Itâ€™s the time of year when the majority of Britain goes bonkers for bread, loopy about lamination, gets puffed up about pastry, and in a palaver about Pavlova – the return of the Great British Bake Off. Column inches and workplace gossip are suddenly given over to talk of things being over-proofed and fears of a â€˜soggy bottomâ€™, and much of the nation (at least fleetingly) goes baking mad.
However, it’s notÂ only in 2015 that Britain has becomeÂ fixated on baked goods, with bread, cakes and pastries of all stripes causing a similar hullabaloo on the Home Front during the First World War. The difference is that while now Bake Off fever seems to bring about an increased intake of baked goods (certainly our experience in the Advice and Records Knowledge office!), a century ago, there was a concerted effort to reduce Britons’ consumption of wheat.
Poor harvests at home and abroad, a lack of food imports caused by shipping losses and low foreign currency reserves, and a drain of manpower from Britainâ€™s farms to the military, all left the countryâ€™s food supply in very real peril. Continue reading »