What is the difference between artisan bread and white bread? As so much of the bread we see is white and made in a commercial production factory it’s common to associate all white bread with non-artisan bread, but is this correct? Is artisan bread, white bread? Let’s find out!
Artisan bread requires advanced dough-handling skills to produce exciting and delicious bread. White flour is made by removing parts of the wheat when milled. White flour can be made into white artisan bread, however, the majority of white bread follows a rapid production technique called the Chorleywood Dough Process.
Although there are no regulations on the use of the word “artisan” outside of France, it’s accepted that artisan bread is made by skilled bakers using the best ingredients available to make a superior product. Instead of using dough conditioners and preservatives to improve the dough, careful selection of the flour combined with using common ingredients and knowledge produce artisan bread. The dough is manipulated by adjusting the amount of kneading, often followed by a long first rise for the dough to develop flavour and gluten maturation.
The crumb of artisan bread tends to be open and irregular, however, this is not always the case where fats are used in recipes such as brioche and pain de mie.
Sourdough is popular with artisan bakers, as is using small quantities of yeast. The slow-proofing methods develop flavour and extend the life of the bread without requiring the additives used in commercial bread production.
Many bread producers class their bread as “artisan” but follow a fast-proofing method. This is acceptable for light-tasting soft breads, but often the use of “artisan” is nothing more than a marketing ploy to pay a premium for a standard loaf. If buying from a supermarket, check the ingredients for items such as ascorbic acid, potassium sorbate or E-numbers, if included the bread is not authentically artisan.
White flour is produced by sifting away the bran and germ to create a light-coloured flour which can absolutely be used with artisan techniques to produce white artisan bread. However, artisan bread can be made with any type of ground grain, including wheat, spelt, rye and einkorn, not just white flour.
No, white bread can be made using artisan or non-artisan production techniques. Most white bread is made using modern techniques to lower production costs, however, white bread can be artisan.