Bread Expert Guesses Which Bread Is More Expensive | Price Points

In this episode of 'Price Points', Epicurious challenges bread expert Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery to guess which one of two breads is more expensive. Lahey breaks down white bread, whole wheat bread, rye bread, sourdough bread, and focaccia bread. For each type, Jim analyzes, smells, and taste tests before guessing which bread costs more. Once the prices are revealed, he explains why.

Released on 9/25/2018

Credits

Starring: Jim Lahey

Transcript

00:00
Hi, my name is Jim Lahey, and I am a bread expert.
00:03
(upbeat music)
00:06
(bread crunching)
00:09
(laughing)
00:13
(bell dinging)
00:17
Look what we got here.
00:19
So, these are two white breads.
00:21
They look like they're made with 100% white flour,
00:23
but if it's cooked properly, you'll see
00:25
this kind of crackling on the outside of the bread
00:28
that's a result of the bread shrinking after it cools down.
00:32
This bread here, which definitely looks like
00:35
an industrially manufactured bread,
00:37
and instead of having cracks like this one does,
00:41
it has these wrinkles in it, which is the result of
00:45
all the additives that were put into the bread
00:47
to allow it to expand.
00:49
This bread looks more like modern bread.
00:52
The future.
00:53
Rocket ships.
00:54
This bread looks more like the past.
00:57
But I prefer this bread 'cause it's my personal bias.
01:00
However, I understand the utility
01:03
and the thought behind this.
01:05
This is the bread that has saved
01:08
hundreds of millions of people from starvation
01:11
because it can be manufactured industrially.
01:13
I'm gonna cut this one in half in the middle.
01:16
So, when we look at a loaf of bread
01:17
we can break it down into its parts.
01:19
There's the size, the shape, the color, the form.
01:24
When we look at the interior of the loaf of bread
01:27
we see what's called the crumb structure.
01:29
So, all those little holes, or bubbles, called alveoli.
01:33
So, the reason why flour is so white
01:36
is because of the milling process that takes place.
01:40
The grain itself has less carotenoids,
01:44
less pigments, color pigments in it,
01:46
and then during a high-speed milling process,
01:49
the carotenoids that are in it become blanched or bleached.
01:53
In a lot of cases with a lot of commercial wheat brands
01:57
that we all know and love, bromides and bleaching agents
02:00
are used to make it even whiter.
02:03
I'm gonna taste it just because I kinda feel like
02:06
if I don't...
02:08
It has a very yeasty smell.
02:12
So, let's taste it.
02:15
It is definitely tough.
02:18
And it's pleasant.
02:19
The salt's at about 2 1/2%.
02:22
Loaf B.
02:24
This looks like a foot-long hot dog bun, to me.
02:29
Cut it in half so you can see that
02:31
this is a very spongy crumb,
02:33
and you can see the difference right here side-by-side
02:37
the crust on this is thicker.
02:39
This crust on this is thinner.
02:41
The hydration on this dough is probably a lot less.
02:46
This is probably 65, 68% hydration.
02:50
Maybe even lower.
02:51
You can see when I tried cutting this bread
02:53
with a very sharp bread knife
02:55
it just crumbled and fell apart.
02:57
This bread, by contrast, kinda held together.
03:02
But this is obviously, there's no fight,
03:08
but it has, for me,
03:14
some kind of oil.
03:16
Something very unpleasant about it.
03:18
Based on the weight alone,
03:21
and also the manufacturing qualities, flavor, all that,
03:25
I would say that this is worth at least double what this is.
03:29
(drum rolling)
03:33
Aha.
03:36
Well, look at that.
03:37
I may have dissed on this loaf of bread,
03:39
but to its credit, it's probably saved
03:43
hundreds of millions of people from starvation
03:46
because the mass manufacture of bread has enabled countries,
03:50
societies to feed its population,
03:53
especially during times of great economic hardship.
03:59
Let's see what we have here.
04:01
This is bigger.
04:03
Light.
04:05
Smaller, light.
04:09
Crunchy.
04:12
Mushy.
04:14
I wonder what these are.
04:16
Well, this looks like it was baked in a pan.
04:19
I do smell natural fermentation.
04:23
Cinnamon? Vanilla?
04:26
Hmm, some unusual flavor profiles.
04:29
Hmm, this looks like this was baked on a stone hearth.
04:32
Look at this.
04:36
Does look like someone threw some flour on top
04:42
to make it look quote, unquote, rustic.
04:45
Although it doesn't look like that flour here
04:48
was incidental to the way that the bread was made.
04:53
It looks like it was done for effect.
04:56
I don't know what effect it has, but there it is.
05:00
I mean, this one's like, very, very, very, very dark,
05:03
so this bread must have some bitter flavors.
05:06
This has one score down the middle.
05:08
Little bit of burnt flour on here,
05:10
so I'm assuming there might be something in this dough
05:13
to cause such extreme coloration
05:17
but it looks really interesting.
05:18
I like it.
05:19
The salt in the dough crystallizes
05:21
on the inside of the alveoli, creating this lighter color.
05:25
What you're seeing really, is salt.
05:27
I call it salt scoring, but look at that lovely, even crumb.
05:36
I'm gonna cut open this loaf and see what we get.
05:42
Whoa.
05:43
That's color, huh?
05:44
This is a really open crumb structure.
05:48
This is a very tight crumb structure.
05:51
If I had to choose based on appearances,
05:53
this looks like probably a whole wheat bread.
05:56
When you take 100% of the grain and you mill it,
06:00
you end up with whole wheat flour.
06:02
That's the endosperm, it's the bran, the germ.
06:07
White flour goes through a series of sieves.
06:10
A series of screens, and has all the outside
06:16
of the wheat berry, so about roughly 30% of the wheat
06:19
is removed to make white flour.
06:23
Let's taste our loaf of breads.
06:27
Has a very chewy, almost rubbery texture to it.
06:33
Definitely see a lot of flecks of brown in here.
06:40
I would say this dough was put in a refrigerator
06:44
and allowed to proof or slow proof
06:48
for maybe six to 10 hours.
06:51
Based on the amount of blistering, maybe more.
06:55
It's got a very firm crust.
06:59
Has a somewhat, like a cakey crumb,
07:03
because it's kinda loose.
07:12
Extremely tart, but it has a lot going on.
07:16
Nutty, sweet, sour.
07:20
The texture is utterly bizarre.
07:23
If I had to guess, I without a question,
07:26
I would say this is the more expensive loaf of bread
07:28
just because of all the things in it
07:31
that tell me how it was made.
07:33
Its finished qualities are certainly higher
07:36
and more difficult.
07:38
(drum rolling)
07:40
Oh, there we go.
07:42
Yeah, look at that.
07:42
If I'm gonna spend $11 for a loaf of bread,
07:46
I'll buy this one for 11.
07:48
When you're shopping for a whole wheat bread,
07:49
the number one ingredient should say whole wheat flour.
07:53
So something can be sold as whole wheat,
07:55
but have very little whole wheat in it.
07:58
I'd question whether or not
08:00
this is actually a whole wheat bread,
08:04
although it could be a strain of white whole wheat.
08:07
Albino whole wheat, which has become very popular
08:10
for people who find the color of brown breads unappealing,
08:17
but they're both very good loaves of bread.
08:21
I can guess that we have rye bread here.
08:23
This looks like the standard American rye bread,
08:27
which really isn't truly rye bread.
08:29
It's mostly white flour.
08:32
And this here looks like real, whole grain rye sourdough.
08:39
And this is definitely,
08:43
this is definitely that.
08:45
This is a dense, a very dense bread.
08:47
This is obviously a lighter more sandwich-friendly bread.
08:52
If you were in Germany, or northern Europe, Scandinavia,
08:56
this is the bread of northern climes.
08:59
This bread is kind of like more like normal bread
09:01
that you would eat in a cafeteria, or a diner,
09:05
or a typical restaurant in America.
09:11
There's definitely some sugar,
09:13
or some syrup of some sort in here, maybe malt.
09:16
In terms of the crumb structure,
09:19
and this is obviously very fine and very dense.
09:21
This is like a brick.
09:22
Rye has less gluten, so typically,
09:25
when you see this traditional rye bread
09:28
you'll see it baked in a pan,
09:31
so it's always gonna have this square form.
09:32
You'll even see these little marks on the top,
09:35
which are equivalent of scoring the bread.
09:37
The dough is oftentimes pierced
09:39
to keep the consistency of the crumb even.
09:45
The acidity of this dough allows it to have
09:49
an incredibly long shelf life,
09:51
so there's something practical about the use of rye.
09:54
I'm gonna guess that this one's more expensive.
09:57
(drum rolling)
10:00
Whoa.
10:02
This bread has a lot of whole grain in it.
10:06
There's probably a lot more going on
10:08
in terms of the fermentation and the processing of this.
10:11
This loaf is a little bit more sandwich-ready.
10:14
I would even say it was probably formed by a machine
10:17
just by looking at the spiraling here.
10:20
It's so even and so consistent.
10:24
This would be a real 100% rye bread.
10:28
This would be marketed as a rye bread.
10:32
So, if you're looking for a rye bread,
10:34
depending on your preference, again, look at the packaging.
10:37
The number one ingredient should say rye flour.
10:41
Number one.
10:42
And that's definitely the case with this bread here.
10:49
Hmm.
10:52
Hmm.
10:55
Well, they're very dense, compact.
10:58
They're both very similar in that respect.
11:00
Crumb structure and the alveoli, more or less the same,
11:04
in terms of the density.
11:06
This does feel more moist
11:08
like maybe there's some additives to this bread.
11:12
This bread is a lot drier in here.
11:15
(energetic music)
11:17
Let's give it a taste.
11:24
It's tart.
11:27
Definitely a sourdough of some sort.
11:34
This doesn't smell sour at all.
11:38
A little acidity to it, but it smells like
11:41
a yeast-leavened bread, but tastes like a sourdough.
11:43
That's interesting.
11:44
A true sourdough, or naturally leavened bread,
11:47
is a combination of yeast and bacteria
11:51
that leaven and break down bread.
11:53
And in the process of leavening the bread,
11:56
as the dough begins to age, it changes its pH,
12:00
and it will drop as low as 4.4 pH
12:05
to produce that sour flavored bread.
12:09
The bread to my left,
12:10
I'm gonna assume it's a bread from a supermarket,
12:14
but when I tasted it, it tastes distinctively sour.
12:16
So, I'm gonna assume this is a bread leavened with yeast,
12:20
with a culture, meaning a mix of rye flour,
12:26
or enzymes to make it taste sour.
12:30
And I'm gonna assume that this is some small bakery
12:34
using natural leavening.
12:35
I would say most likely, this one's more expensive,
12:39
but we'll see.
12:40
(drum rolling)
12:43
Oh, there you go.
12:45
When you're tasting a loaf of sourdough bread,
12:48
compare it to a tomato.
12:50
An average tomato would have a pH of about 4.5, 4.4.
12:55
So, you're looking for that same level of acidity.
12:58
Trust your tongue.
13:01
Looks like we have some type of flatbreads.
13:03
Focaccia of some sort.
13:05
Looks like one of those commercially available,
13:09
pre-made, do your own pizza at home disc type things
13:13
that you find in supermarkets.
13:16
Has these weird kind of grates underneath it,
13:20
so maybe it was put on a wire rack to cool
13:23
after it was partially baked.
13:24
It feels kinda dense.
13:27
It's very floppy.
13:29
Smells like grain.
13:32
Has a lot of color on the bottom.
13:34
That means that it was actually cooked
13:36
on a hot surface or a hearth.
13:38
So, these are focaccia, for sure.
13:40
This bread looks like it has some cheese
13:42
or something on top of it.
13:43
This looks like it was probably dimpled by human hands.
13:48
It's extremely irregular.
13:50
Let's cut these open and see what we get
13:52
when you look inside.
13:54
I'm assuming because this is an industrial bread
13:56
that it has all sorts of functional food additives.
13:59
It looks like this bread wasn't that fermented.
14:02
This bread, on the other hand,
14:06
certainly looks a lot more fermented.
14:07
You can see the crumb is more open.
14:10
That's a very, very thin crust.
14:13
You can see the difference
14:14
if you want to do a crumb-parison.
14:17
Flatbreads are usually baked under dry conditions
14:23
because they don't need moisture to expand.
14:27
About 50% of the surface area of a flatbread
14:32
is on a hearth or a sold of an oven.
14:35
And as a result, the moisture inside,
14:38
the humidity and moisture inside the bread
14:40
can transpire through that surface
14:43
that the dough has contact on.
14:45
So obviously, with flatbreads,
14:48
you don't want to see them too crispy or crunchy,
14:51
unless of course it's a cracker,
14:52
which technically is a flatbread.
14:54
I've never done this.
14:56
So, I'm gonna taste for the very first time
14:58
a industrially produced...
15:04
That is pretty foul.
15:06
But I can see how some people might enjoy it.
15:08
Let's try this one here.
15:14
I can taste the olive oil.
15:15
It's very good.
15:17
So, this is definitely a focaccia
15:20
(speaking in foreign language).
15:22
I'm gonna guess that this bread costs more,
15:24
but I could be wrong.
15:25
(drum rolling)
15:27
Ooh yeah!
15:29
But not by much.
15:30
This bread makes more money, though,
15:32
'cause this is made industrially.
15:34
So, when you're out shopping for your focaccia
15:37
at your local retail baker,
15:39
what you want in a focaccia is that it's open.
15:41
The crumb is open and airy, and not dense.
15:45
The crust should be very thin.
15:47
You should definitely taste the salt and the olive oil.
15:50
When you're out there shopping for bread,
15:52
ask your local baker or retailer for a taste of the bread.
15:57
Ask how that bread was made.
15:59
Bread, after all, has been with us for over 14,000 years,
16:05
and it's something that should be available to all of us,
16:07
so go out there and ask for a taste.