Fall is upon us. Last week summer was still here, but starting Wednesday, there were two days of cooler temperatures then, boom! the first storm of the season, including a South Pender power outage for most of the day. Just like that, Summer’s done!
Sourdough September is nearly over, too! It started a few weeks back, and we only have a week left. It’s more of a phenomenon in the United Kingdom. Still, it’s evolved into an international celebration of genuinesourdough and the people who make it. The U.K.-based Real Bread Campaign and the charity, Sustain, encourage people to buy genuine sourdough bread and make their own.
Sourdough bread may seem like a slam dunk to many of us, but there are vast segments of the population unaware of it or unmoved by it. Large baking operations continue to churn out millions of homogenous loaves a day and people buy them. However, these loaves shouldn’t really be called bread, but rather “bread-like products.”
Sourdough September is a reaction to significant baking interests that try to co-opt the word “sourdough,” among other things. These companies can (falsely) claim their own products are sourdough, even though they’re leavened with 100% commercial baking yeast.
Their bread-like products can be flavoured by “sourdough” additives like acetic acid that produce a sour flavour but contain no leavening action. 1 Look at the ingredients label on these plastic bread products. Many of them are barely pronounceable and possibly a little worrying.
A good plate mop
I’m being strident here. I was raised on this stuff, and when I do indulge in one of these loaves, it’s OK! As a vehicle for condiments, like creamy butter and luscious preserves, a slice of toasted plastic bread really works! The crumb is little more than mushy cotton, not as chewy as a good sourdough’s. It might also make a good plate mop for something decadent, like a sauce or egg, but it needs some help to make it palatable.
Sourdough September is meant to draw attention to the glories of genuine sourdough, made on a more human scale. Like flour, water and salt, leavened with naturally occurring yeast. Plastic bagged bread includes many more ingredients like calcium propionate (a mould inhibitor), wheat gluten, soybean lecithin, sorbic acid or fungal alpha-amylase. Some components may be undeclared because there is no legal requirement to do so.
Through programs like Sourdough September, the Real Bread Campaign is lobbying the UK to adopt something called the Honest Crust Act. The plan would be to have measures passed into law, such as legal definitions for words like “freshly baked,” “whole grain bread,” and “sourdough bread.”
The Honest Crust Act
According to stipulations laid out in the act, bread products containing ingredients like dried gluten and soy flour would not be allowed to be called bread.
There is much more to the UK’s Real Bread Campaign and no real equivalent organization in Canada, aside from passionate bakers raising awareness.
You already know that Happy Monk bread is leavened with sourdough. Happy Monk bread also uses essential ingredients (flour, water, salt, yeast) and a handful of things like seeds, spices, sweeteners (molasses, honey and malt syrup) and occasional enrichers (eggs, oil, beer or cider).
The real bread seal of approval
Our bread would qualify as real bread, according to the Real Bread Campaign. We do need to do a better job of detailing all our ingredients and where they come from.
We’re passionate about real bread. We look forward to connecting with more organizations like the Real Bread Campaign to spread the word.
It’s been a good September so far! We’re happy to be back from the holidays, and we look forward to making more real bread for the rest of the year.
Cinnamon-Raisin bread, an enduring Happy Monk favourite. And here’s proof of Mildrith’s (the wood-fired oven) recent health check, as she just baked 41 loaves of this (and another 40 of Seed Feast) with lots of heat left to spare. Long live Mildrith and long live Cinnamon-Raisin bread!
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