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Bread is the staff of life

One of the foods, consumed daily worldwide, in addition to all meals, is bread. It is still considered a product of craftsmen, and it was discovered in prehistory, probably by chance, that mixing water and crushed grain and drying it to a solid mass leads to obtaining a food product that provided power and could be eaten on any occasion.

The main process in bread making, fermentation, was discovered by the Egyptians, more than six millennia ago. Furthermore, they had first ovens constructed for baking dough. The development became an art in the golden age of the classical Greece.

It spread to Rome where it was only meant for the higher classes of society. The Roman Empire was a very important vehicle for expansion for this product across all the cities they conquered.

During the Middle Ages the cultivation of cereals fell notably causing hunger in the cities. Bread was produced only in monasteries. With the emergence of the first craft guilds, the craft of bread making returned to normal. Bakery products are fundamental to the basic diet of all levels of the population.

Nutritious dough

 Nutritious dough

Nutritious dough

Bread consists of more than 50% carbohydrates, which provide energy to our body, and, although to a much lesser extent, 7%, it also provides proteins, necessary for the renewal of tissues. These include gluten, except for the masses made with cornmeal. It also contains vitamins B and minerals like sodium, with an important role in transmitting nerve impulses, and potassium, necessary for the proper functioning of cells.

Although the trend when it comes to dieting is to remove bread, this habit is not entirely successful, as the daily amount recommended by the World Health Organization is 250 grams. 100 g of bread contribute between 200 and 250 kcal, except biscuits whose contribution is double.

Health problems are usually not an impediment to the consumption of bread. Diabetics can have it, but by controlling the amounts consumed, they can buy hypertensive salt and gluten free bread and have bread made with cornmeal, which does not contain gluten.

Fermentation

 Fermentation

Fermentation

Bread consists mainly of flour, which can come from various cereals such as wheat, rye or soy, water, bringing consistency to the previous ingredient, yeast, which is the star of the fermentation process, and sometimes, you can add milk.

Although these are the basic ingredients, the yeast is removed in the unleavened bread and you can add other ingredients such as onion, olives, figs and nuts, to give an original touch and a different flavor to the dough.

The first step in the bread making process is to achieve a homogeneous mixture of the ingredients. Then the yeast will go through the first fermentation stage. Then it proceeds to divide the dough into portions that, once given way, constitute the final pieces. Than it is the time for the second fermentation, after which the units are introduced into the furnace. In it, the dough increases in size due to the yeast and hardens, forming the crust.

Cereals and kinds of bread

 Cereals and kinds of bread

Cereals and kinds of bread

According to the ingredients used in manufacturing, there are the various types of bread. The most commonly consumed is white bread, which, for centuries considered exclusive of the wealthy, and now is available to everyone. This strain is composed of a 90% wheat and 10% of cereal bran used. When the proportion of bran is greater, whole meal bread is formed which contains a higher percentage of vitamins and minerals than white one.

The unleavened bread, introduced by the Jews as a religious food has the peculiarity of not being fermented. A variety of this product very often used to prepare sandwiches or toast the bread; you can purchase both comprehensive white variants. Although it is a convenient way to consume it, because you buy it in slices, the truth is that you should not abuse it, as they usually contain added fat.

Within this basic division hundreds of varieties are found throughout the world. Most consumed in Spain is the rod or gun, although widely accepted baguette from France, and ciabatta. The toasted bread or breadsticks are also common in the daily menu. With the growing interest in learning about foods from other countries, more and more often find pita bread, from Turkey, or Italy, the bread called ‘focaccia’, filled with cheese and vegetables.

Although in certain areas such as Asia and parts of Africa it is replaced by rice, bread is an essential element in the diet from breakfast to dinner.

How to make homemade bread

Although it is common to buy the bread baked in the bakery, the truth is that we can enjoy completely handmade bread if we make it at home. To prepare tasty white bread flour we need half a kilo of flour, 25 gr. of baker’s yeast, two teaspoons of salt and three pints of warm water. First make kinda volcano with flour and salt. Yeast to be dissolved in half the water we have prepared and pour next to the flour, than mix it, forming dough to be covered and lave it for about 20 minutes.

Then pour the remaining water and the mixture is kneaded for a time between 5 and 8 minutes. The dough, in a floured bowl, should grow to twice its size and then we can shape it. The last step is to wet with a little oil and bake it for 35 to 40 minutes. After that, we will have our homemade bread, which we like as much as the one bought at a baker’s shop.

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