Simplifying the Pantry: Why Less is More
Last week I heard an NPR story that "Panera Is The Latest To Drop Artificial Ingredients From Its Food." The story explains:
"Panera's head chef, Dan Kish, says that as he and his team pored over the hundreds of additives in the ingredients that Panera uses, they asked two questions, What is this? And why is it used? ... 'We think a simplified pantry is a better pantry,' he says."
Regardless of Panera Bread's obviosu marketing strategy behind this announcement, I'm glad that consumers are asking for less additives and preservatives and that the commercial food industry is responding. I'm not particularly interested in putting myself and my product in Panera's camp for a variety of reasons, but in this instance I couldn't agree more with Kish's statement that a simplified pantry is a better one.
That's why I can count the ingredients in my pantry on two hands: Four different kinds of flour, spelt kernels, rye kernels, and salt. That's it.
Part of what allows me to keep my pantry so simple is because the art of bread making is so complex. The ingredients are few, but the proportions of different grains, varying fermentation times, and increased or decreased levels of hydration will alter the flavor of the bread. Even baking in a different location, which results in a different community of yeast in the sourdough, will impact the final bread's taste.
When it comes to baking, less is truly more and it's the complexity found in simplicity that makes this craft truly exciting.