baking organic bread, organic flour, water footprint, Water sustainability

Eating less water: Baking Bread

After a class this past Saturday, I donned my purple apron to do something less esoteric but just as creative and fulfilling as writing. I joined nine other women at a friends home to learn how to bake bread. Not just any bread but ‘water sustainable’ organic whole wheat bread* and French baguettes. 

My friend Florencia, over at Eat Less Water held a baking class. She believes that the most important water conservation that any of us can do happens at the kitchen table. Globally, water scarcity is a problem that is getting worse as cities and populations grow. The needs for water increase with particular methods used in agriculture, industry and our households. The water problem is much better explained at Florencia’s site. (That photo up there is ‘for reals’ and taken by Florencia). 

We not only learned how to bake bread but we also received an education in water sustainability. We heard about the types of water used to produce wheat, types of wheat flour, dry farming, water footprint, sustainable food choices, and local sources to purchase flour and honey. 

Who knew that green water (natural water) sources are better for our planet? We use less water. Blue water is from other than rain sources. Blue water is polluted with nitrogen and petroleum from synthetic pesticides by products. Florencia emphasized that “…water doesn’t disappear but clean water does each time chemicals, nitrogen, and petroleum (all by-products of food production) find their way into streams, rivers or underground aquifers.” 

I was listening so hard that I put salt instead of sugar into my yeast. But I must say the containers weren’t labeled so I used the white salt instead of the brown raw sugar. My Pyrex bowl full of organic flour had to be dumped. I was grief stricken. Florencia said “no worries, the chickens love the stuff.” So out I went to her chicken coop to sling wet dough at them. She was right, all seven stayed inside the coop running after the dough.

After that it was back to the drawing board. I stirred the yeast into warm water, added sugar and set it aside for 30 minutes. Florencia had a bowl of whole wheat bread for me to knead. It was pretty much like making tortillas but on a larger scale and for a longer time. I caught up with the rest of the group who were well into kneading their doughy balls of bread amid clouds of flour. 

Ten or so minutes later we had nine large mounds of bread dough sitting on her huge table. Butter is spread on the bottom of the bowl before the dough is topped with a clean dishtowel. I have Vegan Son to think about so I used Olive Oil. We set those bowls aside to take home and bake after they rose for an hour or more. 

Florencia brought out some prepared white flour dough that brimmed to the top of her ceramic bowl. She demonstrated the punch we get to deliver to the dough before it is hand formed into three French Baguettes. After slicing three cuts across their length she brushed them with an egg white wash. The whole wheat dough isn’t punched but placed into loaf pans for sandwich bread. 

All the while we smelled yeasty, sweet aroma’s drifting out of her kitchen. She had French Baguettes and Whole Wheat loaves already baking.  She opened the oven door and showed us how to check for ‘doneness’ by gently striking the top of the loaves with a wooden spoon. The hollow thunk signaled its readiness. 

After the loaves were placed on the table, Florencia brought out the organic butter and a huge glass barrel of local organic honey. There was a line to pick up slices. Heaven is butter on warm whole wheat bread drizzled with honey. 

Next month is “Making Homemade Pizza,” at Florencia’s. Check out her website for much more information about food and its water footprint.

The Whole Wheat Bread recipe is on Florencia’s website.

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