“I judge a restaurant by the bread and by the coffee.” – Burt Lancaster

Bread is one of our staple foods and consumed and loved by people the world over.  For me, the smell of freshly baked bread is one of the best smells in the world! Each country has their own speciality: Irish soda bread, French baguettes, German Rye, San Franciscan sour dough, Indian chapatti….. the list goes on… personally, we love all bread types, but we never buy, or eat, the majority of commercial breads on the supermarket shelves! We make our own bread, a wide variety of them, or, if we can find it, we’ll buy some really good Sourdough or Rye from a reputable baker.

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"How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?" —Julia Child

The majority of us are bread eaters, either with breakfast, lunch or late night tea, because bread has been and probably always will be, an easy meal: you can spread stuff over it, sandwich things between it, dunk and dip it into soup or stews, and make it sweet or savoury.

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I do hear a lot of people saying, ‘I’m avoiding bread at the moment’, but the bottom line is that 99% of UK households buy bread; 12 million loaves are sold per day in the UK and 99 different bread products per UK household are purchased annually. If there’s bread in it, then a product will sell!

We love the stuff, but the bread that we are buying does not love us! The stuff on the shelves, whether it’s white, brown, mixed seeds etc. is so overly processed that any nutrition in the original grain has been wiped out or bleached out – yep a lot of flour is bleached white. People buy bread for many reasons: the packaging attracts them; the kids love it; the price is right or they like the taste, but I doubt many actually read the ingredients, which are so varied and lengthy you’d need a Chemistry degree to work it out!

For example: the ingredients of a HOVIS Wholemeal bread: Wholemeal Flour (Wheat), Water, Caramelised Sugar, Yeast, Wheat Protein, Salt, Soya Flour, Fermented Wheat Flour, Emulsifiers: E472e, E481, Vegetable Fat (Rapeseed, Palm), Flour Treatment Agent: Ascorbic Acid, Wheat Flour, This product contains 61% Wholegrains from Wholemeal Flour

I have a rule of thumb when buying anything; if you can’t cook it yourself with the ingredients listed on the product then don’t buy it.  E427e? Caramelised Sugar??

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Bread is big business and the aim is to get as many loaves on the shelves as quickly as possible, hence they add dough-risers to every loaf, which can affect your gut and cause stomach upsets. The second thing bread manufactures do is add preservatives and food additives to keep bread on the shelves for as long as possible. Bread is already 24 hours old when you buy it, unless you are buying the bread baked in-store. Keeping it fresh for at least another 4 days requires a cocktail of preservatives and additives. Even if you buy the in-store baked bread, it may actually have been ‘par-baked’ elsewhere, then snap-frozen, delivered to the store and then baked in-store to finish it off, but it’s not ‘freshly baked bread’! Was it Coles in Australia that had bread coming in from Ireland? Fresh??

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I love sour dough bread, but not all sourdough is made the same – again the commercial bakers make their sourdough yeasted and add ‘acids’ to make their bread taste like sourdough.

Sourdough, made proper, has no added yeast and contains, wheat, water and salt, sometimes a little olive oil, nothing else! The whole experience is different, it fills you up, like real bread should and is gentler on your stomach because of how long it’s left to rise – sometimes up-to 20 hours. It’s not light, airy or thin – it  tastes like real bread and you only need one slice, rather than half a loaf to make you feel satiated (tip: the heavier the bread, the better it is for you!).

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If you love bread, but can’t stomach, or like, the feeling the commercial loaves leave you with, then try baking your own as it’s really easy, or find a good baker, who loves bread too and wants to share his passion with his customers. You’ll pay for this passion though, to the tune of £3.50 to £4 per loaf ($6-$8Aud) so check out my recipes below for my favourites: easy-peasy to make/bake and absolutely scrumptious breads (promise!).

Spelt Soda Bread

This is something I make weekly because it’s so simple, is yeast- free and tastes unbelievable! It won’t last long.

Makes 1 large loaf

500g wholegrain spelt flour

1 tsp of Himalayan pink salt

1 tsp of bicarb soda

25grams of butter

60grams of walnuts, chopped

1 egg

300ml of full fat plain yoghurt

2-3 tbsp of water

Mixture of seeds, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7

Sift the flour, salt, bicarb of soda in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the walnuts. Whisk the egg into the yoghurt and stir into the flour mixture, add water as necessary if too dry. You should end up with a soft dough.

Form into a round with your hands (wet them first) and place on a baking tray which is lined with baking paper or greased with butter. Sprinkle top with a mixture of seeds. Bake for 10 mins, reduce the heat to 190C and cook for a further 30 -40 mins until well risen and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.

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Banana and Coconut Bread

A mid afternoon treat; toasted for breakfast with almond butter; served with ricotta, a drizzle of honey and strawberries. This is gluten, diary and sugar-free, but it tastes so sweet and decadent.  

Makes 1 loaf / 12 slices

400grams of ripe banana

6 free range eggs

4 pitted dates

2 tsps of vanilla extract

60ml of coconut oil melted or cold pressed olive oil

½ tsp of cinnamon

2 tsps of gluten free baking powder

70grams of coconut flour

20grams of chia seed (you can use flaxseed instead)

Preheat the oven to 170C

Combine banana, dates, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs and baking powder in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy and combined. You can also mash everything by hand in a bowl.

Add the coconut flour, chia seeds and mix through. Rest for 10 mins to allow the chia and coconut flour to expand.

Lightly oil a loaf tin and line with baking paper. The size I use is 10 ½ cm wide and 23 cm long.

Spoon batter into the tin and decorate top of cake with desicatted coconut, coconut flakes or thin strips of sliced banana.

Bake for 50 – 55 mins (insert a skewer into the centre and if it comes out dry, it’s done)

Cover the top with foil if its browning.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf.

Freeze well and keeps for a week in the fridge.

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Paleo Pumpkin Bread

Perfect with a curry; served with breakfast and a side of poached eggs; as a snack with some mashed avocado and feta cheese on top; alongside your favourite soup with a spread of cream cheese.

450grams of grated raw pumpkin (any kind)

4 eggs

½ tsp of sea salt

Pinch of nutmeg

60ml of cold pressed olive oil

2 tsps of gluten free baking powder

300grams of almond meal (almond flour, ground almonds)

1 Tbsp of honey (optional)

Pumpkin seeds for the top

Preheat oven to 180C.

Combine the pumpkin, eggs, salt, nutmeg and oil into a bowl.

Add the almond meal and baking powder and mix well.

Line a loaf tin with baking paper at the base and the sides. Spoon mixture into the loaf tin and sprinkle with seeds.

Bake for 1 ½ hours – check after 1 hour and test with a skewer inserted into the middle – if it comes out dry then it’s done.

Remove from the oven and rest in the tin for 1 hour.

 

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 Ref: www.theheathlychef.com and www.honestlyhealthyfood.com