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Appropriate bread for Ontario ci. 1972?

wholegrainOH's picture
wholegrainOH

Appropriate bread for Ontario ci. 1972?

An odd request: I'm working on a production of Michael Healey's play, The Drawer Boy, which will be produced by our local professional theatre company. In the play, one of the characters (a man who was brain damaged by shrapnel in World War II) obsessively bakes bread. The play takes place in 1972 in rural Ontario, on a farm.

 

The question: what sort of bread would he be baking? Any Canadian bakers on the group?

 

Alan 

 

UPDATE:  After sending comments to the director and actor involved, they changed their minds about using soda bread for convenience (see responses below), and decided to go for accuracy--so it'll be yeasted white bread.  The actor will prepare a loaf in advance, then knead and shape a loaf on stage, replace it with the kneaded/risen loaf and put into the oven.  So thanks, all, for helping settle this question!  Details about the production at http://catco.org

 

Alan

 

jonkertb's picture
jonkertb

I remember reading about how the field kitchens in the military whenever possible would bring fresh baked loaves to the troops in the trenches and how this was such a tremendous boost and looked forward to delight so....I'd find out which service this character was in and find out what the field kitchens would have been baking but I'd imagine it would have been a simple white flour yeasted loaf.  Just a thought...I wasn't there but now in my old age realize that that generation was sure tougher than I am!

tom in Indiana who has been lurking and learning....and is almost ready to post a picture of my multi grain eclectic clone loaf  :>)

cordel's picture
cordel

I am a Canadian, and what I remember from childhood was a really simple loaf, made with flour, water, salt, and just enough sugar to get the yeast moving, formed into two balls, placed in a loaf pan. It had quite an open grain, great gluten development and a delicious crust. My mother used to make about twelve loaves a week, kneading it in what would have been a wash tub, about three feet in diameter, raising it once on the table, the second time in the pans on top of the warming oven on the (wood) stove.

wholegrainOH's picture
wholegrainOH

 thanks, both Tom in Indiana and cordel--very helpful.  I've also heard from a baker in Guelph who suggested sourdough whole wheat, so I've a bunch of options to offer to the actor and director!  Tom's suggestion is good, although the character in the play's military service is never specified, and the injury happens in the London blitz, so no real clues there either--

I will eventually post what the final choice is, and how we handle the baking of a loaf of bread for every performance! 

 

Alan

Columbus, OH

www.alan-ohio-bread.blogspot.com 

ejm's picture
ejm

I too am Canadian but have always lived in the city. Mom always made our bread - using a recipe from the "Five Roses" Flour booklet she had - allpurpose flour, milk, butter, active dry yeast, salt. She sometimes added raisins to make it into raisin bread. She made 4 loaves at a time, placing the shaped loaves in buttered bread tins. It was great bread! (I use a variant of that recipe for our sandwich bread.)

 

Common flour brands from 1970s in the prairies and probably in Ontario as well: Five Roses, Robin Hood. You might want to see if your set designer can get hold of a Robin Hood or Five Roses bag for the character to use. (As far as I recall, the Robin Hood has not changed their logo significantly since the 1970s.)

cordel's picture
cordel

Yes, the Robin Hood bag was definitely a commonplace in my childhood. Of course, I had left my hometown in Quebec and was living in Ontario by the time the '70s came along. While your protagonist is making bread in the "70s, his thoughts are still in the thirties and forties, right?

wholegrainOH's picture
wholegrainOH

 again, much thanks.  All very helpful--I now have a wide range of suggestions for the director and actors involved, both from Fresh Loaf and from other baking fora/listserves.  Thanks everyone!  The designer is going with flour in a canister, so probably no flour sacks will be visible.  Too bad!  Robin Hood flour is still available here in central Ohio, so it wouldn't seem all that foreign to our audiences--

 cheers--

 Alan

Columbus, OH

www.alan-ohio-bread.blogspot.com 

wholegrainOH's picture
wholegrainOH

 again, thanks to all, both who responded here and directly.  The general consensus seems to be white bread, with either Robin Hood or Five Roses flour.  However, theatrical practicality and performance demands mean that we're going with soda bread--the script leaves no time for rising.  The actor mixes, kneads, forms, and puts directly into the oven both times; bakes a loaf in Act I, burns a loaf in Act II.  I'll eventually post photos of the results on the bread blog after the show opens Feb. 1st.

More about the show at http://catco.org/07.08shows/drawerboy.htm

I'm startled that there hasn't been more buzz about the show, given that it's the most produced Canadian play in the last five years, so there've been actors kneading and baking bread all over North America!

 

cheers--

 

Alan 


 

 

                                       


pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

Being a farmer in southern Ontario now, (I was 5 and an army brat in 1972 in Ontario) I know neigbours who were farming in 1972 and the concensus seems like either a simple white bread or one made with rye flour. Flour, salt, yeast, sugar, and water. No starters or soakers but maybe caraway seeds for the rye bakers. There is a Mennonite mill near hear which would account for the rye I think.