My mother, Millie Apter, is a world class bread maker. When I was growing up, homemade loaves were the rule rather than the exception. Four years ago when Millie's kneading days were cut short by arthritis my father bought her a bread machine. To say I gave my mother a hard time about this ridiculous purchase is a gross understatement. My reaction was about the same as our junior high school aged son's upon hearing that their mother was expecting a third child. "Just don't show up at school," threatened the eldest. "I don't want any of my friends to know what you and Daddy did." Mom didn't flinch when I accused her of being the culinary equivalent of The Bridges of Madison County. She didn't get flustered when I threatened to publish an exposé in Hartford's remaining daily. No, good old Mom simply smiled indulgently and sliced me a crusty wedge of deep, dark pumpernickel, followed by a hunk of sweet onion poppy seed braid, chased with a sticky bun so buttery, so tender, so mind bendingly perfect, that I demanded a bread machine of my own.
The first real Lora Brody "product" was a collaboration between Millie and me. Bread Machine Baking: Perfect Every Time was published in 1993 by William Morrow and Company. In the past three years we have been fortunate enough to watch this book and the companion volumes, Desserts From Your Bread Machine: Perfect Every Time, and Pizza, Focaccia, Flat and Filled Bread From Your Bread Machine: Perfect Every Time, sell over 500,000 copies.
This country's interest in home baked bread (and home-style store-bought bread) is rising as fast as dough on a hot summer afternoon. The bread machine has lured millions of new bakers into the kitchen, as well as offering an option for those who can no longer knead by hand. Households that place a premium on the highest quality ingredients, and at the same time contending with shrinking food budgets as well as little time for scratch cooking, have discovered the ease with which the bread machine can furnish the simplest meal with the ultimate touch—a loaf of hot, homemade bread.
As a traveling cooking teacher, it thrills me to see the cross section of students that bread baking has attracted. From novices whose only experience with bread had been dumping a mix into the machine and pressing START; to a considerable number of men who had never cooked anything before but were seduced by the machine's digital display panel; to women who were intrigued by my bread recipes that combine complex carbohydrates and legumes to produce complete no-fat proteins.
I am delighted to see young adults and teens showing interest in learning how to bake bread. To watch the enthusiasm and energy with which these diverse groups (including my class of convict bread bakers in the New Start Program at Riker's Island) dive into the dough is exhilarating and bodes well for the future of home cooking in America. It is also great to watch (and encourage the trend) of using the bread machine as a dough maker, then forming the dough by hand and baking the bread in the oven—a practice which completely puts an end to complaints of the "boring texture" of the machine-made loaves.
My philosophy is that anything (including bread machines) that brings anyone into the kitchen and gets them messing around with ingredients is good for everyone. The challenge for me is to make sure that these bakers enjoy success from the very start. The cookbooks were my first answer to that challenge.
When I realized that many home bakers were having difficulty getting the rise they wanted when using whole arain flours, or making breads with "heavy" ingredients such as cheese, vegetables, seeds, nuts and dried fruit, I created Lora Brody's Bread Dough Enhancer. This combination of all natural ingredients can make the difference between a successful loaf and one that might otherwise be used as a doorstop.
Starting this business was a learning experience from the word GO. My husband, David, quickly learned everything there was to know about running a small business. Thank God I married a lawyer—I sure couldn't afford to hire one! Our son Max designed our logo in exchange for several lobster dinners. I am tremendously grateful to Chuck Williams for his unflagging support and wisdom. He gets the Good Sport Award for testing and giving us feedback on every test run we sent him. Loving thanks as well to Julia Child for her vote of confidence in selecting me (and my bread machine) to be one of the guest bakers in her new series Baking At Julia's airing in October on PBS.
To our delight, the Enhancer has found a place on the shelves of a quarter of a million home bakers. Without the benefit of advertising or P.R. (who had the time?) we've seen our tiny company sprout and grow, with the Enhancer becoming a best seller in Williams-Sonoma and King Arthur Flour Bakers' Catalogue. It's also available in gourmet stores, department stores, health food super markets such as Fresh Fields and Bread and Circus, and several upscale supermarket chains such as Kings and Wegmans.
To meet our goal of offering the home baker even more reason to be in the kitchen Lora Brody Products is introducing two new pretty amazing items.
The Sourdough Bread Enhancer is a dream come true for people who love to make sourdough bread but hate the wait, mess and uneven results that come from a starter. Made from all natural ingredients, including dehydrated natural sourdough concentrate, plus the dough conditioning agents in the regular Enhancer, the Sourdough Bread Enhancer instantly turns any dough into sourdough.
Last, but certainly not least, is my Dough Relaxer, affectionately known as Dough-Zac here at Bread Central. Rolling out pizza and pie crust is no longer an Olympic sport. Like its sister products, the Relaxer is made from all natural ingredients. Paper thin pizza crust, light-as-a-cloud pancakes and ethereal biscuits are the instant result of a few spoonfuls of this magical powder.
By hand, in the bread machine, food processor or stand mixer—no matter how you make dough, these products will make it better.
In an effort to give back something to the community from the success of our products, we have established a scholarship through the International Association of Culinary Professionals, to assist an individual who is training to enter the food profession from a non-traditional and non-academic background. We are also working with the IACP to interest other small food businesses to join in a larger scholarship program, using our existing scholarship as a prototype.
Rise and Shine!
Lora Brody is one of America's most respected culinary personalities. She is as an author, spokesperson, lecturer, cooking instructor and multi-media personality. For nearly two decades she has been an influential force in American food trends, as well as a guide and mentor for the home cook.
With the publication of fourteen books, she has established herself as a best-selling cookbook author. The Kitchen Survival Guide (William Morrow, 1992) and its sequel, The Entertaining Survival Guide (Morrow, 1994), contributed to the trend of America's entertaining at home again. Her three bread machine cookbooks, Pizza, Focaccia, Filled and Flat Breads From Your Bread Machine (Morrow, 1995), nominated for an IACP award, Desserts From Your Bread Machine: Perfect Every Time (Morrow, 1994) and Bread Machine Baking: Perfect Every Time (Morrow, 1993), have sold over 500,000 copies and have earned her the title "Queen of the Bread Machine."
Ms. Brody began her career in the food industry in 1972 in Boston. Operating her own catering business for many years, she went on to be head chef in the BayBank executive dining room and then to work under Chef Bob Kinkead in the kitchen of the four-star Chillingsworth Restaurant.
Ms. Brody was a featured chef in the new Julia Child PBS series, Baking with Julia, and her recipes were included in the series companion cookbook. A talented and popular multi-media personality, she has appeared frequently on Good Morning America, as well as The Today Show, Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, The Food Network, and National Public Radio Fresh Air and All Things Considered.
Photo: Lora Brody and her son, Chef Max Brody
This page created September 1998
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