Baking and Bread Making History


Baking may be the oldest industry man engaged in. Wheat and barley, the oldest cereals known to have been cultivated, have been found together with the ploughshare fashioned of wood and the stone hand-mill consisting of a hollowed stone and a stone ball-shaped crusher among the remains left by prehistoric man deposited in his burial places or found embedded in the earth over or near which he had his dwelling places.

Oldest Form of Baking

The oldest bread was made in the form of cakes or fritters, simply prepared by mixing wheat or barley meal to make a batter with water and milk, and baking these batter cakes on hot ashes or over red hot coals, or a hot stone which represented the first bread pan and oven combined. Salt was probably the only other ingredient besides the meal and water and milk, as there certainly was no baking powder or yeast, though sourdough bread was probably as well known as sour milk products.

The Egyptians, as the remains found in the tombs of the pyramids show, had perfected both baking and brewing 1,500 years before the beginning of the Christian era, and the Old Testament makes mention of a mill known to the Assyrians. These occupations had become organized industries.

In Egypt, in brewing as well as in baking bread, the grain was crushed, mixed with water to a dough and fermented by the addition of fermenting bread mash, which was then baked. The fermented beverage was simply prepared from slightly sprouted barley or other grain, by crushing it, mixing with water to a mash, slightly baking the dough, breaking the bread, making a mash with water and adding fermented mash once more for fermentation. The fermenting beverage then supplies the yeast for baking.

Primitive Baking Pans

Flat sheets of iron, rounded and provided with a wooden handle took the place of the hot stone, hot ashes or coals in baking flat cakes, and this led naturally to the development of the bread pan and the employment of these singly or in larger number to the development of the bakers' oven, which in the time of the Egyptians was fashioned out of clay with a flat bottom and arched roof, of varying size for household and shop use.