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As a relatively recent addition to the masses on Ciao, I’ve naturally been looking for new products to review. I’ve been scratching my head, desperately trying to think of experiences I’ve had, places I’ve been and products I’ve used. “What can I review next?” – that has been my mantra for a few days now. Of course, I’ve naturally been looking for a ‘spectacular’, something out of this world, and this means that the things we all use on a daily basis haven’t popped up on my radar. And when all is said and done, these things are the most important things. These are the things we take for granted, but quite often they are fixed points in our day. Like having a sandwich.
So, bread. You might think that this is a strange and slightly bland product to even begin writing a review about. But think about how often you eat bread, and how many uses it has. You might have it for toast in the morning, make a sandwich with it at lunch, or mop up the beans with it at dinnertime. It is a major part of anyone’s diet and therefore I always want to make sure that the loaf I’m eating is of a good quality.
I came across Asda Bakers Gold completely by accident. Previously, me and the other half had always grabbed a mainstream brand when doing the Thursday night big shop at Tesco, which was usually Hovis or Kingsmill. Sometimes we’d go for the Tesco Finest range, the Oatmeal, Batch or Multigrain varieties. 90% of the time we were buying wholegrain or brown bread on the basis that this was ‘good bread’ – that with it being wholegrain, it must be good for us, and that white bread was ‘naughty bread’.
Then one morning during an enforced stay round at the mother in laws (or H.M.P Trowbridge as I like to call it), we were having breakfast. Her partner mentioned that the bread they had bought that week made really good toast. So I tried some, and the man sure was right. The bread was Asda Bakers Gold White Sliced bread.
To begin with, this bread is excellent value for money. Each loaf costs 65p, weighs 800 grams and contains approximately 16 medium slices (and 2 crusts).
The packaging is quite basic but benefits from that. The majority of it is a clear, see through plastic bag, but the bottom side is a golden yellow, with a trim that comes slightly up the side of the packaging. Across the top is a thick, golden brown strip with white and gold lettering, which also describes the bread as “a delicious soft white batched loaf”. This colour scheme really works for me, which I think is to do with the gold and brown combination, colours that I associate with the bakers, and freshly cooked produce.
In terms of ingredients, this product is suitable for vegetarians, and notes on the packaging that it contains gluten, wheat and soya. It contains wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, vinegar, soya flour, vegetable fat and fermented wheat flour. It also has two other ingredients, which I will explain in a bit more detail.
With doing reviews has come the desire for a greater understanding of the product I am consuming. I have a long held belief that very few people (including myself) actually look at the composition and ingredients of what they are buying. I have known people who are very particular and concerned about the chemicals and additives in their food. It contains an emulsifier, (E Number: E472e – Mono and Diacetyltartaric Acid Esters of Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids). I used to enjoy making bread with my own hands. I certainly knew I wasn’t putting in an emulsifier, which helps to thicken the mixture and also helps maintain the softness of the bread for a longer period of time. The bread also contains a flour treatment agent; ascorbic acid (E Number: E300), which is an organic acid with antioxidant properties, and is in essence vitamin C. Again, this is a dough enhancer. So by doing this little bit of research, I finally discovered why the bread I was making went so hard and inedible after just a couple of days. This loaf stays soft and fresh for several days, longer than any other bread I’ve eaten. The packaging states that the bread should be kept in a cool, dry place and that once opened it should be stored in an airtight container. We tend to buy two loaves a week and freeze one of them, but a defrosted loaf always tastes as good as the one bought fresh on the day.
So in basic nutritional terms, what does this all mean? Below is a summary of the food facts for this bread, compared to other, similar brands.
- Asda Bakers Gold (800g): 0.8 grams of fat, approximately 0.6 grams of salt and 101 calories per slice. 2 E Numbers – E300 and E472e. - Hovis Classic White Medium (800g): 2 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of salt and 106 calories per slice. 3 E Numbers – E300, E472e and an additional emulsifier E481. - Kingsmill Great Everyday Soft White Medium (800g): 0.8 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of salt and 93 calories per slice. 2 E numbers – E300 and E472e.
Nutritionally, the Kingsmill probably just has the edge by 0.1 grams of salt and 8 calories, but realistically this difference is negligible. What does separate the three brands substantially is the price. The Hovis and Kingsmill loaves are priced at 99p and 96p respectively, so the Asda brand has over 30p difference on both.
Naturally though, the most important factor about the Asda brand is how does it taste? This is a difficult question to definitively answer, because what is the best way to taste test bread? Buttered, toasted, as a sandwich? No one really likes just eating a dry slice on its own, so I opted for a simple slice of lightly buttered bread.
When buttering, you can tell just how supple and springy the bread is. It doesn’t dent or lose its shape when you apply the knife, nor does it cut up in any way. It isn’t too dry, isn’t too soft – to quote Goldilocks, it is just right. Take a bite and the first thing that hits you is how well the bread blends with the butter. You can’t taste too much of either. This holds true when you are eating a sandwich too. There is nothing worse than eating a sandwich where the filling comes second to the bread and all you can taste is a dry, floury and quite bitter taste. This complements the filling or butter, rather than compete for space with it. It is soft, fluffy, fresh and light. In some of the loaves, the crusts are dusted with flour, and although this can sometimes be a bit dry, the moistness and texture of the bread make up for this. You do not get an overpowering taste of yeast or flour – they are there, but at a level which is enjoyable. I sometimes find with other brands, a slice of bread can be too emulsified (see, I’m learning the technical language here!). It almost gels too well together, so that when you bite into it, it flattens the bread and makes it chewy, rather than breaking off in fluffy chunks. A bitten or ripped piece of bread should show the tear marks, not have a clean edge.
It doesn’t dry out your mouth, and it doesn’t take too long to chew. More importantly, for white bread, it doesn’t leave you bloated when you’ve had a few slices. It also scores highly on versatility. Some loaves of bread make good toast but not good sandwiches. This makes excellent toast, the best I’ve ever had, and can stand up to a barrage of fillings. Believe me, as a growing lad (of 25 years), I am partial to plenty of filling between two slices (insert your own rude joke here). Be it a ploughman’s lunch, a bacon and egg or a ham salad sandwich, this bread holds it all in and, as I said earlier, doesn’t compete for taste with the filling.
Some people really enjoy eating the end crusts, and I’m one of them. I like it with plenty of butter, but find other brands to be very heavy at the end of the loaf. With Asda Bakers Gold though, the end crusts retain that freshness and lightness which is characteristic of the other slices. My other half likes picking the loaf without the crusts on the sides of the slices, as she thinks it tastes even lighter. But as I need hairs on my chest, I get the crustier ones.
Obviously, packaged sliced bread isn’t going to be able to match the taste of freshly cooked bread rolls from a restaurant or any of the more exotic varieties. But there again that is not its market. For Asda Bakers Gold, its competitors are going to be the likes of Hovis or Kingsmill, and for my money it beats both. Taste wise, it is the best bread since sliced bread, and at 65p per loaf I don’t think you can get better value, particularly taking the nutritional information into consideration.
And there was me worried about what to review next. The simple things are the best, and if you can get a little education, entertainment and a well placed joke about the mother in law into the review too, then all the better!