Our Daily Bread
Rebecca Ordish explores what’s gone wrong with this one time staple and how we’re learning to love it all over again
What type of bread would you like for your sandwich? We have white, brown, whole meal, wholegrain, whole wheat, sour dough, Turkish, flatbread, roti, wheat germ, linseed or rye bread.”
It used to be such a simple question - white or brown bread? Now there are so many options, so many different types of bread and so many stories, questions and theories on what type of bread to avoid, which to eat more of and, in fact, whether we should eat bread at all, sometimes it is easier just to avoid it. Here we’ll help you to navigate some of the confusion so you can get back to enjoying this staple of our diets once more.
Let’s start at the very beginning . . .
Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods that has been enjoyed around the family dinner table for hundreds of years. But its significance goes a lot deeper than simple taste and nutrition with both religious and cultural values attached to it. Christians remember it in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” We use it to refer to food generally as in “to put bread on the table”, and “the breadwinner” refers to the household’s main economic contributor. We even judge progress referring to major developments as “the greatest thing since sliced bread”.
Bread is part of who we are. So what changed?
The major advance that changed the way bread was made was the development of the Chorleywood bread process in 1961. This machine allowed for intense mechanical working of the bread dough. This dramatically reduced the time taken to produce a loaf of bread because the fermentation period was condensed.
It was a great win for manufacturers and in some ways for consumers as well as it allowed for quick, low cost bread to get to consumers.
So why did things change? Well, this process basically steals one of the core secrets of great tasting bread - time. Fermentation is the almost magic process that allows the raw dough to rise into a beautiful fluffy loaf of bread. It also contributes to the incredible flavours and that gorgeous smell. Yeast, the core ingredient that drives the fermentation process, needs time to do its work, consuming sugar and excreting carbon dioxide to really make great, tasty bread. Have you seen the old bakers kneading the bread over and over?
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