The Journey of Bread

The journey of bread

Image Credit: Flickr User Dave Pullig, via CC

The French Baguette, Italian Ciabatta, German Pumpernickel or Indian Naan all have something in common. Can you guess what? Yes! They are all breads, main part of our diet, and full of carbohydrates.

Did you know that breads have been around for almost 30,000 years?

The breads have been a part of humans ever since the pre-historic times. Pre-historic times are the times that we have no firm knowledge about because there are no written records of that time. But, there exists proof that suggests that pre-historic people ate a paste made out of flour and water. Then someone invented fire and the paste was flattened and cooked in fire. That was probably the first bread mankind ever prepared.

Since then there has been no looking back. Today’s bread looks nowhere like the hard flatbread. The soft fluffy bread that just melts in your mouth undergoes a process called the “leavening”. This process make the bread light and fluffy.

So what exactly is leavening? It is the fermentation of bread. The spores of yeast feast themselves on the dough eating up the sugar and producing carbon dioxide(CO2) which makes the dough rise and become fluffy. How did people first think of adding yeast in the bread? They probably did not. The trick is thought to be discovered by accident. Some fermented barley water must have fallen in the uncooked dough that was left outside, and the yeast spores in the air must have feasted on the dough. When people discovered the dough later, all fluffy and doubled up in size, they curiously still baked it and realized that this bread tasted much better. Ancient Egyptians sold yeast in the markets ever since 300 BC.

If the dough is not leavened, then it makes a flatbread. A lot of countries and cultures still eat flatbread on a daily basis. The Indian Chapati, Mexican tortillas and Mediterranean pita are all examples of flatbread.

Over the years, people have moved on from making just the multigrain coarse bread to absolutely delicious, evenly sliced store white bread.

In 1917, Otto Rohwedder invented a bread slicer. By 1928, the factories installed mechanical bread slicer. It wasn’t until then that the machine sliced bread became famous. Although the bread made of refined white flour tastes very good, the benefits of the old rustic multigrain bread are immense.

India’s famous “Makki ki Roti”, is still cooked in a way similar to how the pre-historic human cooked it. Here is how it is made. Take some corn flour and knead it into the dough. Make flat patties with hand and cook it over the fire. Want to try it?

Which bread do you love the most? Do tell us!


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