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Why You Should Join the ‘Real Bread’ Revolution

Publisher - Great British Food Awards
published by

Dani R

Sep 20, 2021
8 minutes to read

We spoke to Ilgin Beaton, bread baker and owner of Just Sourdough, about her interest in sourdough baking, and the importance of the Real Bread Campaign

When (and why) did you first become interested in making sourdough?

I’ve always been interested in healthy eating and knowing where my food came from hence I have been baking different types of bread, albeit in a bread machine, and using organic baker’s yeast since 2004. Despite knowing how natural and delicious sourdough is, like many others, I shied away from making sourdough bread thinking that I worked hard and wouldn’t be able to fit it around my busy life.

Then my twins came along and I became a stay at home mum. When they started school I suddenly had more time and as I developed my interest and knowledge, I realised how much of a misconception it was that sourdough is very time consuming. Even though the bread requires an overnight rise, it can still be squeezed into a busy schedule or simply kept for the weekends. This inspired me further to spread the word and encourage others to bake their own sourdough bread.

What’s the science behind sourdough? How does mixing bread and water make beautifully risen loaves?

Yeasts and bacteria are all around us, and milling grains incorporates them into flour. You don’t need commercial yeast! Instead, by adding water, you can nurture wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria in the flour that are good for breadmaking, and create a thriving sourdough starter culture. The yeast growth means the cells give off carbon dioxide, which makes dough rise, while other by-products of both the yeast and bacteria can have a beneficial effect on the flavour, texture and aroma of the baked bread. Genuine sourdough may go stale more slowly, and a growing body of evidence suggests that there might be nutritional and other health benefits to eating genuine sourdough bread.

Why do you think people should learn to bake their own bread?

Making a loaf of sourdough bread with an active starter (or baker’s yeast) allows you to take control of what does (and doesn’t) go into the food you and your family eat. Breadmaking can be economical, fun and even therapeutic. Also when the pandemic hit and our ‘survival’ instinct kicked in, we realised that baking is a life skill as well. Although you can use some special kit, like bread proofing baskets, all you really need is flour and water.

Why is homemade bread better for you than shop bought bread?

For the reasons mentioned above. Fantastic bread can be bought from Real Bread bakeries. It’s industrial loaf products sold as ‘bread’ that we worry about. There are too many questions over the additives they use. When it comes to buying sourdough, people need to make sure they’re getting the real thing. Some products are called ‘sourdough’, but are made quickly using industrial yeast and other raising agents like baking soda; they’re what the Real Bread Campaign calls ‘sourfaux’. The reduction, or absence, of sourdough fermentation means that the organic acids and biochemical changes necessary for any of the potential benefits can’t happen sufficiently, or at all.

What is the ‘real bread’ campaign and why is it important?

The Real Bread Campaign is run by the food and farming charity Sustain. It defines bread as being made without additives. From this simple, universally-accessible starting point, the Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet.

This includes promoting local Real Bread bakeries that help keep our high streets alive, calling for more research into the potential benefits of sourdough bread making, and encouraging people to seize control by making their own delicious, nutritious bread at home.

In support of shoppers and small bakery owners, the Campaign calls for an Honest Crust Act of improved loaf labelling law. This would include the requirement for retailers to display full ingredients lists for all loaves, and meaningful legal definitions of marketing terms including bread, freshly-baked, wholegrain, artisan and sourdough.

Need Recipe Inspiration?

Image for blog - Why You Should Join the ‘Real Bread’ Revolution

Why not have a go at making this double chocolate sourdough loaf? The bittersweet dark chocolate chips pair perfectly with the tangy bread!

See Chocolate Sourdough Recipe

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