Bread sometimes gets a bit of a bed rep, but it really is the ultimate comfort food. And is there anything more versatile? We sure do love a good slice of bread whether it's toasted and topped with beans, or fresh from the bakery and topped with melting butter...
What makes bread so popular is how easy it is to prepare and how well it works as part of a meal or as a quick snack
Today, the UK bakery market is worth £3.5 billion - making it one of the largest markets in the food industry. Plus, it's not just empty calories. The culinary staple, which dates back to ancient times, contains protein, carbohydrates and many of the vitamins 'needed for a healthy diet', according to the Federation of Bakers.
We chatted to the Director of the Federation of Bakers, Gordon Polson, who said: “Bread makes an important contribution to your carbohydrate, fibre, iron, calcium and thiamin intakes.
"Wholemeal bread is particularly high in fibre and white bread is fortified with calcium, so is a good source of non-dairy calcium."
So to champion our British staple this January, we've put together a list of reasons and recipes why we love bread, so you can get cooking and eating this January.
Fill your home with amazing smellsIs there anything more inviting than the smell of freshly-baked bread? Making your own bread really isn't tricky, and with our masterclass bread recipe you could be kneading your own batch in no time. But be warned that your family will be chomping at the bit for a slice!
It's the most versatile ingredient ever
It's not just for sarnies. This incredible little food can be made into croutons for salad, soaked and made into bread and butter pudding, and even used to make treacle tart! Try this: instead of using pastry or mashed potato to top your bakes you could cut up a french stick or baguette to add a crunchy topping. Or for garlic lovers, topping the bake with garlic bread would also go down a treat!
Or, if you're bored of scrambled eggs on toast, why not take Tom Daley's lead and dive into his sourdough French toast. By soaking the bread in egg, then frying you'll have a new-look breakfast ready in minutes. If it's good enough for an Olympian it's good enough for us, eh?
You can use it for cooking once its past its best
Whatever you do, don't throw away a loaf once it's gone a bit stale. It still has life in it! You can toast it, blitz it and make it into breadcrumbs, turn into stuffing for your Sunday roast, or add to your meatballs. This cheese and spinach bake is a simple recipe and great way to turn leftover bread into a quick, crowd-pleasing meal. You could layer the bread on top or you could break it up into little bites as we've done.
It's the gift that keeps on givingThis soda bread recipe is ready in just 45 minutes, but unlike most recipes you make, this won't be scoffed ten minutes after baking. Make it on a Sunday morning and you'll have fresh bread ready to be topped with smashed avocado, then wrap it up and save for the most amazing toast for the rest of the week. You'll never get bored of slicing through that crusty top.
There's so much variety nowadays!
White or brown? OR, granary, seeded, wholegrain, multigrain, cheese-topped, soda bread, gluten free, pitta, flatbread, focaccia, garlic....the list goes on. We are spoilt for choice nowadays and the humble sandwich isn't as one dimensional as it once was. This mustard steak sandwich is served on ciabatta - a very wise choice as this bread won't crumble under pressure. Try your burger on a brioche bun next time, too!