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Do you sometimes wonder when bread was invented? I guess this question—if ever it would occur in your mind—would be casually shrugged off by your busy brain. To give you a heads-up on when bread was invented, let me first provide you with a cursory explanation of the evolution of human society. When the primitive men had stopped being hunter-gatherers and started tilling lands and domesticating and herding animals, they then began to learn that they could produce their own crops and not rely heavily on the meat of hunted animals for food. They also started to think profoundly once they had settled in small agricultural groups. As they began to settle, they also learned to cook and, eventually, to bake.
Archaeological evidence suggests that humans had started experimenting with various ways of baking as early as 6500 BCE. Since then, baking and breadmaking had become an integral part of early societies, and as a result, bread has become the staple food in many cultures. Even after the commercialization of bakeries, some people have still persisted in preparing their own bread for their families. At present, in many Arab homes for example, bread is still prepared in their own traditional way. Moreover, the same can be said of many homes on the Indian subcontinent.
The Increasing Fascination With Baking
It is a succinct observation that, at present, more and more people around the world are increasingly becoming fascinated with baking. In fact, the skill of baking, which was once an exclusive expertise of women, is now a skill for all genders. Moreover, it is noteworthy that there is an increase in the number of special schools for baking around the world. If you would search online, for example, you would readily see a lot of websites solely devoted to baking. The good thing, however, about these websites is that they are generous enough in sharing information about baking, even sharing their menus, ingredients, baking instructions, as well as tips on baking and the bread-baking machines and tools that they use.
Baking Bread With or Without an Oven
The foremost thing that comes to your mind whenever you hear the word “baking” is that of bread. But baking is not exclusively of bread, for it is also inclusive of cakes, pies and pastries which are also baked. It also may include some pastas which undergo the baking process.
Another thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “baking” is that of an oven. Ovens are deeply associated with baking, for it is inside the oven where baking happens. Ovens come in various types like gas, electric, conventional and convection, and steam. However, baking is not only solely done inside the oven. In some places — on the Indian subcontinent, for example — many families usually cook “Chapati” on large flat skillets, since many of them are poor and do not have the luxury of having an oven. The “Chapati” is an unleavened bread that serves as the traditional staple food of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan people.
The Ingredients of Bread
Breadmaking is fairly simple, for you will just be needing two main ingredients to be able to bake — namely, flour and water. Wheat flour is the most commonly used ingredient for baking, although you can also utilize flour from emmer, spelt, and other species of wheat as alternatives to wheat flour. Other non-wheat cereals such as corn or maize, rye, oats, barley, rice, millet and sorghum are also good sources of flour. These non-wheat cereals, excluding rye, have low gluten content. Gluten is a component of storage protein that makes the dough elastic and spongy. Hence, bread with less gluten is ideal for those with gluten-related diseases.
Leavened and Unleavened Bread
Bread can either be leavened or unleavened. Breads that are leavened are bulky and less compact because of the addition of leavener to the dough, making the dough expand and rise. Yeast, the most popular leavening agent, is natural along with buttermilk, beer and yogurt. On the other hand, there are chemical leavening agents which are not natural, like baking soda, baking powder, and potash.
Bread in Literature and Religions
The importance of bread in human lives is clearly highlighted by the ample amount of literature about it. Despite bread not being the primary staple food in the world, the word “bread” still has been constantly used metaphorically to express something of value. It has become synonymous with money, for example, and has been used in Christian religions to refer to Christ as the “Bread of Life.” Lastly, it has also been used in tandem with some words, just like in the case of “breadwinner” which corresponds with the main financier within a family or a group.