What's Wrong With Mass Produced Bread

Tonight while preparing dinner for the family it just so happened I had some bread both homemade and shop bought.   I wanted breadcrumbs to coat chicken and didn’t have enough of my homemade loaf and made up the shortfall with a shop bought loaf.  It’s from the finest range in Tesco, I assume it has some sort of quality to it than the very cheap loaves but I’m not sure in what.  What I do know is it doesn’t contain soya flour which I try and avoid with allergy kid.

When I was cutting the bread into cubes for the food processor it became obvious on the feel in the differences of the loaves.  Most people here that know a little about bread will know about all the wrongs with our bread and the so called Chorleywood Bread Process; a process created to turn around a loaf as faster as possible making our daily bread cheap and very tasteless.  You might also have come across other writings stating that enzymes are added to our bread to prolong its shelf-life keeping it unrealistic soft for weeks on end.

What I did tonight was a very simple action of pressing the pieces of dough together and seeing what happened.  What it showed to me was what’s so wrong with a mass produced loaf (apart from what I’ve already mentioned) is the lack of bounce.  The very obvious lack of bounce, something a loaf left to do its natural thing develops, gives a texture and mouth-feel and a certain chewiness, these are all things good bread has, yeast or sourdough.  This bounciness became very apparent it was missing when I squeezed the shop bought loaf.

My loaf was made with no kneading or even any folding method.  It’s allergy kid’s breakfast loaf and I want it as soft as possible a good way of doing this as well as adding some potato flour and some fat, which it has (the same ingredients Dan has in his soft baps recipe) is to leave the dough alone long enough.  Let the dough prove long enough with enough hydration and it does its work.  This loaf had 3 hours or more, knocked it down, placed it in the tin and prove it a good time again, longer than I normally do but still within its capability and baked it.

If you last prove it long enough it will give you an airy open crumb like here, and if you prove long enough both in the first and last prove it will give you texture, the bounce I talk about.

If I didn’t want to keep this loaf so soft I would do my usual method of folding which I adapted from Dan Lepard’s Handmade Loaf book but even so I can still show you how it has some texture and strength against the Chorleywood method. (The airy cubes below are from my loaf)

The Shop Bought Loaf – Below

See below what happens when I squeeze the shop bought loaf together.

It’s incredibly easy to squeeze it together and leave it with an indentation from my fingers and there’s no strength or bounce and re-shaping can not take place.

My Homemade Loaf – No Kneading, No Folding Just Time

When I press my loaf together this is what happens:

There’s strength in it’s gluten structure, it re-shapes itself and finds it’s original shape.  That’s why a good loaf deserves time.

I do make loaves quicker than this for allergy kid when I’m rushed and I see no problem with that as I know what’s going into my loaf but I wanted to show just what a difference time can make with gluten development without any other interference.  

You can make a light loaf with no kneading and you’ll see by all the air pockets in the crumb of my loaf how it’s light but you do need to give it time to do its development.

Also obviously show how horrible shop bought loaves are in comparison.

 Just for those interest in this homemade loaf details they are:

Flour – used Shipton Mill no.1 (12% protein), it’s their standard, I was using up last of a sack but now prefer their organic no. 4 also 12% protein.  Any half decent bread flour will do from a supermarket..but have a look at this post to see how flours can be very different even with same protein percentage.

Water & liquids – I add melted dairy-free margarine, rice milk and warm water 62% hydration

I don’t prove any of my normal dough in warm places like airing cupboards, just leave it on the dinning room table at room temperature which was coolish about 12C degrees.  The cooler the environment the longer you can leave it at to rise, hotter temperature accelerates the process.

Allergy Kid’s Breakfast Loaf – makes 2 loaves 

  • 1kg flour
  • 30g-50g sugar (you can leave it out)
  • 20g salt
  • 50g potato flour (you can use cornflour, don’t over do it with potato flour as it holds too much moisture result not good crumb)
  • 10g dried yeast
  • 450g warm water to the touch
  • 90g rice milk
  • 90g dairy-free butter (melted and then add the milk & water together)

Add the dry ingredients together.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well it should be sticky not overly wet.  Leave it to prove in a bowl covered.  When it appears well risen take it out shape it and place it in the tin let it rise again, bake 200C fan 35-40mins.  Have a look at the photos of this post of my everyday loaf to get some idea how sticky the dough should look.