Were you looking for “Load to the Oaf” instead? No? Great. Today we examine the humble loaf in some of its many guises.

1. Loaf of bread

The purist’s way to enjoy bread. The top of the loaf should boast voluptuous curves for maximum approximation to a cartoon loaf of bread. Long used as a method of political and religious influence. Didn’t the Romans used to give out free bread as a method of social appeasement? Jesus also had a keen instinct for the happiness a loaf of bread could spread. For anyone who has forgotten, the famous incident is recapped in an episode of Fr. Ted:

DOUGAL: That’s almost as mad as that thing you told me about the loaves and the fishes.

TED: No, Dougal, that’s not mad. That’s when our Lord got just one or two bits of food and turned it into a whole pile of food and everyone had it for dinner.

DOUGAL: God, He was fantastic, wasn’t he?

TED: Ah he was brilliant.

Loaf of bread is also rhyming slang for head. As in “Oi, use your loaf”. Unless you’re competing in some kind of bakers’ duel, in which case the expression might not be rhyming slang.

2. Nut roast loaf

Anyone writing about nut roast seems obliged to make a disparaging reference to 70’s dinner parties vegetarian fare. Having never attended a dinner party in the 70’s I feel ill-qualified to join in the disparagement.

A throrough examination of the nut roast is undertaken here by the food writer Felicity Cloake. She recommends felicitously cloaking your nut loaf in cabbage leaves. 

I don’t know about that. Two things I do know:

(i) One should not do a google search for images of nut loaf if one has a delicate stomach or is planning on dining in the forseeable future. Optically alluring that dish is not.

(ii) Following on from the above, I’m inclined to agree with the commentator on the Ms. Cloake’s article who claimed that nut roast was something invented by meat industry as a tool in the fight against vegetarianism. Having said that I am open to having someone make a nut roast for me in an attempt to change my mind.

3. To loaf

(v.) To mooch around at a leisurely pace. As practiced by loafers, idlers and flâneurs. In How to Be Idle, a practical and theoretical handbook for loafers, writer Tom Hodgkinson describes the French flâneur of the nineteenth century: the gentlemanly anti-bourgeoise rambler. We are referred in turn to Walter Benjamin, writing on Parisian life in days gone by:

“In 1839 it was considered elegant to take a tortoise out walking. This gives us and idea of the tempo of the flânerie in the arcades.”

Should you find yourself without access to a tortoise, an idle hen would also make a suitable partner for languorous loafs.

4. Vegan Cranberry Orange Loaf

If Jesus were around today, I posit that he would be distributing these loaves. The recipe comes from Veganomicon and is extremely simple and almost healthy. One bowl, minimal mixing and just a little bit of oil (I used sunflower). The flavour comes from freshly squeezed orange juice, sharp cranberries, pure vanilla essence and a bit of allspice. I always thought that allspice was a mixture of other spices until I came across the German word for it: Nelkenpfeffer or ‘clove pepper’. Allspice, it transpires, is the powder obtained from crushing a clove-like berry. It was apparantly named allspice because it tasted like a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves — hence my initial misunderstanding.

The recipe calls for fresh cranberries, which is all well and good at Thanksgiving time in America but in Berlin they tend to be a bit thin on the ground. Dried cranberries — plumped up by soaking them in water for a few minutes — worked fine. There’s supposed to be walnuts in there too but I didn’t have any to hand and it still turned out a delight. Well apart from one small mishap.

All seems well…

Oh no! What’s this? The bottom of the loaf seems to have stuck to the tin…

Oh well, maybe nobody will notice…