Why do we make our own bread? Have you looked at the ingredient list on a store-bought loaf lately?
Canola oil, extra wheat gluten, vinegar, soy flour, emulsifiers like mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (labelled 471), Sodium Stearoyl-2-lactylate (labelled 481), preservatives like calcium acetate (labelled acidity regulator 263) and cultured dextrose, which inhibits the growth of mould, crowd out the only ingredients actually needed to make delicious, nutritious bread: flour, water, yeast (or sourdough culture) and salt.
These extra ingredients will be in premium seed-laden loaves, budget loaves, and in-store bakery loaves almost without exception. It’s no wonder manufacturers use numbers as shorthand for their additives on labels – there’d be barely any room on the label for colourful branding, meretricious health claims, and drawings of wheat sheaves. And it's not for your benefit that the additives are used.
There seems to be a huge number of people in New Zealand attempting to cut gluten out of their diets, citing bloating and discomfort from eating toast with their tea. Years of eating bread made from grains that have been stripped of their nutrients in high-speed roller mills then mixed into a dough that’s pushed through a production line at such a pace that only the corsetry of added gluten and emulsifiers can keep it together, just can’t be good for one's digestion. The bleaching and softening effects of soy flour, and the preserving effects of fungicides are like powder on the panto dame that is modern bread.
We make our bread dough from stoneground flour (see our post on why we use stoneground flour here) and give it plenty of time to ferment. Time – not commercially produced enzymes, extra gluten, emulsifiers or fungicide – is the magic ingredient that gives our bread its soft crumb, full flavour, excellent keeping qualities and digestibility.