Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Shape of Bread to Come.

The British wartime Ministry of Food had more to say on the subject of bread than the extraction rate of the flour used, and the exhortation not to waste a crumb of the precious resource. I had no idea, until I came across the following snippet from The Times of July 9, 1940, that they were concerned about the shape of the loaves too.

It is probable that the wide variety in the size and shape of loaves will soon be drastically limited to save labour in bakeries. The Ministry of Food is considering the question, after receiving a recommendation from the Bakers’ and Confectioners’ Advisory Committee, that the 45 different shapes and sizes of loaves sold in England should be reduced to four: one-piece tin, one-piece Coburg (a round loaf), one-piece sandwich (a long, square loaf), and a Vienna loaf – a fancy type, tapering at each end – weighing not more than 12 oz.
In Scotland, where there are 85 varieties the committee recommends a similar reduction, with the addition of a one-piece batch loaf and a one-piece pan loaf.

As I read this, it seems that the Scots got the choice of six breads? I am not sure what a one-piece batch loaf or a one-piece pan loaf are, exactly. I presume they are different from a one-piece tin loaf and a one-piece sandwich?

If your favourite bread was removed from the list, you could have potatoes for breakfast instead. From the Ministry of Food’s Food Facts leaflet No. 30, here is an alternative idea which also happens to use up some of the stale bread you might have lying around.

Potato Cutlets for Breakfast.
These make an excellent start to the day; and one of the beauties of them is that you can prepare them the day before. Scrub 1 ½ lbs potatoes and boil in their skins. When cooked, peel and mash them thoroughly. Scrape ½ lb carrots, boil till tender, and mash. Mix the potatoes and carrots together, season with salt and pepper, then shape into cutlets. Dip in browned breadcrumbs, made by baking stale bread in the oven and crushing it. Next morning, place the cutlets in a greased tin, and bake in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes, or fry them in a little hot fat.


srhcb said...

I can't lay a hand on my copy just now, but I believe Elizabeth David's "English Bread and Yeast Cookery" devotes some space to British wartime bread making?

The Old Foodie said...

I cant believe I didnt check it, but I will. I have a copy somewhere too, and I think it is available at Google Books too. I was surprised that there were not many bread recipes in the newspapers of the time.

srhcb said...

I couldn't locate my copy, but did find "South Wind Through the Kitchen", a "best-of" collection of Elizabeth David's works published in 1998, which I intend to reread.

Ms David was the least known the trio of women cooks/writers who, as the jacket notes for this book point out, "changed the way we think about and prepare food" in the 1950-60's.

The other two members of this triumvirate were, of course, MFK Fisher and Julia Child.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Steve, I found my copy. David gives a couple of pages on wartime flour and bread, and the propaganda and problems, but no recipe for the home-made variety.