Breaking Bread

Discover the joys of baking your own bread with expert baker Patrick Ryan
of The Firehouse Bakery, who takes us back to the basics and beyond.

For me, at The Firehouse Bakery, bread is king. But when I say bread I mean real bread. Bread that is made in small batches by someone for whom baking is a labour of love in the old style with no additives or preservatives. In today’s world, the term bread is used far too loosely. For years supermarket shelves have been filled with row upon row of industrially produced ‘bread’ and as a result so many of us have forgotten what real bread actually tastes like.

We are all pretty familiar with the industrial loaf – it is soft, it is fluffy and it keeps for about two or three weeks. I am sure we all know someone who is either gluten or wheat intolerant and many of these people cannot eat wheat but can have spelt. Well, spelt is wheat. It is packed full of gluten. The difference with spelt is that it is a more primitive grain – it takes twice as long to grow and has a simpler chemical make-up, which is easier for our bodies to digest. However, gluten only forms in flour once you add a liquid to it.

Gluten is made up of two simple sugars. As bread proves, these sugars begin to break down. Therefore, the longer a bread is proving, the more flavour that develops and the more the gluten breaks down, thus making it much gentler on our bodies. This is why sourdough is regarded as the healthier alternative due to its extended proving periods (see next month’s issue for more on sourdough). All I simply want to show you is how easy bread making can be and to get people back baking again with their families and kids.

Patrick Ryan

Patrick Ryan