/ Food & Drink

Why I hate supermarket sliced and packaged bread

Why I hate supermarkets

There is a huge array of plastic-wrapped sliced pap in supermarkets that tries to pretend it’s bread. But I know better. My breadmaker produces a loaf that has a gorgeous crust and a tasty, soft innard that smells divine.

It’s perfect for toast and for cutting off hunks to mop up bean juice or dunking in eggs. Give it a day to mature, and I can slice it thinly enough for sandwiches, too.

I also know exactly what’s in it – flour, one teaspoon of salt, a little bit of butter, water, and a teaspoon of yeast. And that’s it.

Sliced and packaged bread, however, as well as flour, usually contains unknown quantities of yeast (they don’t tell you how much on the packet), vegetable oil including palm oil, plus extra E numbers that I don’t understand. It tastes awful; like softened polystyrene. And weirdly, it takes ages to go off (even if it’s not a 60-day loaf!) which I don’t trust.

Bread making is easy and saves you money!

It only takes a couple of minutes to make your own loaf if you have a breadmaker, as you just add the ingredients to the pan and let the machine do the hard work. And once you’ve forked out for the breadmaker itself, it also works out cheaper to make your own. You can buy 1.5Kg of bread flour for as little as £1.10, which makes nearly four loaves. A 100g pot of dried yeast is £1.

Which is just as well, as buying proper bread is really expensive. As I found out when I tried to buy a loaf in an artisan bakery. I may love bread, but I still expect to receive change when I hand over a note.

Best breadmakers

I’ve got a Best Buy breadmaker and it’s worth every penny. I use it every other day and it’s never let me down, reliably producing quality loaves whenever I want them. I’m glad my kids are growing up knowing what real bread tastes like and won’t think the bread they sell in the supermarket is the real thing.

You can watch our video to get some tips on making bread – such as what type of flour to use.

Sliced bread sales are falling

Sales of sliced, packaged bread have taken a nosedive recently, with a combined £120m drop in sales from the three biggest brands. Some of this is probably down to people choosing to consumer fewer carbs, but I bet you a big chunk of it is because people are wondering why they’re forking out for something that tastes so awful.

Have you used a breadmaker to make your own bread? What did you think of the results – was it easy to use and did you notice a difference in how the bread tasted?


I stopped using my breadmaker ages ago because its fresh baked loaves were too yummy to resist.

Instead, I now prefer to buy organic unsliced loaves from Sainburys.

wev says:
12 May 2015

There hasn’t been a new breadmaker review in 2 years. When is Which going to start reviewing more?

Afternoon wev, and thanks for you post.

I’ve checked our schedule to see if we’ll be testing any further breadmakers in the near future – It seems there’s none to be tested relatively soon. However last year, we did update the information on existing breakmaker reviews, and next month we’ll be updating the content about buying the best breadmaker, as well making the most of it.

We have a breadmaker a Morphy Richards 48210 serial number 90001569 bought possibly a decade ago. It is a substantial sized machine being 15*9 inches footprint and 14″tall.

The bread is actually fine however the shape and the perpetual hole in every loaf from the paddle are annoying. So for the last four years or so we have been making bread using the Kenwood mixer and using commercial breadmixes which we tamper with to get the loaves we prefer. About 59p per loaf. We normally cook two at a time to maximise value.

Would it be useful for Which? to provide subscribers with a comparison of taste and costs between oven-made bread and machines. We prefer the oven-baked and though slightly more time and skill is required well worth the effort.

BTW I note the serial number of my machine is 1569 and I wondered what data Which? had collected on the penetration rate of breadmakers in the population. Of course there are probably more like us who own a breadmaker but do not use it so that is a question to be asked.

The Which? Annual Small Appliance Survey does not to ask if you actually use the machines you own. It does ask about reliability and if it asked about breadmakers it has been completely fault free for the last four years. : )

I agree with the comment about the unwanted hole in the bottom of a loaf so I use our Panasonic breadmaker to make the dough and go from there. There is lots of really good advice available on the Internet. There are also many excellent recipes.

Hugo says:
13 May 2015

Mine is the Lakeland Breadmaker Plus purchased Dec. 2014. . I have been making bread for a number of years and find that if I follow the Lakeland recipes to the letter then the dough is too soft and really appears almost like a batter in the machine which means adding more flour. I now do not add the full quantity of liquid as per the recipe and I find that helps to get a good dough mixture which produces a good round topped loaf. I am therefore very pleased with the Lakeland machine which has a set of removable digital scales which is very convenient. My current favourite flour is the Granary Flour from Aberfeldy Mill in Perthshire–very lovely flavour !!

NukeThemAll says:
13 May 2015

I use a Panasonic breadmaker, generally to make the dough, and then I do the final prove/bake in a tin. Reasons for making own bread: vastly reduce the salt content. You don’t actually need **any** salt in bread if that’s to your taste. No, really, you don’t. Recipes work just fine if salt is deliberately or accidentally omitted. Try it if you don’t believe me…… I can also get the texture I want (I prefer very open) and the crust (I really like my loaves with a very dark, thick crust). Problems? Only a few times with a certain well-known brand of wholemeal flour, I got a ‘brick’, but a quick bit of internet research, yes, it was the flour, insufficient gluten content for UK-sourced flour because of a poor harvest. Easily solved by using a different brand, which uses the ‘stronger’ Canadian flour. I also make rolls and french bread (I have a dedicated french bread tin – easy to find on-line). The bread maker has probably paid for itself many times over, but to be honest, I don’t worry about the economics – I have bread just how I want it!

Maybe rather than testing breadmakers, Which? could try testing different brands of flour. I have a Panasonic too, and love it because it does overnight loaves far better than my old machine. But I haven’t really noticed that much difference between flour brands, I tend to buy the supermarket own brand from which ever shop I happen to be in at the time. Will try adding less salt though to see what happens.

Ida Bentley says:
14 May 2015

I gave my Panasonic bread maker away preferring to use the dough hook on my Kenwood Chef mixer and using Paul Hollywood’s approach to bread making. Works every time and I can choose the shape of my loaf.

Ida Bentley says:
14 May 2015

As for flour I choose one with a high proportion of protein. You can sometimes get Mathews Cotswold flour at Aldi for £1.59 for a 1.5Kg bag rather than the usual £4 a bag. Their eight grain flour is to die for and is 14% protein.

Just an update on breadmakers and something you may be able to help us with. We’ve just confirmed that we are going to test them again in the next few months. We’d be interested to know if there are particular models that people are interested in.

It would be useful if you commented in the reports on the ability of the bread makers to produce gluten-free loaves. This would need to include a test to find out how well they perform in making them.

Apologies for the delay in responding tonyp. I’d like to thank you for highlighting bread makers and gluten-free loaves – From the 14 models we’ve tested, I’m glad to let you know that 11 of these have this feature.

I really can’t stand supermarket bread, it only has two purposes – Toast, or feeding the birds/ducks (which I haven’t done since I was a young boy, plus I now know it’s not good for them!). However when I can, I’ll make a visit to the local bakery and buy a delicious, freshly-baked loaf – Yum!

When are sewing machines going to be featured again?

Hi diesel, sewing machines are slightly off topic on this article…. however, not to worry! I’ve checked with our Home Research and Editorial team and they’ve confirmed that we might test them again in future, but there’s no imminent plans yet. 🙂

I make my bread by hand and find it very therapeutic. I try and get the strongest flour available, I use fresh yeast and bake in the tins that my grandmother used. One of my ideas of heaven is to take the crust of a loaf fresh from the oven and cover it in butter, to be eaten while it is still steaming hot. I don’t recommend this for anyone who suffers from indigestion. Sadly, I don’t have time to bake regularly and when the freezer is empty I resort to shop bread for a while. You can buy plastic pap, but there are loaves out there that make an effort to be interesting in taste and texture, so I wouldn’t be quite as hard and crusty as Lisa is. My brother swears by his bread maker and I’ll probably get one when I become too old and feeble to kneed the dough.

I like the sound of your tasty, crusty, freshly-baked loaf. On top of the butter I would add Marmite. The piquant flavour enriches the experience no end.

If you think commercial sliced loaves are not very good, try gluten-free bread! Since being diagnosed as having coeliac disease I have been trying to find a source of bread that is even close to the standard white loaf and as for things like nice crusty baguettes, forget it.

I thought I would see what is available and I think the Coeliac UK site looks very neat. Though it must be an absolute curse to suffer.

” You can also eat processed foods which don’t contain gluten, such as ready meals and soups. Our Food and Drink Directory lists around 15,000 of these.

Some ingredients are confusing as they can be made from wheat but the final ingredient is gluten-free, for example glucose syrup. Read more about information on labels and ingredients like this here.

Our Gluten-free Checklist can help you identify which foods are safe, download a copy on the right hand side of this page.

There are also gluten-free substitute foods available, such as specially made gluten-free bread, flour, pasta, crackers and biscuits. These are available on prescription, in the Free From section of the supermarkets and health food stores.”

It’s surprising just how many gluten-free products are available, not just those which are naturally gluten-free but also those where alternative ingredients have been used. Sainsbury’s and Tesco, in particular, have very large ranges of products. No possibility of receiving the benefits of the low cost supermarkets though, I guess the turn-over would be too small to attract them. One problem is that the products using alternative ingredients are more expensive than the regular equivalents. So far, the only real problem area concerns bread, the removal of gluten really does result in an inferior product. Perhaps this is an area that Which? could investigate.

I understand that shop bread may not be as good as home made or artisan but surely some bread is reasonably palatable. What about whole grain bread 100%? Cannot believe there has not been a test of the many choices of bread available at supermarkets.

As a child I can remember that the baker’s van stocked ‘Mother’s Pride’ and no wholemeal bread. The local shops were not much better. Even supermarkets usually have respectable bread available these days. My biggest concern about supermarket bread is that I have no idea of how much salt it contains.