It is Real Bread Week this week and it is a week organised to celebrate great, real bread making, done by often small, artisan and local producers. This year the campaign is encouraging small bakeries and bread makers to celebrate the bread fougasse, and get together to bake it and show how wonderful real bread is. Here at Follow this Food we love to talk to artisan foodies, so to celebrate Real Bread week we have asked Vic North, who runs bread baking classes and owns a cafe in the seaside village of Newport, Pembrokeshire, to tell us why real bread is so important.
Vic says that when we talk about bread here in the UK, we can consider it as falling into three categories: sourdough bread, yeasted bread and bread made by the Chorleywood process – the kind of bread you may find in a supermarket or national bakery chain.
Sourdough bread, as championed by the Real Bread Campaign, is bread made simply with flour, water and salt. This type of bread uses a starter, made with fermented flour and water which harbours natural yeasts and levens the dough. Sourdough bread takes a measure of skill to produce and is often most associated with artisan bakeries. It is delicious to eat, very satisfying and easy on our digestive systems.
Next up is bread made with processed yeast . This is a great loaf for the home baker to make and is generally found in our high street craft bakeries. Tasty, easy to make and made with simple ingredients that our grandparents would recognise.
Finally, bread made using the Chorleywood process – mass produced bread that is made with numerous chemical ingredients and harnesses a process that forces the bread through its various stages in under an hour. If you consider that the very best bread can take anywhere between 12 – 48 hours to produce, this type of loaf is fast food and none the better for it. Many people complain of digestive problems when they eat this bread as it has such a speedy fermentation process.
We are so pressed for time these days that, as consumers, it is often tempting to grab a loaf of bread from the supermarket shelves. Bread making is no longer part of house hold routines, because it no longer has to be. However, the downside is that we may make nutritionally poor choices and drop the baton of real bread for future generations.
The Real Bread Campaign is working hard to raise the profile of good bread and all over the country, artisan bakeries are cropping up. We have one here in Cardigan, a relatively small market town in west wales and another one further up the coast in Lampeter. As consumers, we are becoming more aware of what we put into our bodies and increasingly we are happy to spend a little more on our food, in exchange for quality and experience.
I do believe that bread making is important on both a personal and community level. I’m a committed advocate of real food made from scratch using ingredients that our grandparents would recognise. This way of eating and way of life benefits us on so many levels, nutritionally, culturally and ethically. I believe that we’ve been sold a pup by the food industry that takes no care in the content of the mass produced offerings it churns out for our consumption other than in it’s capacity to make money – it does not exist to serve us nutritionally or to celebrate our food culture.
How do we get people to engage with these skills? Inspire, communicate and educate.
Why do I love baking and teaching bread making? Because it is a life affirming, creative act that links us with generations past and generations to come. Good bread on the table sets the standard of how we take care of ourselves and our community and I enjoy nothing better than a slice of bread from a well made loaf fresh from the oven, slathered with salty butter.
We would like to thank Vic for taking the time to tell us about bread making, it seems that making bread is one of those things that we do not do often enough but is a great introduction to baking especially for children and so perhaps this week, Real bread week we should all go and roll up our sleeves, get some flour out and enjoy making a loaf.