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National Wheatmeal Loaf and Mock Banana anyone?

As part of my business I’ve looked at certain eras of food history in particular the recipes that the everyday person would have cooked and eaten. I’m currently working on WW2 and rationing. This has partly been spurred on by our visit to the Ministry of Food Exhibition at the  Imperial War Museum back November.

Unlike many things during WW2 Bread wasn’t rationed until 1946, however it was illegal to eat white bread due to precious flour supplies so the National Wheatmeal Loaf was developed which used 85% wholemeal flour with added calcium and vitamin, plus extra salt and other padding out ingredients if you were a cash tight baker. Frankly it was not very popular due to its stale, coarse texture that made it almost undigestible, but people put up with it as there was no other alternative. I was also a crime to waste bread.

“Pat-a-loaf, pat-a-loaf
Baker’s Man
Bake me some Wheatmeal
As fast as you can:
It builds up my health
And its taste is good,
I find that I like
Eating just what I should.”

The wholemeal loaf I attempted as part of my research thankfully was quite edible. During the rationing years it has been argued that people’s diets were the best they had ever been, but it didn’t stop people craving the foods that they couldn’t have and this is where mock versions of products appeared. Mock banana is simply boiled parsnips mashed down with a bit of sugar and banana extract. Perfect consistency to spread in your sandwich with a rather acquired taste. Not my first choice of sandwich fillings and probably put a whole generation of children off banana sandwiches but it was better than no banana. The other sandwich filling you can see in the picture is simply grated carrot with a smidgen of mayonnaise and grated cheese, surprisingly tasty. Almost like a stripped down coleslaw. Parsnips, carrots and other root vegetables are readily available in the winter months so were used in many dishes and even as a substitute for sweets when they were rationed. Not sure what children would think of this now!

What Hubs doesn’t realise is that I’m inflicting a Woolton Pie on him in the next week plus there is a packet of skimmed milk powder in the kitchen just waiting to be turned into Household Milk all in the name of research.

Wholemeal Bread
Makes 2 loaves
from Ministry of Food – Jane Fearnley Whittingstall

1 ½ lb wholemeal bread flour

1 ½ tbsp salt

1 ½ tbsp dried yeast

1 dsp honey or treacle

450 ml tepid water

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 tea 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, allow to rise for a further 2 hours.

2) pre-heat oven to 200°c 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.

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About the author

Jules

Freelance food geek who's passionate about food education.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2011/01/31/national-wheatmeal-loaf-and-mock-banana-anyone/

9 comments

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  1. Jennifer

    Love that picture of the children.

    1. Jules

      I do to Jennifer. I saw it at the Ministry of Food exhibition and it really stuck in my mind.

  2. Antonia

    What an interesting post – must be a fascinating part of your business, doing this sort of research.

    1. Jules

      I do love doing it. Hoping all the hard work I’m doing at the moment will pay off.

  3. katshealthcorner

    Your bread looks stunning!!! And I love how healthy it is! I can’t wait to try it! :)

    1. Jules

      Thank you for your comment Kat. I followed the recipe to the letter so didn’t do my usual bread baking tricks. If I was to make it again I would put a baking tray of boiling water at the bottom of the oven while the bread was baking to generate steam and improve the crust.

  4. Lynne

    of course a lot of the problem was that it was always stale. It couldn’t be sold until it was at least a day old, I think because it could be sliced more thinly then to make it go further.

    At least our bread didn’t have sawdust in it like the Germans had to put up with!

  5. C

    It looks like really tasty bread. The picture of those children is really lovely, I can’t imagine children nowadays being satisfied by veg instead of sweets!

    Hmm, mock banana. I’m intruiged but think I’ll pass on that one!

  6. The Curious Cat

    Interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing – the book looks like one to have! xxx

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