A Slice of History

Ever contemplated about the origins of how bread was invented?

We would have to go way back in time…

Historians note that humans processed and consumed wild cereal grains as far back as 23,000 years ago in the Upper Palaeolithic period (also called the Old Stone Period). Simple but effective stone mechanisms helped to smash and grind various cereals, removing the outer husks to leave just grains.

Our ancestors began to crack and grind grains, mixing it with water to create more options and variety of palatable food such as gruel (which didn’t need to be cooked) and thicker porridge. By experimenting with the heat of the sun and leaving it out, the paste dried created a bread like crust.

When wild yeast from the air combined with flour and water this created a fermentation process. It would be unpredictable in results and depended entirely on the flour texture, liquid, type of grain, wild yeast and highly influenced by the weather. A far cry from any oven!

You could think of this as a art form – as the skill of controlling various ingredients in addition to turning grain and water into edible bread required a ‘artisan’. Specific individuals within groups and communities were given high status and importance.

The trade of a baker is one of the oldest crafts in the world and was appreciated throughout history. One key example is that within Ancient Egypt, bread making was considered an important life skill. It’s importance is still to this date inscribed within tomb chamber walls.

Currency, Status and Art

Ancient Egyptians often paid their officials with good bread. They also noticed that they could take a piece of dough from a produced batch and save it for the next day. It is said that this is where the origin of sour-dough stemmed from. As valuable goods, bread was offered to Gods such as Isis and Osiris (protectors of grain and givers of bread). They also aimed to perfect the milling process to make grain refined, leading to the availability of baking whiter bread.

Empire Expansion

The skill of baking bread spread through travellers and soon flourished within the Roman Empire. It was in 168BC that the first Bakers Guild was formed. Within the space of 150 years, there were more than three hundred specialist pastry chefs in Rome.

The artisan craft was developed in a guild of bakers, “COLLEGIUM PISTORUM’ and has significant importance within the Roman empire. They enjoyed a variety of breads and often added milk, eggs and butter to make it richer. However, only the wealthy and privileged could often it.

Only a Slice

This is only a thin slice of the long history artisan bread-making. But it emphasises how for more than a thousand years the impact of bread, the baker and artisan bread has become part of human history.

Are you a cafe, venue or restaurant looking for a local supplier of fresh baked ciabatta, sourdough and other artisan breads? Dolce Forno delivers freshly baked artisan breads and pastries within Hertfordshire, St Albans, Surrey, Berkshire, London and Buckinghamshire.

Contact us today to arrange a FREE sample tray of our artisan breads or pastries. Call our team at Dolce Forno Breads on 01727 762 456 or alternatively email contact@dolceforno-breads.co.uk to find out more.