Pea, lentil, even wine and dark chocolate… the rise and rise of bizarre bread



22:56 GMT, 28 March 2012

If you’re eating bog-standard granary for breakfast, it’s time to give peas a chance. Pea bread is back on the menu.

Barely seen since the Middle Ages when it provided protein for peasants who couldn’t afford meat, the recipe has been adopted by baker Ingrid Eissfeldt from ABO Artisan Bread Organic.

Peas, she says, are a high-protein, low-carb and gluten free alternative to wheat. Yellow split peas give the bread a golden hue and a fragrant, curry-like flavour.

Unusual mix: A chocolate and green tea loaf

Unusual mix: A chocolate and green tea loaf

‘When I use regular peas the loaf comes out a sweet, luminous green which children love,’ adds Ingrid. Across the country, blue cheese-walnut, fennel-raisin and potato-rosemary loaves are selling like hotcakes, says baker Country Style.

Whole Foods Market stocks lentil and bean breads and speciality slices stuffed with pecans, cranberries and apricots. Gails is experimenting with wine and dark chocolate; and green tea loaf, with its lurid green dough, is creeping into cafes.

Even Warburton’s are adding orange and cinnamon to the mix.

‘During the economic downturn, people are trading expensive cuts of meat for high-end loaves of bread. We want something luxurious without being too dear,’ says Peter Gialantzis, head of bakery for Whole Foods Market.

Steven Mackintosh, founder of the Hedonist Bakery, agrees. ‘Putting an unusual loaf on the table is a great conversation point for a dinner party.’

You could say speciality bread is fast becoming the best thing since, um, sliced bread.