Bread in Victorian Staffordshire

 

The Victorian period was the time of the British Empire and knowledge of food from many parts of the world were brought to Britain.  Italian pizza, Indian naans and Russian black breads were seen in London on a frequent basis.  These exotic breads seldom reached the provinces and in Staffordshire the breads would have been more traditional loaves.  With the development of the railways, more affluent people could travel widely and many interesting varieties of bread would have been made available to the middle classes across Britain.

Typical local breads would have been the wholemeal tin loaf, wholemeal cob, farmhouse loaf, white cob loaf and batch loaf.  Rolls and baps would have been made with wholemeal of mixed grain flour and the oatcake would have been a staple for the workers at the potteries and trades.

Irish soda bread and welsh cakes were also well known in this area. Barm loaf and oat bread would also have been baked in local bakeries.  Victorian shoppers had a wide range of breads to choose from.

An exotic bread from the Mediterranean would have made its first appearance in Victorian bakers shops.

•        Puree plum tomatoes into a liquid and add sugar, olive oil and yeast. (additional warm water may need to be added)

•        Mix with strong white flour, salt and shredded basil leaves into a loose dough and rest for an hour.

•        Knock back the dough and kneed, adding more white flour to form a resistant dough ball.

•        Form into round loaves or rolls and leave to rise, and double in size.

•        Bake in a hot oven at 200°C – loaves for 30 minutes, rolls for 15 minutes and rest to cool before eating.

 

This type of bread goes well with cheese.  It is also very good to eat with tomato soup and with a salad sandwich.  In Victorian times, it may well have been eaten with a fruit compote or fruit salad.  Eating bread with fruit was quite normal 100 years ago.