If you are not a Brit, the chances are you have never heard of Chorley Wood. Many Brits probably don’t know much about the place. It is a small town in Hertfordshire (Pop: 6800-ish in 2001). It lies about 20 miles north-east of the centre of London. It was here in 1961 that something terrible happened…
According to Wikipedia: researchers at the British Baking Industries Research Association in Chorleywood improved upon an earlier American bread making process. This resulted in what is now known as the Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP). It is estimated that about 80% of the bread produced in the UK is made this way. The main advantages of CBP are that it speeds up the making of bread and allows the use of a greater proportion cheaper, low-protein domestic wheat flour. The process is highly mechanised. And the resulting bread is
In fact, in my not-so-humble opinion, it more closely resembles expanded polystyrene than bread. Now, I don’t know what expanded polystyrene actually tastes like, but I do know what CBP bread tastes like. Please refer to the image above. It is also pretty certain that CBP bread is nutritionally far inferior to bread made by more traditional methods, not least because CBP requires a much larger quantity of salt to be added.
Some countries, the USA for example, are fortunate enough to have largely escaped this particular example of “progress”. Most USA flour has too high a gluten content for the process to work. But the plague has spread to Australia, India, New Zealand, and even to France, Germany, and Spain. It makes me want to weep.
I think the best bread I have ever tasted came from Echternach in Luxembourg. Turn your back on Chorley Wood and head for Echternach.