In Your Food: Sandwich part 1 – Breads

Having dealt last week with the hazards of making a chocolate sundae, I will move on to a more ambitious project: making a sandwich. This one will take multiple installments. The first ingredient is bread.

I’m pleased to report that there are more corn-syrup-free breads on the shelf at my local grocery store than there were the last time I checked. That doesn’t mean corn-free, however.

Let’s start at the beginning. Your “classic white” bread:

white bread

Third ingredient: “high fructose corn syrup or sugar.” No way to tell which, of course, but since it’s cheaper, I’m betting on corn syrup.

Well, how about this one? It says no HFCS on the package. So I looked at the label (had to break it in half here, sorry about that).

white bread 2

Indeed, HFCS is not listed. In fact, none of the usual sugars were listed. However, corn starch is an ingredient, so it’s no good for my allergic friend.

To get corn-free white bread, I had to go to Whole Foods, where they bake this:

white bread 3

Stepping back to the local grocer, let’s look at some “healthier” alternatives. Whole wheat and multigrain are good for you, right? Well, let’s look at this one:

multigrain 1

Hm. HFCS and corn syrup solids, both. Oh, and corn starch, too. And some plain old corn. The Star Trek fans might like the triticale, but I have to skip this one.

OK, well, this one says “No HFCS.” Looks pretty good, but again, it’s got both corn solids and corn grits.

multigrain 2

Back to Whole Foods I go. Here’s their multigrain.

multigrain 3
Alas, and alack! Here there is corn also! It might not be engineered corn, but the label doesn’t specify. (Don’t be caught by that “all-natural ingredients” – the FDA doesn’t regulate what “all natural” should mean.)


My friend’s favorite bread is Whole Foods’ Seeduction bread. It has lots of wonderful whole seeds in it, and no corn anywhere. Win!


And for those of you who bake, here’s a copycat recipe. I haven’t tried it, but I plan to do so.

So, we have learned that bread labels are often really packed with ingredients. I tend to like the breads with shorter, sweeter, easily comprehensible ingredient lists.

Next week: on to spreads!




In Your Food: Sandwich part 1 – Breads — 9 Comments

  1. A certain amount of sugar is absolutely necessary for bread–the yeast needs a little something to snack on in order to create and excrete the gases that make bread rise (I once taught a second grade science class on bread making…). But there’s no reason to use much–my go-to white bread recipe required a tablespoon of sugar to six cups of white flour. As for the rest–corn starch? Why?.

    As someone with several nut-allergic members of her family, I can tell you: manufacturers put all sorts of weird and illogical things in foods (ground hazelnuts in plain Entenmann’s doughnuts. I’m sure they enhance the flavor, but not in any specific way, and they are a death-trap…).

    • My sourdough has no sugar at all; it’s just flour, starter, water, oil and salt. I guess the slower process lets the yeast find sugars in the flour?

  2. I’ve pretty given up on bread unless I bake it myself. This loaf over at Gluten Free Girl makes a pretty good loaf, crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside. It’s best the first day, and will last in the fridge another couple of days. I make rolls and freeze them, when I make some. (I substitute for the potato flour – I’ve tried tapioca and sorghum.) The potato flour is why I don’t buy GF breads – they all contain it.

    There’s an entire site for gluten free sourdough bread. Can’t wait to try it out!

    • What’s the problem with potato flour? (I was just reading a bread recipe this morning that calls for it. I’ve used mashed potato in bread before, but not the flour.)

  3. With the drought on, and the corn crop less than half, I can foresee bakeries scrambling to find ways to take corn out of their recipes. However, since honey is closer in texture to HFCS they’ll try that substitute first and hubby is allergic to honey–actually he’s so sensitive to pollen, and you never know for sure which flowers the bees have been tapping that granola can send him into anaphalyctic shock.

    There’s a new bakery out of California, Dave’s bread. Their motto is “No drugs on bread.” Dave was sitting in prison for the 2nd time for drug charges, had his Aha moment, worked in the prison bakery, did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that all of the artificial additives contributed to body cravings addictive personalities assuaged with drugs… developed his own recipes and now owns the bakery, hires ex cons to give them a chance to get clean, learn skills, and build an honest resume. It’s fantastic bread too!

  4. HFCS is hygroscopic, it keeps the bead moist and helps with the softness of the bread. Corn Starch is used to help control the rise–it “shortens” the bread. Both are used to create a consistent product. HFCS came into play in the commercial bread industry when they had to take out saturated fats (our old friend palm kernel oil) from bread, and the commercial bakers had to come up with something to control how quickly the break went stale.

    Your best bet to avoid corn is to go with “100% whole wheat” that’s baked in a standard loaf pan. Forget the 9-grain–cornmeal is one of the standard ingredients in that mix. Rye breads will contain cornmeal, and since cornmeal is used as “ball bearings” for hearth baking, there’s likely to be corn attached to a lot of the boutique breads.

    If corn prices go completely out of control, they can go back to invert sugar syrup (still cheaper than honey), barley malt syrup, or some of the really fun leftovers from AB’s brewing process (Bud has the rep of being gluten-free, since it was brewed from rice. Not sure if that’s still true.).

    HFCS is used in a bunch of products as a way to lower fat but keep some of the mouth feel. So, you’re going to find it in salad dressings and mayonnaise knock-offs. It’s also found in ketchup, frozen desserts, and a bunch of candies.

    One interesting note–if the candy (Brach’s is one that comes to mind) is made in Canada, it’s made with sugar. Canada buys sugar from the world market, including Cuba, so it’s be cheaper to use cane sugar. Hard candies have to be made from cane/beet sugar because of the hygroscopic qualities of HFCS. So, enjoy those peppermints!

    • Yes, I figured most of the ingredients on the really looooong lists are there because of something to do with industrial baking, which I don’t pretend to understand.