I love, love, love it.
Bread is one of the most versatile meals. We can’t exhaust the recipes and uses. It is a breakfast staple, and even for used during lunch and dinners. Bread is used for burgers, sandwiches, puddings, toast, accompaniment with soups, pastas etc. Bread is also a top comfort food and it’s easily accessible.
Most breads, on their own, are pretty bland; but I think the blandness is why it’s so great paired with other foods. With our increasing fitfamness and staying away from carbs, it’s getting a bad reputation and is being pushed out of a lot of people’s diet. But bread is awesome you know. First it’s the most eaten food in the world and two; most countries have some form of bread.
In Nigeria, bread is a fantastic ice breaker and makes a good gift. When people travel probably to their home towns or villages or events, one thing most buy is bread for the people at home. I don’t know why this is but you will hear people tell folks “to buy bread o”.
There are so many bread types and recipes I could talk about, but I will pick a few to write on that I feel are relatable.
I can write a whole article on Agege bread alone. Agege bread is our own. We grew up with it, it’s still with us and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. Agege Bread and I have had very emotional encounters. Agege bread is just too much; words fail me to describe agege bread. Is it the feeling you get when you tear into the soft bread? Or when it is lovingly paired with a great side dish that just feels that hole inside of you? Like I said “Too Much”.
Agege’s bread endearing quality for me is its versatility. It goes with everything: different spreads (margarine, chocolate spread, peanut butter, honey, butter, mayonnaise) akara, beans, moimoi, different cheeses, eggs, “tea”(one of my favs, dipping it in thick Milo, forgetting all the story of table manners), coke(like u know now, how can I explain this?), fried fish, suya, noodles and so much more, much much more.
I know people who have weird agege bread combos like my brother who eats the bread with Ogbono, yam, Egusi and Efo riro.
Another endearing quality is the fact that it has been readily available and consistent for years
Agege bread is baked with regular wheat flour, salt, margarine or oil, leavening agent, milk, sugar and water. Because bread baking is not traditionally ours, I believe we got it from the Asians using their traditional milk bread recipe. The recipe for both is very similar with the tzanghong used for leavening for their milk bread adopted by most agege bread bakers here.
For research, I went to an agege bread bakery somewhere in Ikeja, Lagos and what I witnessed was not too encouraging. The girls that butter the pans are not health conscious and when the bread is baked and turned to the wooden containers, it’s a questionable hygienic act. Even the foam used to dust off the butter and flour is suspect. Bottom line, they are not handled properly.
It won’t stop me from eating them, no, it won’t but these bakeries should do better.
Another downside is the bromate usage. We thought we were free from such harmful chemicals when NAFDAC banned it some years ago; but it will shock you to know that some bakeries still use them. My dad was against us eating Agege bread while growing up. He would buy loaves of sliced bread and as nice as that was, it still didn’t compare with Agege bread, we would send the help to go and get it straight. It was my dad that made us aware that Agege bread didn’t have crumbs like sliced bread did because of the bromate. This is how I now identify bread baked with bromate – it has to have some crumbs, no matter how little.
Sliced bread is well…. sliced bread. Actually a lot of the sliced bread in Nigeria is cut up agege bread. There is the notion that because it costs more than agege bread and a little better packaged, it’s of a higher quality than agege bread, but it’s all a gimmick jare, it’s still agege bread, I see many brands that have the unsliced loaf and the sliced version. The popular big treat bread we all know and love in Lagos is the same loaf sliced up, no difference. All sorts of bread can be sliced though, wheat bread, coconut bread, honey bread etc.
Sliced bread has its advantages though. It’s good for sharing formulas in the home; perfect for toast; and can help check your bread intake, because you measure how many slices you are consuming. Once I have about four slices, I am good because I feel I am overdoing it – unlike agege bread where I might not know where to set my limit.
With our emerging health consciousness, more people are turning to wheat bread. But I see a lot of duplicity in the wheat bread market. Most rarely contain a good amount of whole wheat. Most wheat bread sold on the streets are poor imitations of the real thing. If you must buy authentic wheat bread, please spend the money and go to a good specialty store that will give you the real thing. I am not really a fan of wheat bread and nutritionists have said it makes no real difference from eating white bread. It’s better to go with whole grain breads.
A traditional French bread baked with flour, salt, yeast, oil and water. It’s a good low fat option. I like baguettes. They are great paired with cheeses and they are good for sandwiches also.
Also called Flat breads, they are baked with flour, water, oil and salt. They are great for fajitas and shawarmas (Pet peeve though, because every tom, dick and harry think they can make shawarma. The best shawarma I ever ate was in Kano in a Lebanese restaurant) and also for tacos when toasted. They are sold in supermarkets; I like the ones in Goodies supermarket.
The thing with specialty breads for me is that if you are not ready to part with good money, you will not get good value.
I will explain: you see “coconut” bread or “raisin” bread and you buy. Affordable, maybe three hundred Naira. Then you get home excited to eat your bread by this good bakery and you end being underwhelmed. The coconut or raisins are just sticking to the bread. Nothing on the inside; no extra oomph…very depressing.
My suggestion is this: go to the very good bakeries; Ocean view bakery (the brioche here is fantastic), Planet One hotel bakery, Spar, La Pointe, Goodies, Frenchie’s and more (all in Lagos.) They have great breads though not necessarily affordable compared to the street bread; but quality over quantity.
I also suggest baking at home. Here you have a tendency not to skimp on ingredients and the smell of baking bread in a home is heavenly. A lot of people are scared of baking bread because of their fear of handling yeast, but trust me, it’s easy peasy. You just have to try and try and try again.
By the way, you can bake bread e.g. banana bread using cake mixes. Very easy. Please Google. There are loads of recipes and if you are truly lazy there are even breads that don’t need kneading.
This bread is awesome. It’s a cross between bread and a pastry and it’s French in origin – the number one bakers in the world (in my opinion, close second for me are Italians).
The creaminess and melt in your goodness qualities makes it a top bread in my list. Just spread with unsalted butter and you are good to go.
Have you heard of Sardine bread? I heard of it last year and tried it out and it was goooood. There’s a whole can of sardine stuffed into the loaf of bread. I have it with cheese spread but it can be eaten on its own. The bread itself is dense and moist(I know what I am saying when I use these two words). It’s a little tougher than Agege bread. It is great, just great.
BANANA BREAD/ CARROT BREAD
These breads are great. I tire easily of it though, but I know people who looove it; and there are so many bakeries you could order one from. Like I said, you could always bake it yourself.
My top three breads that I have ever eaten are Agege bread, Brioche and a Vanilla-Chocolate bread we used to eat in Akure, Ondo State.
Bread is great. Any bread stories to share? Please feel free to do so.
Have a great week ahead. Love and Chocolates
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