Bread has been baked for hundreds of years, and the same basic process is still used today. The main ingredients are flour, yeast, salt and water. The flowchart shows the processes used in an industrial bakery. If you baked bread at home, you would use similar principles but on a smaller scale! Also available at the bottom of the page is a video showing an bread being made in an industrial bakery.
Delivery and storage
Flour is delivered daily to the bakeries. The bakery also needs stores of salt (to add taste and aid proving), vinegar (a preservative), yeast (to make the bread rise) and vegetable fat (to make the loaf lighter and airier and extend its shelf life).
Mixing, dividing and first proving
The ingredients are mixed at high speed in under 5 minutes. The dough is removed and divided into individual pieces by machine. It passes along a conveyor belt and is left to ‘prove’ (when the yeast fills the dough with gas, causing it to rise).
Kneading and preparation
The dough is continuously kneaded for about two minutes, as it circles through a spiral-shaped machine. The kneaded dough passes along a conveyor belt until it is dropped into pre-greased tins.
The tins pass along the conveyor belt into a warm area. Here the second proving stage takes place, lasting around 50 minutes.
The tins move slowly on a conveyor belt through a huge oven for about 20 minutes. Basic bread doughs are usually baked at 230°C (450°F, gas mark 8).
Depanning and cooling
The baked loaves come out of the oven into the cooling area. The bread is sucked out of the tins and left to cool for up to 1½ hours. Once cooled, it passes down the conveyor belt to be sliced (if needed) and bagged.