Over recent years there has been a quiet revolution in many smaller bakeries
and the establishment of a growing band of Artisan Bakers. These bakers are using traditional ingredients and methods to bake a variety of traditional British and Continental Breads. The establishment of movements such as the lottery-funded Real Bread Campaign
which ‘aims to encourage the consumption and production of real bread in Britain’ have helped real bread become a hot topic.
Real bread is made using the basic ingredients of: Flour, Water, Yeast & a small amount of salt. The addition
of other ingredients is ok, as long as they are natural and naturally processed. These might be products such as honey, seeds, nuts or fruits. Real bread has to be fresh; it cannot be ‘part-baked’ elsewhere – a practice that occurs in some
Most bread available to buy in UK supermarkets is made using the Chorleywood Bread Process, which was invented in the sixties. The method involves high-speed mixing using intense energy, a plethora of additives and preservatives, greatly
increased quantities of yeast and no fermentation time.
Recent advances in molecular science have improved our understanding of the significant role of time in bread-making. As you allow dough time to rise, it is also fermenting. This process neutralises
the parts of wheat protein that are most likely to trigger bowel disease and other auto-immune and inflammatory reactions to gluten. The wide availability of processed bread and the small number of artisan bakeries means that making a healthy choice whilst shopping is difficult.
The true essence of Artisan Baking lies in the crafting of high-quality bread using traditional
techiques. Artisan bakers carefully select good ingredients free from additives and invest time in carefully crafting and slowly baking their loaves. In the Artisan tradition, baking is seen as a careful chemistry or an art form and acute detail is paid to
the process, so specific crust and crumb textures are achieved.
Great importance is placed on the fermentation process, this is why Artisan Bakers prefer to use traditional dry or fresh yeast. The bread owes its complex flavor to a lengthy fermentation,
which breaks down big molecules into smaller, more flavourful ones.
As Artisan bread contains no additives or preservatives, it has a short shelf life and is best eaten on the same day as it is bought or made. Although white supermarket bread still
leads the UK bread market, a recent study by the Federation of Bakers showed that the market share of white bread was down by 3.2% on 2009 which suggests that consumers are leaning towards a healthier, wholegrain option with a 5.1% sales growth of malted,
grainy and seeded loaves.