Picture this: you have guests for lunch or dinner and you offer them a drink when they arrive. With the kindness and the greatness that distinguishes you, you offer to prepare some glasses of water with coloring agent, carbon dioxide and tons of sugar or aspartame. Mmm, your guests are sure to salivate at the prospect of tasting this delicious beverage. Well, that sounds exactly like one of the many sodas whose drinking we’ve come to find normal, though I won’t mention its name. Doesn’t it sound disgusting? Perhaps it is. You’re probably wondering what’s this all about. Well, a few days ago a respected Spanish mineral water company offered to send me a bottle of Vichy Catalán. I accepted for three reasons: first because D. and I have been drinking Vichy Catalán for 20 years, the second because I was assured that by the acceptance of this gift I committed to nothing, and the third that this company has the good sense to use glass to bottle the water. And the prospective of talking or not talking about the water in my blog made me reflect on what we drink and why.
At present I only drink water and wine (and gallons of cava when the gods are propitious…, and I don’t drink beer because it tastes like pee…). Don’t think that this has always been that way, in the past I used to drink that soda whose name I don’t remember. Until I started having weight problems and became interested in nutritional issues. And to wonder what foods and drinks are harmful, not only for weight, but for your overall health. I know, many of you will tell me that one can’t always stop and think about everything he does. Well, it depends. If I were invited to dinner by George Clooney it wouldn’t take me very long to decide if it’s good or bad for my body (a few milliseconds, plus it’s neither good nor bad, it’s sheer science fiction), but when it comes to what I put into my body, you might as well think about it. Others could object that I shouldn’t drink alcohol then. Certainly I don’t drink it every day, but I take my dose of red wine antioxidant… To cut a long story short, I’ve been drinking this sparkling water for 20 years because it’s delicious, with a nice salty touch of its own. I think it was one of my sisters-in-law who introduced it in the family and her oldest daughter baptized it as spiked water when she was little… It’s sad that spring water producers have to fund studies to prove that the mineral water is good for your health… my grandmother knew that. Michael Pollan is right to advise us not to eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t consider edible… But it seems that humans have no common sense and we need to be reminded of the obvious.
Stop the musings. This gift seemed an ideal opportunity to test the action of carbonated water in a homemade bread, so that’s what I did. I used an organic flour that I brought from my trip to Denmark because it showed some nice little pictures of bread in the package… but had rather little gluten, so I noticed when the time came to use it, at least the package read 10% (mmm, and the Roskilde supermarket was a bit out of my way to return the flour…).
Bread with sparkling water
- 300ml good sparkling water
- 480g bread flour
- 135g sourdough starter 100% hydration (50/50 wt.)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 5g salt
- Mix all the ingredients except the salt, leave to autolyze. I used Dan Lepard’s kneading system, shaped the dough into a ball and left it to ferment, covered.
- After one hour proofing, I folded the dough once and put it in the fridge to retard overnight.
- The next day I left it at room temperature to warm up and resume the fermentation (around 3 hours). When doubled, I shaped it into a plump batard.
- Once the bread had doubled, I put it into my oven at 250°C. Since my oven is disastrous, as soon as I opened it four or five times to spray water, the temperature dropped to 230° and remained so throughout the baking. The bread took 40 minutes to score an inner temperature of 92ºC.
The result was a fairly densely crumbed bread, very tasty and with a nice crispy crust. As yesterday it wasn’t my most brilliant day, my results are inconclusive because in order to check the difference sparkling water can make in a bread I should have used my regular flour, as I haven’t the basis to compare, because the Danish flour was a bit weird. On one hand I mentioned it showed a very low percentage of protein in the package, on the other hand while kneading it gave me the feeling that the dough was very strong. Perhaps the density of the crumb is due to not having done a thorough kneading… I should have waited till the next day to eat the bread, but I couldn’t restrain myself and half of it disappeared on the midday meal. It was gorgeous, despite its faults…
This one I’m sending to Wild Yeast’s Yeastspotting.