March 2, 2011

Salt-Free Bun in the Oven

For the majority of the past seven years, bread has played a very minor “roll” in my low sodium diet. Booya – that is a bread joke.

I had no idea that my weekly apple fritter, the occasional bagel, and my daily tuna sandwiches had upwards of 400mg of sodium. And as soon as I found out, they were swiftly cut from my sodium-safe list.

Of course, no one can completely cut out the carb craving and from time to time, I enjoy slices of the pre-cut, salt-free bread available, like the kind from No Salt Added Alvarado Street Bakery.

I use it for breadcrumbs

for sticky tummy pudding

and even meatloaf man muffins.

But nothing really compares to a bun (or roll or baguette) freshly pulled from the oven. And over the past few weeks, I have faced my fear of baking, measuring, and ultimately burning, and I have started to tackle some low sodium bread recipes.

It all began with one of the most creative wedding gifts ever – a sourdough starter with a two hour class on how to make salt-free sourdough bread (given by our friends who are dough scientists to the extreme).

The starter itself is four years old and was originally caught in Santa Cruz. On our first official date together, I paired the freshly baked sourdough bowl with some luscious, low sodium clam chowder and I ate it overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Kind of amazing. Best date ever. With a piece of bread.

And now, almost a month later, our relationship is still going strong. My man friend and I feed it every week with flour and water. We call it Pikachu. And we enjoy its fluffy, crusty goodness at least once a week.

But that’s just where it starts.

Then, I tackled the one carb treat that I seriously miss – bagels. Maybe it’s my Jewish genes. Maybe it’s memories of lox and cream cheese. Maybe it’s just because bagels are so damn good. But whatever the reason, I figured if I could make sourdough, I could make these rings of joy too.

So with the help of 18 Reasons, I learned how to knead, form, and boil a really good bagel. I went to town topping them with black sesame, fennel seed, and even some crushed Pacific Nori (seaweed).

And with some creamy ricotta, pickled fennel, and toasted turkey strips, I was getting closer and closer to reliving my bagel dreams.

But, once again, that’s not the end of this story.

Yesterday, I woke up when the moon was still high in the sky. At the most wonderful hour of 4:30 am, I dragged myself out of bed, hid my wiry hair under a hat, and threw on some jeans. By 5:30, I had arrived at my dream land – Cavallo Point – and I entered the Murray Circle kitchen, but this time, from the back. I was immediately greeted by Tim, the head baker, and a chef’s jacket. How is this real life?

For seven hours, we proofed dough, cut and crafted croissants, tasted the pastry teams’ ginger caviar, cut butter rolls, and baked until everything was golden and aromatic. Apparently my rolling skills have a ways to go, but I am really good at placing bread on a baking sheet.

We made hearth breads, baguettes, hot dog buns, and rolls for oyster poor boys. We measured out the yeast and salt for the next day’s order. And we talked about sodium-free food, surfing, the Giants, and pretty much everything in between.

In a single month, I went from carb-less to carbo loaded and I’m realizing that making low sodium bread is not only easy, but totally worth it. Sure, it may make a bit of a mess at home and your recipe may not come out “perfect” every time. But the ingredients tend to be very simple – flour, yeast, and water – and nothing engenders more pride than creating something from scratch.

Speaking of which, I couldn’t end this post without talking about one particular bun in the oven who helped ring in March by joining us (parents in tow) for his first official dinner party. At a month old, he’s already a huge fan of low sodium food.

So with that, on this special edition of Look What I Made Wednesday (talking about everything but the baby), I want to end by saying carbs, welcome back.

Happy eating and chow on.

Natty March 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Baby’s first blog post AND baby’s first dinner party all in one week? Lucky baby I say! And lucky me. thanks for all the delish low sodYum treats this week!

Barbara March 3, 2011 at 4:06 am

But, but….when speaking of babies, a “bun in the oven” means that one is pregnant…..I’m confused over your usage of the term. How can a month old infant still be a bun in the oven?

sodium girl March 4, 2011 at 11:52 am

Fixed it! Thanks for the edit.

Sarah Witzel April 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Can you post some low sodium breadmaker recipes? The Murray Cicle rolls recipe in your book looks good, but I’m not sure if it can be made in a breadmaker dough cycle. Thanks!

Bernie Grabowski October 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Could you email the recipe for bagels?



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