A Brief History of Bread Baking

You love bread, it's literally baked into your DNA. But, how much do you know about bread? Like actually?

Bread, in its multitude of shapes and sizes, is the most widely consumed food product in the history of humankind. Bread revolutionized humanity. It's packed with carbohydrates, is portable, lasts a long time without preservation techniques, and it's quite easy to find and make. 

Scholars suggest that humans have been eating bread for 30,000+ years, but bread as we know it didn't exist until much later. 

Before there was bread, primitive people discovered gruel. Gruel is a dish that mixes milled grain and water to create a paste, similar to oatmeal, but it's pretty gross to think about. 

Soon, people discovered that you could take that paste mixture and heat it over a fire on a platform, which made it much tastier and more nutritionally complex. 

That's how people ate bread until humanity discovered the process of leavening. In order to leaven bread, you need to add yeast and a controlled fermentation process to incorporate CO2 into the dough. The result is a chewier, lighter, and more appetizing dough overall. 

Early examples of leavened bread include the pita, naan, and flour tortilla. Early bread was naturally leavened with wild yeast that can be found in the air, on the husks of grains, and the bark of trees. 

But, loaves of bread weren't created until people figured out how to refine flour to better accept the fermentation process. Through the refining of flours and use of different grains, ancient bread makers were able to strengthen the glutinous protein bonds, which allowed for a taller, chewier, less dense, and drier dough. From there, modern bread was born. 

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