Have you personally ever tasted ‘real’ bread? Have your own children ever known ‘real’ bread? Have your close family ever experienced real bread? Have your best friends ever themselves encountered ‘real’ bread? Well, you are in a minority if you can answer YES to all those questions!
In the UK we no longer have our local bakery, do we? You know the place you could skip down the road to, at five in the morning and grab a warm loaf or some rolls just out of the red hot oven you could see there at the back. A place where the bakers weren’t highly paid but were clean smart, skilled, knew what they were doing, and made their lovely bread from scratch using local ingredients. Oh no, that’s all gone these days isn’t it? That’s progress for you. All the bread is made now in factories far away, and you see it arrive mid-morning on a lorry that has brought it to the supermarket or your shop, from somewhere a hundred miles or more away. Manufacturers need to make their bread as cheap as possible and last a silly long time, but what do they put in it? Who knows because they don’t have to tell us in detail do they? Certainly lots of things to preserve it, and extra salt sugar to satisfy our palets, and things to make it look good of course – so stuff the taste & responsible food value.
You aren’t fooled are you by your local baker’s, in the nearby parade of shops, and think that they still make all their own stuff like in the old days? Oh no, they simply buy-in their bread partly manufactured, so they can finish off the cooking without any expertise or training (apart from being able to turn on an electric oven and set an automatic timer that is). And your favourite supermarket, however posh, with their well publicised ‘in-house bakery’? Yes, just the same, delivered overnight, and shoved in the automatic ovens at pre-arranged times during the day, so that you always arrive in store with the lingering smell of freshly baked bread to improve you happiness senses (that is why their so called bakery is located at the most appropriate site at the back to promote those customer ‘wellbeing feelings’ (market research has taught them many such tricks to fool us shoppers’ senses you see).
Your ‘bought’ bread, perfectly blocked of course, comes perfectly wrapped in a plastic bag naturally, because that is the easiest way for the producers to protect it, transport it, stack it, and sell it. Real bread doesn’t do well in plastic and your manufactured loaf will go mouldy given half a chance because it has excessive water in it and the sealed in microbes flourish in their damp food plentiful environment. Whereas quite old real bread goes hard and stale but never green! Of course you get plenty of choice with manufactured bread, provided you want it sliced – thin sliced, medium sliced, thick sliced, white, brown (meaning white dyed), and the pretend real bread labelled so you have no idea what you are getting, as wholemeal, wheaten, granary, and the like; then of course you are offered their stored oven’d pre-prepared unsliced ‘pretend’ bread in assorted loaves, or even French bread sticks (which are obviously ‘false’ as beside them they amazingly have the affront of offer you at a higher price Real French bread sticks made with French flour we assume?!).
All packaged bread comes with an attractive name of course – one that has come through the marketing analysis process to con you into thinking that it has come from a ‘real bakery ‘using only non-tampered with ingredients – an image of anything that depicts the old days of ‘real bread’, stone grinders worked by shire horses, or windmills, or farmers in fields, or corn growing fields, or early century smudgy urchins.
Suppliers love to lead us up the garden path with outrageous marketing ploys – like a slogan “uses only British flour” which relies on you not knowing the fact that the best bread flour comes from Canada (their climate produces different wheat you see) and hides the fact that foreign grown grain may have been milled in Britain to produce the flour). Somehow the trade descriptions act and fair & honest trading doesn’t seem ever to apply to bread.
So what is the bottom line here then? Basically it is that most of us cannot these days buy real bread, can we? Some lucky ones will be smirking though because they have a real baker in their grasp and they can enjoy real bread all the time and are spoilt for variety – what kind of real loaf shall we have today they say to themselves!
There is an answer though, and easy answer at that. Make your own bread!
It can’t be done can it? YES.
It is too difficult isn’t it? You need to be a skilled baker don’t you? You need a bread maker machine certainly? You need other special equipment including a bread baking tin then? You need a special oven surely? You have to have a lot of time perhaps? NO, no, no, no, no, and no again. It is easy peasy even for the poorest cook. Baking a loaf is the simplest of tasks for even a ‘can’t boil an egg’ dummy – all you need is a baking tray.
CLASSIC SIMPLE RECIPY to get you started [at least give it a go]
For a small loaf (2lb)
First you must buy a few ingredients of course (if you don’t luckily have them in the cupboard already)
PLAIN Flour you only want 500g [4 cups] a third of a 1.5Kg bag . You don’t actually need anything special so All Purpose plain flour or Strong plain flour, or Bread pain flour will do
Sugar granulated but only a teaspoon (or even none!)
Salt but only a teaspoon and a half or less
Butter 15g (1 tablespoon) or veg Oil 15ml (1 tablespoon)
Yeast 2 teaspoons (7g or a single sachet)
Some lukewarm water about (300ml)
[use 100ml (½ cup) boiling Hot water + 200ml (1 cup) Cold water]
When you have got that you can go for it within the hour!
- Mix 500g plain flour in a bowl with 1 tsp sugar (if using) + 1 ½ tsp salt + 2 tsp yeast
- Add & Rub in 15g butter (or add 15ml veg oil)
- Add up to 300 ml of lukewarm water to form a soft paste to make the dough
- Then the good fun bit (which kids love to join in on) which is to knead the dough (basically pummel it with your hands and use a floured surface if you can) for about 10 minutes or so (this manipulated the grain into forming long chains to make the bread nice and chewy). Finish by folding the dough together a few times to trap air and help the bread rise more.
- Put the dough into a bowl if you have one in a warmish place and cover with a cloth or paper (to stop it drying out) so it can expand (rise) – that is the yeast at work you see). It needs to about double in size to be right [takes about 45 mins].
- Preheat your oven to a high 230c/mark 8 level
- Grease a baking tray and shape the risen dough on it (a foot long say and a bit fatter in the middle, or make it round?) [you can make a couple of cuts across the top surface – not to make it look very attractive but to help it rise!]
- Pop it in the oven (and the heat will get the yeast going) but after 15 mins turn the oven down a bit to only 200C/mark 6 (the hotness will have killed the yeast and now you are cooking the bread) and leave for another 15 or 20 mins
- Remove from the oven. Your loaf will be a lovely Golden Brown & will sound hollow if you tap its bottom – leave to cool (on a wire rack if you have one
Enjoy your loaf. If you have had years of eating processed excessively aerated cotton wool type bread you will find it a different & tasteful eating experience –real bread.
IF YOU DO IT EVEN ONLY ONCE WHY NOT APPROVE THIS POST AND GET SOME OTHERS NVOVED?
[FLOUR: all flour is NOT the same. All purpose flour makes real bread, but the other ‘enhanced’ flours (strong & bread etc) have a different mix of grains which means that they will make a different bread – probably more chewy and a bit heavier. All simply gorgeous but why not experiment to find which ones gives you the best real bread loves that you all enjoy?]