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National Bread Week

16th - 22nd April 2013 is National Bread Week in the UK



Bread in one form or another, is consumed the world over, so eating it during National Bread week is something most of us will do without even thinking about it.

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When was Bread first made?

Whilst no-one is absolutely sure as to when the first bread was made, man has been eating, albeit a crude form of flatbread, since 10,000 BC. Certainly the ancient Egyptians were making leavened (raised) bread with yeast by 3000BC and it is thought that the workers who built the pyramids were paid in bread. Not surprising that it has earned the title “staff of life”. Indeed, for many throughout the ages, bread has been a staple of their diet and it was so important, that laws concerning bread have existed for hundreds of years.

Types of Bread

Listing the types of bread available and eaten throughout the world is almost impossible especially when you consider that just in the UK we have well over 200 varieties of bread readily available to most of us. As a compromises, here’s a much shorter, but hopefully just as interesting summary.

Whilst breads are made from different types of flour such as white, wholemeal, corn etc., they are more easily divided into two main categories namely high/medium risers and flatbreads. 


High risers include

Baguettes (French)
Burger/hot dog buns (American)
Cottage Loaf (English)
Ciabatta (Italian)
Challah (Jewish)
Croissant (French)
Oatmeal (British and American)
Panetonne (Italian)
Pumpernickel (Austrian and German)
Rye (Various including Scandinavian, Polish & Russian)
Soda Bread (Irish)
Stollen (German)

Flatbreads include

Arepas (Venezuelan)
Bagels (Jewish)
Bammy (Jamaica)
Bannock (Scottish)
Buckwheat Bread (Poland)
Chapati (India)
Crumpets (England)
Focaccia (Italian flatbread)
Lavash (Armenian/Iranian)
Naan (Indian)
Paratha (Pakistani)
Pitta (Turkish/Greek/N. African)
Roti (West Indian)
Tortilla (Mexican)

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These can be further broken down into flour and grain types e.g. wholemeal, soft-grain, wholegrain, corn, rye and buckwheat. There’s also Granary bread which is a brown bread made from special Granary® flour (a trademark of the Hovis brand), which includes kibbled and whole grains and malt breads which are made from a special ingredient mix .


Speciality Breads

In the UK, speciality breads such as Focaccia, ciabatta, paratha, pitta and naan are one of the fastest growing sectors with garlic bread accounting for over a third of this sector.  Other speciality breads which have gained favour in the UK include Panini, brioche, chapatti, tortillas, baguettes and bagels.


Nutritional value of Bread


In the past 20 years, there has been a considerable shift from white bread to brown or wholemeal, mainly due to the health benefits associated with the latter. Bread is an excellent source of carbohydrates, protein B vitamins and fibre and believe it or not, white bread is a reasonable source of calcium.

We have lots of bread recipes on the site, but to get you in the mood for National Bread week, below is a recipe for one of the above-mentioned speciality breads.

Enjoy National Bread week and Happy bread-making!


Red Onion, Rosemary & Olive Focaccia

Veg HT CD CBF Italian 50mins plus proving

Makes 1x 30cm/12 inch bread   Hot Cold Vegetarian Vegan Bread Italy Accompaniment

15g/½oz Active Dry Yeast ( level tablespoon)
180ml/6fl.oz. Warm Water
350g/12oz Plain Flour
1 teasp Salt
2 teasp Fresh Rosemary Leaves, finely chopped
12 Black Olives, pitted and halved
1 large Red Onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 tbsp Olive Oil
Coarse Sea Salt


1. In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in 120ml/4fl.oz. of the warm water, and set aside for 10 minutes until frothy.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, yeast mixture and remaining water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

3. Bring the dough together with your hands, adding z little more water if necessary, then transfer to a floured work surface and knead well for a few minutes until smooth and elastic.

4. Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm, and place in a warm place to prove for about 1-½ hours or until doubled in size.

5. Preheat the oven to 220C, 425F, Gas Mark 7 and lightly oil a baking tray.

6. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, punch down then sprinkle in the chopped rosemary and knead for a few minutes.

7. Place the dough on the oiled baking sheet, pulling it into an oval, oblong or circle shape about 2.5cm/1-inch deep.

8. Dimple the top surface with your finger tips or knuckles, then sprinkle the onion slices and olive halves evenly over the surface.

9. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.



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