Bread only has four basic ingredients although others can be added. The four main ingredients are flour, yeast, salt and water.
Flour is by far the most important ingredient so try to buy the best organic flour you can afford. Wheat prices have soared recently, but remember, the cost of a loaf made at home is roughly half that of shop bought bread.
Check for any additives especially with white flour, as they may have bleaching agents added to make them whiter – how pointless! If you can find it, organic stoneground flour is best.
Wheat flour is the most common type of flour in the UK. A grain of wheat is actually a seed consisting of 3 parts: bran, germ and endosperm. The bran is the tough outer skin, the germ is the embryonic wheat plant and the endosperm is used as a food source by the germ in early development. The bran is a rich source of protein, the germ a good source of vitamins, and the endosperm a great source of carbohydrates, plus some protein, minerals and oil.
Why is this important? Well, all these components have an effect on the bread making process, and as a scientist myself I like to understand what is going on during the process, and in this way you will give the whole task more respect. Also, understanding what your kneading is doing will almost certainly make you a better baker. I will explain a little more next time…