The origin of bread dates back to the time of the Egyptians. Over five thousand years ago they produced bread with sourdough that is very similar to the breads of today.
Bread is one of the oldest nutriments in the world. People have been using grains and grain products for about 15,000 years.
Initially, the grains were eaten raw, but with the discovery of fire, people started roasting seeds - these were the precursors of today's cereals. At the time a soup was prepared from the seeds. Later the soup was thickened into porridge. Porridge was the most common food for the poor people of central Europe until the last century.
The first flat breads were baked from grain porridge.
The next stage of bread evolution was the baking of flat bread from grain. The grain paste was poured in a thin layer onto a heated stone causing the water to evaporate resulting in a flat bread. The advantage of this flat bread was that it stayed fresh for a long time. In contrast to the later flat breads that were made from dough these flat breads did not rise, thus fermentation did not occur. These flat breads evolved into the bread we enjoy today. The realization that raw bread dough would ferment after a while was significant. This fermentation is caused by lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, but not all are equally well suited for the dough. The final result was therefore rather accidental.
2000 BC Egyptian bakers had already created 16 different kinds of breads and cakes. Excavations of an Egyptian bakery from 1200 BC identified 30 bread and cake varieties. In the heyday of their time up to 50 different kinds of breads were available. The dough was flavored with additives such as poppy, sesame, fennel and camphor.
1000 BC a clay oven was the staple of each Egyptian home. In addition, they had portable “pot-style” ovens made of stone or metal. The initial development of baking bread was followed by vast improvements in the milling and baking technology in rapid succession. First they invented rotating mills, powered by primitive water wheels that were later replaced by conventional milling stones around 300 BC.
The Greeks observed the Egyptians invention of breads and then developed the sourdough production by direct flour acidification. The Germans started the production of acidified bread around 800 BC.
Through the contact with Egyptians, the people of Israel got to know and appreciate bread. This is reported in detail in many biblical passages. The art of baking bread spread to Europe through Israel - first to the Romans. For Rome the cultivation and use of grain was significant during the rise to the Roman Empire.
Around 400 AD there were more that 250 bakeries in Rome, some of which were large enterprises, able to process up to 60lbs of grain daily. A misguided agricultural policy contributed significantly to the fall of he Roman Empire.
In Rome, state bakeries supplied the populous with bread.
For the rapidly growing population, grain was the main food source, since it grew very well in a relatively small area and in almost all climates. Since prehistoric times humans have consumed six basic grains: millet, oats, barley, rice, wheat, and then later rye. With the discovery of America came corn.
To date, these basic six grains are an essential part of our diet. In past times more wars were fought over granaries and grain growing areas than gold. Bad harvests meant hunger, misery and hardship for those affected by it. Grain shortages and grain surpluses dominated world politics.
Most bakeries nowadays use artificial leavening and baking agents. At the German Bread Bakery of Las Vegas we follow the traditional way and therefore only use natural leavening agents.
Our natural sourdough is a rye dough that develops natural acid bacteria and yeast. The taste, aroma and long shelf life develop during the lactic acid fermentation. In the finished leaven, also known as Vollsauer, the acid ratio between lactic acid to acetic acid is 3:1. The alcohol fermentation by the yeast is responsible for the gassing of dough (CO 2 escapes). The production of natural sourdough is an involved 3-step procedure and takes 24 hours to complete.
The Germans and their preference for black bread (Whole Grain Bread). When Germans refer to “black bread” they are primarily speaking about a whole grain rye.
About 300 different varieties of bread and 1200 small pastries fill the bread baskets in Germany. This diversity is unique and it is also reflected in our black breads. Ranging from the strong, slightly sweet “Oldenburg” brown bread to the juicy “Rheinisch” black bread.
At the beginning of the 20th Century rye bread was common throughout Europe, but only Germany and Eastern European countries kept the tradition of rye. The distinctive trait of dark rye bread is the production with leaven in a multistage process. Yeast alone is not enough to fully release the rye flavor. Working with an artisan sourdough is much more complicated than working with yeast dough. The baker who wants to fully exploit the rye process must be a master of this craft. At the German Bread Bakery of Las Vegas we bake exclusively with rye sourdough as a foundation. Even in most of Europe the technique of how to bake with natural rye sourdough has been lost. In Germany, however, it has been passed down from generation to generation. Reason for this is the unparalleled training of our bakers, for which Germany is famous. Many essential nutrients can be found in wholegrain breads. They come from the fields to the mills, from there to the baker and thus reaching the consumer in the form of baked goods.
Of all grains rye has the highest content of dietary fiber. Particularly, beneficial pentosans, that ensures optimal digestion. In addition, rye is rich in minerals, vitamins and other micronutrients, which are located mainly in the outer layers of the grain. According to recent studies rye bread can even improve insulin metabolism. Experts are excitedly awaiting the outcome of the current EU research project ‘Health Grain’ about rye and other grains.
Black bread keeps fresh for a long time, which also makes it so popular. "However, in no case pack it into a dense plastic," warned Hans-Georg Baum from the German Bakers' Academy in Stuttgart. After baking, the starch in the bread pulls together and evaporates water. When packed into dense plastic this water cannot escape and therefore the bread becomes moldy. It is better to keep the bread in a container in which it can breathe.
Bread, the Food Balance
A balanced diet includes grains, which can be found in bread products. Bread can lower the oversupply of protein, fat and cholesterol drastically. In contrast to foods with a lot of sugars and fats the energy of bread is released slowly. Starch, which accounts for 50% of bread content, is metabolized by developing into glucose. The blood sugar level rises slowly, but stays at that level longer. After extensive chewing bread fills the stomach very quickly, gives the body a long lasting feeling of saturation. Bread also supports the supply of vitamins and minerals. According to the Bonn eV Bakery Institute, a daily consumption of 80 to 306 grams of bread provides 45% of daily protein and carbohydrate needs without leading to obesity or malnutrition.
Bread plays an important role in the supplying humans with essential vitamins of the B complex and vitamin E. In particular, whole wheat bread is the safest method of vitamin B1 supply (thiamine). Other vitamins contained in rye and wheat bread that should be mentioned are vitamin B2 to (riboflavin) and Niacin, while vitamin E in large quantities occurs only in wheat.
Grains are also important because of their content of minerals, particularly magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and iron.
The difference in nutrient content between rye and wheat, compared on the basis of an identical extraction rate, is relatively small. However, the outer layers of the rye grain are harder to separate than wheat grain, making the selection of the kernels difficult. Due to this fact rye flour is darker than wheat flour, and thus has higher levels of nutrients and dietary fiber.
Bread’s composition, namely, many complex carbohydrates including dietary fiber, protein, low fat vitamins and minerals, is an important and healthy food.
Bread, as our ancestors already knew gives us VITALITY