I bake a lot of bread, by hand, and I know so much can go wrong. I use four ingredients, flour, water, salt and yeast but sometimes the bread bombs due to me not letting it rise long enough, being in a bad mood and kneading it angrily, or it simply doesn't want to work. So the idea of buying a pre-charged bread mix which will ensure a proper loaf for lunch no matter what dramas are occurring was appealing. I made a loaf and it performed beautifully. But it tasted like supermarket bread, the kind of mass-produced bread you buy encased in plastic with a low price tag.
Edmonds Onion and Herb Bread Mix. $7.49 for 1.25kg.
Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first)
This is basic flour you would use if you make bread at home.
Potato flakes (4 per cent) (sulphites)
Adding potato flakes makes the bread softer and more moist. Sulphites are listed because in the production of potato flakes a preservative containing sulphites is necessary.
Malted wheat flakes
These add a malty flavour to breads but can also help give bread a more rustic appearance.
Dried onion - there are quite a lot of these flakes in the bread mix and they provide good flavour.
Salt to which iodine has been added. Most commercial breads use iodised salt now because New Zealanders can suffer from a lack of iodine in our soil.
Gluten will help make a bread that might be quite heavy due to added ingredients, such as onion flakes or grains, keep its structure and volume.
I don't use oil in my bread but it can stop the dough from getting too elastic and developing holes in the loaf as you tend to get in breads with no oil added. It also provides some flavour.
Herbs (0.15 per cent)
It doesn't say what herbs are in here but the flavour is quite strong. I would guess rosemary.
Soy flour is often added to bread as an improver. It helps the dough texture and can make the bread quite soft.
Mineral salts (170,516)
These are calcium carbonate (170), otherwise known as chalk, which may be in here for it's white colour. The other is calcium sulphate (516), which is a soluble natural compound. Both could be in here as pH regulators or anti-caking agents.
Emulsifiers (300, 920)
These are ascorbic acid (300) which acts as an oxidant, helping to retain gas in the dough, and makes the loaf rise more and L-cysteine hydrochloride (920) which is a naturally occurring amino acid that is used in baking to create stretchier doughs.
This is where this bread mix gets interesting. Enzymes are proteins that speed up a reaction - such as curdling milk - in baking they help to make the bread lighter and keep it fresher after baking. Because they are classified as a processing aid the individual enzymes do not need to be named on product labels. The list of permitted enzymes in the NZ Food Standards code includes enzymes of animal, plant and microbial origin. There are some concerns that some of these enzymes may cause allergic reactions when consumed, but because they are not clearly identified it makes it hard for people to avoid them.
So to counter my bad moods and impatience there are a number of additives in here to ensure that this bread rises, cooks and looks great. The taste is not as good as my homemade bread but most people will probably like it.
If you don't have a breadmaker and want to make bread at the weekend, this is probably a good start but it does have an enormous amount of improvers, enzymes, emulsifiers and mineral salts to get you there. So once you've got the hang of it, do find a basic bread recipe and have a go at making it the way they made it for hundreds of years before food chemistry arrived.
• Uses bread improvers and enzymes.
• Contains potato flakes.
• You need to add yeast and water.