What’s the difference between English mass produced bread and home made artisan bread?
Actually this is what I’m asking myself when I came into the country
14 years ago. It is not a secret that most of the people coming from the
continent have a slight problem with the English mass produced bread.
It has no taste, does not keep for long but is nicely white. Well,
looking in the past there was nice bread produced by tens of thousands
of small bakeries around the country until the 1960s when everything
In those days the county was hit by a recession and the Supermarkets
more and more took over and started to spread cheap bread all over the
Together with a new “improvement” called “ The Chorleywood Bread
Process (CPB) big bread plants were able to produce much cheaper bread
than small Bakeries.
CBP is able to utilise lower-protein wheats combined with chemical improver’s, and uses intense mechanical working of the dough by high-speed mixers, together with solid vegetable fat, high quantities of yeast and water, which produces a loaf of bread from flour to sliced-and-packaged form in about three and a half hours.
Flour, chemical oxidants and “improver’s” like water, yeast, fat and salt are mechanically mixed and the dough is violently shaken for about three minutes. The large amount of energy used generates high temperatures to raise the dough with its large dose of yeast, and computer regulated cooling systems modulate the next stages. The air pressure in the mixer head-space is maintained at a partial vacuum to prevent the gas bubbles in the dough from getting too large and creating an unwanted “open” structure in the finished crumb.(2)
So the industrial scale of the Chorleywood Bread Process comes at a
nutritional cost, requiring larger amounts of salt, yeast and gluten
than traditional bread recipes and the loss of flavour (3)
Even made with organic flours the production process may still be the same.
What does it mean?
First of all mass produced bread is very cheap to produce. Most of
the bread customers are used to paying no more than £1.20 for a loaf.
Having in mind that the mass production cost is only 7-15p per loaf.
Secondly we are not surprised having a lot of customers suffering problems with wheat, gluten or yeast.
And lastly the “new” demand of naturally proven or made bread.
But making bread in a more “natural” way comes at a price. This is
also a reason why more and more artisan and small bakeries went out of
production. Only 3% of the bread in the UK is actually made by small
artisan Bakers. (3)
It all needs a little bit of awareness and clarification like coming from the “Real Bread Campaign”
Why is it sometimes hard at the markets to get the bread I want from you?
In a ideal world we love to to have fresh food available all the
time. But this is very tricky. We are handling fresh baked goods which
cannot be sold next day. We are trying to minimize our waste. Compared
to big bread plants our sour dough bread costs much more to produce than
the 20p as for an ordinary loaf. In this case the big chains don’t care
about wastage to much. But we do. Wasting bread in the past was an
insult and not acceptable. So we try to get the right amount of bread to
the markets. This is why you may not get the bread you want if you’re
coming late. But don’t worry, you can always pre-order for the markets
via our online form. We will hold it back for you.
Why sour dough?
With the Chorleywood Bread Process you can prove or ferment bread in a
very short time allowing big bread plants to produce more bread in the
same time. But let’s face some questions:
Can you produce nice tasting vegetables in a very fast process?
Do you think meat is better the day after slaughtering?
You can produce all of it fast but it comes at a price.
Letting the dough prove for a longer time gives the bread more
flavour and it is longer lasting. You are using a lot less of yeast and
it seems like the digestion is much better. You feel also full for
Sour Dough does not always mean it tastes sour. It can but there is a
lot of variety in sour dough. In Germany more than 350 different bread
types are known and everything has it’s own special taste. You may have
your own starter or you just prepare the dough from scratch every time
and leave it to prove by itself.
How long does the bread last?
Sour dough bread lasts longer. Put it in a bread bin or a plastic
bag to prevent dying out. Don’t put bread in a fridge. It will dry out
Can you freeze bread?
Yes, you can. Especially with the higher moisture in sour dough bread
it is fine to be in the freezer for at least 2-3 month. Sometimes we
tell our customer to slice it before freezing. Just take out slice by
slice. It will de-frost in 10 minutes.
But be careful. Freezer Burn (humidity loss by sublimation) can
happen while you freeze things uncovered in the freezer. All the bread
and other things to be frozen need to be in a plastic bag to prevent it
drying out and leaving an unpleasant look (like a little bit like burnt
or dried spots on the surface of goods). But this is only cosmetic.
Is your bread gluten free?
Unfortunately Rye, Wheat and also Spelt and some other forms of wheat
include gluten. Gluten is needed to cover the air in the dough which
makes it softer. Our Spelt loafs however contains a lot less gluten than
Is Sour Dough better for my allergies?
We have a lot of customers suffering allergies and telling us they cannot eat Wheat, Gluten or Yeast any more. For me it looks like the whole area of food allergy calls for much more research.
However some people report that they cannot eat wheat but can eat spelt, whilst others report that they can eat wheat but not spelt.
Even when you are yeast intolerant you can give Sour Dough a try as it is containing only a fraction of yeast.
If you are intolerant to gluten you may face a real challenge to get food which is really gluten free.
More questions? Use our Contact Form.