You might know that you need flour and yeast to make bread, but how is bread made? In fact, where does flour come from? And what on earth is yeast? Let’s take a look at the process of making bread, from field to breadboard.
What is Bread Made out of?
The main ingredients in bread are:
Yeast is a member of the funghi family (just like the mushroom) and it is a living organism. Yeast is actually called a microorganism because it is so small. You can buy it in the shops either dried or live, but we tend to use dried yeast as it keeps in our cupboards for longer. Yeast is what we use to make our bread rise. You can find out more about the science of yeast in bread making, by clicking here.
What is Flour Made From?
Flour is made by grinding grains. This is called milling. The flour we use most often is made from wheat grains, but you can get flour made from corn, rye, rice, and other grains. Millers used to grind these grains between two large stones to make flour–the top one pressing down and rotating against the one underneath. Milling in factories today is done by steel rollers. Once you sieve out the straw, small stones, and outer part of the grain, you are left with white flour. If you leave in the outer part of the grain then you have brown (or wholemeal) flour.
How Can We Make Bread at Home?
Simple! You don’t even need to use a loaf tin if you don’t have one.
- 450g bread flour/strong flour
- 7g dried yeast
- 300ml warm water
- 1tsp sugar
- 1tsp salt
Let’s Get Going
1. Put the water into a large mixing bowl first, followed by all the other ingredients. Keep the salt and yeast separate though–salt kills yeast.
2. Start by mixing everything together with a fork, then when it starts to come together into a rough dough, get your hands in the bowl and make sure you mix the dough until it’s smooth.
3. Scatter flour on your worksurface and put the dough on it. Stretch it out, fold it, push it down, and turn the dough around–this is called kneading. Keep doing this until you can feel the dough is getting stretchy.
4. Put it back in the bowl and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel. Leave for 1 hour–this is called proving and gives the yeast a chance to get to work.
6. Put your dough on your worksurface again and either shape it into a round loaf, or put it into a loaf tin.
7. Cover with clingfilm again and leave for 45 minutes–this is the second prove. (After 30 minutes, set the oven to the hottest temperature).
8. Put your loaf into the oven for 25-30 minutes. You can tell it’s done if you knock the bottom and the loaf sounds hollow. Leave to cool.
And that’s how you turn five simple ingredients into bread!
How is Bread Made in a Factory?
Bread in a factory is made in much the same way, but on a much larger scale and by using machines to do all the work–you’d have really sore arms kneading that much dough in a day! Additives, preservatives, dough conditioners and improvers are also added to traditional bread ingredients in order to make the loaves of bread last longer on supermarket shelves and to help the loaves rise more evenly in the oven.
Jets of steam are directed to the bread too, to give it a soft and even crust.
Our homemade bread might only last for a day or two once it’s baked, but I bet it tastes sooo much better than the packaged loaves in the supermarket.