Only last century it would have been quite normal to bake bread at home for the family, perhaps once or twice a week. These days, most of us buy our bread and some would say that means we've forgotten what makes a good loaf - most of the time we're not even aware of all the additional ingredients that factories add to mass-produced bread to make it cheaper and quicker to make.
12 million loaves are baked every day in the UK, and about 95 percent of those are baked in a small number of huge industrial bakeries or supermarket in-store bakeries. It's well documented that money spent with independent retailers generates more investment for the local community than the same amount spent at a national chain store, so seeking out your local baker will support more than just real bread.
That's why organisations like the Real Bread Campaign and Local Food Britain are encouraging people to rediscover 'real' bread - but what does that mean?
What is real bread?
The Real Bread Campaign defines 'real' bread as made without the use of processing aids or any other artificial additives. It's possible to make flatbreads and sourdough breads with only flour and water, but using yeast, a pinch of salt and tasty ingredients like cheese, nuts, seeds, fruit, oil and milk is fine too - it's the lack of artificial processing aids that makes the difference.
Real bread can't be rushed, either - it should take at least four hours to prove a loaf. It should also be made in one continuous process, without part-baking or freezing the dough. In an ideal world it would be certified organic, use locally-milled stoneground flour and have a salt content of less than one percent of the finished product, but just taking out the chemical additives found in many factory-produced loaves is a great place to start.
Why should you choose real bread?
Aside from knowing exactly what has (and hasn't!) gone into your bread, real bread might actually be better for you.
- Breads made with stoneground flour may contain more nutrients as the whole grain including the fibre-rich germ and bran is ground into flour.
- Longer fermentation may cause increased levels of B vitamins and antioxidants.
- Lower levels of salt may be found in 'real' bread.
Where can you buy real bread?
Chalk Hills Bakery, Reigate: Find traditionally-made, slow-fermented artisan breads and pastries at this bakery and coffee shop in the heart of Reigate.
Priory Farm Shop, Nutfield: Stocks Chalk Hills Bakery's bread, which is freshly made every day just behind the shop.
Epsom Bakehouse, Epsom: Rhiannon Abbott is a baker and Bread Angel who teaches others how to make real bread at home.
Food Float, Dorking: You can find real bread baked by Crumbs of Capel on the Food Float stall in Dorking every Friday.
Ripley Nurseries and Farm Shop, Ripley: Amongst the array of local produce, you'll find freshly-baked bread from The Ginger Bread Man Bakery.
Westons Farm Shop, Itchingfield: At this award-winning farm shop, you'll find freshly-baked bread from Jengers Craft Bakery in Billingshurst.
Charlie's Farm Shop, Pulborough: You'll also find Jengers' loaves and rolls on the shelves here, alongside bread from The Hungry Guest.
Slindon Forge, Slindon: This village shop stocks traditionally-made bread from its neighbours, Slindon Bakery, and The Hungry Guest too.
The Hungry Guest, Petworth: The Hungry Guest is famous across Sussex for its artisan breads and pastries - try them in the adjacent cafe.
Farretti Bakery, Lodsworth: From her bakery near Midhurst, Valeriana De Berardinis bakes traditional ciabatta, focaccia and panini with a true taste of Italy.
Tags: Real Bread
Real Bread Week