Mine’s a loaf

Everything has to start somewhere and for my first ever High Tea Cast column I wanted to start at the beginning.

Hot buttered toast is the staple of many childhood memories. Thick slices of crusty on the outside fluffy on the inside toasted bread with lashing of butter melting on top. I, to this day, will always try and bite into the bits of with the lumps of butter that are still melting to get that delicious contrast of cold butter and warm bread.

There is evidence of bread being baked over 30,000 years ago and even now, you probably won’t go a day without a slice. From the sliced loaf traditionally seen in a British kitchen to injera of Ethiopia, bread dominates many a kitchen sideboard and good recipes are passed down through generations.

Bread is seemingly having a resurgence as in 2011, with the toast sandwich being declared the cheapest meal in the UK by the Royal Society of Chemists, it costs 7.5p per serving and was first promoted by Victorian food writer Mrs Beeton.

Times have changed slightly since Mrs Beeton and her book of household management was a must have for the proud home maker and despite selling over two million copies in the 1800’s, I doubt she would have been listened to by today’s foodies.

Holly Bell, finalist in the Great British Bake Off, knows a thing or two about bread. She kindly agreed to answer a few questions about how the humble loaf has been a part of her life.


Holly Bell Baking Bread

What is your earliest memory of bread?

“Sadly, though fondly, my earliest memory of bread is eating Mighty White bread spread thickly with margarine and Marmite. I was and still am a Marmite Baby.”

Different types of bread are a staple throughout the world, what is your favourite type of bread?

“I adore rye bread and sour dough in equal measures. Rye makes me feel virtuous and satisfyingly full to the brim. Toasted sourdough spread with mashed avocado and fresh chilli is one of my greatest pleasures.”

As a baker and a Mum, do you think that it is worthwhile to make your own bread at home given the time and cost compared to buying a loaf?

“I won’t lie. It’s not often cheaper to make your own bread. When you factor in, even when buying a supermarket own label loaf, flour, yeast, electricity or gas and of course your own time then it’s sometimes the same amount of money and often a little more than an average loaf. But the taste isn’t average, not even close. So I urge people to give it a go. I endeavour to make all our bread but probably only manage thirty per cent. We do savour that thirty per cent though.”

What is better than sliced bread?

“The sound of my sons being tickled, it has an instant heart lifting affect.”

My three primary uses for bread are toast, sandwiches and for dipping in soup. They are all irreplaceable for their ease of preparation, suitability and their necessity to making the dish work. I don’t know where I would be without bread, nor do I have any idea how I would make slices of cheese, with a spread of butter on, work as a standalone dish.

Brioche will always be my bread of choice though, sliced thickly with butter or maybe a drizzle of chocolate spread. As for sandwiches, I have always been a cheese and pickle kind of chap (note the use of the word chap to indicate that I am being retro not boring…).

You can learn to bake a wonderful tasting fresh loaf with Holly by attending one of her bread baking classes. Book online  or find some great homemade bread recipes on Holly’s website.

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  • Simon Button says:

    This speaks volumes to me. I love bread. If I couldn’t eat bread, I might die. Seriously. My breakfasts and lunches consists of one of the following each and every day without fail; bread, crumpets (personal fav), english muffins, baguette. Why not finish that yummy bready meal with a hot cross bun?

    How about garlic bread with dinner? The bases of pizza are part of the family too. So if I was told one day that I could no longer eat bread products, the shock to the system would surely kill me. Life would no longer be worth living. Goodbye cruel breadless world!

  • Kelli says:

    I once lived with a guy who hadn’t eaten bread for over a year. I broke my lease immediately.

    Who could expect me to live with someone like that?

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