What’s in that bread

Ever wondered what your eating when you crunch into your toast in the morning? Well if your buying bread from the supermarket you are probably not fully aware of the ingredients and additives it includes. This week is Real Bread Week, the time to bake your own or try the very best of artisan bread.

I’ve been making my own bread for over 10 years because rarely could I get anything other than bread in a plastic wrapper. I found it made me unwell and like lots of people I assumed it was the gluten, but then I learned about all the other additives in bread and changed the type of bread I ate, to what we call real bread.  I trained with Andrew Whitley a food hero when it comes to bread.  Andrew is also leading the Scotland the Bread Campaign and planting  nutritious wheats, suitable for low-impact farming.  Ultimately this will  create better bread and help solve many of our health problems.  I have many books on making bread and my two favourite are by Andrew.




Today there is a huge choice across the country, with lots of small artisan bakeries making fantastic bread.  I recently bought some handmade sourdough bread from a lady  at the Melrose Farmers Market, which was outstanding.  She also made the most marvellous tarts – one of my weaknesses!  You can buy real bread at most of the farmers markets in the Borders as well as, Whitmuir Farm and many deli’s stock bread by the Great Northumberland Bread Company (they also run courses).

The Real Bread Campaign

Interest in baking and eating Real Bread is rising, championed by the Real Bread Campaign and


bakers like Andrew Whitley, Paul Hollywood and Richard Bertinet. The Real Bread Campaign believes that people have the right to make as fully-informed choices as possible about the food they eat.  As their website points out “if you add anything but salt to butter, you can’t call it butter; if you add anything at all to milk, it’s no longer milk. So why are we not afforded such legal protection when it comes to our daily bread?” There are three key points of law that hinder people in Britain in obtaining full information about the loaves they buy:

  1. Bakers and retailers are not required to provide customers with full lists of ingredients and any additives they use in making unwrapped loaves – e.g. those from supermarket in-store bakeries.
  2. The use of so-called processing aids can go completely undeclared, even on the ingredient and additive lists of wrapped loaves.
  3. There are no legal definitions for terms commonly used in loaf marketing, including ‘fresh’ (or ‘freshly baked’), ‘sourdough’, ‘wholegrain’, ‘artisan’ and ‘craft.’

A definition of real bread 

The Real Bread Campaign is a membership based organisation that fights for better bread in Britain. Real bread is defined as  ‘being made without the use of any artificial additives’.  The Campaign ‘seeks, finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet.’  More generally it is about ‘sharing the pleasures and benefits of locally-baked Real Bread over what we see as adulterated imitations’.  Real Bread is made with:

Flour, Water, Yeast (bakers or naturally occurring) and Salt

Some flatbreads don’t require yeasts and a few types don’t use salt. So long as additional ingredients are natural and contain no additional additives, they are fine.  Making Real Bread does not involve the use of dough conditioners, flour improves, processing aids, chemical leavening or other artificial additives.

,The Campaign is calling for an Honest Crust Act.  This would  require producers and retailers to declare in plain English exactly what has gone into the production of every loaf.  It would  create legal definitions for terms including ‘freshly baked/fresh’, ‘artisan’, ‘craft baker’ ‘traditional’ and ‘sourdough’. This will enable all of us to make a better informed choice about what to bread to eat.  Small independent, local bakeries will be able to make a clear the difference between their Real Breads and other products.

You don’t have to be a baker to join the Campaign.  There is a scale for membership fees, depending on whether your an individual or a business. Membership gives you access to their quarterly magazine True Loaf and, the Real Baker, an online forum.  P rofessional bakers can also take advantage of The Real Bread Loaf Mark scheme. If your looking for a Real Bread supplier you can use the Real Bread map.

The loaf mark

Please support the Campaign for Real Bread, buy a book and support your local artisan baker.  Or take a course and get making your own.  Remember to look out for the Loaf Mark when you buy your bread.



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