WHEN is a loaf not a loaf? When it contains anything but flour, water, yeast and salt apparently.
And a shocking 95 per cent of bread sold in this country is made by industrial bakers and in-store supermarket bakeries according to the Real Bread Campaign, a membership organisation belonging to the charity Sustain which brings together anyone who cares about the state of bread in Britain.
But this week is Real Bread Maker Week – the only week of the year exclusively dedicated to celebrating artificial/additive-free loaves and the local bakers who make them.
If you care about the provenance of your food and attempt to feed your family a healthy diet, then you will be shocked, as I was, to discover that there are absolutely no requirements by bakers and retailers to provide customers with full lists of ingredients and any additives they use in making unwrapped loave, for example those from supermarket in-store bakeries. It means the use of so-called ‘processing aids’ can go completely undeclared.
As there is a tidal wave of home-bakers emerging in this country and the sales of electric bread-makers are on the rise, it seems there is a new appetite for traditional bread-making and the desire to taste an honest crust – which is made with 100 per cent natural ingredients, tastes supreme and is, above all, healthy.
Make it yourself bread-making courses are popping up all over the county full to bursting with wannabe bakers. Jane Mason set up Virtuous Bread two years ago and is an inspirational baker, teacher and food writer. Her next bread-making course in Leicester is on June 12 and she has ‘Bread Angels’ all over the country teaching people how to make good bread.
She explained: “In this country we have slowly lost the ability to discern what is wholesome and natural and what is full of additives and thus the taste of additives has simply become the way things are. Buying cheap food has become our norm and over the past 60 years there has been a slow movement away from bread made locally out of natural ingredients.”
But in the last few years we have been given reasons for hope as the work of The Real Bread Campaign is beginning to pay off.
“From my own experience, real bread has become more popular recently,” Jane said. “So even if people are buying one nice loaf at the weekend, it is more than they were doing 10 years ago.
“People love bread and they can taste the difference if they are given the opportunity. We have over 60 Bread Angels, every class is sold out months in advance and we have taught literally hundreds of people to bake.
“The number of small bakeries, home bakeries, community bakers is rising, activity on social media sites is super high, and television and radio programmes about home-baking are on the rise.”
So this month have a go at Christine’s recipe, sign up for a course or visit a real bread maker and taste the difference. And look out for the Big Bake competition at Melton Country Fair in Play Close on Sunday, July 1.
If you would like to learn how to make bread there are several courses locally. You can contact Jane Mason at Virtuous Bread via www.virtuousbread.com
Leicester Born and Bread runs courses in people’s homes for a maximum of four people - contact Jessica on 07957 726308 or www.leicesterbornandbread.co.uk - and Bridge Sixty-Seven Cookery School runs courses at its Smeeton Westerby base - call Jill on (0116) 279 6155.
Real bread makers in Melton
King’s Road Bakery – call (01664) 410065 or visit Melton Mowbray Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays and Fridays
Soyfoods – call (01664) 560572 email firstname.lastname@example.org to find your local stockist
Hambleton Bakery – call (01572) 812995 or visit the newly opened Thrussington Village Stores
If we are talking real bread and real food with a friendly atmosphere and service with a smile – look no further than Nigel’s Coffee Shop at 54a King Street. Its home-made soup is a must – always several choices and always freshly-made and served with a selection of delicious bread from King’s Road Bakery. Fast food at its best and honest prices.
Melton Times’ food expert Rachel Dorsett has been a professional PR and food writer for more than 20 years, working with Delia Smith, Ken Hom and Ainsley Harriott, as well as raising the profile of many independent food businesses. Visit her website at silverpearcommunications.co.uk