Bake 'n serve: the Dough Boy's no dope.
The Pillsbury Dough Boy may be a little chunky, but he's no dope. He knows that:
* most Americans need to eat more complex carbohydrates like bread and cereal,
* to make your own bread you've got to mix, knead, wait, knead, wait, bake, and clean up, and
* unless you live or work near a bakery, odds are you don't eat fresh-baked bread as often, as you'd like to.
So the Dough Boy and his brown n serve, heat n eat pals have done you a favor. They've put all of the aroma-and much of the taste-of fresh bread just a refrigerator and a hop in the oven away. Too bad they couldn't find a way to squeeze more of bread's whole-grain nutrition into their tubes.
KNEAD-LESS TO SAY
It's really pretty simple. The more starchy foods you eat, the less meat (and other fatty foods) you eat. Now maybe your grandmother thought that was a reason not to eat starch. if so, grandma was wrong. Bread, of course, is a particularly nice starch because everyone-including kids-loves it.
One easy way to put fresh" bread on your plate every day is to crack open a tube, plop the dough down on a cookie sheet, and put it in the oven for from five to 30 minutes. Out come hot French bread or buttermilk biscuits or breadsticks.
Pillsbury, Pepperidge Farm, and about a half-dozen other companies mix the flour, water, oil, baking soda, sugar, salt, dough conditioners, flavor "protectors," gums, and (in many cases) artificial colors and flavors. Then they knead the dough, let it rise, and pack it on trays or in tubes. You pop it in the oven for a quick bake,
Shelf-stable doughs like Bread Du Jour and Pepperidge Farm only need browning, and can go from bag to table in six minutes. Refrigerated doughs like Pillsbury and Mrs. Wright take from ten minutes to a half-hour. Frozen doughs like Rich's and Aldon's take much longer, despite what some of their labels would have you believe.
"Easy as 1, 2, 3," says Rich's Homestyle Roll Dough. But when you read the small print you see that step I (thaw & shape) takes 30 to 40 minutes, step 2 (let rise) takes I to 2 hours, and step 3 (bake) takes 12 to 15 minutes.
WHEAT'S GOING ON HERE
Don't kid yourself You'll never get a fresh pumpernickel or whole wheat bread or roll out of a tube. Pillsbury et al apparently believe that consumers want whole wheat's reputation but not its flavor.
Not one of the 50 [+] bake n serve products we looked at had whole wheat as its first ingredient. Bread Du Jour's Bavarian Cracked Wheat Rolls and its Austrian Cracked Wheat Bread, and Pillsbury's Pipin' Hot Wheat Loaf came closest; whole wheat flour was fourth.
For most breads and rolls, "bleached enriched flour" tops the ingredient list. Despite the "uptown" name, that's just ordinary white flour-in other words, whole wheat flour that's been stripped of its Wholeness." Gone are the wheat germ and bran, which means most of the vitamins (the B's, E, folic acid, pantothenic acid), minerals chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc), and fiber.
What about the "enriched" part? Forget it. Manufacturers add back only a small fraction-a few B vitamins and iron-of what they've taken out. Thanks a lot.
The dearth of whole wheat flour probably explains why most companies wouldn't tell us how much fiber was in their products. We can assume it's about as much as in white bread-1 to 2 grams in a two-ounce serving. Two ounces of whole-grain bread (two slices) has about five grams of fiber.
The scarcity of whole wheat also explains how we can end up with a "Best Bite" like Rich's Enriched White Bread. If a bake 'n serve was low in fat and sodium, it got our nod simply because it's a lot better for you than that extra piece of meat. Clearly, you'd be better off with fresh whole-grain bread from the bakery .. or your own oven.
OFF THE CHARTS
Make sure you take our chart to the store, since not all packages have nutrition information.
Only if a label makes a claim ("No Cholesterol" is the most common one for bake'n serves) or the company adds nutrients does the package have to give nutrition numbers.
That means, for example, that you can stare at a can of Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls for six months and never figure out that a two-ounce serving contains 12 grams of fat. That's about 2 1/2 teaspoons of grease, or six times as much as in a serving of Pillsbury Soft Breadsticks.
Fortunately, crescent rolls are the exception: Most breads and rolls are pretty low in fat. it's just that crescents are really baby croissants, and their numbers show it. (If you're looking for a pastry-like bread that won't break your fat bank, try the Pillsbury Breadsticks.)
ON A ROLL
Why do manufacturers feel obligated to beef up the oil (and butter flavoring) when they make their biscuits? Maybe they're going for that Sunday slop-'emwith-butter-and-dip-'em-in-gravy feel. Whatever the reason, biscuits account for 12 of the 14 fattiest products on the chart.
The few lowfat biscuits stand out. Mrs. Wight's Buttermilk and Homestyle biscuits have just two grams of fat per serving.
Biscuits don't fare too well in the sodium department, either. It's the baking powder that causes many to tip the scales at more than 600 milligrams per serving. Only Mrs. Wright's and Roman Meal manage to drop below 500 mg. Lorraine Jones helped compile information for this article.