“Baking is a food cooking method that uses prolonged dry heat, normally in an oven, but also in hot ashes, or on hot stones.” It is the oldest cooking method. Bakery products, which include bread, cookies, pies, pastries, rolls, and muffins, are usually prepared from flour or meal derived from some form of grain. Bread is already a common staple in prehistoric times, provides many nutrients in the human diet
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The earliest processing of cereal grains probably involved dry roasting or parching of collected grain seeds. Texture, Flavor, and digestibility were later improved by cooking whole or broken grains with water, forming gruel or porridge. It was a short step to the baking of a layer of viscous gruel on a hot stone, producing the primitive flatbread. More sophisticated versions of flat bread include the Mexican tortilla, made of processed corn, and the chapati usually made of wheat.
Baking techniques improved with the development of an enclosed baking utensil and then of ovens, making possible thicker baked loaves or cakes. The phenomenon of fermentation, with the resultant lightening of the loaf structure and development of appealing flavors, was probably first observed when doughs or gruels, held for several hours before baking, exhibited spoilage caused by yeasts. Some of the effects of the microbiologically induced changes were regarded as desirable, and a gradual acquisition of control over the process led to traditional methods for making leavened bread loaves. The early baked products were made of mixed seeds with a predominance of barley, but wheat flour because of its superior response to fermentation, eventually became the preferred cereal among the different cultural groups sufficiently advanced in culinary techniques to make leavened bread.
Baking and brewing were closely connected in early civilizations. Thick Gruel’s Fermentation resulted in a dough suitable for baking a thinner mash produced a kind of beer. Both techniques required knowledge of the “mysteries” of fermentation and supply of grain. Increasing knowledge and experience taught the artisans in the brewing and baking trades that barley was best suited to brewing, while wheat was best for baking.
They maintained a crude of desirable fermentation organisms, stocks of sourdough used portions of this material to inoculate fresh doughs. With doughs made by mixing flour, water, salt, and leaven, the Egyptian baking industry eventually developed more than 50 varieties of bread, varying the shape and using such flavoring materials as sea same, poppyseed and camphor. Samples that found in tombs are flatter and coarser than modern bread.
Egyptians developed the first ovens. The earliest known examples are cylindrical vessels made of baked Nile clay, tapered at the top to give a cone shape and divided inside by a horizontal shelf like the partition. The upper section is the baking chamber, the lower section is the firebox. The pieces of dough were placed in the baking chamber through a hole provided on top.
In first two or three centuries after the founding of Rome, baking remained a domestic skill with few changes in equipment or processing methods. According to Pliny the Elder, there were no bakers in Rome until the middle of the second century BCE. As well-to-do families increased, women like to avoid frequent and tedious bread making began to patronize professional bakers, usually freed slaves. Loaves molded by hand into a generally weighing about a pound, spheroidal shape, were baked in a beehive-shaped oven fired by wood.
Although Roman professional bakers introduced technological improvements, some were essentially reintroductions of earlier developments and many were of minor importance.
Water, Flour, and leavening agents are the ingredients primarily responsible for the characteristic appearance, texture, and flavour of most bakery products. Salt, Eggs, milk, shortening, and sugar are effective in modifying these qualities, and various minor ingredients may also be used.
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