose to substitute regular milk and vinegar instead of buttermilk, or had 4 loaf pans… because I think this recipe could make four loaves.)
I’ve had Orowheat’s version and it’s very good. Armed with a knife and butter, I can take out my fair share.
My husband can do (and already has done) the same thing with the homemade version. He’s come home on numerous occasions and pulled out a knife and the butter before the kids had a chance to run in from the other room to wrap their arms around him (and I’m sure biking to and from work doesn’t contribute to his hunger 😉 ). He’s asked me to make this instead of buying bread, which I think speaks mouthfuls.
Homemade. It is really hard for the store-bought to win when it has eight ingredients added to help the other ingredients do their job. The price alone would cause me to make my own bread, even if my family didn’t love it.
Are you willing to read the labels in your pantry to see what you’ve been eating?