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Great British Food Revival: The lost art of bread-making

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Michel Roux Michel Roux | 13:18 UK time, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

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. 

Michel Roux with bread.


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.


Michel Roux Jr removing bread from a traditional baker's oven.

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?

Michel Roux Jr can be seen on the Great British Food Revival on BBC Two on 9th March at 8pm. Try recipes from tonight’s show.


  • Comment number 1.

    The odds are not stacked in favour of independent craft bakers making real bread, but great to see a programme dedicated to reviving real bread, I'll be writing about it tomorrow at

  • Comment number 2.

    Wholeheartedly agree with Chef Roux. The supermarket bread is dreadful compared to freshly baked bread. The simple test is to squeeze the dough together in your hand, a steam cooked supermarket loaf in a plastic bag will turn back into a doughy globule suggesting it isn't really cooked. The properly baked bread will spring back to its original state after you've squeezed it.
    I moved to France 4 years ago and have the luxury of a "boulangerie" on almost every street. On my visits back to the UK I simply cannot eat supermarket bread anymore as its flavour and texture is unbearable, and imho, not bread.
    If you baulk at the cost of freshly baked bread then I strongly suggest you do as my mum did, and invest in a bread making machine. The initial cost can be expensive but the ingredients are cheap and its just a matter of putting them in the machine and switching it on before you go to bed. Then you wake up the next day to the wonderful smell of fresh bread. The bread maker pays for itself.

  • Comment number 3.

    Bread-making is not such a lost art... In fact, I have some bread baking in the oven now as I type! As a university student a couple years ago, when my flat-mates and I would bake bread, bagels, pizzas etc, I realised bread-making could be very simple even without a bread machine! Although the process is quite long, the actually work is quite quick. We might not have been typical student cooks, but I know we weren't the only ones who enjoyed a bit of baking!

  • Comment number 4.

    Subsistance farming and community farming kept good food alive in rural areas and in urban areas the butchers, grocers and markets allowed produce to be immediately available using sustainable method and not aggressive and destructive farming.

    With the convenience of superstores we have unfortunately allowed these industries to fall by the wayside however there is another way.

    We operate a cooperative and would be interested in hearing from other organisations who believe in the true meaning of whole foods.

    We employ modern day technology to network with like minded people but employ traditional methods of selling and intend to role out nationally traditional grocers butchers and bakers etc in a cooperative and give the consumer the convenience of a superstore with the intimacy and service of a traditional artisan industry.

    If the BBC will allow us to post an email address after this post we would enjoy hearing from like minded people in any event.


  • Comment number 5.

    You cant beat the taste of real bread and the market is there. The supermarket bread can never come close to bread that has been lovingly created and made. We have been running an artisan bakery in the south west for 18 months and the locals are really supportive. We still use a peel ovens, steering clear of more industrial approaches.

    Great to see bread getting it's profile raised and rightly so! Support your local baker and drop the supermarket fake stuff!

  • Comment number 6.

    I make my own bread - I have to cause the modern forced wheat contains such high gluten it triggered an intolerance. So I have to adapt any mouth watering recipes I find and do my best. Strangely enough my family, who have no dietary restrictions, tend to polish off the bread before I can get to it.

  • Comment number 7.

    I love Michel Roux, but was astonished to see him in a field, talking about the importance of good wheat in breadmaking, when the combine harvester was clearly combining barley!

  • Comment number 8.

    Hi There, have to comment about the Cauliflowers with teh Hairy Bikers...our family all love cauliflowers but .... they are not cheap...tehy mention 70p to the weekend I bought one from Tesco and it was two pounds for one of any size at with food at the moment the prices are going up and the greed of the supermarkets remains unaffected...that is why people are not buying them !!

  • Comment number 9.

    We just don't seem to be short of proper bakers and good bread in Devon. The issue seems to be about whether people want to make the effort to go and buy it. But in the South West we also have a fantastic choice of lovely local cheeses so why is it that for a programme about British Food our Hairy Bikers choose to use two foreign cheeses for their cauliflower cheese? Absurd betrayal of an amazing revival of the art of making crafted cheeses. And have they actually seen those stall-confined dairy cows used to produce those imported cheeses - obviously not!

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm not quite sure how making diplomat pudding, using sourdough bread, counts as reviving British food.

  • Comment number 11.

    I have never made bread before but have now got the inspiration having watched Michel doing it however can you use dried yeast or does it have to be fresh yeast please?

  • Comment number 12.

    As a watermill and artisan bakery owner, I can attest to the exponential increase in consumer interest in "real bread" and heritage flour. Our flour sales have grown about 20% in 12 months, our bakery courses sell out before we advertise them and we can't keep-up with demand for our bread. Despite flour price increases of up to 100% in the last year, discerning customers are prepared to pay a significant premium for quality bread and flour. The market is there for artisan bakers, but it is tough to make money as raw ingredient prices soar.
    Otterton Mill,

  • Comment number 13.

    I never buy bread: make my own on Sundays with fresh yeast. My daughter, who's a student in the UK, wants to make bread but can't find fresh yeast there. It really does make a difference, and I saw that Michel uses fresh yeast too. So where is it available to buy in the UK? Thanks for the inspirational baking and reminding us of the power of choice.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the programme and totally agree about the lack of artisan bakers on the highstreet. Unfortunately, most highstreet overheads would be too high for an independent baker to maintain, no matter how good or popular they are. It's such a shame, as this is the what is also killing the atmosphere and variety in our towns and villages. I would happily buy freshly baked bread every day if I could access a decent supplier - I live in the Chichester area and it's a baking no-mans land except for the occasional farmer's market stall. I would love to bake every day myself but find it hard to fit in around full time employment - Michel has inspired me to start a sourdough culture so I can prep the night before!

  • Comment number 15.

    Wonderful programme, I always bake my own bread. I think the problem for bakers in the main cities of the uk is the cost of property (rental,lease or ownership). Bring back the local bakers and maybe one day the fishmonger too!

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi ,to all at BBC and congratulations on a fantastic new food series that is not about the chef but the passion. I am a chef in a cafe and all the chefs bake fresh bread every day . Our passion is as strong as Michel's
    and this episode has prompted me on to continue baking and trying more artisan bread recipes. Sour dough,rye,wholemeal and quality white breads are our daily regulars but we constantly strive to try new methods and ways of producing a quality loaf , keep bread fresh and real...


  • Comment number 17.

    I often bake my own bread but only have access to dried yeast. What can I do to obtain a good loaf that compares favourably to one that has been made with fresh yeast?

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes, bread making is a dying art.
    My grandmother always baked bread. I used to but as life has become more hectic I stopped. The bread maker we tried didn't produce a very good product so we gave it away.

    Thanks Michel Roux for being so enthusiastic about bread - I've just watched your programme. I'll get out my bread tins and give it a try again :)
    We've forgotten the small pleasures of life.

  • Comment number 19.

    Agree with Walnut - hard to find fresh yeast locally. Worth the effort if you can source a regular supplier though. You can try asking at supermarket instore bakeries and apparently it can be purchased via Amazon as well!

  • Comment number 20.

    I've been making my own bread for several years, but can only find strong white, strong brown, wholemeal and, if I'm lucky, granary flour in the supermarkets. Fresh yeast is almost impossible to get. Hopefully the dried kind works as well. I'd really like to get some more speciality flours and experiment with corn bread, french baguettes, etc. I've never tried using syrup in my bread, but might give it a try now!

  • Comment number 21.

    Regarding the request for fresh yeast search on the internet or ask an independent baker or (yes I cant't believe I am saying this) your local supermarket if it has an "in-store bakery".

    thought the progamme was excellent and the guy looked very uncomfortable when he said customers wanted white sliced bread!! Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 22.

    I enjoyed Chef Roux input as always:his own baking heritage is unimpeachable but maybe expected a little more on the subject of bread itself.I'm not sure that Diplomat pud is going to prove the value of real artisan bread,lovely though it is.
    I've been baking real artisan bread and running small breadmaking courses in our family bakery for the last twelve years and hope that I've done my bit to promote real bread in Lakeland.We have certainly spawned our fair share of imitators over the years.Unfortunately many of them just see the bread as a commodity to exploit.To me it is much more.

  • Comment number 23.

    We are using a breadmaker and with the best of both worlds a French flour mix for Pain Rustique available from selective supermarkets. Not cheap bread but great fun to make and really tasty. - Sorry but as Ms Roux says the smell of the Boulangerie - wonderful. With nearly every French village having a bakery you would think there was an opportunity in this Country for your entrepeneurs to flourish. Plenty of empty shops as well.

  • Comment number 24.

    We love making fresh bread, and the taste is so much better than supermarket bread. You can buy fresh yeast on Amazon or ask at the supermarket instore bakeries they are usually willing to give you some. Usually can only find artisan bread at farmers markets up here in the north east of scotland.

    I enjoy growing and cooking with my home grown cauliflowers too.

  • Comment number 25.

    Great to see the promotion of Artisan bread, a shame we didn't visit more of the new excellent small bakeries that are now setting up around the country, this would have been far more interesting than watching recipes being cooked by Michel. He mentioned that there should be a bakery on every street corner, there used to be, but over the last 20 years so many of these have gone out of business due to the competition from Supermarkets selling bread products at ultra low prices. Very helpful for the housewife looking for a bargain, but disasterous for the bakery industry. Let's hope that more and more will realise the pleasure of fresh tasty well made bread from their local baker.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi everyone, if your looking for fresh yeast try a company called bako northwest.Fresh yeast can be frozen , weigh it and freeze it and just pop it into your mix whilst frozen still works fine. If you have a super market that bakes (Tesco) ask the baker, there is a small fee but they will sell you some 30-45gms will be enough for a loaf .......
    Keep it fresh keep it real.......

  • Comment number 27.

    Great programme. I live in Spain and bread here is woeful, tasteless white baguettes is general fare and it is a rare thing to find any wholemeal, let alone seeded or any other type of bread. I do miss the fabulous bread from my old bakery, cottage loaves, milk loaves etc. I´ve taken to making my own recently but am a true novice how do you make a sourdough? Any help out there...?

  • Comment number 28.

    A good date to remember is lammas which is a pagen festival celebrating bread , I think it is around about the 1st August this year.
    Keep it fresh, keep it reel.....

  • Comment number 29.

    Lots of comments on the supermarket for yeast, yes i'ts true.......
    Keep it fresh, keep it reel .........

  • Comment number 30.

    The spokesman for the Bakers Federation said it all: "we give consumers what they want". Perhaps he meant "what they deserve". So long as British consumers en masse confuse value with cheapness, we'll continue to be offered rubbish. Across Europe, supermarkets seem to coexist alongside specialist food retailers. Only in Britain do they seem so intent on driving those specialist retailers to the wall. And as long as we worship the great God "Value", we will continue to be offered mass produced, tasteless, adulterated and unhealthy product. Well done the BBC for providing platforms from which chefs, growers and artisanal enthusiasts can argue the case for quality, taste and nutrition.

  • Comment number 31.

    Some great comments, I am sure Michel will be heartened by the wealth of support for artisan and homemade bread making. A lot of you have touched on the price issue, and the viability of small producers on the high street - as we always think of bread as a cheap comestible. I remember when supermarket 'value' ranges were first introduced, the price of a white sliced loaf was incredibly low, as little as 15 pence. But as that old adage goes, 'you pay for quality'. How much would you be prepared to pay for a loaf of bread?

  • Comment number 32.

    Why do people need to feel they need to rubbish people. Michel quite clearly established that this wasn't wheat harvesting time; He never claimed to be following the wheat through to baking. It was an enjoyable programme; The people who wanted to learn probably did, so get a life and stop boring the rest of us!

  • Comment number 33.

    Great programme, i will be trying to find fresh yeast and baking some bread with my kids this weekend! I would also love to buy bread from a local Artisan baker but cannot find any at all in my area (West Midlands). Is there a producers website with a listing?

  • Comment number 34.

    As a keen baker of my own bread, I was a bit dissapointed Michel's programme as we were only given one recipe for making bread. Tasty though it looked.

    I didn't personally feel that the time given to the use of bread, was spent as effectively as it could have been from the perspective of the purpose of the programme, i.e. promoting British food and Michel's own passion for good bread (which I share). I don't think the duck recipe will further the cause of good bread or home baking as much as another bread recipe would have.

    The following is not a critism of the programme or Michel, but more a discussion point. Where exactly do ingredients and additives crossover?

    Having already critised the use of additives, when Michel made his bread, the first two ingredients were milk and golden syrup. Are they additives, too? The milk probably not, but the golden syrup is the product of an industrial process. It's a hydrogenated corn starch, or something like that. You cannot make it at home.

    Should the unidentified bacteria living in the sour dough together with the enzimes they produce be classified as ingredients or additives? That man's bucket of starter is a small factory!

    Finally, I think it should have been pointed out that the majority of the remaining independent small bakers also use the Chorley Wood process. There are notable exceptions, thankfully, but most of them are just as bad as the supermarkets. One reason that they are feeling the pinch is that they are competing head on with the supermarkets without offering products to differentiate themselves. They rely purley on foot fall in front of their shops, not on their product range.

  • Comment number 35.

    For tips on how to start making Real Bread for your local community and links to more information visit

  • Comment number 36.

    Great to see such support for artisan bakers on the programme and in the comments here. For those looking to learn more about baking, including making sourdough and getting a good loaf using dried yeast, may I recommend my site - there's an email link on the site and I'm very happy to answer any questions from aspiring home bakers.

  • Comment number 37.

    I love cooking as I was born and spent most of my young life in Trinidad I came to England when i was 15 years.I cook very good curries but i can't seem to master Breadmaking Mr Michel Roux makes it look so easy, maybe I rush things to much ! Please help as i agree that the bread in the supermarket is awful and an insult to us, the public!!Thank you Joy.

  • Comment number 38.

    The more I read & see about the giants of retailing the more infuriated I get AND , if I hear the phrase 'responding to consumer demand' one more time I swear I'll throw my wellies through the telly. How many time can they hide behind that excuse? I can feel a rant coming on...deep breath! Anyhoo, great to see more championing of independent producers & artisans. Get out and support your local producers people...might be a bit more expensive but I bet you won't waste any of it!

  • Comment number 39.

    For those that are having trouble finding small, independent bakeries in their area, Google: Real Bread Finder.
    Support your local baker!

  • Comment number 40.

    The programme was great in that it served it's purpose, provoking thought and debate on a very important subject, food quality and proven traditional values. In addition it provides us with techniques and skills we can use ourselves. I think the B.B.C. have hit upon a winner with this programme, and it's success is enhanced by the very obvious passion of those chefs taking part. The standard of bread stocked by supermarkets where I live in Ireland is more suitable for the building industry than for human consumption, mind you environmentally there could be a problem, because as far as texture and ingredients go, it is very hard to recycle it.

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree with The Stroppy Cow. For the big producers to claim it up to the customers to say what they want is to ignore the manipulatory effects that only market dominators can get away with. Providing the changes are incremental, and allowed time to settle, they can push the accepted norm anywhere they want to in order to improve their own lot. They are masters at it.

    For example, there was a time when the in-store bakers would allow their loaves to cool before putting them on the shelves. The result was an acceptable crust. Then, to maximise the amount of water they could sell us, they started putting the loaves into plastic bags almost straight from the oven. The result is a virtually crust free loaf, even when it is sold as crusty.

    I find it hard to believe that the majority of their customers would choose a crust-free, crusty loaf, but that's is what is on offer and the public will soon get used to it. It's really sad.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm currently a bakery manager, I enjoy the job and have a lot of passion for the bread that we produce. Congratulations on the program last night it was brilliant to see someone with a passion and flare for the old style bakeries, it would be good to see local bakeries popping up on the high street. Like the baker said Would the English person really go for a bakery selling artisan bread?

  • Comment number 43.

    Real bread ? I have never heard such a mish-mash of 'PC' ideas .. but it was to be expected after a programme like Michel Roux's. In trying to appeal to all of the 'foodies' out there Roux and the BBC conveniently forget a number of points. All major supermarkets now bake fresh bread in-house in all manner of different styles .. including the much-vaunted 'crusty' loaf. Look at the supermarket bread counters and tick off just how many 'real' loaves they offer. You do not have to be retricted to dozen or so 'manufactured' loaves they sell, nor the buns/rolls/baguettes and so on that are on offer. Also, here in Exmouth we are blessed with three 'real' bakers and in Topsham with at least three more. As for the nonsense ( pc again) of fresh homemade bread, just check out your local carboot sales and see how many bread machines are being turfed out. Or ask friends who have bought one when was the last time they used it. Soaking yeast in warm milk for 30 minutes ; mixing a dough ; kneading for twenty minutes ; resting ; proving ; kneading again ; rsting again ; then baking . and to get what ? an overcooked (or undercooked) cannonball of a loaf that cannot be sliced into a usable slice for sandwiches or any other use. Who has got time for such a palaver ? Only 'cooks' who are being paid to spend all of their time in a kitchen thinking up mere nonsenses to pester the housewives (and house husbands) with. Leave breadmaking other arcane (but wonderful arts) to professional experienced practitioners. I don't think anyone would seriously expect us to set about making a simple cheese, let alone one of the three hundred-odd that cheese that can be found in a specialised cheese shop or farm shop. And what about that bread and butter pudding .. what a complete and utter waste of time .. " now you have produced your loaf with its lovely crust, let's cut it all off and feed it to the birds, while we boil up milk and eggs and vanilla pods to make up a custard, to boil our currants and raisins in rum (!!) and all of the other steps in this complicated way of making what is actually supposed to be a simple recipe for using up stale bread. Give us a break, BBC, and look closely at these programmes before you foist them on us and try to make all those earnest and hardworking folk out trhere feel guilty because they don't go to the silly lengths that these so-called 'chefs' adopt. Luckily there are other more level-headed programmes that don't assume that we all want to be Michel Roux or Hector 'what silly thing can I do now to catch a headline' Blumenthal.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'd love to buy real bread, but at £3 a loaf when I earn £6 a hour - no way! In France the cost of a loaf of bread is subsidised by the government to enable all French people to afford decent bread. Until a UK government does the same, us poor folk won't be able to afford decent bread. That is why I keep buying 74p wholemeal loaves, not because I like it, but because it's cheap bung to fill a hungry stomach.

  • Comment number 45.

    Well, scooter pete, I did as you said, my nearest independent bakery is 11km away - which kinda defeats the object of the exercise...

  • Comment number 46.

    Re Waulnut's comment about not being able to find fresh yeast in the UK.
    Every bakery and bakery counter in a large supermarket has fresh yeast. They just keep it hidden from the customers! If you ask at the bakery counter in your local supermarket (mine is Sainsbury's) they produce a lovely block of wrapped fresh yeast for approx. £1.10. This will last you a couple of weeks in the fridge.

    I would encourage anyone who has not yet tried making bread to give it a go. It is a very theraputic and creative process. Done correctly it does not turn out like a canon ball and does not have to take all day to make either.

  • Comment number 47.

    As a baker with 53 years experience, trained and worked most of my life in the UK as a baker. Educated in Bread Baking and Flour Confectionery at the Southampton Technical College, it grieves me to think that my profession is becoming something of a history lesson.
    So i did something about it, in my own way. I wrote a book on how to start a bakery. That is now sold all over the world to help people start their own bakeries, no matter if it is a cake bakery, a pie bakery, bread or bagel bakery. Good bread can be made within 3 hours start to finish. Not only will it taste absolutely great, but it will make the house smell really aromatic.
    Ive lived in western Canada for the past 30 years and had my own bakery near the pacific ocean, you'd be surprised at the comments people have said about bakery fresh breads as apposed to the chemical rich pre-sliced supermarket stuff one complains about tasting like cardboard.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Blog at

  • Comment number 48.

    We at the Federation of Bakers believe there is room for all types of bread on the UK high street and we wholeheartedly support artisan bakers but believe that plant bakers also bake a product that benefits the public by offering choice.
    The Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) allows 9 million loaves a day to be produced ensuring there is a bread available to suit those on all budgets, so everyone can benefit from a good value product that makes a valuable contribution to a healthy diet.
    The same base ingredients are used in CBP as in slow bread making processes – flour, water, yeast and some salt. In addition, to achieve the shelf life expected by some of today’s consumers, a small amount of either vegetable fat or emulsifiers may also be used, no sugar is added to the recipe. All ingredients are clearly identified on pack in the ingredients list. The CBP shortens the dough-mixing and dough development phase of baking and consequently the total processing time for a loaf of CBP bread tends to be around 3 ¾ hours.
    The availability of CBP bread reduces waste and allows consumers to have a nutritious, healthy and fresh product without the burden of shopping everyday which is not practical for everyone. The process provides a wide choice of products including wholemeal bread and 50/50 so that consumers can buy a bread which best suits their lifestyle and health requirements.

  • Comment number 49.

    During the programme, mention was made of a company in Nottingham offering a course on breadmaking. Can you advise contact details.

  • Comment number 50.

    I've been wintering in Spain for many years and I find the quality and texture of the bread so much better than the stodge sold in our supermarkets. I've yet to find any UK outlet that sells the crusty rolls so easily available abroad. Recently I travelled to Portugal where the bread is equally good.

  • Comment number 51.

    Wholeheartedly agree with Michel Roux's views on 'real' bread. I too make all my own bread by hand (very tactile & therapeutic), and not only does this allow you to control what doesn't go into your bread, but it allows you to experiment with different flours and add a whole host of delicious ingredients to make a truly nutritious loaf, packed full of taste and goodness. I add seeds(caraway, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower) and walnut pieces to mine and a large polystyrene box and hot water bottle, makes a very cheap but effective 'proofing oven'. I also don't think I'm alone but that there's a huge army of unsung 'foodies' around, who care about the food they eat and refuse to accept 'supermarket fodder'.

  • Comment number 52.

    In the spirit of following through Michel Roux's impassioned pursuit of real bread (I hate the term 'artisan', so I refuse to use it), I decided to track down fresh yeast for my usual Saturday bread-making session. After trawling around three supermarkets (Budgen's, Tesco and Waitrose) and three bakeries (Greggs, Gail's bread and Dunn's) in Crouch End, N London, asking whether they sold fresh yeast, I came away empty handed and rather dispirited. Waitrose at least acknowledged that they used to sell fresh yeast, but most seemed to regard the request as a perverse irritation. For a bakery espousing the use of local ingredients and on-site baking, Dunn's dismissal was most surprising. So, I've now ordered a 500g block of yeast via Amazon, which against my best judgement, will have to be chopped into baking day portions and frozen. Sadly, I think the High Street will need more than a Michelin star chef to shake them out of their complacency: perhaps Delia needs to take up the baton for a real bread challenge.

  • Comment number 53.

    Great that the BBC launched this series with a bread slot, but what a pity that Chris Young's time with Roux wasn't long enough for him to get the 'slow prove', 'no additives' and 'not just white flour' messages over, else Mr Roux might not have demonstrated a fast white loaf with golden syrup as an ingredient. Long slow proves are a better fit with the lifestyle of those who are out at work all day, as the dough can be prepped in early morning and moulded and baked off in time for supper.

    Much has been said already about fresh yeast here, but it wasn't a wise choice when making the case for 'real bread is easy', as it's not readily available in supermarkets. A few more bread recipes and less fancy puddings would have helped to get the message over too.

  • Comment number 54.

    Real bread. Quite right Davide (52): I too have tried many a supermarket, local bakers and even a few breweries for a supply of fresh yeast. Mr Roux’s gallant attempt to inspire everyone to bake their own bread can only hit a brick wall when they discover that it’s just not readily available. This first demonstration on real bread making in this programme shows Mr Roux using golden syrup as an ingredient. For heaven’s sake Michel, since when is this highly refined sickly sweet muck been considered a ‘natural’ product? If you have to use a sweetener, why not use cold extracted honey, which is as natural as they come? (As opposed to the refined, heat treated commercial grade honey). Shoot yourself in both feet why don't you?

    I've been a dedicated real bread maker for many years, having an assortment of home-made natural yeast starters, and I also echo Baker Steve’s comment (53) on the wasted opportunity Mr Roux had when feeding his ego by doing the pudding and pie gambit in stead of harvesting more of what Chris Young of the Real Bread Campaign (great site BTW) and Ben McKinnon in his Hackney railway arch bakery, had to say. Personally, I was craving for more on the San Francisco sourdough bread he was making. Mine takes 12 hours to prove and make from start to finish but it’s worth every minute.

    Overall, this series can only do good with its message of quality wholesome food but please presenters, don’t become the issue with the “me, me, me” additives in your sections. It’s about the ingredients and the process of preparing them for the table, isn’t it?

  • Comment number 55.

    For everyone looking for fresh yeast: you can buy them in all polish shops. Good luck with your baking!

  • Comment number 56.

    Re:Davide's difficulty in getting yeast. I think this is a random local thing...some supermarkets are happy to bag up yeast (mine is Sainsbury's in Chiswick) others have decided not to. Just keep putting pressure on the Store Manager...I kept asking about Pollack and low and behold eventually it appeared on the fish counter.

  • Comment number 57.

    I reproduce the smell of freshly baked bread by shoving the supermarket bread in the oven for five minutes. Sometimes I put a little cheese on.

  • Comment number 58.

    I have an issue with the statement from Gordon at number 48 on behalf of the Federation of Bakers. When he says the all the ingredients are listed on a CBP loaf, he actually means that all the ingredients that they are legally obliged to declare are listed. There is no legal obligation to list the enzymes that form part of the CBP, but they are there. They are the CBP linchpin.

    Also, he said that they don't add sugar, but many of the industry standard improvers contain dextrose. To be fair, though, I’d rather add dextrose than golden syrup! What was Michel thinking of?

  • Comment number 59.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Michel Roux on this issue. As someone in their 60's I can remember local baker that did deliveries about 5 miles outside Reading using a Morris van, and the smell of warm, freshly baked bread is indelibly marked in my memory. The 'tin' loaves we got then had a very hard eighth of an inch crust, and inside was so dense you could spread butter on it stored in the fridge, without it falling to pieces and sticking to the butter-knife. Waitrose in the Reading area do the nearest thing I have encountered to this, but it's crust still isn't as hard as what I consider the 'Real McCoy'

    I suppose things started changing in about the early 60's, whether this was because of over-processing of the flour, changes in steam-baking ovens, or a combination of both, only Michel Roux will know the real reason. Another thing which has also changed, though this will probably get the Health Police banging on my door, is Lardy Cake. What passes for this nowadays, the Trade Description Act people need to ban, as Lardy, requires Lard, not vegetable fat and loads of dried fruit. Maybe it does whack up your Cholesterol levels through the roof, but then it was made at a time when people did hard, manual work which burnt off this pretty quick.

    I also suspect that Michel Roux despairs when he sees what is 'passed off' as French and Italian breads, probably using different types of flour and baking processes which shouldn't be used on these breads, but are wholly Alien to the UK's mass-production processes.

    Whilst the traditionally baked loaf costs considerably more, it undoubtedly uses more ingredients in each loaf, since the modern loaf consists of probably up to 50% air, and is baked for longer. All these things cost more, but at the same time, you eat less of them, because it fills you up quicker and take longer to digest, which in itself, a very good thing with all the processed foods we eat.

  • Comment number 60.

    Hooray for real bread. I just can't buy a packet loaf anymore. I am lucky enough to have a real "old fashioned" bakers a few streets away and a great company in Brighton that has a great distribution of its Artisan bread around the town, I can get hold of it in at least 3 places within a ten minute walk. I am learning to make bread and not that skilled yet. I back the campaign for real bread all the way. Great programme. This is the company that are doing well, it seems, distributing their breads.

  • Comment number 61.

    Help, I followed the bread receipe exactly the only thing I did not use was fresh yeast, I could only get dried. My bread did not rise. I tried it again the following day but still it didn't rise.

    I can only put it down to the dried yeast not activating with warm milk,syrup & butter ??? Anyone any ideas please

  • Comment number 62.

    I'm so pleased that I'm not the only huge fan of good bread. Let's all spread the message about how easy it is to make your own, and support the real artisan bakers who are doing such a great job.

    A few of you have asked where you can get fresh yeast. Good bakeries - where you know they really do bake on the premises - should be able to sell you some fresh yeast, and many of them are happy to do so, but you can also get it online. A couple of websites to check out are and

  • Comment number 63.

    As single people in full time employment, in the city centre, we shop mostly after 7pm en route home (on foot), therefore picking up smaller amounts at a time, not a 'big shop' by car. If there were 'deli' shops open in the evening where we could buy artisan breads, local organic vegetables, Scottish cheeses and fresh fish etc then we would all use them, but these small non chain stores can't afford to open right in the city centre. I live in Glasgow and there's only one independant 'deli' store open within a mile of home after 7pm and - yes, it's sold out of good bread by then. Other local small stores/papershops sell plain sliced loaf and beans and are open to midnight, showing someone manages to stay open, so why not sell 'deli' stock too? We don't want to be food shopping over the weekend, it's not convenient. We need an alternative to the cheap corner grocer's tins or Tesco/Sainsbury Metro Express. We would pay for the availability of 'luxury ' items. Evenings in Byres Road Waitrose proves this. We are not families but we are a market for convenient but quality foodstuffs. Don't make it so hard to obtain. Get the stock into wee convenience stores or deliver to me in the evening.

  • Comment number 64.

    Can I just say that this is more like it. CDW is brilliant! She is to the point, no nonsense, proper food presenter. This is a refreshing change from rubbish like “a farmers life for me” that has been filling my sitting room with a foul stench. Come on BBC, more programmes without the pretention coz they’re so much better!

  • Comment number 65.

    Any suggestions - fresh yeast - asked at the local tesco supermarket (the big ones) not allowed to sell as it is a health and safety issue?????? any suggestions where i can get Fresh Yeast - we do not have a local polish shop as i have been told that they sell it ....

  • Comment number 66.

    I have made this bread twice now but find although the taste is good and the bread rises ok, it still seems to be too heavy.
    Any suggestions ?
    Sid North

  • Comment number 67.

    For Londoners all of the Sharon's bakery (primarily N16, there's two on Stamford Hill broadway) carry fresh yeast on the shelves.

  • Comment number 68.

    I loved watching Michel bake bread. I'd just like to know if it works as well covered in a good old-fashioned teatowel as all that cling film is going to end up in land fill.

  • Comment number 69.

    Really enjoying the Great British Food Revival. Makes me proud to be British!

    @K_EVANS: You can use a tea-towel, or else, I use a shower cap, like the 'disposable' ones you get in hotels. Reusable and very efficient!

  • Comment number 70.

    I really enjoyed the Great British Food Revival and do my best to eat some of the great british produce that is available in this country.

    However, what I'd love for someone, the producers, or even some of the chefs and cooks on the programmes to answer is whether they think that a fair price is asked for a lot of British produce. The reason I ask is this.

    This weekend I bought some bang in season, English asparagus from one of the grocers at Borough Market in London. The price for twenty or so spears?


    Seriously, I found out today from a friend in Lincolnshire where the Asparagus was grown that it can be bought by the roadside for £1 a bunch. This isn't just a London or Borough thing either, last year at the farmers market in Portsmouth £5 a bunch and down the road at Maltby street a slightly better £4.

    It's pretty clear that when it comes to a seasonal produce in Britain a fair price isn't charged, but a premium price based on the scarcity of the product.

    Head over to France or Italy you'll get local seasonal produce all year round and you'd be hard pressed to leave with arms loaded with veg for about tenner.

    I ate a the Ledbury recently, and asparagus was on my main dish, French asparagus according to the menu - I wonder if this is because it's better or simply that it's more affordable.

    I'll buy British, but please it shouldn't just be the preserve of the Notting Hill set.


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