Artisan bread can include hearth breads and sourdough breads.

Artisan Bread

Also Known as Handmade Bread

What is Artisan Bread?

Artisan bread is a term that has no absolute definition but refers to a style of short shelf-life bread that is usually offered unpackaged (in baskets) and consumed immediately after baking for maximum freshness.

Usually produced in small factories, artisan bread is characterized by being:

  • Made by hand using traditional processing techniques
  • Higher water absorption levels
  • Lean formulations
  • Pre-ferments
  • Longer fermentation times compared to commercial pan bread and rolls

Artisan breads do not have a Standard of Identity set by the FDA. Therefore, there is no absolute definition of what ingredients and processing conditions to use and what the finished product characteristics should be.

This category of bread is becoming more important in the baking industry as customers are looking for products with different and creative designs, maximum freshness and clean labels.


The term artisan bread conjures the image of artisan bakers who are masters of their craft, shaping breads by hand and only using the basic bread ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt, and most importantly time. This is a stark contrast to the standardized, repeatable and industrially-produced breads that are often found in the supermarket bread aisle.

How does it work?

The term artisan bread can include hearth breads (those baked without pan), and sourdough breads. The following are some examples:

Artisan breads are usually baked in hearth-style ovens (with radiant heat as main source of heat transfer), and ovens that are designed to inject/exhaust steam into/from the baking chamber. This type of bakery products are usually crusty, with a large and open cell structure. They also have a rustic look, ornate scoring and/or flour dusting on top.

How are artisan breads made?

Artisan breads are characterized by their lean formulation (i.e. low sugar and fat level), little to no use of dough conditioners (except for enzymes used for dough strengthening and crumb softening), and high or low hydration levels (depending on shape and spread desired by the baker).

The following are some ingredients available for the production of artisan bread and their usual levels in the formula:1,2,3

Ingredient Baker’s %
Bread flour* 100.0
Whole wheat flour**

To access the rest of this page, you must be a member of the American Society of Baking.