It takes around 9 months and a full square metre of land to produce enough wheat for a single loaf of bread. That’s a relatively big space and a lot time for something we tend to eat without much thought about how it reached our toasters.
There’s even more to the loaves found here at the market, such as:
Brockwell Bake loaves (found on the Jacob’s Ladder Farm stall) is made with biodynamic heritage wheat, some of which is grown just up the road, on Rosendale Allotment.
The man selling Brockwell Bake loaves, Andy Forbes, not only has grown his own wheat but he’s harvested, milled, and created the recipes for all the loaves he sells. (They’re baked by Bread Bread in stone ovens in Herne Hill)
The flour in all the loaves at the market is stoneground. Most supermarket bread is made with flour that’s ground by metal rollers which heats the wheat and destroys its natural oils and nutrients.
All of the loaves found at the market are risen slowly, meaning less yeast is used. The bread is supermarkets has extra yeast and gluten added to it so it’ll rise faster. The added gluten and yeast is really bad for your digestive system.
We’re growing some of Andy’s heritage wheat right here in Crystal Palace. Visit the Grape & Grain’s Tipsy Garden to watch your loaf grow over the next few months – hint: it’s the green stuff that looks like grass.
Knowing all the above, it’s nice to savour every crumb. Here’s a quick guide to making your loaf last a week
Day 1: Enjoy it fresh. Perfect with soup, in sandwiches, on a cheese board, or dunked into dips
Day 2: Gently warmed. It’ll taste as if it’s just been baked.
Day 3: Toast. Toasted sandwiches. Cheese on toast. Soldiers. If you don’t have a Breville, brush the outer slices with butter or oil and toast in a frying pan.
Day 4: The water trick. Spritz your loaf with little water. Pop it in the oven and magically, you’ve got a fresh loaf, as if it’s just been baked. Delicious cut into wedges and served with soup, stew or a salad.
Day 5: French toast/eggy bread. Just whisk up an egg for each relatively thick slice of bread. Add a splash of milk if you like. Soak the bread until softened, about 10 minutes. Cook in a frying pan over medium-high heat in a little oil or butter until golden on each side. Lovely with honey, jam, fresh fruit or go savoury and serve with bacon.
Day 6: Peasant-style gnocchi. This is market team Laura Marchant-Short’s amazing recipe for stale bread. By stale, it needs be completely rock hard. As your reach the end of your loaf, cut it into chunky cubes (crouton-style but a little bigger). Let them dry out fully. Or, you can toast them in the oven until nice and firm. Make up a good tomato sauce as you would for pasta. Arrange your bread hunks in a baking dish, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil. Pour the sauce over. Tuck some basil leaves, olives or capers in there, if you like. Top with cheese, if you fancy. Bake in a 180°C/Gas 4 oven for about 20 minutes or until the bread is just softened by the sauce. Amazing with a crisp salad and a glass of red wine.
Day 7 and beyond: Magical crumbs. You can let large hunks of bread dry out at room temperature – just place it in a bowl or a paper bag until full dried. Grind it in a food processor or you can grate it into crumbs using a cheese grater. Beyond coating meat or fish, or wedges of brie, you can also use breadcrumbs in place of flour or oats when making a crumble. Try a rhubarb bread crumble – it’s delicious.