Cheese & Apple Scones

vegetarian-food-for-healthy-kids-low-res-single-pdf-adobe-acrobat-pro

This recipe is extracted from Vegetarian Food for Healthy Kids by Nicola Graimes.

Savoury scones/biscuits make a good alternative to the usual sandwich and these have been pimped up with the addition of cheese, apple and linseeds/flaxseeds. Spread them with butter or, to make them more filling, split in half and fill with cream cheese and slices of cucumber. To make a sweet version, leave out the cheese and stir in 2 tablespoons sugar instead.

Makes: 8
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
200g/7oz/1½ cups self-raising wholemeal flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground linseeds/flaxseeds
50g/1¾oz/3½ tbsp chilled butter, cubed
1 apple, with skin, cored and grated
90g/3¼oz mature/sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup milk, plus extra for brushing

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl, adding any bran left in the sieve/fine-mesh strainer. Stir in the linseeds/flaxseeds.
  3. Using your fingertips, lightly rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the apple and Cheddar. Gradually, stir in the milk using a fork, then bring the dough together with your hands.
  4. Press out the dough on a lightly floured work surface, about 2.5cm/1in thick. Using a 4.5cm/1¾in cutter, stamp out 8 rounds.
  5. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with milk. Bake for 20–25 minutes until risen and
    golden. Transfer to a wire rack and serve warm or leave to cool completely.

vegetarian-food-for-healthy-kids

Nicola Graimes
Vegetarian Food for Healthy Kids
£12.99, available from Nourish Books

 

Clean Loaf or Just Clean Label?

brown-bread

This article is adapted from Slow Dough by Chris Young.

To meet their need for speed, Big Bakers often lace their dough with so-called ‘processing aids’ and other artificial additives, which help the dough conform to the stresses of the process; to become stretchy enough to rise high and quickly, and then to have strength enough to stay risen during baking.

Other chemicals might be used to deter the growth of mould and to help the finished loaf to stay softer for longer, features marketed as ‘freshness’, though I question whether this could be thought of as the equivalent of ‘loaf Botox’…

Big Bakers may say that their loaves are fundamentally the same as Real Bread, just with tiny amounts of these performance-enhancing substances ‘to help the process along’, Isn’t but that a bit like claiming doped-up sportspeople are ‘fundamentally the same’ as honest athletes, though?

Artificial additives have only been subjected to a relatively short period of testing before being declared safe (or ‘generally recognised as safe’ as the more pragmatic US Food and Drink Administration puts it) for food manufacturers using them in their products.

No-one knows for sure, however, if there might be any adverse effects from long-term consumption of the artificial additives found in the modern industrial loaf and across many people’s diets in other heavily processed foods. Can we trust that these things, either individually or in the endless combinations they’ll turn up in a supermarket shopping basket, are truly safe? History is littered with a veritable chemistry set of substances once used by industrial millers and bakers, only to be withdrawn or banned in the UK or elsewhere. They include azodicarbonamide (banned in countries including the UK and Australia but legal in others, including the USA), benzoyl peroxide, Agene (nitrogen trichloride, banned in the 1940s) and potassium bromate.

By contrast, a few thousand years of people eating Real Bread has proved beyond any doubt that it is safe – no, actually good – for the vast majority of us.

So, high time to turn to your local, independent Real Bread bakery…or start baking your own.

Chris Young is Campaign Co-ordinator for The Real Bread Campaign, a charity project with a mission to promote additive-free bread. In addition to compiling this book, Chris edits the quarterly magazine True Loaf, and wrote Knead to Know, the campaign’s first book. His work has appeared in publications including Spear’s Magazine, The Real Food Cookbook and the London ethical food magazine, The Jellied Eel, which he also edits.

Slow-Dough-300x386

Chris Young
Slow Dough: Real Bread
£20.00, available from Nourish Books

 

 

 

The Fight For Better Bread

stilton stout and walnut main

This article is adapted from Slow Dough by Chris Young.

Until relatively recently, the future of bread in Britain looked bleak. Following World War II, the number of independent high street bakeries headed into what seemed a permanent decline, with a handful of industrial giants and multiple retailers rising to dominance and helping to speed their demise.

A particularly dark day for Real Bread historians came in July 1961, when the British Baking Industries Research Association unleashed what later became known as The Chorleywood ‘Bread’ Process (CBP), which takes a shortcut through dough’s natural fermentation and ‘ripening’ time, slashing it from hours or even days to tens of minutes.

Convinced by expensive marketing campaigns to believe that one brand of CBP loaf was in any meaningful way different from another, we began to look to our supermarkets for sandwich loaves, using the same squeeze test we might use for toilet rolls. And the manufacturers and retailers conspired in a race to the bottom, so driven by low prices that by the end of the 1990s, you could buy a sliced CBP loaf for about 7p. Nope, that’s not a typo: in 1999 at least one supermarket dropped the price of its ‘value’ range own-brand loaves far below even the cost of production, to just seven pence.

From Roman and medieval statutes; through nineteenth century wholemeal advocates including Sylvester Graham and Thomas Allinson; national newspaper campaigns in the early twentieth; and the Campaign for Real Bread that ran in Britain as the 1970s turned into the 1980s; the fight for better bread is perhaps as old as bread itself.

In 2008, the food and farming charity Sustain joined forces with baker Andrew Whitley to discuss setting up a new organisation to fight for better bread. Quickly, this attracted the interest of hundreds of people, and after a series of open meetings, the Real Bread Campaign was launched on 26 November of that year. Since then it has thousands of supporters in more than twenty countries. Behind a rallying cry of ‘not all loaves are created equal!’ together we’ve been finding and sharing ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet.

The Real Bread Campaign doesn’t wish to deny any industrial baker their job, but believes that a small, independent Real Bread bakery is of greater benefit to both its bakers and to its local community. These benefits might include:

  • Skilled, meaningful jobs for local people producing food for their neighbours.
  • More jobs-per-loaf than an industrial loaf factory.
  • Opportunities for social interaction between employees and customers.
  • Support for the local high street and economy: money spent with a local business is more likely to be re-invested locally.
  • Potential to support local producers, growers or other smaller or more ethical suppliers, by providing an outlet for their goods.
  • The chance to shop on foot, by bike or public transport, rather than having to drive to an out-of-town megamarket.

While the wrapped, sliced industrial loaf still accounts for the largest percentage of the ‘bread’ market in Britain, it is in decline. In May 2016, Kantar Worldpanel reported that industrial loaf sales had fallen by more than £130 million in just 12 months, while IRI found that supermarkets had sold 50 million loaves.

While nobody seems to count the sales of small, independent bakeries (or even how many there are), in August this year, British Baker magazine reported that sales by one of the larger independents had risen by 41.5%, who had taken on more than 360 staff to meet the demand for their Real Bread.

As for the Campaign, it now has paying supporters in more than 20 countries, around 680 bakeries have added Real Bread to its map, and has more than 25,600 followers on Twitter. Its work has helped more than 10,000 children at over 150 schools learn to bake; encourage and champion the creation of more Real Bread businesses and secured the ASA’s rulings against misleading advertising by supermarket chains.

Chris Young is Campaign Co-ordinator for The Real Bread Campaign, a charity project with a mission to promote additive-free bread. In addition to compiling this book, Chris edits the quarterly magazine True Loaf, and wrote Knead to Know, the campaign’s first book. His work has appeared in publications including Spear’s Magazine, The Real Food Cookbook and the London ethical food magazine, The Jellied Eel, which he also edits.

Slow-Dough-300x386

Chris Young
Slow Dough: Real Bread
£20.00, available from Nourish Books