As a nation of bread lovers there’s nothing quite like the smell or taste of a freshly baked loaf. Served on its own or with a slather of butter, a spoonful of jam or morsel of cheese, a seemingly simple foodstuff is turned into a feast fit for a king.
Bread has been the staple of our diet for a long time. Around 12,000 years ago, the first form of bread was made by mixing flour and water together and then placing the mixture in the sun to bake. Later, bread was baked on heated rocks or in the hot ashes of a fire.
It was the Egyptians who are credited with using the first form of yeast. Wild yeast from the air was kept and mixed with other dough and baked to create a leavened product. Legend has it that a slave in a royal Egyptian household forgot about some dough he had set aside. When he returned, it had doubled in size. Trying to hide the mistake, the dough was punched down furiously and baked. The result was lighter bread. Soon bread was seen as a valuable commodity and quickly became a staple food source across the world.
Making your own bread is not only rewarding, its quick, easy and will save you money too. More importantly, you know the exact ingredients going into the bread you make, which in turn makes a homemade loaf higher in nutritional content and value.
Bread is simple to make from scratch, but a bread maker will take care of the entire process for you. This includes the kneading, rising and baking.
There are machines that even have a crust setting, such as the Kenwood BM450 Rapid Bake Bread Maker, Stainless Steel which creates different textured bread. You can choose one that is lightly baked, a golden brown, or a dark crunchy crust.
As bread has evolved over the ages, so have the different tastes and flavours you can now expect to find in loaves. Artisan breads are becoming increasingly popular in high street bakeries and even supermarkets. Why not think about experimenting with some of your own creations? You can add almost anything to the mixture - olives, herbs, dried fruits or nuts. Look out for bread makers that have fruit and nut dispensers such as the Cuisinart CBK250U Bread Maker which automatically dispense these ingredients into the dough.
The Panasonic SD-2500WXC Bread Maker, White offers specialist baking programmes. It can produce a brioche loaf, pizza dough and even has a unique mode for various grain and flour types, perfect for sourdough or bran flour bread.
If you suffer with allergies or intolerances, this bread maker is ideal. A gluten free setting allows you to make the perfect loaf, catered to your own dietary requirements.
Look out for other bread essentials that will leave you hungry for that delicious, homemade slice:
For more inspiration, watch our video on baking gadgetry.