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Some seasonal bread-related snippets…

As the festive season approaches, we thought it’d be fun to dig out some seasonal bread-related snippets.

Christmas breads

We like to keep our eye on the bread scene, and it’s great to see so many festive bread recipes appearing online. It’s another indicator that people’s tastes are changing, favouring good quality traditional, natural, organic and artisan products instead of run-of-the-mill bread… pun intended!

There’s Panettone, a wonderful yeasted bread smothered in raisins and candied orange zest. Verona’s delicious traditional Christmas bread Pandoro is an eight point star-shaped bread dusted with sugar. Stollen, a sweet German bread, is packed with dried fruits and marzipan. There’s Three Kings Bread, also called Rosca De Reyes, popular in Mexico and Spain, a crown-shaped affair with jewel-like candied fruit and nuts and a little doll hidden inside. Julekake, from Norway, is a yeasted Christmas bread full of raisins, cardamom and candied fruit. The Romanian sweet bread Cozonac is made with a particularly buttery, egg-rich dough loaded with raisins. And Panforte is a best of both worlds cross between a sweet bread and fruit cake, dense and spicy with honey, dried fruits, nuts and spices.

Delicious! And a whole world away from supermarket sliced brown and white.

Talk about cold…

We freeze our breads fresh from the oven, and thought our flash-freezing rooms were pretty cold. It only takes a few seconds before the frigid wind in there makes you feel very uncomfortable. We get used to it, but we don’t fancy General Electric’s Ice Station Winnipeg much.

It works very like our freezing facilities, which generate an ice cold wind, but was built to check whether jet engines can survive the freezing conditions found at high altitude. Blowing terrifyingly powerful icy gales through its vast six metre diameter engines, it mimics the roaring winds, frozen hail, snow and ice found up high. Which makes our place seem positively balmy in comparison.

Bread as a barometer

We’re not the only country where bread is a staple. Take Syria, where people are finding their most basic food – bread – increasingly hard to find as the war continues.

The last two years have seen bread prices in the country rise by 500% in some places, according to a report by the International Rescue Committee. In many cities and towns fuel and electricity shortages mean bakeries are closing and bread is almost impossible to find. At the same time cereal production is down by 40% and there are no imports to bridge the gap.

We’re lucky to live in a peaceful country, and our hearts go out to the Syrian people.

Fill your tank, courtesy of yeast

Yeast is amazing stuff. It’s one of the earliest biological tools used by humankind, and the earliest written words in our race’s history include recipes for making bread and beer, both of which depend on it. But there’s more to this talented little organism than meets the eye.

The clever people at the National Collection of Yeast Cultures (NCYC) at Institute of Food Research in Norwich believe yeast holds the secret to providing better, more renewable and more environmentally friendly fuels, having exactly the right genetic makeup for the job.

The yeast collection was born in 1948. British brewers, realising the value of their yeast cultures, decided to keep them safe for posterity and these days there are around 500 strains in the NCYC’s collection.

Season’s Greetings

Finally, we’d like to wish all our wholesale customers, and anyone else who loves great bread, plenty of festive jollity and a prosperous, enjoyable New Year. We couldn’t do it without you.