The Chorleywood bread process (developed in 1961) and ADD (activated dough development) together account for the vast majority of bread sold in the Great Britain today. The process requires large amounts of commercial, mass produced baker’s yeast, very little time (about an hour from start to finish), and a wide variety of additives mostly designed to inflate, moisten and preserve the bread. When considering the price difference between Artisan bread and factory products it is worth noting that factory bread contains a great deal of air and water.
In contrast, traditional breadmaking used stoneground flour from which nothing (apart from some of the bran for white bread) is removed. In the days before bakeries were able to buy yeast in a packet from specialist yeast producers, wild yeast cultures were grown in the bakery in two main ways. The sourdough system starts by allowing a flour and water mix to ferment naturally. The beer barm method, popular in England, captures some yeasts from the brewing process to make a ‘starter’. In both systems the yeast is relatively weak and used in small doses in conjunction with long fermentation periods up to 24 hours. Long fermentations, and stoneground flour underpin the flavour and nutritious quality of our breads.
KEEPING BREAD TRADITIONAL
Our bread is completely free of additives of any kind – no preservatives, no enzymes, no enhancers so how well does it keep without them?
Luckily, slow fermentation encourages the development of lactobacilli in the dough which create lactic acid, responsible for the slightly sour taste of sourdough bread. Lactic acid naturally inhibits the growth of mould therefore we expect our breads to last up to a week before signs of mould growth occur.
Bread should not be kept in a refrigerator which has a drying effect so is best kept in a bread bin at ambient temperatures. Staling is the process by which starch in the bread gradually hardens and it can be reversed by warming bread in the oven or toasting. Refreshing bread this way means you can enjoy your loaf over a number of days if you haven’t already eaten it!