Saturday, 26 May 2007

The staff of life - Bread!

Bread is one of the oldest known prepared foods, a definite daily staple for most cultures around the world, even today. There are a large variety of types and favours, most are prepared by baking, steaming, or frying dough.

One thing all breads have in common however is that they all start out as flour and water; salt is present in most cases. The first breads produced were probably cooked versions of simple grain pastes. Pastes made from various ground cereal grains and water. These may have been developed by accidental cooking or deliberate experimentation with water and grains. Variations of these first experiments and early breads are still commonly made worldwide with different grains, for example... Mexican tortillas, Indian and Pakistani chapatis, rotis and naans, Scottish oatcakes, North American Johnnycakes, Middle Eastern Pita bread (Kmaj in Arabic and Pitot in Hebrew) and the Ethiopian injera. These basic flat breads formed a staple in the diet of many early civilizations.

Bread in more modern times has often included a leavening agent such as yeast or a fermented starter. This development of leavened bread can however probably also be traced back to prehistoric times as yeast spores occur everywhere, including on the surface of cereal grains. If any dough or grain paste is left to rest it will become naturally leavened. Archaeological evidence has detected yeast cells in some ancient Egyptian loaves.
Leaven breads today can have added amounts of sugar, butter and eggs for enrichment and flavours from spices, fruits or vegetables, nuts and or seeds are also common.

All breads are prized for their freshness and fresh homemade bread has taste and texture like no other!

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