It has occurred to me, late in the game, that all of this time I could have been using my bread baking not only as catharsis but also as a study device. Bread can be more than nutrition; it can be education. Let me explain.
Because I spent the last week in the ICU and was constantly doing chest X-rays and fussing with tracheostomy collars and ventilators, it got me thinking about the lungs. I considered making a ventilator in a square pan, but that seemed a bit square. Going for the anatomical, I decided instead to make bread lungs. It made the most sense to create a pull-apart bread recipe, to better represent the lobes of the lungs, and, because I am on a surgical rotation week after next, to practice my lobectomy. Kudos to any pathologists out there who can make apt diagnoses as to the health of these lungs.
Pull-Apart Wheat Bread Lungs
- 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (85°F to 95°F)
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 1 cup warm whole milk (105°F to 115°F)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
Warm milk, stir in honey and salt, then add olive oil. Add 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour and stir. Then stir and pour in the entire starter. Mix in raisins and walnuts, then cover the bowl. Let the dough rise and double in volume in a warm draft-free area and spray a baking sheet.
Now for the educational fun—shaping. How many lungs does a normal person have? Separate the dough into two equal sections.
How many lobes are in the right lung? Three (Right Upper, Right Middle, and Right Lower) The right lower lobe should be the biggest, and the right middle the smallest, so section the dough appropriately. The left lung has two lobes (Left Upper and Left Lower). Why? Because the heart bears leftward due to the heavy gravity on the muscular left ventricle.
Okay—now to assemble the pull-apart lobes—refer to the following anatomical diagram (also for review for you medical students out there)
On the right side, you need to form the horizontal fissure between the right upper and middle lobes, and the oblique fissure between the top two and right lower lobe. The left is easy. Just angle the oblique fissure toward the cardiac notch. If you want to be a real gunner, and I am not, you could create medially some crystallized ginger hilum with the pulmonary arteries, veins, and main bronchi. For medical students, don’t forget the RALS rule (pulmonary artery in Right is Anterior to the bronchi and in Left it is Superior—that’ll save you on the anatomy lab practical).
Okay, enough nerdiness, time to bake!
Transfer lungs to prepared pan, being careful not to deflate—no one wants atelectatic bread. Cover the loaf and let it rise in a warm draft-free area for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500°F and spray with water to help with crusting. Next place the bread in the oven, lower the temperature to 400°F, and bake until crusty. Finally, cool it on the pan and then on the rack completely.
I’d say this patient was a smoker. It’s because of the glaze–one whole egg mixed with 2 tbsp milk (optional). Perform lobectomy and enjoy while you study!
Rachel is a fourth year medical student at Mayo, where she practices narrative medicine, food and jazz as personal subspecialties on her way to a career in psychiatry. A girl from Portland, OR, she is (as you might suspect) rather granola, and you can follow her foodie adventures with her not-so-vegetarian bulldog and vegan backyard chickens on Twitter @hammer_rachel.