Bread

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Bread, whole-wheat (typical)
Nutritional value per 100 g
Energy 250 kcal   1030 kJ
Carbohydrates     46 g
- Dietary fiber  7 g  
Fat 4 g
Protein 10 g
Thiamin (Vit. B1)  0.4 mg   31%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)  0.2 mg   13%
Niacin (Vit. B3)  4 mg   27%
Sodium  527 mg 35%
Percentages are relative to US RDI
values for adults.
Bread, white (typical)
Nutritional value per 100 g
Energy 270 kcal   1110 kJ
Carbohydrates     51 g
- Dietary fiber  2.4 g  
Fat 3 g
Protein 8 g
Thiamin (Vit. B1)  0.5 mg   38%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2)  0.3 mg   20%
Niacin (Vit. B3)  4 mg   27%
Sodium  681 mg 45%
Percentages are relative to US RDI
values for adults.

Bread is a staple food of European, Middle Eastern and Indian cultures which is prepared by baking, steaming, or frying dough. Bread consists minimally of flour and water; salt is present in most cases; and usually a leavening agent such as yeast is used. Breads may also contain some amounts of sugar, spices, fruit (such as raisins, pumpkin or bananas), vegetables (like onion or zucchini), nuts, or seeds (such as caraway, sesame or poppy seeds). There are a wide variety of breads, with preferences differing from region to region.

Fresh bread is prized for its taste and texture, and retaining its freshness is important to keep it appetizing. Bread that has stiffened or dried past its prime is said to be stale. Modern bread is often wrapped in paper or plastic film, or stored in airtight containers such as a breadbox to keep it fresh longer. Bread that is kept in warm moist environments is prone to the growth of mold. It becomes stale more quickly in the low temperature of a refrigerator, although by keeping it cool, mold is less likely to grow.

The inner soft part of bread is referred to as the crumb (not to be confused with small bits called "crumbs"). The outer hard part of bread is called the crust. The latter is in common usage, however "crumb" is used mainly by professionals.

Contents

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Usage

Bread can be served ranging anywhere from room temperature to hot. Once baked, bread can subsequently be toasted. Bread is most commonly picked up and eaten with the hands, although some applications of bread are more easily eaten with the aid of a utensil such as a fork. It can be eaten by itself or as a carrier for another, usually less compact food. Bread may be dunked or dipped into a liquid (such as beef gravy or olive oil), topped with various spreads, both sweet and savory, or serve as the enclosure for the ubiquitous sandwich with any number of meats, cheeses, vegetables or condiments inside. Across the world, bread is the preferred vehicle for many toppings that vary from culture to culture.

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Etymology

The word itself, Old English bread, is common in various forms to many Germanic languages; such as Frisian brea, Dutch brood, German Brot, Swedish bröd, and Norwegian brød; it has been derived from the root of brew, but more probably is connected with the root of break, for its early uses are confined to broken pieces, or bits of bread, the Latin frustum, and it was not until the 12th century that it took the place—as the generic name for bread—of hlaf (modern English loaf), which appears to be the oldest Teutonic name; Old High German hleib and modern German Laib, or Finnish leipä, Estonian leib, and Russian хлеб (khleb) are similar (all are derived from Old Germanic).

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History

Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods, dating back to the Neolithic era. The first breads produced were probably cooked versions of a grain-paste, made from ground cereal grains and water, and may have been developed by accidental cooking or deliberate experimentation with water and grain flour. Descendants of these early breads are still commonly made from various grains worldwide, including the Mexican tortilla, Indian and Pakistani chapati, Scottish oatcake, North American johnnycake, Hebrew Pita bread (Pitot in Hebrew) and Ethiopian injera. The basic flat breads of this type also formed a staple in the diet of many early civilizations with the Sumerians eating a type of barley flat cake, and the 12th century BC Egyptians being able to purchase a flat bread called ta from stalls in the village streets.[1]

The development of leavened bread can probably also be traced to prehistoric times. Yeast spores occur everywhere, including the surface of cereal grains, so any dough left to rest will become naturally leavened. Although leavening is likely of prehistoric origin, the earliest archaeological evidence is from ancient Egypt. Scanning electron microscopy has detected yeast cells in some ancient Egyptian loaves. However, ancient Egyptian bread was made from emmer wheat and has a dense crumb. In cases where yeast cells are not visible, it is difficult to determine whether the bread was leavened by visual examination. As a result, the extent to which bread was leavened in ancient Egypt remains uncertain.[2]

There were multiple sources of leavening available for early bread. Airborne yeasts could be harnessed by leaving uncooked dough exposed to air for some time before cooking. Pliny the Elder reported that the Gauls and Iberians used the foam skimmed from beer to produce "a lighter kind of bread than other peoples." Parts of the ancient world that drank wine instead of beer used a paste composed of grape juice and flour that was allowed to begin fermenting, or wheat bran steeped in wine, as a source for yeast. The most common source of leavening however was to retain a piece of dough from the previous day to utilize as a form of sourdough starter.[3]

Even within antiquity there was a wide variety of breads available. In the Deipnosophistae, the Greek author Athenaeus describes some of the breads, cakes, cookies, and pastries available in the Classical world. Among the breads mentioned are griddle cakes, honey-and-oil bread, mushroom shaped loaves covered in poppy seeds, and the military specialty of rolls baked on a spit. The type and quality of flour used to produce bread could also vary as noted by Diphilus when he declared "bread made of wheat, as compared with that made of barley, is more nourishing, more digestible, and in every way superior. In order of merit, the bread made from refined [thoroughly sieved] flour comes first, after that bread from ordinary wheat, and then the unbolted, made of flour that has not been sifted."[4]

Within medieval Europe bread served not only as a staple food but also as part of the table service. In the standard table setting of the day the trencher, a piece of stale bread roughly 6 inches by 4 inches (15 cm by 10 cm), served as an absorbent plate. At the completion of a meal the trencher could then be eaten, given to the poor, or fed to the dogs. It was not until the 15th Century that trenchers made of wood started to replace the bread variety.[5]

Otto Frederick Rohwedder is considered to be the father of sliced bread. In 1912 Rohwedder started work on inventing a machine that sliced bread, but bakeries were reluctant to use it since they were concerned the sliced bread would go stale. It was not until 1928, when Rohwedder invented a machine that both sliced and wrapped the bread, that sliced bread caught on. A bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri was the first to use this machine to produce sliced bread.

For generations, white bread was considered the preferred bread of the rich while the poor ate dark bread. However, the connotations reversed in the 20th century with dark bread becoming preferred as having superior nutritional value while white bread became associated with lower class ignorance of nutrition.

Another major advance happened in 1961 with the development of the Chorleywood Bread Process which used the intense mechanical working of dough to dramatically reduce the fermentation period and the time taken to produce a loaf. This process is now widely used around the world.

Recently, domestic breadmakers that automate the process of making bread are becoming popular in the home.

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Cultural and political importance of bread

As a foodstuff of great historical and contemporary importance, in many cultures bread has a significance beyond mere nutrition. The Lord's Prayer, for example, contains the line 'Give us today our daily bread'; here, 'bread' is commonly understood to mean necessities in general. In Israel the most usual phrase in work related demonstrations is "lehem, avoda" [bread, work], and during the 1960s, the hippie community used the term bread as a euphemism for money. The word bread is now commonly used around the world in English speaking countries as a synonym for money, in part, derived from the rhyming slang "Bread and honey". The cultural importance of 'bread' goes beyond slang, however, to serve as a metaphor for basic necessities and living conditions in general. A 'bread-winner' is a household's main economic contributor and has little to do with actual bread-provision, for example. In the USSR, Lenin and his fellow Bolsheviks promised "Peace, Land, and Bread," which thereby became a mainstay slogan of Soviet propaganda. In Newfoundland, bread was seen as having the power to protect against fairies. The term "bread-basket" is often used to denote an agriculturally productive region.

The political significance of bread is considerable. In Britain in the nineteenth century the inflated price of bread due to the Corn Laws caused major political and social divisions, and was central to debates over free trade and protectionism. The Assize of Bread and Ale in the thirteenth century showed the importance of bread in medieval times by setting heavy punishments for short-changing bakers, and bread appeared in Magna Carta a century later.

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Types

Bread is a popular food in Western and most other societies, although East Asian societies typically prefer rice or noodles. It is often made from a wheat-flour dough that is cultured with yeast, allowed to rise, and finally baked in an oven. Owing to its high levels of gluten (which give the dough sponginess and elasticity), common wheat (also known as bread wheat) is the most common grain used for the preparation of bread, but bread is also made from the flour of other wheat species (including durum, spelt and emmer), rye, barley, maize (or corn), and oats, usually, but not always, in combination with wheat flour. Although common wheat is best suited for making highly-risen white bread, other wheat species are capable of giving a good crumb. Spelt bread (Dinkelbrot) continues to be widely consumed in Germany, and emmer bread was a staple food in ancient Egypt.

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Gallery

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Composition and chemistry

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Formulation

The amount of water and flour are the most significant measurements in a bread recipe, as they affect texture and crumb the most. Professional bakers use a system of percentages known as Bakers' Percentage in their recipe formulations, and measure ingredients by weight instead of by volume. Measurement by weight is much more accurate and consistent than measurement by volume, especially for the dry ingredients.

Flour is always 100%, and the rest of the ingredients are a percent of that amount by weight. Common table bread in the U.S. uses approximately 50% water, resulting in a finely textured, light, bread. Most artisan bread formulas contain anywhere from 60 to 75% water. In yeast breads, the higher water percentages result in more CO2 bubbles, and a coarser bread crumb. One pound (500 g) of flour will yield a standard loaf of bread, or two french loaves.

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Flour

Flour is a product made from grain that has been ground into a powdery consistency. It is flour that provides the primary structure to the final baked bread. Commonly available flours are made from rye, barley, maize, and other grains, but it is wheat flour that is most commonly used for breads. Each of these grains provides the starch and protein necessary for the production of bread.

Wheat flour in addition to its starch contains three water soluble proteins groups, albumin, globulin, proteoses, and two non-water soluble proteins groups, glutenin and gliadin. When flour is mixed with water the water-soluble proteins dissolve, leaving the glutenin and gliadin to form the structure of the resulting dough. When worked by kneading, the glutenin forms strands of long thin chainlike molecules while the shorter gliadin forms bridges between the strands of glutenin. The resulting networks of strands produced by these two proteins is known as gluten. Gluten development improves if the dough is allowed to autolyse.

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Liquids

Water, or some other liquid, is used to form the flour into a paste or dough. The volume of liquid required varies between recipes, but a ratio of 1 cup (2 dL) of liquid to 3 cups (7 dL) of flour is common for yeast breads while recipes that use steam as the primary leavening method may have a liquid content in excess of one part liquid to one part flour by volume. In addition to water, other types of liquids that may be used include dairy products, fruit juices, or beer. In addition to the water in each of these they also bring additional sweeteners, fats, and or leavening components.

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Leavening

Leavening is the process of adding gas to a dough before or during baking to produce a lighter, more easily chewed bread. Most bread consumed in the West is leavened. However, unleavened breads have symbolic importance in Judaism and Christianity. Jews consume unleavened bread called Matzo during Passover. They are also used in the Christan liturgy when they perform the Eucharist, a rite derived from the Last Supper when Jesus broke bread with his disciples during a Passover Seder.

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Chemical leavening

A simple technique for leavening bread is the use of gas-producing chemicals. There are two common methods. The first is to use baking powder or a self-rising flour that includes baking powder. The second is to have an acidic ingredient such as buttermilk and add baking soda. The reaction of the acid with the soda produces gas.

Chemically-leavened breads are called quick breads and soda breads. This technique is commonly used to make muffins and sweet breads such as banana bread.

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Yeast leavening

Many breads are leavened by yeast, a type of single-celled fungus. The yeast used for leavening bread is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the same species used for brewing alcoholic beverages. This yeast ferments carbohydrates in the flour, including any sugar, producing carbon dioxide. Most bakers in the U.S. leaven their doughs with commercially produced baker's yeast. Baker's yeast has the advantage of producing uniform, quick, and reliable results, because it is obtained from a pure culture.

Both the baker's yeast, and the sourdough method of baking bread follow the same pattern. Water is mixed with flour, salt and the leavening agent (baker's yeast or sourdough starter). Other additions (spices, herbs, fats, seeds, fruit, etc.) are not necessary to bake bread, but often used. The mixed dough is then allowed to rise one or more times (a longer rising time results in more flavor, so bakers often punch down the dough and let it rise again), then loaves are formed and (after an optional final rising time) the bread is baked in an oven.

Many breads are made from a straight dough, which means that all of the ingredients are combined in one step, and the dough baked after the rising time. Alternatively, doughs can be made with the starter method, when some of the flour, water, and the leavening are combined a day or so ahead of baking, and allowed to ferment overnight (such as the poolish typically used for baguettes). On the day of the baking, the rest of the ingredients are added, and the rest of the process is the same as that for straight doughs. This produces a more flavorful bread with better texture. Many bakers see the starter method as a compromise between the highly reliable results of baker's yeast, and the flavor/complexity of a longer fermentation. It also allows the baker to use only a minimal amount of baker's yeast, which was scarce and expensive when it first became available.

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Sourdough

Sourdough loaves
Sourdough loaves

The sour taste of sourdoughs actually comes not from the yeast, but from a lactobacillus, with which the yeast lives in symbiosis. The lactobacillus feeds on the byproducts of the yeast fermentation, and in turn makes the culture go sour by excreting lactic acid, which protects it from spoiling (since most microbes are unable to survive in an acid environment). All yeast-leavened breads used to be sourdoughs, and the leavening process was not understood until the 19th century, when with the advance of microscopes, scientists were able to discover the microbes that make the dough rise. Since then, strains of yeast have been selected and cultured mainly for reliability and quickness of fermentation. Billions of cells of these strains are then packaged and marketed as "Baker's Yeast". Bread made with baker's yeast is not sour because of the absence of the lactobacillus. Bakers around the world quickly embraced baker's yeast for it made baking simple and so allowed for more flexibility in the bakery's operations. It made baking quick as well, allowing bakeries to make fresh bread from scratch as often as three times a day. While European bakeries kept producing sourdough breads, in the U.S., sourdough baking was widely replaced by baker's yeast, and only recently has that country (or parts of it, at least) seen the rebirth of sour-vinegar dough in artisan bakeries. According to Alton Brown, host of Food Network's "Good Eats" television show, each region of the world have different strains of lactobacillus, hence the flavor of the bread made from home starters are unique.

Sourdough breads are most often made with a sourdough starter (not to be confused with the starter method discussed above). A sourdough starter is a culture of yeast and lactobacillus. It is essentially a dough-like or pancake-like flour/water mixture in which the yeast and lactobacilli live. A starter can be maintained indefinitely by periodically discarding a part of it and refreshing it by adding fresh flour and water. (When refrigerated, a starter can go weeks without needing to be fed.) There are starters owned by bakeries and families that are several human generations old, much revered for creating a special taste or texture. Starters can be obtained by taking a piece of another starter and growing it, or they can be made from scratch. There are hobbyist groups on the web who will send their starter for a stamped, self-addressed envelope, and there are even mailorder companies that sell different starters from all over the world. An acquired starter has the advantage to be more proven and established (stable and reliable, resisting spoiling and behaving predictably) than from-scratch starters.

There are other ways of sourdough baking and culture maintenance. A more traditional one is the process that was followed by peasant families throughout Europe in past centuries. The family (usually the woman was in charge of breadmaking) would bake on a fixed schedule, perhaps once a week. The starter was saved from the previous week's dough. The starter was mixed with the new ingredients, the dough was left to rise, then a piece of it was saved (to be the starter for next week's bread). The rest was formed into loaves which were marked with the family sign (this is where today's decorative slashing of bread loaves originates from), and taken to the communal oven to bake. These communal ovens over time evolved into what we know today as bakeries, when certain people specialized in bread baking, and with time enhanced the process so far as to be able to mass produce cheap bread for everyone in the village.

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Steam leavening

The rapid expansion of steam produced during baking leavens the bread, which is as simple as it is unpredictable. The best known steam-leavened bread is the popover. Steam-leavening is unpredictable since the steam is not produced until the bread is baked.

Steam leavening happens regardless of the rising agents (soda powder, yeast, baking-powder, sour dough, egg snow…)

It is actually the main factor in the rise. CO2 generation, on its own, is too small to account for the rise. Heat kills bacteria or yeast at an early stage, so the CO2 generation is stopped.

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Bacterial leavening

Salt-risen bread employs a form of bacterial leavening that does not require yeast. Although the leavening action is not always consistent, and requires close attention to the incubating conditions, this bread is making a comeback due to its unique cheese-like flavor and fine texture. [1].

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Aeration

Aerated bread is leavened by carbon dioxide being forced into dough under pressure. The technique is no longer in common use, but from the mid 19th to 20th centuries bread made this way was somewhat popular in the United Kingdom, made by the Aerated Bread Company and sold in its high-street tea rooms.

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Fats or shortenings

Fats such as butter, vegetable oils, lard, or that contained in eggs affects the development of gluten in breads by coating and lubricating the individual strands of protein and also helping hold the structure together. If too much fat is included in a bread dough, the lubrication effect will cause the protein structures to divide. A fat content of approximately 3% by weight is the concentration that will produce the greatest leavening action.

This effect is used most popularly in cookies, in that increased fat - typically shortening - causes a harder cookie (more popular in cookies such as chocolate chip) while increased flour causes a softer cookie (more popular in cookies such as oatmeal). As it is typically not acceptable to have harder bread, this effect is usually not available for use in breads.

In addition to their effects on leavening, fats also serve to tenderize the breads they are used in and also help to keep the bread fresh longer after baking.

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Breads across different cultures

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Sourdough breads like this baguette (left) and roundbread begin with a starter passed down from excess batter from a previous loaf.
Sourdough breads like this baguette (left) and roundbread begin with a starter passed down from excess batter from a previous loaf.

There are many variations on the basic recipe of bread, including pizza, chapatis, tortillas, baguettes, brioche, pitas, lavash, biscuits, pretzels, naan, bagels, puris, and many other variations.

Recipes for a small selection of [2]multicultural breads can be found at University of Illinois, Nutrition Extension Program.

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Trivia

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Related patents

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Notes

  1. Tannahill p. 37, 61, 69
  2. Samuel p. 558
  3. Tannahill p. 68-69
  4. Tannahill p. 91
  5. Tannahill p. 227
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References

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See also

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External links

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