THE GOOD BREAD OF BYGONE DAYS AND HOW TO MAKE IT


Even in rural England, some of which still remains, and in the wildest and most unsophisticated parts of Scotland, white bread can always be found, and gone are the days when you could purchase almost anywhere pure unadulterated flour. Not a word was mentioned of our adulterated food, of which bread is probably the worst offender.


“BREAD”, the so-called Staff of Life, certainly deserves its title since, among its other recommendations, it is mentioned in the Bible and our daily prayers. There is also a Polish proverb too which is very apt: “Bon Comme du Pain” in describing moral goodness; an old saying, and yet how significant and how pregnant of what bread should be.

Though it is the principal and staple food of the majority of the inhabitants of Great Britain, one grieves to see how much it has deteriorated, and how, in many instances, the nutritive value has become practically non- existent. I often wonder if the public realizes the ingredients used in the making of this white bread, which is so persistently asked for ?.

Even in rural England, some of which still remains, and in the wildest and most unsophisticated parts of Scotland, white bread can always be found, and gone are the days when you could purchase almost anywhere pure unadulterated flour. To my mind–and many will bear me out — there is really nothing to compare to stone-milled flour: the colour is slightly grey which may prejudice some people, but if the bread is properly made, it is a delicious food, and most satisfying.

Not long since, I tried to get some of this stone-milled flour in a rural Berkshire hamlet. Consternation and amazement were writ on the faces of the barker and his family at my asking for anything so obviously, as they thought, out of date, and their answer to the effect that “such an article was unprocurable in these parts.

May I briefly quote a short extract from the letter of an expert bearing on the difference between modern roller milling, and the stone milling process:.

“On the roller mill the wheat is subjected to a process of gradual reduction by which the central starchy part of the berry (the endospion) is separated in bulk as it were from the bean and germ, and only when the endospion is quite free from all offal, is at ground into flour. Stone milling is practically opposite in principle, as it consists of grinding the whole wheat berry at one operation into wholemeal, then if flour required, the coarser particles of bran are sifted out, and the flour is required, the coarser particles of bran are sifted out, and the flour is ready.

“The result of this different process is that whereas roller flour is practically pure, in stone ground flour are the small particles of bran and germ ground up firmly into the flour: they give it its characteristic dark colour, and its valuable supply of vitamins: to them also its wheaty flavour is due, though there is also a theory that this flavour is in part derived from the portions of the meal which are removed as flour readily absorbs any aroma”.

I read recently an article by a well-known medical man, in which he spoke of three principal causes of illness to-day:.

I. Drinking of raw milk.

II. Crowded railway carriages.

III. Badly ventilated school dormitories and work rooms.

Not a word was mentioned of our adulterated food, of which bread is probably the worst offender. In contrast to the foregoing remarks, an article bearing on the condition of health in the distressed areas is significant:.

“The writer, who had personality visited many unemployed families, found better health conditions among children in the Northern Countries, where everyone knows the suffering has been greater than elsewhere, owing to the longer duration of unemployment”.

This state of affairs he put down to the fact that in many of the Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Durham homes, the housewife still bakes her own bread.

We are an amazing people, full of contradictions: we talk of hygiene, cleanliness, etc., and think we compare favourably with any other nation, and yet we are quite satisfied to eat food which has been carried out about in dirty carts with ill-fitting doors, etc., so that the microbes from the streets, etc., can creep in and out unmolested, and do their worst.

If you ask for wrappings for your foodstuffs, you are regarded as a “Crank”, and though you can enforce it in private houses, it is really resented, and carried our with ill-grace. Unfortunately, too, the only kind of wrapped bread is not to be compared in quality to the ordinary fly-blown variety. And why is it, that one is often served with stodgy, indigestible, sweetened scones, instead of good plain bread and butter?.

The rot has set in, not only in England, but on the Continent in many countries, and in France and Italy the poorness of the bread compared with bygone years is very noticeable.

Dorothy Allhusen