‘No toast for me please’ was the chorus amoungst 20 runners who had just completed 10km as they sat down for breakfast. A lump caught in my throat, I want toast but how can I order it now after the rest of my community has shunned the white stuff? Or brown or wholemeal, it seems. Post run is the perfect time to enjoy some white carbs to refuel your system, but personally I’m up for baked goods any time.
This experience led me to wonder why so many of my friends are harbouring a fear of gluten and wheat. I have a few friends who are genuine Coeliacs, where they can’t even use the toaster and surfaces have to be cleaned between breakfast preparations to ensure no cross contamination between the family’s meals. I have friends with allergies who give themselves one wheated meal a week to ensure their allergy does not get any worse.
But then I have friends who avoid wheat, or have an undiagnosed intolerance. I can completely understand why, if you listen to the media, or pick up any issue of the Daily Mail, bread is brandished as BAD, the enemy, it makes you fat, spotty and boated. Much of this has come from America where their shop bought bread is pumped full of sugar, salt, e-numbers and barely any ingredients you would recognise if you looked at the ingredients list. Here in the UK we are lucky that bread is more heavily regulated and we don’t get as much of the sugary, paste like, plastic bagged junk, so do not fear Brits. There is a bread here for everyone, read on and let me explain.
In the UK there is a campaign for Real Bread, bread with no nasties, bread that goes back to the way we used to make it. Bread is one of the first foods that civilised humans made and if we are talking about a caveman diet I am sure an unleaven bread would have been in there. Even the ancient Egyptians enjoyed unleaven bread and then bread using natural yeast – a topic for a future post. Real Bread doesn’t have to be home made, for some of us we are just too busy, or not interested – that’s okay! You can enjoy real bread at dozens of independent bakeries and the burgeoning artisan bread scene all over the UK. There may even be a home baker in your street that you can buy bread from, last year I learnt some more advanced loaves from Mark who runs a micro bakery from his home in Twickenham.
When I was invited by Baking Mad to try their latest flours to create a loaf at home, I jumped at the chance, David and I make bread almost every weekend but I never share the recipes with you because they are mainly ‘chuck it in and see what happens’ type loaves. After my experience at breakfast with the bread shaming I wanted to empower you all to make your own. I am passionate about bread in pretty much all of it’s forms and I’m also passionate about putting a stop to the peer to peer pressure we put on each other over eating and certain foods.
Rather than my normal loaf, I was intrigued by Baking Mad’s recipe for Tiger Loaf. Back when I use to buy bread Tiger loaf was my picnic loaf of choice, it is always soft, fluffy and with a beautiful crackly crust.
Talking of the crust there is a divide in option over the name, so much so Sainsbury’s renamed theirs Giraffe bread after a young bread lover wrote in to say it looked more like a Giraffe, I would normally agree with her but our loaf ended up on the tiger end of the scale!
I had never thought of making a tiger loaf before because I thought it would involve tricky techniques and ingredients, when I told David I would make it, he thought I needed to buy caustic soda. As I seem to learn every time I bake bread, it always ends up easier than you think. The only thing you might not have for normally bread making is ground rice, I happen to keep some rice flour in the cupboard for sauces so that is what I used and I hope you agree it looks fab. I’ll be whipping out this next time I have people over for soup as it is a little more exciting when bought to the table than a tinned loaf.
If you are new to baking bread there are plenty of other recipes for baking bread at Baking Mad, so why not get started making real bread at home? If you already a real bread convert why not try one of my enriched dough recipes featured below this post?
Say no when you hear people demonize the humble loaf and let’s start a revolution of beautiful, proper loaves, I mean look at the crumb on that!
No nasties, no unpronouncable ingredients, bread made at home is REAL BREAD. Just flour, yeast and water can get you started, what else you add is up to you. If you have some dedicated haters to convert try winning them over by using some malted, wholemeal or spelt flour, but ensure find a recipe that uses your flour choice like my Sticky Toffee Rolls. The flour you use affects the rise and amount of raising agents.
Aside from having delicious bread at home there are lots of other benefits of baking real bread too,
- you get a work out making it, get your kneed on for 10 minutes upper body work!
- you know what is in it, and can make your own personal favourite.
- it is therapeutic, bad day at work? Knock that bread back and show it who is boss!
- fills your home with a beautiful scent. There is a reason they bottle the fragrance.
- save money, artisan bread isn’t cheap but a bag of bread flour will make you three large loaves.
- sense of achievement when your first edible loaf gets slathered with butter (I still have the odd failure)
- makes a great gift once you’ve got the hang of it
So who wants to come a bake bread with me? I’ve got the flour in, just give me a shout!
Even if you are not ready for the whole baking experience, do give your local independant bakery a go. Give bread a chance!