Thursday, 22 March 2018

In Which I Feel A Little Barmy

Bob and I have greatly enjoyed watching "Back In Time For Tea" - featuring the Ellis family from Bradford, encouraged by fellow northern lass Sara Cox, and historian Polly Russell [a proper southerner] as they travelled through ten decades experiencing the meals of a typical working class family. Much as I loved the Robshaws, going back for their dinner, I think that this series was even better. Maybe that is because Giles Coren wasn't involved in the programmes [I thought his Dad Alan was brilliant, and find his sister Victoria very witty - but GC isn't my cup of tea at all]
I was interested that the young people in the family [Caitlin, Freya and Harvey] commented on how much more bread featured in the diets of years gone by "Now it's just something on the side of a meal". I suspect Lesley, in her 21st Century kitchen, is quite health conscious and serves less bread to her family. They seemed a lovely group, and entered into the whole experiment with great gusto.
One thing Sara Cox was obsessed with was the Barm Cake. That's the Bradford/Yorkshire name for a simple bread roll. It gets its name from the barm - the froth on fermenting malt liquor, which provides the yeast for the dough.
Then last Saturday, St Patrick's Day, I came across a traditional Irish recipe, for barmbrack. This is a fatless, fruited loaf - believed to get its name from two Garlic words- bairin and breac, which mean bread, and speckled respectively. 
Following Felicity Cloake's recipe , I made some barmbrack - but used two smaller loaf tins. One to take on the train to London for snacking on my journey to WWDP committee, and one to leave behind for Bob.
That's FC's picture by the way! I didn't paint mine with sugar syrup, it would have made it rather sticky to transport. And I omitted the whiskey [sorry Bob!] It does seem there is no definite barmy connection between barm cake, and barmbrack. And don't even mention President Brack O'Barma. 
The national debate on what to call a bread roll fascinates me - this useful chart shows that an awful lot depends on where you come from...
I have come across all of these names before- except scuffler - 
What does your family call these things?


  1. Generally I call them rolls but I know my Mum would refer to certain types as baps. So many names!!!Xx

  2. How interesting that we have so many names for a bread roll! I would call it a roll or a bap if it's larger. Our South Shields born daughter in law would call it a stotty but they are normally a lot larger, one could feed a family 😀

    I too loved Alan Coren and as a family we have most of his very funny books between us but Giles and Victoria come across badly in my opinion, too superior maybe? Ah well it takes all types as they say. Must look for Back in time for tea now.

  3. So agree with you re GC. We stopped watching the Amazing hotels series mainly due to his 'I have opinions on everything' attitude.
    Isnt it odd how a simple bread roll can have all those names!

  4. White, Brown or fruit teacakes were the norm when I was growing up in Bradford. There were larger one called flat cakes and long buns which resembled oversized bridge rolls. Here in Castleford we have scufflers which are triangle shaped white bread "rolls" . One of our favourite discussions over lunch when I was at library school in Liverpool was what the same foods were known as in different parts of the country !

  5. I enjoyed the series too. It was amusing that, in the title sequence,when the two girls went into the chippy, Mr FD & I argued over what they were ordering: a chip barm (me) or a chip naan (Mr FD) He was proved correct: talking about "fusion food" it was revealed as a naan bread full of chips! Not sure about it myself!
    My nana would always talk about a barmcake, but for me they are slightly bigger and softer than those shown in the poster.
    I actually like both Giles & Victoria Coren, although GC does come across slightly supercilious at times. I guess for this series they needed a northern presenter. VC is actually rather funny, I think, anhd presents Only Connect very well.
    Mr FD thought the series should have been called "Back in time for us tea" (I'm not sure if that's how one would write it though. But it works in a northern accent). I wonder though if the BBC can milk this concept any more - they seem to have covered every meal in most combinations. I suppose they could go to Scotland or Wales or N. Ireland to compare differences...

  6. I agree about GC - he's a bit smug for my taste and he was such a wimp in a programme he did years ago re-doing The Good Life.
    So Suffolk is in The South as a Bread Roll is definitely a Bread Roll here

  7. Bread barm or bread bun.

  8. Interesting to see all the different terms! I grew up calling anything smaller than a loaf of bread a bread roll (but they were mostly shaped long with tapered ends, not round). What I grew up calling a bun was round, but sweeter than bread, and usually had raisins in it.

    Over here (US), a round bread roll that is split in the middle is usually called a hamburger bun. A longer bread roll will be called a roll, a hot dog bun (if thin), sandwich rolls, hoagie (usually in the south), French rolls, etc. Personally, I just call them all bread rolls!

  9. I’m definitely a southerner and we just call it a roll. Oddly, it’s become harder to buy them here with crusty tops as most now seem to be soft. Then of course there are now all the fancy forms which have both posh names and high prices to match!


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