THE HISTORY OF BREAD
Most of the bread we eat today is leavened bread. Leavened bread
is made from dough with a raising agent agent in it to give
leavened bread its characteristic light and airy texture. Prior to
leavened bread all bread was flatter unleavened bread. Dating back
to Neolithic times it was made by cooking a mixture of grain paste
(e.g. wheat) and water).
Some of the breads have survived into
modern times, for example Mexican tortilla, Indian chapatti and
Leavened bread was first baked in Egypt in the 17th Century B.C.
What finally enabled the Egyptians to make leavened bread was
the discovery of a variety of wheat which had sufficient gluten-forming properties to make bread from it's flour. Flour high in
gluten is necessary to make bread. The final step was the use
of a raising agent to make the dough rise when cooked. Typically
the Egyptians would leave the dough exposed to air for a day
where it became 'infected' with air borne yeast. Other methods
involved skimming the froth off bear or using old grape juice.
Sliced bread first appeared in 1912 when Otto Frederick
Rohwedder invented a bread slicing machine. In 1928, Otto
Frederick Rohwedder went one step further and invented a machine
that both sliced and packaged bread.
Until the last few decades brown bread was considered inferior to
white bread. The poor being left to consume the brown bread.
However, in more recent times the nutritional value of brown
bread is more appreciated and their roles are reversed.
HOW BREAD IS MADE
Bread is most frequently made by mixing wheat flour with water,
incorporating a raising agent such as yeast or baking powder in
the mixture and then baking. Wheat is the preferred cereal for
for making bread because it is high in glutten which gives a
strong but spongy texture to bread. Other cereals are used
around the world such as corn (maize), rye, barley and oats.
The proportions of flour and water required to make dough for
bread vary, but a common proportion where wheat flour and water
are used is 3 parts flour to one part water. Occasionally
liquids other than water are used, such as fruit juice or beer
and these give their distinctive taste to bread.
Leavening bread (introducing air into the dough) is a very
varied subject. In times gone by the principal method was by the
use of sourdough. Using this method, a piece of leavened dough
was saved just before cooking. This was known as sourdough
because it had a sour taste. The next day the sourdough was
added to the fresh dough mixture and after an hour or so put in
the oven to cook. The sourdough will keep overnight in
moderately cool conditions and for a week or two in the
refrigerator. Some bakeries have in fact used this method over
several generations, renewing the sourdough each day.
To illustrate the variety of methods of making bread, see our
Banana Bread recipe.
This shows that bread can be made with a huge variety of
ingredients as long as the basics are there.
FLOUR TYPES USED IN MAKING BREAD
The type of flour used for making bread has a big effect on how
the bread turns out. The most naturally nutritious bread is made
from whole wheat grain which makes many brown breads - they are
normally labelled as wholemeal or granary. White bread on the
other hand is made from the inner part of the grain only with
the husk being removed. This results in bread with much lower
fibre and less protein and less protein and vitamins. There are
some brown breads which do not use whole wheat grain, they use
milled wheat with all or most of the bran removed. These brown
breads have a similar nutrition value to white bread.
HOW TO STORE BREAD
The basic rules for storing bread are:
Don't store it in the fridge, this will turn it stale tasting
sooner than at room temperature although it will reduce the
production of bread mould.
Always keep the crust at either end of the bread, this will
retain moisture in the loaf.
Keep the wrapper closed and store in a cool dark place.
Bread can be frozen if this is done on the day of purchase, most
commercial breads will be OK for up to 3 months in the freezer.
BREAD MAKING MACHINES
Bread making machines take a lot of the hassle out of making
bread and are almost idiot-proof! The basic idea is to place the
ingredients in the machine in the correct sequence, select a
couple of settings to determine how you want your bread cooked
and hey-presto the bread machine does it all for you. There are
lots of bread making machines on the market in the UK and we have
collected details of the most popular ones in our exclusive
bread maker machine review. Listed below are the bread machines we
have reviewed, simply click on one to go to our review of that
MORPHY RICHARDS 48268 FAST BAKE BREAD MAKER
BREVILLE BR8L BREAD
BREAD TRIVIA AND LEGEND
Napoleon accidentally gave Pumpernickel bread its name during
his Prussian campaign. He asked for some bread for his horse
'Nicole' which in French was "Pain pour Nicole". The
misinterpreted this as Pumpernickel bread.
During medieval times in Europe, bread was used not only as a
food but also as part of the table service. In the table setting
of those days the trencher, apiece of stale bread roughly 15 cm
by 10 cm (6 inches by 4 inches), served as an absorbent plate.
At the completion of a meal the trencher could then be eaten,
given to the poor, or fed to the dogs.
Before slicing a new loaf of bread, make the sign of the cross
One bread superstition is that if you put a piece of bread in a
baby's cradle, it will keep away disease.
The fastest "bun" in the West goes to a team of bakers from
Wheat Montana Farms and Bakery who reclaimed the Guinness World
Record in 1995. They harvested and milled wheat from the field
and then mixed, scaled, shaped and baked a loaf in exactly eight
minutes, 13 seconds
In Britain, the ceremony of 'First Footing' is traditionally
observed in the early hours of New Year's Day. A piece of bread
is left outside a door, with a piece of coal and a silver coin,
and is supposed to bring you food, warmth and riches in the year
A family of four can live 10 years off the bread produced by one
acre of wheat.
It takes 9 seconds for a combine harvester to harvest enough
wheat to make about 70 loaves of bread.
Similarly, bread is now a common word in Britain for money from
the rhyming slang "Bread and honey".
Tradition holds that if a boy and girl eat from the same
loaf, they are bound to fall in love.
Superstition has it that it is bad luck to turn a loaf of bread
upside down or cut an unbaked loaf.
Legend has it that whoever eats the last piece of bread has to
kiss the cook.
BACK TO HOME PAGE