Brief HistoryBread, in one form or another, has been one of the principal forms of food for man from earliest times.The trade of the baker, then, is one of the oldest crafts in the world. Loaves and rolls have been foundin ancient Egyptian tombs. In the British Museums Egyptian galleries you can see actual loaves whichwere made and baked over 5,000 years ago. Also on display are grains of wheat which ripened in thoseancient summers under the Pharaohs. Wheat has been found in pits where human settlementsflourished 8,000 years ago. Bread, both leavened and unleavened, is mentioned in the Bible manytimes. The ancient Greeks and Romans knew bread for a staple food even in those days’ people arguedwhether white or brown bread was best.Further back, in the Stone Age, people made solid cakes from stone-crushed barley and wheat. Amillstone used for grinding corn has been found, that is thought to be 7,500 years old. The ability tosow and reap cereals may be one of the chief causes which led man to dwell in communities, ratherthan to live a wandering life hunting and herding cattle.
It started when…The baker mixes his dough-just the right amount of flour, water (which must be of the righttemperature), salt and yeast. The mixture is left to stand in a warm place in its container ortrough, and so to ferment and rise. When it has well risen, it is knocked back. This means thatit is thoroughly re-kneaded. The extra mixing helps to give it just the right degree of firmness,and also makes the yeast cells work harder and better. Then the knocked-back dough is left tostand, ferment and rise once more. When the dough has risen, it is divided into pieces of theright weight either by hand or machine. Another method of making bread dough is the no timemethod. This is achieved by mixing the flour, water, salt and yeast together with a breadimprover that accelerates the dough development and does not need the dough to be knockedback. After dividing into pieces, and given a rest period the pieces of dough are molded into theloaf shape required. This can be done by hand or by a special machine. Next, the molded piecesof dough are put into tins almost, but not quite, ready for the oven. The dough must be given itslast chance to rise before it reaches the oven, and here usually a pause of three-quarters of anhour is necessary.Then the loaves go into the oven for about three-quarters of an hour of baking. The dough soonbecomes warm; the tiny gas bubbles expand until their walls become firm, and so the loaf risesinto its finished shape. The heat of the oven steams the inside and bakes the outside into a hardcrisp crust. How attractive do the loaves look now, and what a lovely smell of new baked bread!Before the loaves can be sold, they must first be cooled slowly; to do so quickly would spoil thebread. After cooling, they are often sliced and wrapped before being sent to the Dispatchdepartment and loaded into the bakers van.Many of the tasks in the bakery are now done by machine-mixing the dough, dividing, andmoulding it into loaf shapes. Some of the larger plant bakeries have huge travelling ovens,where the moulded loaves in tins are carried on a moving belt very slowly into and through theoven-dough as they enter baked loaves as they emerge the other end. We should remember,however, that the baker is a craftsman, with or without his machines, and has always been so.