Defined by organisers the Real Bread Campaign simply as bread made without additives (see a breakdown of the rules below) real bread was previously hard to find on supermarket shelves, limited instead to artisan bakeries and home kitchens across the country.
But as more mainstream demand for the product grows, so does its presence in Britain’s biggest retailers
The rules of real bread according to the Real Bread Campaign
- Real bread can be any kind of bread, but it must not contain any additives
- It can be flatbread (with no raising agent) or raised using baker’s yeast or sourdough starter
- Any natural ingredients such as salt, seeds, nuts, cheese, herbs and oils are allowed, as long as they themselves contain no additives
- The only exceptions are the four fortifications added to milled flour by law: calcium carbonate, iron, thiamin and nicotinic acid or nicotinamide
- Real sourdough must be be raised only using a sourdough starter. Sourdough containing yeast or other additives is dubbed sourfaux, and is not classed as real bread
- Gluten-free bread can be classed as real bread, as long as it doesn’t contain additives such as baking powder or xanthan gum
Bertinet Bakery began life as a pop-up above the Bath cooking school of founder Richard Bertinet, a renowned baker and campaigner for real bread. The brand now offers a range of sliced sourdough loaves in Waitrose and Ocado, which it claims stay “fresher for longer without additives or shelf-life-enhancing preservatives” thanks to its “revolutionary” baking methods. The soft, “sandwich friendly” loaves are available in Seeded (rsps: £3.95/1.1kg & £2.25/550g), White and Malted Wheat variants (rsps: £3.50/1kg & £1.95/500g). The brand’s other products, such as crusty sourdough loaves and foccacia, can still be bought from the bakery in Bath and are also sold in select Waitrose stores.
Waitrose No.1 Sourdough range
Made using a 10-year-old levain starter dough along with water, salt and various flours, Waitrose’s entire No.1 range of sourdoughs can be classed as real bread. The sliced loaves are available in White, Spelt, Wheat & Rye, Rye & Wheat Dark Sourdough and Malt Sourdough with Seeds (rsp: £1.60-£2.50/500g). The breads are flavoured with natural ingredients such as salt, molasses and seeds.
German brand Schneider Brot has a couple of its products stocked in UK supermarkets. Its Whole Grain Rye Bread (rsp: £1.10/500g) and Organic Rye Bread With Sunflower Seeds (rsp: £1.40/500g) can be found in retailers including Waitrose, Asda and Tesco. The wheat-free breads align with the Real Bread Campaign’s guidance, containing only flour, water, salt, sourdough, seeds and yeast.
While not all of Jason’s products are classed as real bread – take its Every Day White Rolls with Sourdough, which contain flour treated with ascorbic acid – the brand has a handful of compliant products stocked in supermarkets. Its White and Grains & Seeds Ciabattin loaves (rsp: £1.80/580g) are stocked in Waitrose and Ocado, while Tesco and Ocado also carry its The Great White and Superb Sprouted Grains sourdough (rsp: £1.80/450g).
Crosta & Mollica
A trio of products from Italian brand Crosta & Mollica join the real bread ranks thanks to their simple, authentic recipes. First up is its Pane Pugliese (rsp: £1.80/400g), which contains just Italian durum wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. This Italian ‘toasting bread’ can be found in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado alongside Crosta & Mollica’s Piadina flatbreads, which come in a range of varieties (rsp: £1.90/300g). Finally, the brand’s Focaccia Panini, made with flour, water, yeast, salt and extra virgin olive oil, is available in Waitrose (rsp: £1.52/2x80g).
Based in Tottenham, north London, Celtic Bakers is an organic, wholesale bakery supplying real bread, cakes and patisserie to various eateries in the capital. Alongside its foodservice business, the bakery offers a range of sourdough through retailers including Whole Foods Market, Planet Organic and Ocado, which stocks its White, Spelt, Multiseed and Vermont half-oval loaves (rsp: £2.30-£2.90/500g).
Organic brand Biona has a five-strong range of rye breads, as well as a Pumpernickel bread, stocked in Ocado, which are all classed as real bread (rsp: £2.30-£2.35/500g). Made from a base of wholegrain rye meal, water, sourdough and salt, the various wheat-free breads are fortified with ingredients such as sunflower seeds, sprouted seeds and sugar beet syrup.
Founded in Paris in 1932, Poilâne now has four bakeries in the French capital as well as one site in Belgravia, London. The traditional business still follows recipes and practices passed down through three generations of bakers, including a slow fermentation process for its sourdough. Poilâne’s products can be purchased from its online store as well as Ocado, which stocks its sliced sourdough loaf (rsp: £3/450g) and sliced rye bread (rsp: £4.95/900g).
The Artisan Bread Co
The Real Bread Campaign makes it clear that the words ‘craft’ or ‘artisan’ on packaging don’t always guarantee that a product is real bread. However, this duo of flatbreads from Italian brand The Artisan Bread Co do fit the bill. Made with a base of flour, olive oil, sea salt and yeast with natural ingredients for flavouring, the breads can be found in Tesco in Black Olive and Chilli & Garlic variants (rsp: £1.60/75g).
‘Smart bread’ may sound high tech, but Modern Baker’s Superloaf (rsp: £2.50/800g), launched exclusively into Amazon Fresh last year, keeps things simple when it comes to ingredients. Designed to aid gut health, the low-calorie bread is made from all-natural ingredients including flour, water, sourdough, yeast and a variety of seeds, alongside salt, kelp and apple cider vinegar for flavouring. Modern Baker also offers a trio of sourdoughs, which are also classed as real bread. The Super Spelt, Social Charcoal and Seedy Seedy loaves are stocked in Ocado (rsp: £5/600g).