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What's different about our bread?

Andrew Whiteley, founder of the Village Bakery in Cumbria, summed up the state of British bread as “sad, soggy, nutritionally depleted and adulterated with hidden additives”. But it does keep “fresh” thanks to a good coating of E282 - Calcium Propionate. It’s all down to Chorleywood. Not the station on the Metropolitan line but an industrial triumph that produces 80% of UK bread. Most of that comes from just three big companies. How can you tell you’ve got a slice of Chorleywood? Well it’s light and forms a sticky starchy ball when squeezed in the palm.

Unicorn sells bread from Pauls in Melton Mowbray, Saker in Todmorden, and Village Bakery in Melmerby. Barely 3% of the UK’s bread comes from ‘craft bakers’ like these. There are only 3,000 left in the country - France has 30,000. The bread we sell is an entirely different product from Chorleywood. It’s denser, dries out, has taste, doesn’t keep for weeks and makes great toast. Really we’d like to have an in-store bakery or find an organic craft baker based in Manchester. If you read any bread recipe for home baking it usually have four ingredients - strong flour, water, yeast and salt. You won’t find E471, E472e, E300, or E920 because you can’t go into a shop and buy them. But, you’ll see them as ingredients of a supermarket sliced loaf. What you won’t see listed are the enzymes used. It’s modern baking’s big secret. A loophole classifies them as “processing aids”, which need not be declared. They have intriguing names like amylase, chymosin, and tranglutaminase. They have some puzzling origins - maltogenic amylase is usually made from a genetically modified bacterial source, or phospholipase which may be derived from the pancreas of pigs, tasty hey!

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Last Modified - 22nd May 2008

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