If even one, tiny, undeclared enzyme in your body is interested in the future of bread and baking, then your internal buzzer will be going off. This alarm trills louder and louder until answers are found. At the end of last year, I attended the first Rise of Real Bread Conference. A veritable fermenta levain of well-cultured interested parties assembled, a throng of approximately 150 souls, each having parted with £38 or at the very least a whole Saturday, to consider the future of bread.
As I travelled from the steep-sided valley of my home to Oxford, I considered the potential benefits of a British Baker press pass and surmised that, at best, the hay bales for sitting on would have had the thistles removed.
There was much talk of stalks, ancient grains, medieval thatches and soil. Real bread has risen to meet the needs of increasing numbers unable to eat commercial bread: those looking for an alternative to bread that has been made with modern wheat and is significantly nutritionally depleted or has been depleted so much by high extraction milling that, by law, fortification is needed those loaves robbed of benefit by massively shortened fermentation.
As an industry, we have a propensity to pander to the absurd gratification of a misguided eye. Coeliacs are among those who pay the high price of cheap bread and this is only the tip of a gross food mountain. As a society we should be focusing on improving bread for its natural health-giving qualities and taste, rather than using it as we do for mass medication through fortification.
If you were to provoke me into putting it into a wet walnut shell, I would lean out of my agro-forestry tree and exclaim... "There is strength in diversity!" To feed all the people that are ever to live in the world, to the highest nutritious and gastronomic standard, we need to sever the strings that bind us to the economic dogma of the agrochemical industry and their graph-sucking numpties who perpetuate this destructive, centralising, monoculturesque unsustainable bleak reality. We must stop dancing to their prattler rave and claim back the land to husbandry and the kind of farming that is truly sustainable. One salient claim made at the conference was that 10 times the number of farmers will be needed in this country to fulfil the visionary prophecy.
I’ll expand on this event in a future issue of BB. As a sneak preview, one of my highlights and belly laugh of the day went to Andrew Whitley’s anecdote of a three-month-old ’good as new’ crustless loaf, which was eventually spoiled by a mouse that mostly ate the plastic wrapper!