How did they work out how to make bread?

The Guardian - G2 - - Notes And Queries -

How did so many an­cient cul­tures fig­ure out that you can make flour, and then bread, from wheat? It’s a pretty con­vo­luted process and I reckon you could sit me in front of a field of wheat with an oven, some wa­ter, a grinder, and some yeast and wheat, and I’d never put the five to­gether.

The first breads wouldn’t have had yeast in them, but would have been the un­leav­ened bread men­tioned in the Bi­ble. Since grains aren’t re­ally ed­i­ble un­til they have been cooked, it would have started, per­haps, with toss­ing them into what­ever passed for a stewpot.

Then per­haps some­one would have got the idea to pound the grains up with a rock to make them cook more quickly; then dis­cov­ered that they held to­gether as a sort of gluey mass when soaked and cooked. Then they would have made a kind of pan­cake and cooked it on a hot rock.

The discovery of yeast may have hap­pened when some­one left a pot of this mix­ture out to soak and soften, and the next morn­ing found bub­bles and air holes in it be­cause nat­u­ral yeasts from the air had got in, or per­haps from dried fruit they had added.

There may have been some cross­over from beer brew­ing. One an­cient Assyr­ian beer recipe men­tions us­ing “twice baked bread” (toast?) and raisins as the in­gre­di­ents. Raisins would have picked up wild yeasts while dry­ing on the vine; some­one may have used the same uten­sils for whip­ping up a batch of bread and added yeast to their bread that way.

So it wouldn’t have been a one-time thing, with bread as we know it sud­denly emerg­ing from loaf pans in an oven. nu­li­a­juk

What if in the field you also had a cow, some cheese, a tomato plant and a gherkin plant? Don’t you think you would find a con­ve­nient way to serve the burger you had just in­vented? rus­sell84

They prob­a­bly had a Mary Berry book handy.


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