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Bakery technology – History of bread

What do you know about the history of bread – this staple that you eat every day?

The history of bread: from prehistory until tomorrow

Look at bread: it is the history of the humanity which you contemplate.

2007061220giza2015Bread is the very base of our food since millennia; it is the privileged witness of the history of mankind and of its civilization.

As a spiritual symbol, it has accompanied religious festivals and rites. With the whims of nature and military campaigns, the bread has been token of opulence or misery, of constraint or freedom.

Lack of bread caused famine in the Middle-Ages, protests because of the bread price at the dawn of the French revolution, bread rationing during World War II, the success of white bread in the post-war period and until recently the rediscovery of tasty whole grain bread, made with sourdough. Two important events happened “rather recently”.

The first one was the manufacture of the microscope by Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723).

Leeuwenhoek is known to have made over 500 “microscopes,” of which fewer than ten have survived to the present day. In basic design, probably all of Leeuwenhoek’s instruments – certainly all the ones that are known – were simply powerful magnifying glasses, not compound microscopes of the type used today.

Yeast is a rather recent invention. A major breakthrough was made thanks to the work of Louis Pasteur.

He demonstrated that the fermentation process is caused by the growth of microorganisms, and that the growth of microorganisms in nutrient broths is not due to spontaneous generation. Without the work of Louis Pasteur and the discoveries he made, we would not be able to understand and to make sourdough.

And last but not least, in the 50’s, a real scientific breakthrough, the important discovery of the structure of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick. The very knowledge of it will be the basis for further research and developments into the production of taste specific sourdoughs. A new microbiological era will be born.

The history of the bread starts in 8000 BC with the premises of agriculture. The activity and art of baking bread will develop from the Prehistory to Antiquity together with the growth of Mediterranean civilizations (Egypt, Greece and Rome)

Ten thousand years before Christ: man does not cook his food. He lives from hunting and collecting grains and seeds which grow in a wild state.

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Source: Bakery technology – History of bread

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