There is nothing more appetizing than the smell of freshly baked. It makes you hungry, you long to eat a slice hot with just real butter and you care not that it will give indigestion. Trouble is, these days, in the United Kingdom, most people rarely eat home baked bread. They eat something from the supermarket that purports to be bread but is in fact, something masquerading as bread. To examine this preference for an inferior product one must look back to the Industrial Revolution.
During the Industrial Revolution in The United Kingdom, there was a vast movement of people from villages into industrial towns, to find work in the new factories. Two up, two down terraced houses were hurriedly built for the new factory workers. When people lived in rural villages, women had made their bread at home. Many women now worked long hours in factories and mills, and in any case, there is no room in a tiny, two up two down terraced house for a bread oven. Traditional baker’s shops could not cope with the increased demand for bread in industrial towns. Remember too that people ate much more bread than they do now; bread was the major part of poor people’s diets.
Bread factories were established to bake bread, in large amounts, and manufacturers inevitably set out to ‘improve’ bread by making a product that would stay fresher longer. Eventually, manufacturers arrived at the ready sliced white, pappy plastic ‘loaves’ that most families, in Britain today call ‘bread’. It arrives in the supermarkets ready sliced in a gay plastic bag. It is nothing like bread. It stays soft and moist for a long time. If you take a fresh slice of this stuff and roll it between your hands, it turns into dough, in a home baked loaf that would be evidence of bad bread. This type of Factory made bread has little taste and the reason that it stores well and stays soft is that it is full of additives and preservatives. Look at the list of ingredients on the label of one of these ‘loaves’, it may frighten you. Unless you have a degree in chemistry, you will not understand what many of the ingredients are. Real bread contains flour, yeast, salt, sugar, water or milk, and maybe a little butter.
When you make your own bread, you control the ingredients that go into your bread. Bread is a living growing thing and the staff of life. Whether you make it by hand or in a bread-making machine, you can tailor your bread to your own family’s exact tastes and make any type of loaf that you like. When you make bread yourself, you know exactly what you and your family are eating.
The ubiquitous British white sliced supermarket plastic loaf is not bread at all. Homemade bread is better than store bought bread because it contains no chemical additives or preservatives, the taste of homemade bread is divine, the smell is wonderful and everyone enjoys freshly baked bread.