The Faces Behind Our Food exhibition moved to Lancaster University this week, where it will be on display in The Marketplace and The Lounge for the whole of February 2017. A taster session will also be held in The Marketplace at Lancaster University on the 15th February (samples of the various producers’ food will be available to sample.)
One of the exhibition’s featured businesses is Filberts Bakery, based on king street in Lancaster. When we interviewed Fil in September 2016 we covered a range of topics including where the bakery sources its ingredients from; the importance of time in making a tasty and longer-lasting bread; the lack of baking skills locally, and the reason for making patterns in bread. We explore this last topic in this week’s column.
So, why does bread have patterns?
“Because traditionally bakers were illiterate” commented Fil.
“Everything was weighed using standardised weights, so [bakers] didn’t need to be able to read. The tradition of using cups that went to the States was used…they did something similar when they made bread, they used buckets…So recipes were however many buckets of this, and how many buckets of the other.”
“We [also] keep the same flour in the same places so that you don’t have to think about which one [is which].”
“But when it came to baking things: you cut into bread to allow for expansion, so that you get as big a loaf as you can. But in order to identify one batch of bread, one type of bread from another, you would cut differently into bread so that you can tell the difference.”
This is not only important from a taste point of view, but for health and safety reasons. You don’t want a loaf of bread containing nuts to go to someone with a nut allergy for example.
“You know, it’s only with the Victorians really that lots and lots of different flavours of bread started. But you’d cut differently [into bread] even at the beginning of the 20th century when people were still relatively illiterate in a labouring environment. And we do it now. Because if we have 12 sorts of bread on the shelf and two of them look white, and one of them is garlic. We don’t want [to mix them up by] mistake. So we’ll put different cuts in them so we know categorically that is not the same bread!”
“They also look pretty, but there is a practical element to it. “
To read Fil’s interview in full visit www.foodfutures.org.uk/the-faces-behind-our-food