Monthly Archives: November 2014

RECIPE-National Loaf

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The National Loaf

From: Ministry of Food – Jane Fearnley Whittingstall

Makes two loaves

1 ½ lb wholemeal bread flour*
1 ½ tbsp salt
1 ½ tbsp dried yeast
1 dsp honey or treacle (two teaspoons)
450 ml tepid water (about 2 cups)
1, Mix together all the ingredients and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a soft dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel, and leave until dough has doubled in size (around 2 hours).
2.  Knock back the dough, give a short knead then cut into two equal pieces. Place in 1.5 litre loaf tins (8 X 4 X 3 loaf pans), allow to rise for a further 2 hours.
3. Pre-heat oven to 200°C (400° F) then bake loaves for 30 min. To test the loaves, turn them out of their tins and give the base a tap; if it sounds hollow,  they are ready. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

*use a food scale for best results

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The National Loaf

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A ban on commercially baked white bread went into effect on April 6, 1942. Dubbed Hitler’s Secret Weapon, the Ministry of Food created the National Loaf, a wholemeal flour bread.

Before the war, white flour was the norm and when it became hard to come by,  it was replaced by National Flour, with “wheatmeal” being the official name given it. National “wheatmeal flour” was unbleached flour extracted from hulled wheat grain (85%). The flour had  the starchy endosperm,  wheat germ, and bran, with the coarser bran being removed in the milling process. The flour was not a true “whole wheat,” but it left all the bran in it.  The flour was gray in color which made it unappetizing to most.  Some would sift the National Flour as much as possible to get out the softest part of the flour.

eatlessbread

Bakeries were required to use National Flour to make only one type of bread, the National Loaf. Food manufacturers could get white flour, but it was used to make cookies, cakes, etc. Nutritionists praised the bread as it had added calcium and vitamins, but it dried out very quickly. The bread was gray, coarse, had a crumby texture almost like sawdust,  contained a lot of salt so it would “keep” longer, and was dry. It was stale one day after baking, had a chewy crust that was tough, and some would dip it in water to add some moisture.  The National Loaf proved to be “unpopularly popular,” and bread was never rationed during the entire length of the war. Click here for the recipe:  http://thewartimekitchen.com/?p=106

stalebread

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