Nostalgia with Flour and Yeast
Today’s post is entitled Gold Hill and “Hovis” Granary Bread Loaf, and to those readers who aren’t British, the title may be a bit of a puzzle; what is Hovis bread, and where is Gold Hill and why is it mentioned? Well, Gold Hill is a very steep but beautiful cobbled street in the Dorset town of Shaftesbury, and, Hovis bread is a national institution in the UK, and is linked inextricably to the aforementioned Gold Hill, as that was the location of this bread companies most popular and famous advertisement. The 1973 TV advert which shows a young boy struggling up the hill with his delivery bike (with a basket full of Hovis bread loaves) is played out to the strains of a brass band, playing Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9…….and has been voted Britain’s favourite advertisement of all time, and I still love watching the advert all these years later, dated though it may be nowadays with all the slick adverts we have, it still retains an old-world, innocent charm.
The advert called “Boy with Bike” drips with old-fashioned nostalgia for a happier and more uncomplicated time, where no doubt every tea time table had a loaf of Hovis bread on it, ready to be spread with lashings of butter and accompanied by a steaming hot cup of sweet tea – and indeed the advert ends with a homely scene of tea being poured to accompany a slice of Hovis bread with the narrator saying…...”Hovis still has many times more wheatgerm then ordinary bread. It’s as good for you today as it’s always been”……(There’s also a very funny spook of the advert by The Two Ronnies, which is good for a laugh!) I was brought up on Hovis bread, if mum didn’t buy it, she would make a loaf or two, in fact she always had a “baking day” every week, where cakes, bread, biscuits and pies were all made for the week ahead. Basically, Hovis is a wholemeal loaf that is high in wheat-germ.
If you have been watching the Victorian Bakers in the BBC recently, you may recall that the “brand” of Hovis was introduced in 1886, when Richard “Stoney” and S. Fitton & Sons Ltd developed the brand, milling the flour and selling it along with Hovis branded baking tins to other bakers; the name Hovis was then the result of a nationwide competition in 1890, when London student Herbert Grime won the competition set by S. Fitton & Sons Ltd to find a trading name for their patent flour. Grime won £25 when he coined the word from the Latin phrase “hominis vis” – “the strength of man”, which was shortened to “HOVIS”. The name is still synonymous with a healthy and balanced diet, and the brand has gone from strength to strength, and now makes white bread too. Today’s recipe for “Hovis” Granary Bread Loaf uses their special granary bread flour and makes a wonderfully nutty, and yet open-textured bread, as you can see from the photos.
The recipe yields two x 1lb (450g) loaves of bread, or you can do as I have done, make one x 1lb (450g) and five little mini loaves of Hovis bread, using some mini bread tins I bought from Very English, a fabulous new on-line shop that specialises in all things English. Or, you could make ten x little Hovis loaves if you have two mini loaf tins….., which I will be doing on Monday the 25th January, for a Burns Night Supper I am hosting. The recipe can also be made in a bread maker – if you want to make the bread rolls, then just use the dough function to mix and prove it before shaping them and baking them in the mini loaf tins; or you can bake the whole loaf in the bread maker on a large setting, with a medium crust. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we’ve all done, it’s wonderful for toast too, and of course, it makes killer sandwiches! Karen