In Waitrose the other day, I bought a loaf of Russian bread made by the Village Bakery, founded in the Lake District in 1976, by Andrew Whitley. This rye loaf, flavoured with coriander, is about the best shop-bought loaf I've ever tasted. It disappeared in no time.
On the packaging (shame it's a plastic bag, not a nice brown paper one), there's a story about how the Borodinsky loaf got it's name. I don't believe a word of it, but that's a historian for you, always fighting against folklore - and spoiling a good story!
It is said that in 1812, to raise the morale of Russian soldiers before the crucial battle of Borodino, a general's wife baked some special sweet rye loaves. Thus fortified the Russians overcame Napoleon - and the bread was christened Borodinsky.
The problem - one of the problems - is that the Russians didn't really win at Borodino, it was pretty inconclusive, and allowed Napoleon to keep going on to Moscow, where his grande armee starved that terrible winter. In his book Bread Matters (which I was too mean to buy even though it's only £10 in Waterstones), Whitley names the general's wife. But I haven't been able to find any other source for the story, despite wasting several hours on it this week. Nor have I been able to find a recipe for it, other than that given in Whitley's fine book.
The story may be romantic rubbish, but the bread is most emphatically of the highest quality. You should try it even if you think you don't like rye bread.
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