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Real bread! - not chemical laden, plastic wrapped commercial bread

Saturday, 10 December 2011
I watched a fab programme on BBC 2 over several nights this week called The Big Bread Experiment.

The programme followed local Curate Cath Vickers as she started up a bread group in her home town of Bedale in the Yorkshire Dales. With the help of professional artisan bakers Patrick Ryan and Duncan Glendinning, she wanted to see if they could generate enough enthusiasm to start up their own community bakery.

Meanwhile, a local water powered flour mill was undergoing a renovation, and it was hoped that the baking group would be able to use its stone-ground flour in their bread baking.  The programme was a real heart warming tale of community spirit, with tips on how to make decent bread.

However, what struck me was the amount of chemicals and additives that go into your average commercially made loaf of bread, sometimes up to 14 of them. We all know that there are bound to be preservatives in our long lasting supermarket loaves but the amount of them and what they are composed of made me feel more than a little shocked and queasy.

Now, I'm sure loads of communities would like 12 months support from the BBC and artisan bakers to start up their own bakery, clearly that is highly unlikely!  However, what we can do is make bread for our family and friends, get our kids involved and have fun whilst eating some quality bread - made without loads of additives, etc.

The ladies on the telly had loads of fun, fuelled by a little wine, learning to make bread and experimenting with different flavours and types of bread.  Why not get a group of friends together and spend an afternoon having a good laugh, some nice beverages, and make some bread to take home?!

I make most of our bread that we eat in our home, probably about 95% of it.  I admit that occasionally I buy bread but try and buy from local bakeries that bake from scratch and freeze some of their loaves for times when I can't make my own.  What's fab about baking your own bread is that you can flavour it however you like, make as much or as little as you like, and it's loads of fun for kids too.

There are many breadmakers on the market if you find the whole process of baking bread from scratch really daunting or completely impractical.  Some can even be set up so that you can have freshly baked bread in the morning when you wake up, the machine does all the hard work whilst you sleep.

If you do want to make your bread from scratch, and don't want to use a breadmaker, take a look online and find recipes that suit your needs.  There are many different bread recipes that can fit in with busy family life and are not too laborious.  For example, my recipe for straight from the freezer bread rolls. You can make a few loaves on the weekend and freeze them for later in the week, make some of your own tortilla wraps for sandwiches, or some savoury scrolls for lunchboxes which saves you having to make sandwiches, and they also freeze well.

I'm not saying that we all have to dutifully slave away baking bread like demented domestic goddesses. I'm just trying to get everyone thinking about what is in their food and how you can make your own bread, simply and easily.  Give it a go, get your kids to help and have loads of fun with the added bonus of a tasty snack.

Here are some of my favourite recipes that are used most often in our household:

My Basic Bread Recipes

Easy End Of The Week Flatbreads

Chelsea Buns

Or a Cheese Vegemite Pull Apart Loaf that doesn't use yeast.

Give bread baking a go! It's loads of fun, saves money, and teaches kids loads of useful skills - without them even realising it.  Baking helps literacy skills because they are reading recipes and instructions, helps their maths skills because they are dealing with capacity and measuring ingredients, basic chemical reactions and changes in state - that covers science, and also fine and gross motor skills when they are measuring ingredients,  and mixing, kneading and shaping the dough, and perhaps buttering the finished bread.

Give your kids a fab learning opportunity time baking, and enjoy a taste lunch. Bake real bread!


  1. I had exactly the same reaction to that series. We try to buy decent fresh bread but not always possible, not convinced supermarket fresh is any different to mass produced.
    Anyway it inspired me to get back making bread myself, used your recipe this time :)
    Any recommendations for adapting with seeds etc?
    Also lucky enough that the Thoughful Bread company are just a few miles from me, always try and buy their bread when possible

  2. You can adapt the basic bread in my recipe here: http://utterlyscrummy.blogspot.com/2011/03/basic-bread-recipe_29.html for seeds my following the method lower down in the recipe:

    Mixed seed bread

    Use 3 cups white flour, 2 cups wholemeal flour and make up 2 cups of mixed seeds. I use a combination of pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, sesame and poppy seeds. Increase the yeast to 2 1/2 sachets to help the bread rise. Because the dough is much denser than 'all flour' bread it won't rise as much.

    Hope this helps x


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