I have a question for you Lochaber – what is in the loaf of bread you picked up today?
Well if you’ve been lucky to pick up one of our sourdough’s from the Deli or at a market, I can honestly tell you – here’s what is in your loaf of bread, (with some rough baker’s percentages for interest):-
- Wheat and/or Rye Flour (stone-ground whole berries – nothing added or taken away, just sieved based on grade)
- Water (70%)
- Salt (2%)
- A lug of rapeseed oil (0.5%)
Nothing else. Apart from time (anything up to 36 hours from start to finish) and love (the love of crafting something complex from a few simple ingredients). No secrets. And there’s nothing about those four ingredients or what goes on at the dough table which we wouldn’t share (and will continue to do so).
But perhaps you didn’t manage a doughies sourdough this week. There are a lot of mouths in Lochaber, and we’ve only churning out 50 or so loaves one day per week to date. So they are kind of a rarity. But perhaps you still fancied some sourdough so went into Morrison’s and bought their “sourdough” bloomer; or Tesco lured you with their stone-baked “sourdough”; or you picked up a “sourdough” panini in Costa?
In which case I cannot honestly tell you what is in your loaf of bread. And nor can the packet. The label will show a few more items than us, maybe 10 ingredients; nothing that would read too scary mind, but its whats not written on the label – the 100’s of processing aids that don’t by law need written down…
So what can you do? Well if you were in France, you could trust that when someone labels bread sourdough (or “pain de tradition française”) they actually mean sourdough – because the French have it written down in law (issued Décret n°93-1074). But you’re not in France. You’re in Lochaber, Scotland. And highland bread is not what it was a hundred years ago.
So you have two options:-
A) Make some sourdough yourself – its actually pretty easy.
B) Use your head not just your mouth when you pick up a loaf and look out for this – the realbread campaign loaf mark. This covers not just sourdough, but it’s probably the best thing out there at the minute – meaning the bread is “realbread” as made with all-natural ingredients, and without the use of any processing aids or other artificial additives. You can use this map to find realbread near you – including doughies.
Final thought. So doughies is currently a partnership of two bakers, myself and my wife Abi, and we’re as far as the taxman is concerned free-lance bakers (moonlighting at the dough table). A podcast I listened to this past week revealed to me the etymology of the word freelance -“a medieval mercenary warrior” or “free-lance” (indicating that the lance is not sworn to any lord’s services, not that the lance is available free of charge).” So I’ve come to think of doughies as a pair of mercenary bakers – not with a lance in hand but with a peel (the shovel tool a baker uses to slide dough into the hot oven); free-peeling as opposed to free-lancing – not just for the good of our pockets mind, as is common for a mercenary, but none the less forgoing the lord (read here – food industry overlord) norm of hiding what is in our food.
So go grab a true sourdough loaf next time you see us – and chew mindfully knowing that its simple wholesome food going in your mouth, nothing more. Nothing less.
[One final final thought. This post is titled “what is in your bread?”. But I could easily have replaced the word bread with meat product, dairy product, vegetable product…I recommend a mouth de-watering book Swallow This by Joanna Blythman if you really want to open your eyes to normal practice in the food industry]