Modern-day Designer Bread

The story behind how bread went from a middle-age staple to the modern, colourful loaves we see today.

Bread, that most ancient food, staple diet for millennia, has not escaped the 21st century disruption trend.

Traditional recipes have been handed down for centuries, and types of bread even defined national cultures. Think of the French loaf, long and crispy, or the German Dark breads, heavy and nutritious. Middle Eastern Flat breads and pizza, unleavened breads and not to forget the breakfast staple, toasted breads.

As with many things in the 1970’s, the wheels started falling off regarding many traditions.

Tradition per se was disrupted, and mass transport, packaging and massive food processing plants ushered in fast foods, convenient foods, and affordable foods. Quality and food value took a bit of a knock in the process.

In fact, the deviation of bread from its traditional role of being a staple food, was so great, that by the 1990’s, the South African legislated that food value, vitamins etc. be put BACK into bread.

Additives added complications as consumers especially in South Africa viewed white breads as aspirational, while at the same time these were in the category of most requiring so replenishment of goodness. The additives would change colour, and colour change would discourage the consumer away from their first choice.

Around 2009 a major Flour and Bread producer approached us for a new method of grading cake and bread flour, partially to enable multi-site standardisation, and partly to enable retailers and consumers a clear distinguishable quality choice.

Grading was to be by colour, from the whitest of flours for cakes, to the darker bran colour of fortified breads and everything in between.

Spectral data was no longer accurate enough to distinguish between one standard and another, so we suggested moving beyond just spectral data to using a so called “Colour Space” value to accurately describe flour colour in mathematical terms.

Precise, scalable to many sites, and accurate from instrument to instrument, it took about two years working in close partnership to come to a “Standard” scale.

After around 10 years of experience in the field, this scale has been adopted by a number of companies in the flour processing industry, and has now extended to spices, malts and beverage colour grading.

Lately, while many food colourants have been banned, innovative companies have developed intense clear colours. This has lead to an outburst of baked breads, cakes, rolls and muffins in all the colours of the rainbow. Needless to say, we are in the middle of this food colour tsunami.

We can tell you a lot about the colour, we decline the discussion around what they do to your waistline and we will be happy to assist you managing your own “Rainbow” foods.

Which bread is still your favourite?
The gummy corner café white loaf?
The artisanal grain loaf with seeds?

Tell us what you like, share a recipe – Let’s talk bread!

Here we share the 10 Reasons Why South Africa’s Largest Millers and Bakers use Konica Minolta Sensing Instruments to measure colour!

Curious about how we helped developed South Africa’s Flour Colour Grading System? Read the full story here!