An international celebration of additive-free loaves and the people that make them, Real Bread Week (20-28 February) encourages everyone to buy or bake real bread. The campaign also encourages people share photos of their loaves using the hashtag #WeAreRealBread on social media of their creations, or those from their local bakery, to support what they do.
The surge of sourdough home baking last year has continued as more people discover the joys of a decent loaf. As the campaign says: “Not only is making Real Bread great fun, it's also a very affordable way of avoiding the cocktail of additives that turn up in industrial loaf products”. A pleasurable, calming activity that many find therapeutic, baking can become something central to your weekly routine.
If you still haven’t found your go-to bread recipe, why not try this sourdough recipe from the Riverford Field Kitchen restaurant? Tried and tested over many years, they bake it daily when the restaurant is open using a ‘starter’ made from fermented dough, full of naturally occurring yeasts. It has a beautiful crunchy crust with a crumpet-like texture. Click here for the recipe.
New to sourdough? Have a watch of this step-by-step video below explaining what it is and talk you through the process. For more info about getting your sourdough starter going, The Sourdough School (which also runs online courses) also has full instructions on its website here plus lots of advice and tips.
If you are a shopper rather than a baker, the Real Bread campaign explains what to look for. Avoid processing aids and any other additives like ascorbic acid, xanthan gum or added enzymes. For better bread, choose certified organic ingredients, wholemeal or other less-refined flours, stoneground flour, and longer fermentation – preferably sourdough.
Adding bread to recipes adds extra crunch
Always delicious freshly baked, any leftover sourdough bread also makes wonderful croutons that add substance to salads and soups. Try something different with a kale caesar salad; acidity from red wine vinegar and lemon juice in the silky dressing helps tenderise the leaves, taking away the raw taste and texture, whilst simple but punchy flavours of garlic and Dijon mustard add real depth of flavour. For the recipe click here.
Alternatively, make breadcrumbs to use on dishes such as a beautiful ruby red beetroot gratin. Comforting and colourful, its mild warmth and fruity, spiced edge comes from pink peppercorns whilst the crispy crumb topping contrasts wonderfully with the soft layers beneath. Simply switch the cream for veg stock if you want to make a vegan version. Find out how to make it here.
For easy lunches, bruschetta are a great treat – especially when paired with seasonal toppings like tender new season broad beans, currently in season from Spain. Flavoured with chilli, lemon, garlic and mint the crushed beans can be enjoyed as they are or on top of fresh ricotta cheese. Explore the recipe here.
Pitta bread are also a great go-to, packed with nutritious, protein rich chickpea falafels plus a good dose of greenery. Make your falafels from scratch and skip the overpackaged, underwhelming supermarket ones for a fresh, aromatic home-made version. Try harissa falafels with spiced beetroot and kefir dressing – click here for the full recipe. Another lunchtime pitta filling uses carrot fritters instead; a simple and swift way of turning a handful of cheap ingredients into a tasty meal. To try the recipe, click here.