I have been taking a food science class this semester and it has been a very interesting experience to say the least.  Every week of this semester, we have spent three hours in the food lab playing with different ingredients in various recipes to see how straying from the original recipe changes the end result.  One week we made cookies where one group followed the recipe exactly and the other three groups replaced the sugar with an artificial sweetener.  One group used Splenda, one group used Aspartame, and the last group used Stevia.  Of course the original recipe was the best.  The cookies flattened out and were moist, they were everything you could hope for in a cookie.  The other three cookies however did not flatten out and stayed in a spherical ball shape, they were also very dry and crumbly.  The artificial sweeteners also did a number on the flavor of the cookies, Stevia was way too sweet and Aspartame left a bitter aftertaste.  Splenda was probably the best out of the three artificial sweeteners that were used.  If you are looking to cut out a few calories and reduce the amount of sugar in your cookie, Splenda is definitely the way to go.  It just blew my mind that replacing sugar with an artificial sweetener changed the flavor and texture as much as it did.

The last week of lab we were assigned a project where we had to choose a recipe to make healthier.  My group chose to do French bread because who doesn’t love bread?  The recipe we used can be found on Your Home Based Mom’s blog (I posted the link to this recipe at the end of the post).  To make this recipe healthier, we used whole wheat flour instead of white flour, artificial sweetener instead of sugar, and an olive oil dip recipe we found on Food.com instead of butter.  The original French bread recipe didn’t call for butter, but we added a half stick of butter to the top of the loaf during the last six-seven minutes of baking.  We did this because this is one of our group member’s favorite ways to make bread, this also made it a lot easier to make a healthier version of the French bread.

In the picture below, you can definitely tell the difference between the two recipes. The one on the left is the original recipe we used from Your Home Based Mom, and the one on the right is our healthy modification.

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At the end of this lab we had to present our recipes as sample A and sample B so that the other students could taste each recipe without and bias and decide which they liked best.

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As you can see, it is very obvious as to which sample is the original (left) and which one is the healthy version (right).  You can also see that the whole wheat bread is topped with an olive oil dip (I included the recipe at the end of the post).

We had to write a lab report over this lab and we were asked to calculate the nutritional content of the two different recipes.

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There was definitely a difference in the nutritional content of the two recipes.  The healthier recipe had fewer calories, fat, cholesterol, and sugar.  The sodium and fiber were increased, so overall we were successful in creating a healthier recipe.

Here’s the recipe we used with a few modifications to make the bread less dense and than our original modified recipe was.

Healthier French Bread

Ingredients:

1/4 cup warm water

1 package of dry active yeast

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water

1 egg white plus 1 Tablespoon water

Directions:

1.) Combine water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar into a bowl and allow to stand for about 5 minutes (we had to go back to using sugar instead of artificial sweetener because the sugar makes the yeast happy, and when yeast is happy it forms carbon dioxide bubbles so that the bread turns out light and fluffy).

2.) Add remaining sugar, salt, and water to the bowl with the yeast and combine.

3.) Add the all purpose flour and the whole wheat flour.  Combine and knead for 5 minutes.

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4.) Let dough rest for about 20 minutes until it has doubled in size.  While dough is rising, preheat oven to 300 degrees F and start to boil a saucepan of water (maybe about half full)

5.) Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about a half inch thick and roll dough up jelly roll style and turn ends under

6.) Place loaf seam down onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and cut 3 diagonal slits onto the top of the loaf (about a half inch deep, we tried 1/4 inch like the original recipe called for but it wasn’t deep enough)

7.) Mix together the egg white and Tablespoon of water.  Brush mixture on top of the bread loaf.

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8.) Turn off the oven.  Place the pan of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven and place the cookie sheet with the bread loaf on it on the top rack.  Allow to rise for about 20 minutes.

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9.) After the 20 minutes have passed, remove the pan of water and turn the oven on to 425 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes.

10.) Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake 6-8 minutes

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I hope this inspires some of you to play around with recipes to try and make them healthier!

Link for the original Easy French Bread recipe:  http://www.yourhomebasedmom.com/easy-french-bread/

Link for the Olive Oil Dip we used to spread on top of our healthy modification recipe:  http://www.food.com/recipe/olive-oil-bread-dip-124867