Recorded evidence of baking in ancient Egypt
Early drawings of home baking
Setting the bread
BAKING a short History.
Bread making is an art which has been practised from earliest known times. Very early in History it was discovered that certain grains were edible, and very soon it was found that they were more easily consumable if broken down into very fine pieces, this was the beginning of flour milling and the breaking down of grain was carried out by the use of stones which were ready to hand and could be used by the women of the community.
Of course there is no bread without fire. Evidence has been found to suggest that as far back as 400,000 years ago Homo Erectus was using fire to process food. The earliest recorded evidence suggests that cooking with fire started in England some 250.000 years ago.
Once it was realised that fire could change and improve the diet it would be a natural progression to contain a fire that had been created naturally by lightning or maybe a volcano so as to keep it alight and safe. This would have been done with stones and mud which they soon realised did not burn but did get hot and therefore the heat ,especially in the stone could be used to bake on and so the development of the oven began.
It is worth noting that present day bakery products command a high premium price if Stone baked.Some bakers ovens are still constructed with stone (tile) soles (floors) which results in a wonderful crust and a more mellow bake. So despite hundreds of years of development the basic principle is still a winner. For the home baker this can easily be replicated by the addition of an unglazed quarry tile or commercially produced stone in your existing oven.
Discoveries made in Egypt have revealed a number of interesting facts such as types of bread made by primitive people, one of these being that the makers name or sign would be stamped on the bread.- - - - In early days the bread was unleavened (not fermented or aerated). It was later discovered that bread that was left to ferment was lighter, more pleasant to eat and more easily digested, thus it became common practice to make fermented bread.It is thought that the Egyptians learnt this from the Babylonians around 2600B.C.
Wheat has been the main cereal used for bread making in the U.K., however, with the ever changing taste of todays consumer and the cosmopolitan demography, other cereals such as Rye, Rice, Buckwheat and Cornmeal are now becoming popular.
Confectionery found its beginnings in early Roman Times in the form of flour enriched by honey and lard and further evidence of the making of confectionery can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible in the times of the Egyptian Kings. So, as bakers we have a long history to live up to and help ensure the continuation of the art.