Nothing beats the smell of fresh bread; a loaf's soft fluffy texture matched with the crusty exterior… it's making our mouths water just thinking about it.
But how often do you make your own bread?
In celebration of Real Bread Week (23rd February - 3rd March) we've teamed up with Juliette Kellow, registered Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant for Panasonic, to give you 10 reasons why baking your own bread should be part of your weekly routine!
1. You have complete control over the ingredients
Making your own loaf means you decide exactly what goes into it. Tailoring the ingredients to suit you and your family’s preferences and dietary needs makes it super-easy to keep track of any allergens.
Plus, it’s great news if you suffer from intolerances. For example, if you need to follow a gluten-free or nut-free diet, you can guarantee those ingredients don’t go into your loaf.
2. It’s a food we should be eating more of
Low-carb diets might be all the rage right now. But the truth is, health guidelines in the UK continue to recommend that just over a third of our calories should come from carbohydrates, preferably wholegrains and starchy, high-fibre ones. This means carbs should definitely be on the menu for most people – and bread is a great choice, especially if you make it with wholegrains such as wholemeal flour!
3. You can reduce salt
Although manufacturers have done a good job at reducing the amount of salt in products, bread remains the main provider of it within our diet; just under a fifth of the sodium (the component of salt that’s linked to high blood pressure) from food is supplied by bread, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey.
Making your own bread means you can control how much salt goes into your loaf and allows you to add less if you want to.
4. You can boost fibre
Most of us don’t receive anywhere near enough fibre in our diet – a nutrient that’s important for keeping our digestive system healthy and helping us to manage our weight thanks to its ability to help fill us up. Health guidelines in the UK recommend we have 30g a day but, on average, adults have just 18g.
Bread is a fantastic way to boost intakes if you use wholemeal or other fibre-rich flours such as rye or buckwheat. You can also add fibre-rich extras, such as nuts, seeds, oats, dried fruit and even sun-dried tomatoes.
5. You can adapt slice sizes
Your daughter likes thick slices of toast for breakfast, your son likes thinly sliced bread for sandwiches and your husband likes a doorstop-sized hunk of bread with soup for lunch! That’s the beauty of making your own bread, rather than buying pre-sliced loaves. You and your family can simply cut different sized slices of homemade bread to suit personal preferences.
6. It uses less plastic packaging
As the war on plastic continues, you can reduce the amount of plastic you buy through baking your own loaves. While most supermarket loaves come in a plastic bag which can be difficult to recycle, a simple home-baked loaf can be stored in a reusable container, or a bread bin.
7. It’s easier than you think
If you watch The Great British Bake Off, you’d be forgiven for thinking that making bread is pretty difficult. But the reality is, when you’re not faced with a five hour Showstopper challenge, it’s really quite simple!
In fact, there are just a few key ingredients needed to make bread: flour, yeast, salt and water.
The process can be lengthy, as you need to leave most doughs to prove a couple of times, but the actual hands-on time is quite short and many people get a lot of enjoyment from the action of kneading dough.
Of course, using a breadmaker, such as the Panasonic Hard-Crust Breadmaker, is the ultimate time-saver. Just pop all the ingredients in, switch on the machine and enjoy a perfectly cooked homemade loaf several hours later!
8. It’s fresh
Eating fresh, unprocessed food is the cornerstone of healthy eating – and it doesn't come fresher than a loaf that is straight out of the oven or breadmaker! For many people, it’s also important to know exactly what’s in their food. Making your own bread gives you this peace of mind and means you can be confident it only contains ingredients you and your family are familiar with.
9. It’s delicious
There’s no getting away from the fact that fresh, homemade bread tastes and smells delicious – and that’s good for keeping us happy. Filling your home with the smell of freshly baked bread is even one of the tips that estate agents recommend when trying to sell a house.
In a survey conducted by The Big Yellow Storage company, home buyers considered it to be more important than even removing furniture to make rooms look bigger and putting an expensive car on the driveway!
10. It’s often cheaper
A typical loaf costs around 50-60p to make from scratch at home – that’s a lot less than many sliced loaves, and those from the bakery section of local supermarkets and independent, artisan bakeries.