Here's a nice episode on bread from the BBC series 'The Great British Food Revival'. Enjoy!
Thanks for posting this, Juergen. I enjoyed watching it as I was waiting for the repairman to finish repairs on my oven that has been out of commission for over a week waiting for the parts to arrive. Anyway I'm back in action now and preping a loaf of potato bread for the inaugural baking.
Thanks for the posting of this video. Very interesting comments on the bread you have in the UK. Sounds just like the stuff I was raised on here in the US and one of the reasons I avoided feeding my children store bough bread as they were growing up. Just never seemed like real food to me.
Was nice to hear that the young man making wy loaves is doing a good business. Shows people are indeed interested and confers what Andy writes about the breads he bakes and sells....In fact, I was hoping he might be one of the bakers featured....no luck there.
Anyway, thanks for the link!Janet
It's great isn't it? I am sure many of us here on TFL could theoretically be him as I thoroughly believe that no real education is required, it's just a matter of understanding the fundamentals of bread baking combined with a lot of practice AND the guts to invest some money to set up a small bakery/shop. I truely believe anyone can succesful, even in these times of economic hardship.
Oh, it's great you found the youtube video on this! I really enjoyed this latest series of GBFR, much more powered-up version than previous serieses, and wanted to share this episode with TFL people, then realised you can't access to BBC iPlayer if you're outside UK.
I bought a bag of heritage wheat flour, mentioned in the episode , from Syd's (Aston's Organic Bakery) stall by his recommendation at Real Bread Festival back in October. It's protein level is alarmingly low at 10.1% (!}, so I was really nervous when I first used it, but it produced the dough with reasonable strength and the texture and flavour of the resultant baguette was quite good, too.
Last 10 - 15 years or so, a lot of 'artisan' bakeries have been popping up in UK, especially (and sadly, perhaps) in more affluent areas, so it's not as difficult to get your hands on better quality, artisan bread than it used to be before if you know where they are, but the problem is their bread is too expensive (a typical loaf of artisan bread can easily cost over L.3.- these days) for majority of people who usually buy a big loaf of factory-made bread at less than L.1.- at their local supermarkets .......and (a possibly even bigger problem is) some people actually prefer that sort of factory-made, fluffy, bland cotton-wool like chorleywood loaves because that's what they are brought up with and are used to. And the really sad thing is, they often bring up their children who also prefer that sort of bread because that's what they..... so on so forth......
Unless the price of artisan bread comes down, it'll stay as a 'luxury item' only reserved for better-off and/or food-geeks. But unless more people buy it, those artisan bakers can't lower the price very much. And as long as there's those minority of people who can/is prepared to pay the ridiculous price for a loaf (sorry, I'm guilty, too....:p) to sustain the price-level to keep those artisan bakeries in business, they don't have much incentive to lower the price, either. That'd put-off many of average-income majority even to try those bread to discover how real bread tastes like and .... so on so forth....again.....
I love Michel Roux Jr. and totally respect what he and his family had been doing to change and improve the culinary standard in UK last 30 years, but I'm afraid it'll be years and years and years until we see an artisan baker in every corner of a street in every town in the country. Really hope the day like that will come soon enough, at least before I die. :p
I cannot help but think that there has to be a matching price rise in the cotton wool stuff too! Afterall, that cheap price means the manufacturers are not making any money at all...just fulfilling their masters' desires [the supermarkets, of course]. And if you were to add in the hidden costs of industrial food production, then I think a white sliced wrapped loaf would be well over the £3.00 price tag, don't you? It's not so much that real food is expensive in the UK; the junk alternative is far too cheap...and how are we paying for that!!!
All good wishes
I think it's both. Yes, those junks (and many, many more decent basic food, like milk, which the prices are driven down by supermarkets and cheap import) are too cheap, but also many of 'high-quality' stuff are very expensive, mainly due to supply/demand situation. I don't know how much you charge for your bread at your stall, but if we want more people to eat decent quality bread (even if it's made in 'factory') L.3.- for a loaf is beyond many people's reach, especially in current economic situation. And another thing we definitely need to improve alongside the people's awareness in what they are eating, how what they're eating is produced, is their PALATE (!!!!!!). I know some people who actually prefer their food to be 'bland' with 'no texture' as they find flavour and a bit of bite 'offensive,' who really prefer to eat chorleywood, factory-made sponge because it's 'nice and soft.' What can we say to those people? *sigh* :p
I'm on my fourth day of baking here at home, specifically for market sales.
By the end of today I will have produced 84 loaves and 2 dozen Croissants.
The income from this will be just over £260.
I've spent around £60 on materials, £25 on wood and £35 for the stall...and I've worked flat out 4 days solid.
So, I have no qualms about charging £3 for an 800g loaf...none whatsoever.
It's all organic flour, nearly all my bread is naturally leavened and it's all baked in a wood-fired brick oven.
What's important to me is to promote the differences in my product and seek out people who want to buy it. But I'm only prepared to sell at a fair price. I work for very little as it is.
The fact is there are many hidden costs in our food world...did you hear on the radio today that a report has been released stating that half the world's food is thrown out...never even eaten!!? And that isn't due entirely to poor production techniques and diesease in struggling countries, that's down to dreadful waste tactics by organisations in countries like ours.
If food producers were penalised for wasteful and damaging practice, then honest food producers might be able to offer their products at better prices. Don't forget, I pay more than four times as much for the flour I buy than any industrial plant baker will be paying!
Yes, high end food has to get cheaper, but that has to be achieved in a way which doesn't compromise us being able to have some sort of stab at making a living. The economics of the UK are in a shambolic state, and some of us think it just continues to get worse, not better.
Very best wishes
Not that it needs saying, but I just want to commend your commitment to this 'cause'. What you're doing is so admirable. Tragic that something as simple as an honest loaf of bread has become a 'cause' in our present day. Then again, just one of its components, salt, became a cause for Gandhi. So maybe we've made some progess.
Hats off, Andy.
Yes, I'm very much aware of all the things you pointed out. My interest in food doesn't end just at eating and cooking. And also my background is in economics/finance, as you know, so I always look at things from that kind of perspective and, also, I have a keen interest in environmental problems, too.
I know how hard it is for many small-scaled artisan bakers (or many craft man in other trades) to make living out of what they do, often selling the products on very thin margins, and I do respect those people. including yourself, who're putting so much effort and passion on their trade inspite of the hardship. It sounds like you took my comment on 'L'3.- a loaf is too expensive' very personally (if so, sincere apology) and, maybe, thought I was blaming artisan bakers for their pricing, but if that's what you thought, I'm afraid I have to say you may be missing my point.
The reason the current situation is how it is is so complicated. because of all the points you mentioned and a LOT more. (which, I'm sure, you're aware of them yourself, too) We can write a whole book about it, and many people have just done that and I have read many of those books, too.
........Been sitting here in front of PC for more than an hour now trying to find a good way to articulate what I want to say (sorry, English is not my first language and that really shows in this kind of situation), and with other things I have put my mind on at the moment I don't have more time to think about how to write it. And I don't want to make this into too hotly, could-be-hostile debate on this nice, friendly forum because of my careless writing. So I'll finish this here, but if you have something more you want to say to me, please give me PM/email. Sorry, I've got to go. Dyno-Rod is coming soon.....:p
Sorry, I'm really not trying to be hostile. I used my personal workload for this week to illustrate why I believe a £3 levy is a fair price for a proper loaf of bread. I wanted to counter your claim that this is a "ridiculous" price earlier in the thread.
Actually, I don't agree at all that artisan bread is too expensive. Unfortunately food [or much of the rubbish which apparently passes for food in the UK today] is far too cheap. The spend per household on food as a proportion of total income just keeps on falling, but the cost of producing all this food certainly does not. I mean, apparently we now fail to eat half of all the food grown. One third of all those lovely slices of white pap end up in the land-fill; they don't get eaten. My point is that honest food from artisan producers will only get cheaper if the big food producers and retailers are called to account and have to take on board all the hidden costs in producing junk, and are made to pay for that in a way which forces their prices up. Can you imagine a situation where there was no tax on cigarettes or alchohol in the UK?
Where the situation does get more complicated is in looking at the choices people make about what food they eat and what they choose to spend money on. It's bizarre to me that people prioritise cigarettes, booze and drugs over real food. Even stranger that they insist on fancy televisions and mobile phones, yet happily eat rubbish food. That is their choice; I cannot reach these people, and the Government doesn't believe it can either, which is nonsense.
But I don't think real food will get cheaper, and I don't really think it can, or, should without big changes. Cheap junk food however, should definitely be made a lot more expensive...then proper food might stand a fighting chance of winning through. Who knows, then the prices might fall, but not without the revolution that isn't going to happen under our "nudge" administration of today.
There is a common misconception that people eat junk food, poor quality bread, etc. because it's more affordable. In reality, they are addicted to the taste of it. Ironically, the cigarette prices don't seem to scare them off... Both are sort of a drug addiction. It is also a matter of priorities, as you very well pointed out.
P.S. Andy, you really don't have to apologize for making a profit. In fact, it is your obligation to stay solvent and stay profitable to be able to serve your community with high quality bread. Can't think of anything more humble and more noble than a handmade loaf...
Hi lumos, I don't live in the UK, but just across the North Sea in Holland but I am a big BBC viewer and listener. The Worldservice is on whenever I'm at home and watch a lot of BBC series. I just find many of their 'serious' television programmes concerning arts, history, cooking/baking etc. of a far higher quality than most of the stuff that is broadcasted on Dutch tv. I remember seeing this episode of GBFR on tv so I did a YouTube search and to my suprise I found the video :-)
What you say is true, the price of artisan bread is relatively high but I strongly believe that if people were better educated on the food they buy, they'd rather spend some more money on a quality artisan product than on something which mass-produced, even in these times of economic hardship.
I live in a 'working class' neighbourhood with a large community of mainly Turkish migrants. The Turkish food store in my street sells a lot of very fresh fruits, vegetables etc. but they're best known in my town for selling Halal meat of excellent quality. The sort of meat you won't find in a supermarket and not even in most Dutch-owned butcher shops. Even though they're a bit pricier, I always hear people rave about it whenever I'm there. These are people from all walks of life who come to visit this shop just for the great meat they sell and happily pay one or two extra euros.
I truely believe 'artisan' good quality food is making a comeback and I am happy so see someone like Michel Roux doing his part to promote this and divert us away from large supermarket chains and mass-produced food.
Lovely to see a BBC devotee across the sea. (Let's not talk about you stealing their programme by not paying the lincence fee... :D) :) Just like yourself, I really enjoy their programmes, especially on BBC2 or BBC4. Their radio programmes on Radio 4 is quite good, too, if you can get the reception. (or on internet, though they may have a system to block listners outside UK)
I can understand what you're saying about some people are prepared to pay a little more for better food inspite of the limitation of their desposable income and there're people who're like that in UK, too. But sadly there're also a lot of more people do not. Statistically UK is a country where more people eat more cheap/fast/junk food than any other countries in Europe (and the contry with the highest rate of obesity, which tells you something, doesn't it? :p) . Though we also have more people more interested in food/cooking in recent years, but at the same time those kind of cheap/fast/junk food-related business (either fast food shops on high street or food producers) is one of the fastest growing industries with amazing number of people who don't/rarely cook their own meals themselves. It's a real two-tier society, a sort of new 'class system.' And unfortunately the recent economical situation which widened the gap between 'rich' and 'poor' accelerated this trend, too. So tv programme like that would definitely help to unwind this trend (see my posts below) and I'm really happy to see there're a lot more food programme on tv there days that's made to shake up people's awareness on food rather than just to make money by making chefs into a new breed of 'tv celebs,' but it'll take a long time until the current situation of 'quality food' being a some kind of 'luxury' not a 'norm.'
This is the website for the sourdough bakery in Hackney which is featured in the film.
Lovely video, as the British would say. We watched most of it last night, and my husband said, "I really like this guy!" (I think it had something to do with the huge amount of butter he spread on the beautiful loaf he'd just baked, second to the overall concept of good bread.)
I journeyed to the kitchen hungry -- but there was no beautiful, fresh, homebaked bread to be had. Yikes! Remedying that this morning.
Thanks for posting this, Juergen.
It had some funny parts where Roux is talking about a simple high quality white bread made with good ingredients that is gone for most folks in the UK (replaced by supermarket bread sold for a pound) that is made from flour, salt, water and yeast and then his white bread demo for this bread starts out with milk and butter - well you had to chuckle a little bit.
One thing is for sure though. Really good bread, that sells for the princely sum of 3 pounds, is way out of reach for much of the the lower and middle class in GB and 'Artisan Bread' is only affordable for the more well well to do. But, that is the way it has always been for most of the products sold in the world. Most folks can afford an entry level Ford but only the wealthy can afford a Rolls. Most can afford to buy electricity from the grid but can't afford the huge cost of putting solar panels on their roof - but the more affluent can though.
It is the same for anything you can buy. Poorer folks just can't afford the high price of what we call high quality in most instances - unless they make it themselves. Even the poorest peasant in Russia could afford a sable winter hat if they trapped it, skinned it and made the hat from it.
Same with bread. We can all buy some suitable flour for 40 cents a pound and some wheat berries for 46 cents a pound. It won't be King Arthur mind you at more than twice the price but it will be whole grain, possibly organic, at a suitable protein and gluten level to make some fine whole wheat 'artisan bread' with wheat berry soaker using some free SD. We all know it only takes a little bit of know how and practice to turn out a really nice tinned or untinned loaf of whole wheat with wheat berries that comes out to about a buck for a 1 1/2 pound loaf if you make it yourself.
So why aren't more poor and middle class folks doing just that?
Home made, higher comparative quality bread, made at home is less way expensive than what Wonder Bread cost when they were still around. But home made is about the same price as the store brand made in their own bakery - which is the main reason Wonder Bread went out of business. Poorer folks wouldn't buy Wonder Bread for over $2 a loaf when they get almost the exact the same thing as a store brand for half that amount. Wonder Bread's own customers, the grocery chains, is what did them in. Price rules on the low end but not on the high end it's all about quality and status - 3 pounds fifty means little to most high end consumers.
With half decent dollar bread available in the stores, most folks on the economic low end, certainly not all though, will be buying way more bread there than they will ever make at home. But, one of the main points of the video was to get folks to understand they can make a much better bread at home, even without milk and butter, for the same price as the cheapest store bought and, most importantly, to get them motivated to do so. It is the always the doing of things, and only the doing, that leads to success.
Despite this fine video, I have my doubts that more folks on the economic lower half will be making more bread at home than currently do now when bread costs a buck. We shall see though - stranger things have happened. I hope more on the lower economic scale do start making good bread at home again , like they used to, as this won't hurt the business of the high end 'artisan' bakeries much at all and more folks will receive the many health and nutritional benefits of well made bread that they deserve with this little effort in doing. Why they don't do so, like their parents and grandparents did, means something has changed?
It might seem odd at first but, I do blame cell phones, climate change, rap music, as well as, the violence in movies and on TV for this decline in home bread baking - even though I love all of them so :-)
I noticed that Mr Roux wasn't baking in a middle class neighborhood - nice house he has there! He sure knows who his audience is - as he well should.
Mr Roux is slicing his duck pudding in another window on my screen right now -- I could feel my arteries hardening just watching it. He confit'd the duck (and warmed the milk/butter/Golden Syrup -- what a novel and thoroughly Brit sweetener for a white loaf ) on a range and in an oven in a kitchen that also had an Aga in the background and a perfect British garden patio outside! Not exactly The Projects (or the Housing Estate, as they're called over yonder). But that's up to us -- reaching out to people who could just as well do this if they knew how, and why. All about education. A retirement notion I've considered.
The Hackney bakery's 200 year old Lapland starter reminded me of a piece I read somewhere (MC/Farine?), about a Scandinavian gent who asked a family member by his deathbed to promise to look after his starter.
Thanks for the pointer Juergen!
trying to get all folks of all economic levels to bake a decent healthy bread at home rather than buy a bad loaf at the Super Market that costs just as much or more. Some part of my starter goes back to 1973 in SF and I would hate for it to die off after finally reaching 40 and surviving so many near death experiences :-)
Fry's (the Kroger chain in AZ) has their own bakery 24 oz white or whole wheat sandwich loaf on sale for 99 cents USD or .62 BP at today's exchange rate. Nancy Silvertons's LaBrea Bakery Artisan Breads, which are not on any promotion this week, are priced at the same chain at their normal price of $3.49 USD or 2.16 BP. I'm sure these LaBrea breads are not the same ones she produces at her Bakery in CA but they sure looked pretty well baked in their artistically printed, brown paper bag with vision window.
It has to be pretty tough to go against Nancy here as a real independent Artisan Baker like Andy with his; hand crafting, superior ingredients, SD based bread that is baked in a WFO - when she has the 2nd largest chain in USA selling her much less than artisan bread compared to Andy's. I'm guessing she is getting pretty rich though, as is her distributor and Kroger!
What a shame.