The rise of the loaf

Bread is back. From trendy delis selling artisan loaves to home bakers rolling up their sleeves and baking their own. Then there’s a certain TV baking show. We chart the rise of the loaf….

10 Aug 2015


A brief history of bread – from the simple to spectacular  

Bread has been our staple foodstuff for millennia – the first (very primitive) breads were eaten by Stone Age folk!

Although most bread is essentially just a combination of flour, yeast and water, its capacity to reinvent itself is astonishing.

The right balance of flour to liquid is vital for good dough

The rise of the sliced white loaf

Bread was tough, stale and hard to slice in the post-war austerity years. So when the bouncy, soft, pre-sliced loaf was launched in the early 60s it was indeed the best thing since sliced bread.  

As well as being softer it also kept fresh for much longer, and was cheap to buy. It used a technique called the Chorleywood Bread Process, which introduced additives and industrial processes to bread-making.

Use your loaf – the artisan baker

As times changed so did our tastes for bread. The sliced white loaf will always have its place, but we began to instead crave something a bit more traditional – bread that was made by hand, not machine.  

What is artisan bread?

Artisan is a catch-all term that generally suggests something that’s been made with care and expertise using quality ingredients. It’s the way the bread is made, rather than its type.

It favours traditional processes and techniques – the loaves have longer to ferment and are made by hand without preservatives.  

About more than just butties

It’s all about the bread with an artisan loaf. Its special ingredients, and the care that’s gone into making it, take it beyond the humble holder of sandwich filling.  


  • Focaccia baked with olives and tomatoes and cut into great wedges
  • A huge hunk of crusty sourdough served with a hearty winter soup
  • Slices of walnut loaf served with cheese and biscuits

Of course, they make amazing sandwiches too.

A sliced white loaf can't compete with proper home baked bread

Take a tip from the celeb chefs and bake your own

Love bread? Try making your own. It’s just flour, yeast and water after all. There’s no shortage of celebrity bakers telling us how it’s done – Jamie Oliver, Paul Hollywood, Lorraine Pascale and Rachel Khoo have all created their own variations of home-baked bread. You can start with a basic white loaf and move on to artisan-style loaves.

Why make bread at home?

  • The smell of freshly baked bread filling your home. It’s Britain’s favourite smell – according to research from decorating brand Harris.
  • It’s super-easy. A regular white loaf is easy to make – you just need flour, water, yeast and salt and the strength to knead it. Basic white loaf recipe 
  • It’s really cheap. You can bake your own classic white loaf for not very much at all

Make life easier with a stand mixer to prepare your dough. You’ll make light work of your kneading with the dough hook on the Kenwood kMix KMX52

Why not consider the NEFF B44s32N3GB Slide and Hide Electric Oven

What about using a breadmaker?

You’d love to make bread at home, but you can’t face all the faff of hand mixing, kneading and proving? It’s much easier with a breadmaker.

The mixing, kneading, proving and baking is all done in the same machine. And although you’re not making by hand, you can create artisan-like loaves in many models.

Did you know? Prime Minister David Cameron bakes his own bread in a breadmaker. Imagine the scent of freshly baked bread wafting through 10 Downing Street!

A breadmaker we love: You can bake artisan-like loaves as well as the standard white in this Panasonic breadmaker. It has a speciality mode for using different flours and adding grains, and you can set it to bake overnight – wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread. Check out the Panasonic SD-2500 breadmaker

Learn how to make your own soda bread with this simple infographic


Ready to turn out your first loaf? Find the right tech

Discover everything you need to be a top baker.