Veget National Bread, 1946
Here’s an advert for Burnley’s version of the World War Two National Loaf, Veget bread:
The National Loaf wasn’t very popular. It was the consequence of white bread flour being in short supply and was made with wholemeal flour, husks and all, and added calcium. It was a bit of a shock to the system of the British public, who had previously only been used to eating white bread, and soon started to be referred to as “Hitler’s secret weapon”, as bakers were banned from making any other type of loaf. Wikipedia describes it as “grey, mushy and unappetising” so it’s no surprise that I also found this rude local rhyme about Veget:
Don’t eat Veget bread,
It makes you shit like lead,
And fart like thunder,
And no bloody wonder,
So don’t eat Veget bread.
I love that Wikipedia says that “The loaf was abolished in October 1956.” I bet there was cheering in the streets. I was wondering if Veget had another ingredient included – the name implies there’s vegetables involved, but maybe that was just to make it sound healthier.
Here’s a recipe for a version of the National Loaf you can make now, by Hugh’s mum, Jane Fearnley Whittingstall. It’s taken from Lavender and Lovage:
The National Wheatmeal Loaf: (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
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).
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.
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.