In the 1960s, food technology took over from the baker’s craft and local bakeries disappeared. So, too, did fresh bread delivered daily to your door. Bread became a factory product – conveniently sliced, hygienically wrapped in plastic and complete with additives to keep it “fresh” for a week or sometimes even longer.
Factory-made bread is cheap and convenient, but manufacturers are increasingly aware that consumers may prefer the flavour, texture and aroma of traditionally baked bread.
Lawson’s claims its bread is “baked in the spirit and traditions of country Australia”, while Abbott’s Village Bakery nostalgically “remembers the days of simple, honest bread fresh from your local bakery”.
However, the rhetoric is way ahead of reality, because in our blind taste test, stripped of their faux brown paper packaging, these brands scored less well than many of those breads without pretensions of tradition.
Value of wholegrains
“Wholegrains” doesn’t just refer to the grains you can see in multigrain bread. “Wholegrains” means just that – every part of the grain, including the bran and germ. These parts of the grain contain the nutrients – fibre, vitamins, minerals and a host of antioxidants and other phytochemicals – that are proven to protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. These nutrients are retained when grains are milled into wholemeal flour but discarded in the manufacture of refined white flour.
Unfortunately, most multigrain breads also contain nutrient-poor white flour. Even among the healthier breads in our taste test, 40% fall into this category. The amount of dietary fibre is a good guide to the level of wholegrains in your bread. As an indication, wholemeal bread made entirely from wholemeal flour contains about 6.4g of dietary fibre per 100g, while multigrain breads may contain less or more, depending on the white fl our content. So always check the nutrition panel on the packaging and choose brands with 6g or more of fibre per 100g.