I love to eat home made bread. White crusty cottage loaf, thick dense wholemeal, dark, rich molasses bread, oat rolls, buns…the list goes on and on!
Making your own bread is one of the great joys of life. Mixing up that flour with water and oil using your bare hands, is a pleasure everyone should experience. Who doesn’t like to get their fingers sticky every once in a while!?
Perhaps the biggest bonus is, you get to see the whole process live, from start to finish. Plus you don’t have to be an expert to get things right. This is the bit I like! Even a novice, a clumsy oaf, can make and bake and create a worthwhile loaf.
Yeasts are floating through the air all the time. Tiny single celled fungi they feed on carbohydrates and give off alcohol. In air they give off carbon dioxide when feeding, hence the rising of dough.
In a brewing vat there is little air and plenty of sugar so the yeast converts this into alcohol.
When you knead dough you help the gluten form elastic threads. These in turn catch the gas the yeast gives off, so making the bread rise.
Commercial yeast is commonly available but once upon a time (before approx 1860) only sourdough yeast was used. This is known as a starter, yeast that is kept alive in liquid.
A Brief History of Bread
Bread, Beer, Baking and Brewing!
People have been making bread for thousands of years, that much is known. Remains of ovens have been found in archaeological excavations in modern day Iran, Israel and parts of Africa. The growing of cereal meant that these early pioneering cultures were able to grind grain into flour and from there develop simple doughs.
Enquiring minds and experimentation led to the concept of the oven – fire being used to cook the primitive dough to make it edible.
Alongside the baking process came brewing – the turning of sugar into alcohol via fermentation. According to the sources I’ve looked into no one seems certain about the actual dates for the first known bread and ale. It’s likely that the ‘discovery’ of alcohol happened by accident – and that once discovered it was put to good use!!
Experts suggest a timeline of between 4000 and 6000 years ago in what was then called Mesopotamia – Iran stretching through to Turkey. The ancient Egyptians developed this process by allowing crude loaves they’d made to soak in water and ferment.
The resultant liquid would be alcoholic!
Bakers and brewers it appears are from the same creative school!
Recipe For Old Fashioned Milk Bread
This recipe uses warm milk and pure white flour to create a beautifully smooth tasty loaf.
To make two small loaves you’ll need:
1 pint (0.5 litre) warm milk
1 tsp salt
1 oz (30g) fresh yeast
2lb (1kg) plain white flour
beaten egg for glaze
Optional – sesame or poppy seeds on top. 2 tsps honey in flour mixture. You can also use different milks : semi skimmed, soya, full fat.