Oct 30, 2018

Let Them Eat Bread!

 

Bread is the single most widely consumed food on the planet.

 

It provides excellent nutritional value (primarily carbohydrates) and is quite easy to eat. Today, we have all kinds of breads, such as pizza, Indian naan, pita bread in the Middle East, and more. Plus, of course, there’s the ubiquitous sandwich bread.

 

Before varieties of the fluffy kinds of bread emerged, it was quite a different substance to consume!

 

 

The history of bread traces back to 30,000 years ago. The earliest forms of bread were basically flat cakes. The grains for bread were mixed and mashed with water and milk, eaten either raw or cooked. 

 

Around 8,000 BC, the first grinding stone was invented in Egypt, used to crush the grain. To put it visually, The bread looked like a very thin pita bread or Indian chapati at around this time. As grain production increased along the Nile, bread began to become a staple food that was even used in trade and barter. 

 

The influence of bread would naturally pour on to other cultures as well, and as thousands of years passed, bread-making skills and technique improved, resulting in the first sourdough production in the Middle Eastern region (approximately 2500 BC).

 

The Greeks’ contribution to bread in this time period cannot be understated. To start off, the Greeks used bread as an offering to the gods. The Greeks imported flour from Egypt… a landmark event that helped take baking to a new level. Bread was prepared with home-milled flour and became a staple food. As technique and skill evolved, so did the varieties of bread available.

 

It was with the Romans that baking became a major industry. For example, remains in Pompeii revealed many bakery-related findings. Professional bakeries go all the way back to Rome in 97-117 AD! 

 

Today, there are innumerable varieties of bread. Here are the most popular ones in the world:

  1. White bread
  2. Brown bread
  3. Milk bread
  4. Multigrain
  5. Sourdough
  6. Chapati
  7. Cornbread
  8. Pita bread
  9. Crispbread
  10. Flatbread
  11. Paratha
  12. Breadsticks
  13. Naan
  14. Pizza
  15. Pide

 

Apart from carbohydrates, what other nutritional value does bread provide? A study by a team from New Zealand revealed that bread, as compared to other products such as milk, cheese and meat ticks more boxes when it comes to nutrition.

 

Bread provides protein (15%), calcium (6%), iron (14%), thiamin (30%), riboflavin (4%), niacin (7%) and even fiber.

 

The recommended daily consumption of bread for people of normal health is 4-6 slices a day. Apart from the fact that it’s cheap, it fills many of our dietary and nutritional needs, which is perhaps why it’s the most universally loved and consumed food.

 

 

Making homemade bread is not as hard as you think. Here are a few basic steps:

 

(courtesy bbcgoodfood)

 

  1. Take flour, salt and yeast. Mix it in a large bowl and make a gap in the middle. In that gap, add oil and water before mixing it till it becomes more solid.
     
  2. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and place it back into the bowl (ensure the bowl has a little oil in it) and leave it for about an hour to settle.
     
  3. Take out the dough and lightly punch it before moulding it into a ball and place it on an aligned baking tray before leaving it for another hour. 
     
  4. Sprinkle some flour on the top and cut 6 cm on top lightly.
     
  5. Preheat the oven to 200˚C and bake it for 30 minutes.
     
  6. Ensure that it’s baked until golden brown. If the loaf sounds hollow when tapped from below, then you’re good to go!

 

From the time of the Lord’s Prayer, food and bread have been used interchangeably. And there’s good reason for that. In the days of the ketogenic and palaeolithic diets, let’s not completely discard this universal favourite!

 

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