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The Approachable Loaf

The Bread Lab sets out the parameters for the “Approachable Loaf,” a true whole-grain bread made by artisan bakers meant for mass consumption. A new bread manifesto!

Picture an artisan loaf. It might be a round boule or oval-shaped bâtard, dark brown or slightly charred, score marks decorating the crust, and an open crevice where a hot oven spring has burst open the loaf.

A flour-dusted artisan baker passes this beautiful flour-dusted loaf to you. Maybe it’s still warm, smelling heady and fresh.

That’s what many people picture. But it’s no longer always the case.

Artisan bread has turned a corner

The Bread Lab Collective, a U.S.-based “think tank” of modern bread makers, has made a bit of a splash over the past year with a formula it calls the “Approachable Loaf.”

It’s a soft, whole wheat loaf made in a bread pan, sliced, and wrapped in a plastic bag. It looks like many of the packages in the bread aisle of your supermarket. 

The difference is it’s made with at least 60% whole wheat flour — real whole wheat — and preferably 100%.

In a recent New York Times article, baker Blair Marvin said all her preconceived notions of good bread didn’t matter. If her own kids preferred eating sifted white bread laced with preservatives, something had to give.

She and her bakery developed a version of the Approachable Loaf called “Vermont Redeemer Bread” after a local variety of wheat. The bakery produces hundreds of these loaves a week and sells them at nearby grocery stores and supermarkets.

Marvin and her husband operate Elmore Mountain Bread, recently rated one of the best bakeries in the U.S.

“Everybody should have access to healthy food,” she says in the New York Times article. “We’re trying to make something recognizable to the general population. It’s a way of getting real bread into people’s diets.”

Response to widespread indifference

The Bread Lab Collective developed Approachable Bread in response to widespread indifference to nutritious, hand-made loaves. Making healthy bread that looks like store-bought might change some minds.

The criteria they set for their new formula included:

Loose nutritional guidelines allow industrial baking companies to make misleading claims about their ingredients.
  • The bread must be baked in a pan and sliced.
  • It should contain no more than seven ingredients.
  • No non-food, such as chemicals and preservatives.
  • It should consist of at least 60% whole wheat—preferably 100%.
  • It should be priced under $6 per loaf.
  • Ten cents of every loaf sold returns to The Bread Lab to support further research of other whole grain products.

In Canada, bread labels that claim to be 100% Whole Wheat can list their primary ingredient, “Whole-grain whole wheat flour including the germ.” But you know when you feel the loaf that something isn’t right. It has the soft, airy touch of Wonder Bread. How can it be 100% whole wheat.

The flour used in most “store-bought loaves” has much of the bran and germ sifted out of the grain, the most nutritious parts. But an industrial bakery can still call it whole wheat if it adds some of brand and germ back into the flour. Thus, “Whole grain whole wheat, including the germ.” 

Tip of the hat to the Bread Lab

But let’s tip our hats to the Bread Lab, which identifies whole grain bread as being made with flour in which the whole kernel goes into the mill, and the whole kernel comes out of the mill (in flour form).” In other words, nothing is sifted out then added back in later. It is whole, unmodified flour.

That makes more sense to me than this industrial baking chicanery. The Approachable Loaf is the real deal.

The Bread Lab recently published a collection of recipes and ideas called “Unsifted” that makes for good reading. It offers several whole grain recipes and techniques, including the formula for the Approachable Loaf. You can download a PDF of the collection here.

The Bread Lab is affiliated with Washington State University in Burlington, Washington. It researches wheat varieties, barley, buckwheat, and other small grains for their farming potential as well as for craft baking, cooking, malting, brewing, and distilling.

An approachable bread manifesto

The Approachable Loaf, it seems to me, is a statement — a bread manifesto of sorts. A simple loaf can be as nutritious as it is great-tasting and easy to make.

The formula was created by Jeff Yankellow, a collective member and sales manager for the King Arthur Flour Company.

“It’s not the bricks of whole wheat bread that you think of from the hippie days,” Yankellow said in the Times article. “We’re making really good stuff.”

Members of the Bread Lab Collective make and sell their own versions of the Approachable Loaf, depending on local tastes and local grains. Modest changes to the recipe along with different names. The King Arthur Flour Company named its version, “Just Bread.”

The Bread Lab also promotes regional grains, whether it’s grown in the U.S. northeast, the west coast, or the Canadian prairie (Red Fife).

Easy to make, delicious and nutritious

The great thing about the Approachable Loaf is that it’s easy to make. With only seven ingredients, there is no magic to the recipe, and the techniques are straightforward.

I encourage Pender reader to download the formula and try it for yourselves. Aim to make it your “house bread!” Fill your kitchen with the aroma of fresh-baked bread, please your tummy. Use locally sourced and milled flour.

And if anyone needs a sourdough starter, I’m here to help and advise!

Happy baking and eating!


Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Pender Island Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Pender Island Apple Bread; Happy Monk Blog: A Water World; And Please Note: We're taking a Bread Break for Two Weeks! - [ See link in Profile ]

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35 2

Rugbrød going out Sunday morning, for smørrebrød at lunch! For all to enjoy, but especially for my two Danish friends who have been clamouring for this Danish style rye for weeks! And @ellasharpmorton just back from Denmark, triumphant from her artistic conquests and rugbrød in her tummy!
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#rye #ryebread #rugbrød #danishrye #danishryebread #smørrebrød #openfacedsandwich #openfacesandwich #openfacedsandwiches #woodfiredovens #woodfiredbread #woodfiredryebread #breadhead #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #bbga #southpenderisland #southpender #penderislandbc #penderisland
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Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (R Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (Rugbrød); My daughter, Ella Morton's art exhibits; Blog Post: Coronavirus in the Sky; PLUS: Wood-fired Oven Update - [ See link in Profile ]

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27 1
Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Baker's Choice: Rye-Currant Pan Loaf; Blog Re-Post: The Island Within; And Mildrith Gratitude - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Baker's Choice: Rye-Currant Pan Loaf; Blog Re-Post: The Island Within; And Mildrith Gratitude - [ See link in profile ] ...

38 2
Pillowy, sesame-flecked loaves of Harvest Bread, o Pillowy, sesame-flecked loaves of Harvest Bread, or Struan Bread by another name. You throw in a little of whatever grain and meal you have, in this case oats, cooked brown rice, cornmeal, drizzle some Pender Island honey, lots of wholegrain flour. And make it with sourdough! A glorious, flavourful loaf, tender. Sublime when eaten hot from the toaster, schmeared with salted butter.
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#struanbread #harvestbread #pillowybread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #peterreinhart #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Pillowy, sesame-flecked loaves of Harvest Bread, or Struan Bread by another name. You throw in a little of whatever grain and meal you have, in this case oats, cooked brown rice, cornmeal, drizzle some Pender Island honey, lots of wholegrain flour. And make it with sourdough! A glorious, flavourful loaf, tender. Sublime when eaten hot from the toaster, schmeared with salted butter.
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#struanbread #harvestbread #pillowybread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #peterreinhart #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbakers #southerngulfislandsbakeries #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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#happymonkbaking Seed Feast!
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#sourdough #sourdoughbread #bread #breadhead #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #redfife #redfifewheat #seedbread #realbread #bbga
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Thank God for dappled things ... Happy Monk breads Thank God for dappled things ... Happy Monk breads do not involve the death of any trees. The wood used to heat  Mildrith the wood-fired oven comes from wind-fallen trees on Pender Island which are donated by property owners for a tax receipt. They are then bucked and chopped by volunteers of the Green Angel Choppers and sold  to Pender residents for the going rate of $350 for a cord of firewood. Proceeds are then put into worthy community projects, such as funding solar energy panels for the community hall.  The Happy Monk Baking Company is just one stakeholder in a chain of community “pay it forward” endeavor!
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#community #payitforward #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #woodfiredovens #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #woodfiredhottubs #woodfiredbaking

Thank God for dappled things ... Happy Monk breads do not involve the death of any trees. The wood used to heat Mildrith the wood-fired oven comes from wind-fallen trees on Pender Island which are donated by property owners for a tax receipt. They are then bucked and chopped by volunteers of the Green Angel Choppers and sold to Pender residents for the going rate of $350 for a cord of firewood. Proceeds are then put into worthy community projects, such as funding solar energy panels for the community hall. The Happy Monk Baking Company is just one stakeholder in a chain of community “pay it forward” endeavor!
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#community #payitforward #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #woodfiredovens #woodfiredoven #woodfiredbread #woodfiredhottubs #woodfiredbaking
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Happy Monk Tidings - July 29 - Baker's Choice this Happy Monk Tidings - July 29 - Baker's Choice this week: Rye-Buttermilk Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Pandemic is Beginning to Leave Its Mark. Again! [ See Link in Profile ]

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‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, But bei ‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
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#johnkeats #johnkeatspoems #odetoanightingale #summer #poetry

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
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#johnkeats #johnkeatspoems #odetoanightingale #summer #poetry
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Spelt-Honey loaves get a dose of Barry’s Bees ho Spelt-Honey loaves get a dose of Barry’s Bees honey for tomorrow’s Baker’s Choice bread. This is really delicious honey and it comes from our fair Pender Isle! Beautiful aroma and subtle flower taste!  Can’t wait to start pulling these loaves out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven!
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#honey #honeybread #spelt #speltbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #artisanbread #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #baker #bakery #bbga #realbread #breadhead #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Spelt-Honey loaves get a dose of Barry’s Bees honey for tomorrow’s Baker’s Choice bread. This is really delicious honey and it comes from our fair Pender Isle! Beautiful aroma and subtle flower taste! Can’t wait to start pulling these loaves out of Mildrith, the wood-fired oven!
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#honey #honeybread #spelt #speltbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #artisanbread #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #baker #bakery #bbga #realbread #breadhead #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Happy Monk Tidings - This week's Baker's Choice: Spelt and Honey Loaf, featuring Barry's Bees Honey!; And Blog Excerpt: Confessions of a Would-Be Baker [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings: Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye f Happy Monk Tidings: Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye for the rye aficionados and the Happy Monk Blog: This Living Rock Island - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings: Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye for the rye aficionados and the Happy Monk Blog: This Living Rock Island - [ See link in profile ] ...

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The signature of a real wood-fired oven, written o The signature of a real wood-fired oven, written on the backside of a Salish Sourdough loaf from last week. You can see the rectangular impressions of the hearth firebricks. This is as good as a certificate of authenticity, made by Mildrith and the Happy Monk, South Pender Island!😃 you won’t see it in pan loaves, though. Look for it next time you open up a bag of HM bread! 
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

The signature of a real wood-fired oven, written on the backside of a Salish Sourdough loaf from last week. You can see the rectangular impressions of the hearth firebricks. This is as good as a certificate of authenticity, made by Mildrith and the Happy Monk, South Pender Island!😃 you won’t see it in pan loaves, though. Look for it next time you open up a bag of HM bread!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Sourdough Pan Loaf raised on a pedestal.
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #sandwichloaf #panloaf #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Olive Loaf, with a couple of Kalamatas winking at Olive Loaf, with a couple of Kalamatas winking at you from the crust. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #olives #olivebread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Olive Loaf, with a couple of Kalamatas winking at you from the crust. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #olives #olivebread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Inside Mildrith yesterday morning, 11 Salish Sourd Inside Mildrith yesterday morning, 11 Salish Sourdoughs risen and baked exuberantly to a luscious golden colour. The oven had baked two loads previously and it’s still just shy of 500ºF in there. She’s my inanimate love with a soul!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Inside Mildrith yesterday morning, 11 Salish Sourdoughs risen and baked exuberantly to a luscious golden colour. The oven had baked two loads previously and it’s still just shy of 500ºF in there. She’s my inanimate love with a soul!
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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100% Rye with Currants, a happy loaf to enjoy on t 100% Rye with Currants, a happy loaf to enjoy on this day of rest. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbaking #sourdoughbread #rye #ryebread #ryebaking #ryecurrantbread #southpender #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #penderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery #bbga

100% Rye with Currants, a happy loaf to enjoy on this day of rest. .
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#woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #sourdough #sourdoughbaking #sourdoughbread #rye #ryebread #ryebaking #ryecurrantbread #southpender #southpenderisland #southerngulfislands #southerngulfislandsbc #penderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #happymonkbakery #bbga
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4 thoughts on “The Approachable Loaf

  1. What a selfless monk: encouraging your faithful customers to bake their own loaves!

    1. I have renounced all material concerns, retired to this island abbey and remain devoted to the purity and glory of Sourdough … and Mildrith, of course.

  2. David – I’ve been trying some ryes recently and found this blog interesting (also based on NYT article), especially the comments at the end. Thought it might interest you http://www.farine-mc.com/2017/01/the-new-york-timess-nordic-whole-grain-rye-takes-one-and-two.html

    Cheers

    1. Hi Brian … I’m always interested in different rye techniques. The blog post is great, and am familiar with MC-Farine’s writing and the Stanley Ginsberg book. Thanks for posting this, and may do a blog post on rye shortly!

      David

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