Bread -

It is generally conceded nowadays that the Egyptians were the first to use leaven in the making of bread, though some historians give the credit to the Chinese. From Egypt, the custom traveled to Greece and, later on, the Greeks communicated the process to the Romans, who spread the invention throughout the northern countries during their campaigns.

The allusions to bread in the works of the classic authors are very numerous. Athenaeus mentions no fewer than sixty-two varieties as known among the ancient Greeks and good descriptions of many of them are given. They employed in the making a great variety of grains - wheat, barley, rye, millet, spelt, rice, etc. - combining them sometimes with other substances such as the flour of dried lotus roots and the root of the cornflag, the last named first boiled so as to give a sweet taste to the bread.

In ancient Rome, public bakeries were numerous, the great majority of them conducted by Greeks, who had the reputation of making the best bread.

wheat bread is the most popular in this country because wheat flour's higher percentage of gliadin makes bread that is lighter than that of other flour. It is also credited with being a nearly perfect food ration. It is not as rich in food value as dried ripe beans or peas, but on the other hand it is in a form which is more generally acceptable as a leading article of diet and is easily assimilated. Its principal defect is the lack of fat, and that is generally overcome by the custom of eating it with butter or milk. It is also somewhat deficient in protein - hence the desirability of supplementing it with meat, fish, etc. (see article on FOOD VALUES).

The exact science of modern bread making is a study of infinite minor chemical possibilities, but its fundamental principles may be outlined in a few words. The flour is mixed with water, a little salt and yeast, and left or set in a warm place to "rise." Later on, it is again kneaded and set to rise a second time. Then, as soon as the dough has risen sufficiently, it is shaped into loaves and baked in the oven. The time thus consumed varies in different processes, according to the quantity of yeast used, the temperature maintained, etc. In large modern bakeries, all or nearly all the work is done by machinery.

The raising of the dough is effected by the growth in it of the yeast fungi. The diastase in the dough, produced by the action of the yeast on part of the soluble protein of the flour, converts part of the starch into a kind of sugar, and the yeast cells, feeding on and propagating in this, produce alcoholic fermentation - convert it into alcohol and carbon-dioxide (gas). The alcohol, which passes away by evaporation, is unimportant but the carbon-dioxide, being distributed all through the dough, raises it as it expands in thousands of little pockets or cells in the dough. When the loaves are placed in the oven, the heat kills the yeast cells and stops the fermentation, but at the same time causes the gas already formed to expand still further, thus again raising the bread. Later, the gas forces itself out, but the air cells still remain, held in place by the stiffening in baking of the glî;adin in the dough. The heat also changes some of the moisture into steam, which, being retained in the same or other tiny pockets, aids in the raising process - and the result is the light porous loaf of everyday use.

The brown crust of the baked loaf and much of its pleasing odor, are due principally to the caramelizing of the dextrin and other sugars obtained by the conversion of the starch of the outer surface.

The ordinary bread and rolls of everyday use are made from white flour - obtained by grinding the wheat grain after the bran coat and germ have been removed. For the more "fancy" varieties, milk and water, or milk alone, are substituted for the water in mixing the dough, and in some cases, sugar, butter, lard, etc., are added to it to make it sweeter or richer.

New hot bread is generally rated as a bugbear to any except those of abnormally strong digestive powers - but lovers of good things to eat, who in fear of their lives have refrained from enjoying it, should take a stale loaf, wrap a wet towel around it and set it in a brisk oven for a while. The result will be a hot loaf that tastes better than one fresh from the baker - yet won't worry the digestion at all!

For French bread, just dip the loaf in water and set it in the oven without any cloth around it.

bread should be kept in an air-tight show-case, box or receptacle which must be frequently scalded and aired - and thoroughly dried before using again.

In other countries, under various circumstances, bread has been made from a great variety of grains, vegetables and nuts. Beans, peas, potatoes, etc., produce fair bread if mixed with wheat or rye to prevent sogginess; rice makes bread of pleasing flavor and attractive appearance; the chestnut bread of the Corsican mountaineers is agreeable and healthful and will keep fresh for as long as two weeks, and acorns, mosses and innumerable roots have also served - either alone or mixed with cereals.

Arround Bread in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

Brazilian Cocoahome
Bread Fruit

The Grocer's Encyclopedia
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