The Slow Bread Company

slow breadBread is an everyday staple food that is considered by many people to be the ‘staff of life’. It is a truly universal food that is produced in many forms, based on regional culinary traditions and customs.

The history of bread-making goes back to the Paleolithic period when it was consumed as a primitive kind of unleavened flatbread in ancient Egypt.  As technology, experiential knowledge, grain cultivation and milling progressed and spread over time, the culture of bread making gradually became a global phenomena.  Moving forward to modern times, from the latter half of the 20th century onwards, bread in the UK has evolved and changed, both in the way it is consumed and produced.

In the 1960’s, the Chorleywood bread process was developed by the British Baking Industries Research Association as a way of increasing the production capacity of bakeries and facilitating large scale bread production.  This process that was devised reduced the fermentation and proving time that was required to bake bread, and involved the use of flour improvers, and high-speed dough kneading mixers.

Hence, the art of bread making was transformed into an industrial form of mass production that satisfied the increase in demand for sliced bread and the nation’s cultural shift towards supermarket-style shopping.

As much as this technique served its intended purpose in its heyday, the bread produced lacked the digestibility, texture and taste found in traditional, slow fermented breads.  This idea is increasingly being recognised and has resulted in the formation of the Real Bread Campaign, and a trend towards community bakeries and microbakeries that produce high quality artisan bread.  I recently discovered one such microbakery, The Slow Bread Company, who are based close to Stamford Brook tube station, under the railway arches.

slow bread 1
I visited The Slow Bread Company last week and spoke to their founder Nick May about the inspiration behind his bakery, as well as about his naturally leavened bread.  You can hear the interview by clicking on the play button below.  Since the company is a working bakery that is located under a busy London Underground line, you will be able to hear sounds of the production process, as well as tube trains passing by.

slow bread 2slow bread hot cross buns

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