Great British Food Revival: The lost art of bread-making
Although I grew up in England, throughout my childhood I spent many summers in France and returned to the country for my training as young chef. One of my fondest memories from my time there is the wonderful smell of freshly baked bread that would waft out from the local bakers as I passed. Traditional baking is still alive and well in France today, and all over Europe for that matter; and with baking being one of Britain’s oldest skills it makes me sad to think that one day this wonderful tradition may die out completely here. I feel passionately that we can’t allow this to happen. Baking in Britain must be revived and I hoped that, in some small way, taking part in tonight’s Great British Food Revival will make a difference.
Bread, in its purest form, is simple to make. It should only have four ingredients; flour, water, yeast and salt. It should have a wonderful crust and a beautiful texture which can’t be replicated in a factory-made loaf. In the main, supermarkets sell substandard loaves, almost unrecognisable as bread - pumped full of additives and preservatives. The reason they do this is simple - because that’s what consumers have come to expect.
This process is far removed from traditional baking which, in my opinion, should be considered an art form. Making ‘real’ bread is a labour of love; the loaf needs to be nurtured and respected. It may take time to create, and is more expensive than a factory-made loaf, but the end results are worth it. As the consumer, the power to make a difference is in our hands. If we were to put our feet down and stop buying factory-made bread, traditional baking would begin to thrive again and freshly made bread - filled with flavour and nutrients - would line the shelves once more.
My dream is for more independently owned bakeries to open up around the country and for people to come together, as a nation, to say no to mass produced factory-made bread. But I think we’re probably still a way off from this yet.
I hope the programme will show viewers that bread can be easy to make and that it is versatile to cook with at home. At the very least, it should inspire people to support their local bakery.
If we sit back and do nothing to turn things around, young people in this country may never be privileged enough to share in the joy of real baking.
So, what do you think? Is bread-making a dying art? Or do you think consumers and traditional bakers can rise to the challenge of keeping the artisan loaf alive?