What is the importance of baking
A coincidence changes the eating culture
Humans have been growing grain for an estimated 10,000 years. Initially, the grains were eaten whole. Over time, humans began to crush the grains with stones and mix them with water.
It is believed that such a porridge made of water and grain accidentally got onto a stone heated by the sun - the first baking process in history. This is said to be about 6000 years ago. There are finds that lead to the conclusion that baking flatbreads was common among the Egyptians and Greeks around 5000 years ago.
No baking without heat
In the early days of baking, solar energy, which heated stones, was the only way to bake. Accordingly, only flat bread could be made. It is no longer possible to determine exactly when ovens were invented. The first converted fireplace was probably built around 4300 BC.
Each culture had its own oven models, which were usually operated outdoors. It wasn't until the Middle Ages that stoves began to be built into houses. Wood was used almost exclusively as fuel. With industrialization, coal-fired stoves came into being, followed by gas and electric stoves later.
While almost every household has its own oven today, ovens were in short supply before the Second World War. Small village communities often had to share a common oven and everyone was given an appointment when they were allowed to bake. Or you gave your own prepared bread and cake dough to a baker to bake.
Nothing will rise without raising agents
The first flatbreads baked on stones did not have nearly the consistency that is associated with the name flatbread today. They consisted of coarse grain and water and were only drinkable when they were warm. After that the bread became rock hard.
It was probably again a coincidence that one day humans discovered that a fermented dough not only gets bigger, but also makes a fluffy bread after baking. This is how sourdough was created, in which microorganisms set fermentation processes in motion and allow the dough to "rise".
It was only with the invention of the microscope in 1676 that it was possible to identify and research these microorganisms, to which yeast belongs.
Yeasts break down the starch contained in the flour and produce carbon dioxide in the process. This gas makes the dough rise. However, yeasts also have a decisive disadvantage: they use a lot of flour in their "work" themselves, which was a problem in times of general food shortages.
In 1833 the chemist Justus Liebig made a decisive discovery. He found that baking soda with the addition of tartar potassium bitartrate, like yeast, loosened the dough without breaking down the flour.
This was the hour of birth of baking powder. However, baking powder has not caught on for bread, yeast dough simply tastes better with bread. When it comes to cakes, however, baking powder has become an essential ingredient for many types of dough.
Origins of our baked goods
It is hardly possible to quantify all types of bread and cake. Today there are said to be more than 400 types of bread alone. Many baked goods have a regional origin and can only be found in certain areas.
In the course of history, however, some things have become generally accepted, first and foremost of course the classic types of bread. The first yeast and sourdough breads were made around 1000 AD. At the same time, gingerbread is also mentioned for the first time.
The predecessors of today's Christstollen are first mentioned in the 14th century. However, they must have been very dry and bland, because the church for a long time forbade the stollen containing butter.
It was not until 1491 that the Pope lifted the butter ban. Allegedly the loaf of stollen covered in fine sugar symbolizes the Christ child wrapped in diapers.
Another Christmas classic also has religious references: The word "Speculatius" is derived from the Latin word "Speculator" - overseer - which is used in Latin to refer to the bishop.
Speculoos were baked in honor of the holy bishop Nicholas, who provided bread to people in times of need. The speculoos forms represented images from the story of St. Nicholas.
A significant change in baked goods took place in the 18th century, when new milling techniques made it possible to produce finer flour. That was also the time when the "house bakery" was born. Sponge cake and shortcrust pastry were invented.
And in the 18th century the cheaper production of sugar brought another turning point. Sugar has not only become an integral part of cake batter. It was now increasingly used as a frosting, which still shapes the appearance of many baked goods today.
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