Thursday, October 6, 2011
The History of Bread
Last night, The House of Castello was feeling the urge to learn more about the history of bread. Since, of course, it goes hand in hand with a delicious imported Blue cheese like Castello, bread can make or break a meal. WNYC, the New York affiliate of NPR, hosted a seminar and tasting on “Bread and Grains” at their Varick Street recording studio. Castello tasted fresh, crusty bread from Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC, as well as wine and apple cider from local vendors. But where was the cheese?
Here’s what we learned about bread and baking – the food, which as a storied history back through biblical times, is really all about the quality of flour. The ingredients in bread are simple: flour (preferably unbleached), salt, water, and yeast. The yeast will make the dough rise as the cells release carbon dioxide as they reproduce via budding (a form of cell division, aka mitosis). So of course, like we know here at the House of Castello, the ingredients matter a lot.
We also learned how to make pizza – one of the most quotidian foods for the masses – into a gourmet and elegant meal. Some tips: 1) Do not over-top your pizza. Too much cheese or sauce will cause the dough to get soggy and heavy. Employ a less-is-more mentality. 2) Do not add “dry” ingredients until the pizza is out of the oven. We’re talking about basil, sundried tomatoes… don’t add these toppings until the end. 3) No olive oil until the pizza is out of the oven. 4) Hot oven is key: the hotter, the better – bake the pizza for about 8 minutes only. You want that crispy crust that can only be achieved in a hot, dutch oven.