Sourdough bread was once a rare find, saved for specialist shops and on-trend cafes. However, over the last few years, the delicious bread has become a weekly buy for many – or bake, if you’ve jumped on the sourdough making bandwagon, as so many did during the lockdown. And it’s now become a hugely influential factor in where people shop or dine.
Supplier of frozen bakery products, Délifrance, has taken a deep dive into the bread category in its latest bread report, aptly named, Prove it. The report highlights key category trends, including what consumers want from the bread market, in and out of home, as well as the rise of the nation’s love for sourdough and just why it has become so popular.
Bread is so much more than something to hold your sandwich filling. It’s something to be celebrated, savoured and enjoyed. Many establishments serve bread to customers at the beginning of a meal, which sets the tone for the rest of the experience. If that bread doesn’t have the right amount of crunch on the outside and soft springiness on the inside, it could affect the customer’s opinion of the whole meal…
With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that according to the Prove it report 95% of consumers say taste is one of their top three reasons for buying bread, and almost half (49%) saying it’s the number one reason why they buy a particular type of bread.
Health and wellness are also key, with almost a fifth of consumers choosing their bread for the additional benefits it has, not to mention simple, natural ingredients… one of the main reasons that our air-bubble filled sourdough bread is so popular.
Sourdough uses very few ingredients. In fact, a basic sourdough bread contains just flour, water and salt. If you’re not in the 33% of the nation that’s considered making sourdough in the last year, you may be wondering where the yeast is… This is one of the reasons sourdough is so great.
The rise (those big bubbles) comes from a natural fermentation process between the flour and the water. You may have heard people talking about their ‘starter’ or ‘mother dough’ (and being very protective over it).
A starter is a mixture of flour and water in equal parts, which owners ‘feed’ daily, discarding a little each time too. Over a week or so, the fermentation process really gets going and the starter will double in size. When it gets to this stage, it’s ready to bake with.
Some people will then make a ‘leaven’, where a little of the starter is added to small quantities of flour and water, to get it really ‘active’. They will then use this to make their sourdough bread, which traditionally just has flour, water and salt in it. You may hear people talking about ‘percentages’, and ‘hydration’, which is when it starts to sound complicated… but it’s really just flour and water.
If you’ve nursed your starter right, and given the dough the love and attention it needs, the result is a thing of beauty: A rustic, crispy loaf of bread, slightly chewy and with a hint of sourness. Once you’ve mastered the ultimate sourdough loaf, that’s when it’s time to experiment: pizza bases, focaccias, sourdough rye bread, wholemeal sourdough, sourdough crumpets… you’ll be amazed at just what you can do with a perfectly active sourdough starter (and how good it tastes).
If baking your own sourdough sounds like a lot of effort, don’t worry, there are lots of establishments you can get your sourdough from these days, like Délifrance.
Bread is eaten throughout the day: as toast for breakfast, as a sandwich at lunch, and as a side to dinner. Délifrance expects specialist breads like sourdough to continue to grow in popularity, so if they’re not on your menu, you could be missing out on a large slice of the market – research shows that better quality options could encourage 23% of consumers to eat more bread.
To help get you started, here’s some innovative and delicious ways to add sourdough to your menu:
- Toasted sourdough with smashed avocado, feta and chilli flakes
- Toasted sourdough with fresh sliced figs, soft goats cheese, a drizzle of honey and toasted crushed pistachios
- Toasted sourdough with sliced avocado, poached eggs and smoked salmon (a true breakfast staple)
- Shakshuka with fresh sourdough
- Turkish eggs with fresh sourdough
- Folded eggs with chorizo on toasted sourdough
- The ultimate breakfast sandwich: two slices of toasted sourdough, chilli jam, bacon, fried egg, crunchy lettuce
- Toasted sourdough, with homemade baked beans, crumbled feta and fresh parsley
- Toasted sourdough with peanut butter and sliced banana
- Toasted sourdough with fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, crumbled feta, and a balsamic glaze
- Open sourdough sandwich with beetroot hummus, sliced avocado, feta and toasted pumpkin seeds
- Sourdough cheese toasty: finish it in a pan with butter to get the sides really crispy
- Pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and mustard sourdough sandwich
- Panzanella salad with leftover sourdough cut-offs
- Sourdough focaccia steak sandwich with horseradish cream and rocket
- Upgrade your soup dipping bread for a chunk of seedy sourdough
- Sourdough sandwich with grilled aubergine, mozzarella, pesto and sundried tomatoes
- Toasted sourdough with chilli jam, mushrooms, spinach and a poached egg
- Toasted sourdough with ricotta, sliced nectarines and honey
- Serve warm as an entrée with golden olive oil and/or good salty butter (try whipped marmite butter for something different)
- Sourdough baked camembert bowl: literally scoop out the middle of a round loaf and place your oozing camembert inside
- Upgrade your salads with sourdough croutons
- Sourdough pizzas: try premium toppings like parma ham, mushrooms and mozzarella (truffle oil if you’re feeling fancy)
- Use leftovers crusts of cut-offs as a crumb for bakes
Download the full bread report at www.delifrance.com/uk