A Few Good Reasons Why Home Baking is Better than Buying

Firstly, when you begin baking, either from a recipe you’ve found or created, you have a list of all of the ingredients right there in front of you. You know exactly how much of what is going to go into your food. You are the one doing the baking; there are no secrets, no mysterious e-numbers and no fats or sugars with unpronounceable names the length of a baguette. These days with the rise in food allergies and intolerances, people are becoming more aware that the foods we buy often contain far more ingredients that we previously imagined. Let’s face it, who checks the list of ingredients on a packet of crumpets, muffins or a loaf of bread when buying it? We assume “Hey it’s bread, it’s just made from flour and yeast and stuff.” If we did take a closer look at the label many of us would be shocked to read the enormous list of fats, sugars, enzymes, dough improvers, flour conditioners, preservatives, flavour enhancers and emulsifiers. As a baker I know that none of those strange ingredients are really necessary for great baking. You can make much tastier, healthier and satisfying food at home with just the basic ingredients like flour, water and salt.

When you bake for yourself you know if those muffins have got butter in them, you know how much sugar is in those waffles and you know that your sourdough contains absolutely nothing but flour, water and salt. For me this leads to a much healthier way of living where for example you can choose exactly how much butter you eat because you know the bread you’ve made has no butter in it (unlike supermarket breads which so often contain hard, saturated fats.) I find also that supermarket breads can leave you with a heavy, bloated feeling after eating that you don’t get with proper homemade bread.

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Fresh and wholesome ingredients.

Aside from health issues, homemade baking always tastes better! Nothing beats the smell of a freshly baked sourdough filling the kitchen or the taste of your own homemade hot cross buns. Commercial bakeries are businesses and therefore need to make a profit so many are tempted into using things like cheap, tasteless fats and poor quality ingredients in an attempt to cut costs. Home bakers are not concerned with such things and are free to use ingredients like butter which to a big industrial bakery is an absurdly expensive fat but one that tastes so much better than others. There is one essential ingredient in baking that you will never see on packaging, one which contributes so much flavour – time. Any breads, sweet buns, muffins, crumpets, anything with yeast in basically, tastes far nicer when the dough has been allowed to ferment for a long time. Unfortunately, time is perhaps the most expensive ingredient of all and one that big factories and supermarkets try to eliminate.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, baking is fun! Personally I think there is nothing more satisfying than tucking into something you have baked yourself. Imagine the feeling of pride, excitement and anticipation as you pull your homemade bagels out of the oven, place them on a wire rack and sit, as the steam rises off the shiny golden crusts, waiting for them to cool so you can slip them open and smother them in cream cheese. They’re not always going to turn out perfectly, and not everybody is going to win the Great British Bake-Off, but it sure is a far more enjoyable way of getting something to eat. It may take longer but it’s certainly much more fun on a Saturday morning than standing in a queue at the check-out.

Written by Alex Lambert, author of Baking for Breakfast, the first publication in the @Home series. Click here to find out more.