This question isn’t exactly advanced quantum theory, but here I go anyway. I heard a commercial on the radio the other day making facetious comments about the discovery of how to make bread. After listening to it, I realized that the series of events that had to occur to make that first loaf are pretty improbable. Any ideas how people happened to figure it out?
Unleavened bread probably existed for centuries–ground grain, water, salt, possibly milk or other ingredients. In the unsanitary old days, it’s not too unlikely to assume that someone’s uncooked dough became contaminated with yeast and begain to rise. Rather than throw it out, this primitive Martha Stewart decided to bake it anyway. Presto! bread is born.
It should be noted that this latter phenomenon is that of “sourdough” bread – where “wild” yeast leavened the first batch of dough, and subsequent batches are leavened by saving a small piece of the previous dough and adding it to the fresh.
“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”
An important aspect of breadmaking is the presence of gluten in the grain. Gluten, as its name suggests, is the sticky stuff that holds the dough together while it rises. Most breads are primarily wheat because wheat has a lot of gluten.
“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”
I’ve always wondered about the connection between bread-making and beer-making. I mean, you got the grain, you got the little yeasties, one just has more liquid than the other. So, which came first?
Probably bread; beer needs a LOT more water.
What I want to know is what moron (or genius) had bread dough sitting in water for a few weeks and decided to drink it.
Have you ever tried to eat grain picked from a stalk? Very hard and chewy. Now, how about after it’s dried out? Almost impossible.
So, you soak grain in water to make it edible.
Soaking takes time. You realize that a grain can be eaten faster after you chew it. This is because you get your saliva into the innards of the grain faster. This works better than sucking on it for a long time trying to soften it.
So, you grind up the grain first before soaking it.
Then you realize that the powdered grain and water can make a paste.
So, you now have dough.
When this dough is almost dry, it’s palatable (using ancient standards). When it’s put out on the hot rock to dry or even better, dried by the fire, it gets even better tasting. (Even unleavened bread rises a little.)
So now, you have unleavened bread.
From there, the infestation of yeast in your dough makes it expand with air bubble when you set it aside. When you cook it – yummy.
So now, you have leavened bread.
I’ll leave out the evolutionary backward steps of bleaching and removing the shell (and the fiber) to make that icky, pasty Wonder White Bread.
quote. . .icky, pasty Wonder White Bread.
Hey, I was raised on the stuff. Anything with yeast will “raise” a kid, won’t it? Well, sorta anyhow.
Gave up on it as an adult though. Last year, before entering a nursing home at 91, he was still buying the stuff. . .“because the other breads are too expensive.” Guess he’s gonna take it with him.