Let them make bread; let us eat bread
Bread is one of the world’s oldest food staples and has been eaten in some form since the dawn of agriculture. Every country has their own form of bread; pittas, naans, tortillas, baguette. Bread is also one of the simplest foods to make and consume. It goes with everything and is suitable for every meal – from your morning toast, your sandwich at lunch and not forgetting bread and butter pudding after dinner. For many of us, bread is home. It is a fuss-free solution to hunger pains and creating joy and solidarity with our companions; which after all comes from the Latin com + pànis = together with + bread.
The UK Loafs Bread
According to the Federation of Bakers (FOB), the bread industry is the 2nd largest food sector in the UK accumulating £3.5 billion. These stats are of no surprise when it is estimated that 99% of households buy bread with almost 12 million loaves sold each day. The popularity is clear when people look at the versatility of this humble product. It is available wherever you go, it is freezable and it’s cheap compared to many other everyday foodstuffs.
Proposing a Toast to The Real Bread Campaign
The Real Bread Campaign has put local bakeries back on the map. Consumer needs and tastes have shifted and people are beginning to shun additive-ridden supermarket and mass-produced bread, which have been blamed for a rise in IBS symptoms and gluten intolerances. There is an array of wonderful bakeries in Northumberland, with taste, sustainability and community at the heart of it. We should all be indulging in this humble treat.
The Bakers Raised to be Artisans
Local bakers can use a mixture of old and modern techniques to create new flavours and styles of loaves as there is a market for an assortment of artisan loaves you can’t find anywhere else. Many local bakeries pride themselves as ‘artisanal bakers’ but what they’re really saying is they are using traditional techniques and quality ingredients, to create a product they love and one for you to love and share. There is no time like the present to support local bakers and restore bread as an integral part of our diets.
You KNEAD to know these Northumberland Bakeries
Based in Alnwick, is the bakery Bread and Roses; a producer of artisan loaves ranging from 40% Rye with Caraway Seeds to Gilchesters’ Miche, a loaf inspired by French baker Lionel Poilâne. Many of the loaves are made with local flour supplied by Gilchesters’ Organics. Bread and Roses sell at farmers markets and supply various restaurants around the county, including The Running Fox Bakery. Bread and Roses use local ingredients where possible. Simply delicious!
Starting in 2007, The Great Northumberland Bread Company, based in the small village of Etal, produce tasty loaves based on seasonal availability. They have a wide range of bread available including Rye Bread in a typical Scandinavian brick style and Sourdough which sometimes has seasonal varieties. They bake their bread in a wood-fired oven in order to perfect the crispy crust, well risen and moister loaf. Many of their loaves of bread are made with flour supplied by Heatherslaw Mill, not too far from Etal. They also use the ancient grain spelt in some of their artisan loaves. Like other ancient grains, spelt is easier to digest than modern strains of wheat.
Alice’s Artisan Bakery is the new kid on the block in Northumberland. Paving the way for the next generation, Alice’s Artisan Bakery takes inspiration from old baking techniques, including using organic stone-ground flour, from local business Gilchester Organics, hand-made and slow-proving create a thick crust and doughy innards. Alice has worked around the country, including at the famous River Cottage Chef School in Devon. More locally, Alice trained to make delicious artisan bread at local Northumberland bakery, Allendale Bakery. Try Alice’s rustic 50% whole-wheat cob, approved by the Real Bread Campaign.
Trotters Family Bakers have over 30 years of history in the county. Now in the hands of second-generation bakers, Trotters Family Bakers have 4 shops in Northumberland (Alnwick, Amble, Seahouses and Wooler), as well as 2 in the Scottish Borders (Coldstream and Duns). Each local shop serves a variety of cakes, pies and bread. It is a family run business and most of their popular products are made with recipes that haven’t changed in 30 years. It is great to see a family business thriving.
The Artisan Baking Community, based in Wylam, is the epitome of bread. At the heart of the community are volunteers aiming to ‘change the world one loaf at a time’ by selling and baking their own wares at community outlets. Started in July 2013, directors Gail Lawler and Andy Haddon created The Artisan Baking Community from their Earth Doctors social enterprise. The Artisan Baking Community has developed across the southern part of North East England and merges with local charity projects as well. They create humble sourdough loaves and the popular Real Geordie stotties. The point here though is to create and strengthen communities, that supports the local economy thus forming a sustainable local food system. What could be more delicious than that?
Our Daily Bread
As bread is such a simple product, it has been adulterated by industrialisation. Bread is more than just a standard plastic loaf. It has endless edible possibilities. One of our oldest foods is losing its nutritional and emotional impact because of mechanical developments such as the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP), a procedure of high volume bread manufacturing – and as a result, it becomes easier to waste. Whereas a locally made loaf which has been freshly prepared that morning with skill, ‘real’ ingredients and passion rekindles comfort and memories and a desire to share. Bread, after all, is made to be broken with companions.