Columnist Jen Perry is a former Lymm High student who runs the mobile afternoon emporium Room Forty

REAL Bread Week starts on Saturday.

This floury fiesta encourages people internationally to share and gain baking skills, and the spotlight is thrown on small, independent bakeries at the hearts of their communities around the world.

Here in Warrington it’s not that easy to find real bread, unless you’re close to a Sextons or make it to one of the growing number of makers markets that pop up across the town.

Why though, is there even a real bread campaign and who is behind the movement to ditch mass produced bread?

Campaigners are naturally people who want to preserve the skills of making bread and pass it down to future generations as an essential skill, but they’ve got a real point behind doing so.

Bread has (wrongly) had a bad reputation for several years and it’s time to change people’s opinions by making it properly again, with love for the ingredients. Your plastic wrapped supermarket loaf is likely to be the most processed food that you eat, and most people eat at least a slice, a bagel or a crumpet every day, without giving it a second thought.

But did you know shop bought wholemeal bread contains significantly more salt, sugar and yeast than real bread and it could be a contributing factor to the increase in intolerance and symptoms of IBS.

Add to this the list of additives, enzymes and preservatives and you’re eating a concoction far removed from real bread.

Crewe Guardian:

But the answer isn’t to stop eating bread, far from it, bread is a fantastic staple, and is the backbone of almost every culture in the world.

Instead the hope from the real bread campaign is that more people will support their bakery or to get into the kitchen to bake their own. As you’ll know from previous columns, I’m a big fan of shopping local, supporting butchers, bakers and producers of anything that cuts out the hidden ingredients, and so I am a natural fan of the campaign and backing it again this year.

The problem we have to overcome is that a generation or two have missed out on the opportunity to learn kitchen basics, and many older people don’t have the confidence to try making bread, even if they’re good at baking cakes.

I know from personal experience that the adults and children that come to Room Forty baking classes to learn to bake bread go away happy and confident, even inventing their own recipes afterwards.

And I get the satisfaction that they’ll be healthier, happier and have a new skill for life – that hopefully they’ll pass on to their families. As it is half term we’ve got a recipe for you to have a go making with your children.

It’s quick and easy and doesn’t involve kneading and waiting for the bread to prove – a great quick result for a starter bread.

You can work up from there to make your bread pretty, plaiting it, glazing it or adding seeds and nuts. I baked the ones pictured in little silicone plant pots (available from the Range) to make them super cute!

HOW TO MAKE JEN'S FRUITED SWEET BREAD

Ingredients

500g plain flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4tsp table salt

50g sugar (honey if you prefer)

40g soft butter

50g sultanas and/or glace cherries

320ml of plain yoghurt

Method

Set your oven to 200 degrees.

Into a large mixing bowl weigh in your flour, sugar and measure in the salt and bicarbonate of soda. Add in your soft butter and roughly rub it in. Then throw in the dried fruit. You’ll need to work fairly quickly now. Check your oven is hot enough and pour a bowl of clean warm water ready for your hands. Dust some flour onto your baking sheet.

Pour about 320ml yoghurt in to the mix and stir it in quickly with a spoon until it comes together (add more if you need to).

It will be a sticky mess which you’ll need to shape into a rough ball and place on a baking sheet. Now plunge your hands into your bowl of water and while your hands are still slightly wet shape the ball some more (the water makes it easier). Grab a sharp knife and give the dough a cross cut across the top.

Quickly put the sheet and dough into the centre of the oven. Check after 30 minutes, oven gloves on of course, it should sound hollow or drum like on the bottom and, pressing lightly into the cross cuts – these should feel firm and not soft. If the ‘cross’ is still a bit soft, stick it back into the oven for another five minutes.

Put it on a cooling rack and leave it to cool. Dust with icing sugar. Enjoy!

  • If you’d like to learn to make bread head to roomforty.co.ukbakingworkshops.html. The next class is a bit tricky – sticky buns and tiger bread – on March 3 at St James’ Church, Hood Manor but our beginners class is great for anyone. Get involved online by using the hashtag #realbreadweek