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Bread

dough, yeast, flour, cells, time and greeks

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BREAD. It is generally conceded nowadays that the Egyptians were the first to use leaven in the making of bread, though some historians give the credit to the Chinese. From Egypt, the custom traveled to Greece and, later on, the Greeks communicated the process to the Romans, who spread the invention throughout the northern countries during their campaigns.

The allusions to bread in the works of the classic authors are very numerous. Athenaeus mentions no fewer than sixty-two varieties as known among the ancient Greeks and good descriptions of many of them are given. They employed in the mak ing a great variety of grains—wheat, barley, rye, millet, spelt, rice, etc.—combining them sometimes with other substances such as the flour of dried lotus roots and the root of the cornflag, the last named first boiled so as to give a sweet taste to the bread.

In ancient Rome, public bakeries were numerous, the great majority of them con ducted by Greeks, who had the reputation of making the best bread.

Wheat bread is the most popular in this country because wheat flour's higher per centage of gliadin makes bread that is lighter than that of other flour. It is also credited with being a nearly perfect food ration. It is not as rich in food value as dried ripe beans or peas, but on the other hand it is in a form which is more generally accept able as a leading article of diet and is easily assimilated. Its principal defect is the lack of fat, and that is generally overcome by the custom of eating it with butter or milk. It is also somewhat deficient in protein—hence the desirability of supplementing it with meat, fish, etc. (see article on FOOD VALUES) .

The exact science of modern bread making is a study of infinite minor chemical possibilities, but its fundamental principles may be outlined in a few words. The flour is mixed with water, a little salt and yeast, and left or set in a warm place to "rise." Later on, it is again kneaded and set to rise a second time. Then, as soon as the dough has risen sufficiently, it is shaped into loaves and baked in the oven. The time thus con

sumed varies in different processes, according to the quantity of yeast used, the tem perature maintained, etc. In large modern bakeries, all or nearly all the work is done by machinery.

The raising of the dough is effected by the growth in it of the yeast fungi. The diastase in the dough, produced by the action of the yeast on part of the soluble protein of the flour, converts part of the starch into a kind, of sugar, and the yeast cells, feeding on and propagating in this, produce alcoholic fermentation—convert it into alcohol and carbon-dioxide (gas). The alcohol, which passes away by evaporation, is unimportant but the carbon-dioxide, being distributed all through the dough, raises it as it expands in thousands of little pockets or cells in the dough. When the loaves are placed in the oven, the heat kills the yeast cells and stops the fermentation, but at the same time causes the gas already formed to expand still further, thus again raising the bread. Later, the gas forces itself out, but the air cells still remain, held in place by the stiff ening in baking of the gliadin in the dough. The heat also changes some of the mois ture into steam, which, being retained in the same or other tiny pockets, aids in the rais ing process—and the result is the light porous loaf of everyday use.

The brown crust of the baked loaf and much of its pleasing odor, are due princi pally to the caramelizing of the dextrin and other sugars obtained by the conversion of the starch of the outer surface.

The ordinary bread and rolls of everyday use are made from white flour—obtained by grinding the wheat grain after the bran coat and germ have been removed. For the more "fancy" varieties, milk and water, or milk alone, are substituted for the water in mixing the dough, and in some cases, sugar, butter, lard, etc., are added to it to make it sweeter or richer.

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