How many types of bread have you eaten in the past week? For some, bread should be white and sliced – end of. Others prefer wholemeal, wholegrain artisan or specialist breads. While preparing this issue with baking as one of our focus topics, I realised that over the past week I’ve consumed everything from wholegrain toast, ciabatta rolls and cinnamon and raisin muffins, to pitta bread, and garlic and coriander naan bread. Not all at the same meal, of course.

It’s hard to think of a food stuff that comes in as many varied forms as bread – and that can be eaten with any meal of the day. For most cultures, bread is a staple part of the diet and bread making is taken very seriously. A French friend still gets fresh bread delivered by van, which comes daily to her village.

Stories and myths often grow up around bread, from the loaves and the fishes to the almost certainly misattributed and mistranslated account of Marie-Antoinette commenting on the peasants’ lack of bread with “Let them eat cake”.

There are also modern-day myths about the ingredients and nutritional value of different types of bread, which organisations such as the Federation of Bakers and the Flour Advisory Bureau are keen to dispel. Their websites contain some fascinating facts about bread: for example, did you know that white bread contains more calcium than brown? And that the proportion of British wheat used by British millers has grown from around 30% in the 1970s to around 85% today?

In my family, we’ve always kept up a tradition of baking cakes; in fact we have recipes passed down from my great aunt, who ran a village bakery in the north east. Home baking is apparently on the rise again today, as reflected by BBC2’s The Great British Bake Off. While the largest proportion of baked goods are now mass produced, the supermarket in-store bakeries have continued to flourish and the artisan, high street bakers have kept a share of the market too.

So let them eat cake – and bread, pastries, pies, sausage rolls and all other kinds of baked goods too.

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