Be thankful for Grateful Bread bakery-café in North Miami

Grateful Bread photo by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald.

Baker David Dodge grinds whole grains in a mill in a corner of the kitchen at Grateful Bread, a bakery-café in North Miami. All the breads are made with whole wheat, some with other grains added but no preservatives or sawdust (more on that in a moment).

There’s also a small selection of sandwiches (try the esoteric grilled cheese with buttery Danish havarti), daily soup and house salad. Weekday mornings get eggs and toast or pancakes with real maple syrup. And no, the wholesome breads sold whole or sliced to order are not gluten-free, bucking what has become a fad.

Dodge, 72, was born in Miami, where his father was an Army medic stationed in Homestead. He grew up in Boston and majored in American studies at the University of New Hampshire. He bought houses and fixed them up and had a shop selling food and herbs. 

Twenty years ago he moved back to Miami and became a distributor of Z-coil shoes that help relieve pain (you can order them in the bakery). He never thought he’d live past 40 as he was in ill health, but he read a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price that he said changed his life. 

He bought his first stone mill and started baking bread when he realized commercial high-speed roller mills remove the bran (sawdust replaces the healthy fiber), and the sharp blades of the bran cut the gluten protein chains, producing white flour that has almost no nutrition.

He believes celiac disease was created when flour became processed this way. After all, bread with gluten has been the staff of life for 10,000 years when a hybrid wild grass became cultivated in the Fertile Crescent, and today wheat provides one-fifth of the world’s calories and is the main source of protein in developing countries.

He pours Montana hard red spring wheat kernels in the funnel of the electric mill, and it is ground between two covered pink granite wheels and falls down a chute into a drawer where the flour collects. He makes the yeasted bread dough as soon as the flour is ground, kneading it in a machine with an attached hook, proofs it, then bakes the 2 1/4-pound loaves in a gas convection oven.

The sunflower bread has the addition of nutty-tasting Kamut Khorasan, an ancient grain closely related to wheat, lots of sunflower seeds, Florida raw honey, caraway seeds and sea salt. Other breads include spelt; whole wheat cranberry-sunflower-cinnamon topped with poppy seeds; whole wheat with organic raisins; and whole wheat pita used for a sandwich stuffed with smoked salmon and sautéed spinach, peppers and mushrooms. 

The motto above the shelf of bread says it all: “Give us this day our daily bread.” This is bread to be grateful for.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.