Bread is one of our cheapest staple foods yet over the past 50 years there has been a revolution in the way it has been made. Gone are the local bakeries that supplied their communities.
Now most bread is made quickly, in industrial units and contains ingredients used to speed up its production and increase shelf life. Bread looks and tastes very different from the bread our forebears used to eat and not everyone is happy about this.
The Real Bread Campaign, a charity which fights for better quality bread, is launching Real Bread Maker this weekend.
Chris Young the director of the campaign says: “Making bread in the community has many social and economic advantages. It provides employment for local people and has social advantages too.
“Our campaign aims to get people who would otherwise be marginalised by the society involved in making bread. It is a very therapeutic activity. We are raising money to support these local bread-making project.”
Al Kippax runs the Bluebird bakery from his home in York and sells to local delicatessens and markets.
“Older people were wary of my bread at first but once tasted they said it reminded them of how delicious bread in the past used to taste,” says Al. Trade for his homemade bread has picked up and he is looking to move his bakery to larger premises.
Yorkshire Organic Millers produce some of the finest flour available to bakers and it is all grown and milled in Yorkshire.
Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, bakery tutor at the School of Artisan Food at Welbeck and author of one of How to Make Bread says “this is one of the best flours available to home and commercial bakers.”
The “Easy overnight bread” below is based on a recipe from the Handmade Bakery at Slaithwaite – a flagship co-operative bakery near Huddersfield.
It uses a small amount of yeast so the dough can take its time to rise overnight. This improves its flavour, texture and keeping qualities.
It can also be used to make fantastic pizza bases.
The cinnamon buns are based on a recipe from Emmanuel Hadjiandreou.
One advantage of buying or making real bread is that it keeps better and can be used in a wide range of recipes. One of my favourites is bruschetta which looks stunning and is the perfect solution to feeding a crowd of unexpected visitors.
Easy overnight white loaf
Makes two loaves
1kg organic white bread flour
2g dried yeast
650g warm water
10g sea salt
Day one – evening
Place flour, salt, yeast and water in a large mixing bowl. Draw the ingredients together to form dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for about five minutes until the dough is smooth. Cover with a clean supermarket plastic bag and leave in a warm place (15C to 20C) to rise overnight.
Day two – morning
The next morning, place the dough on a floured board and “knock back” the dough to remove some of the gas. Divide the dough in two and shape each into a large ball. Place onto baking sheet lined with silicone paper. Dust with flour and cover with a plastic bag. Place the loaves in a warm place to double in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 230C, Gas 8.
Place a dish of water in the lower part of the oven. The steam will give the loaf a good crust. Slash the top of each loaf with a sharp knife and place loaves in the oven. After 10 minutes reduce the oven temperature to 220C, Gas 7 and cook the loaves for another 25 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven and leave to cool on a wire tray.
3g dried yeast
20g sugar plus extra for sprinkling
70g warm water
200g white bread flour weighed out in two 100g lots
1 tsp ground cinnamon plus extra for sprinkling
1 medium egg lightly beaten
40g soft butter and a little extra for brushing the buns as they come out of the oven
1 medium egg beaten with a pinch of salt for the egg wash
icing sugar for dusting
23cm round cake tin, brushed lightly with oil and dusted with flour
In one mixing bowl add yeast, sugar, water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add 100g flour. Cover and allow to rise for an hour.
Add the remaining dry ingredients and the egg. Mix well and then add butter until well combined. Cover and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Knead the dough for one minute, four times, allowing a 10-minute interval between each knead. Turn the bowl as you knead to ensure stretching all the dough thoroughly. Cover the bowl and leave to rise for one hour.
Knock back the dough to release the build up of air and gas and pull to the shape of a rectangle approximately 30cm by 20cm and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with a generous layer of cinnamon followed by sugar.
Roll up the dough along the longside (like you would a carpet) and then cut 2cm slices along its length. You should end up with 12 to 14 pinwheels.
Arrange these slices cut side up in the prepared cake tin. The slices should snuggle together. Cover and allow to rise for about an hour in a warm place.
About 20 minutes before cooking preheat the oven to 200C, Gas 6. Place a roasting in the bottom of the oven and fill will two cups of water.
Place the cake tin in the oven and lower the temperature to 180C, Gas 4. Bake the cinnamon rolls for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.
Turn the rolls out onto a wire rack. Brush the warm rolls with a little melted butter, sprinkle with vanilla sugar and cinnamon and allow to cool.
Caramelised squash and goat’s cheese bruschetta
Serves 4 as a starter or light lunch
8 slices of day old bread e.g. sour dough or ciabatta
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled
100g soft goat’s cheese
200g roasted butternut squash, diced
1 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, lighted roasted in a dry frying pan
a few salad leaves and balsamic glaze to finish
Brush slices of bread with a little olive oil and toast on a griddle if you have one. Otherwise place the slices of bread on a baking tray in a hot oven for a few minutes.
When golden rub with a little garlic and top with a few cubes of roasted butternut squash, a little crumbled goats cheese and scatter with lightly dressed salad leaves, dried cranberries and toasted pumpkin seeds.
Drizzle with a little balsamic glaze to finish.
Real Bread Maker Week runs from May 11 – 17. For more information www.sustainweb.org/realbread.