Give us back our daily bread
1961. The Berlin wall went up. The Russians sent a second dog into space. The Vietnam war began. Elvis had a wooden heart, and Helen Shapiro was walkin’ back to happiness.
And in a research centre in Chorleywood, Buckinghamshire, men in white coats were busy messing up British bread. It’s never been the same since. Or at least around 90% of the bread sold in the UK hasn’t.
The Chorleywood process is now used in bread factories and large bakeries all over the country, using a ‘no-time dough’, in which a combination of high- speed mixing, chemical additives and enzymes replaces traditional fermentation, shortening the process from 12 to 24 hours to just 2 hours.
Many people are starting to wonder if this is why so many people are now ‘wheat intolerant’.
The enzymes are used mainly to increase the volume, elasticity or shelf-life of the bread. They come from a variety of sources, including genetically manufactured bacteria. Yum.
The producers of this stuff I’ve always called plastic bread – bread factories and supermarkets, are not legally required to tell you what enzymes are used, as they are classified as processing aids, rather than ingredients.
If you visit the Flour Advisory Board, and look up the ingredients in bread, they somehow forget to mention the additives such as amylase, xylanase, protease and cellulase. I guess that’s because they are not ‘officially’ ingredients, but ‘processing aids.’
On another page they post this rather confused message:
“The Food Labelling Regulations require that all additives (except flavourings, which are not used in bread) be individually listed in ingredient lists. Bread wrappers carry a full list of ingredients, including additives. The provision of nutritional information is voluntary but bread wrappers will always include this on the label.
The following additives would normally be included among the ingredients list on bread wrappers:
Processing Aids – Various enzymes and processing aids are also permitted for use in bread making. They are destroyed by the baking process and therefore do not need to be listed on the label.”
If you’d rather eat the real stuff, check out the Real Bread Campaign for more info and your local real bread suppliers.
50 years of the Chorleywood method
The Flour Advisory Board’s website says they’re celebrating 50 years of ‘The Chorleywood Bread process – the greatest invention no one has ever heard of.” But apparently, according to the FAB, “According to research, 57% of us believe the process should be celebrated as an iconic invention, alongside the likes of the internet, space travel and the mobile phone – despite nine in 10 of us actually not knowing the name of it!”
So 9 out of 10 of us believe something we are unaware of is a great invention? Those 9 out of 10 probably don’t know what’s the Chorleywood process involves then, either.
FAB goes on to say, “For one in ten (11%) adults it saves between 4 and 10 minutes every day or an astonishing 43 hours every year – just by buying a sliced loaf.
It is environmental and ecologically sound too – as it reduces the level of waste, by staying fresher longer. Four in 10 claim that they would waste the bread if they didn’t buy wrapped sliced.”
And what about the plastic packaging? Plastic wrappers biodegrade a little slower than the knub of a piece of real bread, I would imagine.
FAB then goes on to have a little swipe at what they describe as ‘trendy’ artisan bread, and rounds off the blurb with an endorsement by celebrity chef and endorser of anything from toasters to ultra low calorie diets, from kettles to computer screen wipes, Anthony Worrell Thompson.
Anthony Worrall Thompson helpfully suggests, ‘Toast it and serve with marmalade or marmite to make a quick breakfast, use it to make sandwiches or as an ingredient in puddings. There are so many ways to enjoy bread, so why not get creative in the kitchen.” I wonder how much that endorsement cost?
Still, he was charged with nicking a Tesco sandwich, so maybe plastic bread is one product AWT truly believes in.
Amylase: E1100 – made from either swine pancreas or fungal sources.