Our guide to bread making
Hotcourses Editor

Our guide to bread making

First published date January 14 2014 Amended date January 22 2014

They say bread making is a quick win if you are trying to sell your house – you simply pop some bread in the oven, and let the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread lure in potential buyers. And it’s true – there is something rather magical about making your own bread.

Whether you are completely new to bread making or you knead to help your baguettes and buns rise to the next level, a bread making course can help you to develop your skills.


A brief history of bread

Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods, thought to date as far back as 30,000 years ago, in the form of primitive flatbreads which would have been made with starch extracted from the roots of plants. From 10,000 BC, grains were introduced in making dough, which was either left to leaven (rise) naturally, or with the help of yeast from beer or wine. Some bread is traditionally left unleavened, like tortilla and roti - and others have particular religious connotations, like the Jewish flatbread, matzo.

Did you know? Although bread’s been around in some form or other for thousands of years, yeast was only identified relatively recently – in the 19th Century.


Fast forward several thousand years and the 20th Century has seen rapid advances in the production of bread. The first bread slicing machine was exhibited in the US in 1928, and by 1933 80% of US bread was pre-sliced and wrapped, and ‘the best thing since sliced bread’ was born.

Further technological advances in the fifties and sixties made it possible to produce bread quickly, and for very little money. Cue the rise of the supermarket loaves that we know and buy in their millions today, pre-sliced and packaged in plastic wrapping. A ‘typical’ bread today is made from a wheat-flour dough, which is cultured with yeast and allowed to rise, before being baked in an oven.  

Did you know? The method used for mass production of bread is called the Chorleywood process. Using this process, commercial bakeries can produce a loaf of bread from flour to sliced and packaged form in around three and a half hours.


In recent years there have been questions raised about the nutritional value of the type of bread mass produced bread you can pick up in your local supermarket, and an increasing demand for freshly baked bread.

Did you know? In 2009, a natural preservative for extending the shelf life of bread for up to two weeks was been patented. Before this, bread only lasted for a few days.


With the massive popularity of Great British Bake Off and other television cookery programmes, more and more of us are trying our hand at bread making in our own homes.

Did you know? 32% of bread purchased by UK households is discarded when it could be eaten. Apparently homemade and artisan bread is rarely thrown out!


What bread making courses are available?

There is a huge range of bread making courses you can choose from, and it’s really a case of taking your pick to find what suits you.

·         Basics of bread making – an introduction to the bread making process, and an opportunity to make simple breads.

·         Artisan bread making – dazzle your dinner party guests by finding out how to make the kinds of fancy pretty breads that grace the shelves of the poshest London bakeries, in your own home.

·         Other specialist bread making – you could take a very specific course and learn how to make, for example, sourdough. Or maybe French bread (sweet brioche, anyone?) or Italian bread (it’s not just pizza bases) sounds like your bag. There are even seasonal options like festive baking – we can think of worse ways to spend a December weekend than learning how to make special Christmassy breads!


What happens after a bread making course?

So, you’ve been on a course and your house smells great and your friends are impressed with your beautiful bread – what’s the next step? If you’re really passionate about baking, you might be interested in embarking on a bread making career. The types of bread and equipment you’ve probably had experience of as a home bread maker may well equip you to work as a craft baker, either for someone else or for yourself in your own bakery.

Did you know? Craft bakers bake products on a smaller scale, so the baking is more varied and more of it is done by hand.


A growing number of inspiring and enterprising individuals are also setting up food businesses from their own home. Once you mastered the basics of bread making, you have many opportunities for finding a niche in the bakery world. If you think setting up (bakery) shop’s for you, you might be interested in further study. Courses in bookkeeping, business administration or marketing and PR would stand you in good stead as you launch your own bread making business.


By Fiona Hughes