Interestingly enough, it was white bread which became sought after by Roman aristocracy of the time and although it is still the bread of choice for many consumers in Western societies, its value and association with social class has greatly declined. Despite such rapid development, Grains were first harvested by Egyptians in 8000BC and were crushed by hand using what we would recognise today as a pestle and mortar. All bread was unleavened as raising agents such as yeast were yet to be introduced. Bread production began to develop along the fertile banks of the Nile and by 3000BC, baking bread had become a skill.
Due to the warm climate, natural yeasts became attracted to the multi grain flour combinations which were used at the time, and so bakers began experimenting with leavened dough. With the invention of the closed oven, bread established its place as part of a cuisine and at its peak, was used as currency (Bakers Federation. 2012). As the Egyptians had become such experts at not only baking bread, but growing the grains required for its production, they began selling their excess to Greece, and by osmosis, the Romans learnt from the Greeks.
Returning to an earlier point, by the time that Britain really learnt the potential of baking bread, there were already 258 bakery shops open for business in Rome, with public ovens in the streets, for citizens to bake their own bread in (Yoward. T. 2012). Perhaps this was the first example of bread production on a large scale, little did the Romans of that denomination realise the turn which the 20th Century would bring to the production of the commercial bread Loaf. It was the work of scientists at the Chorleywood Flour Milling and Bakery Research Laboratories which brought about a change for Britain’s living in the 1960’s.
By adding hard fats such as butter as well as various chemicals to the bread and mixing it quickly, bread which was ready to bake quickly and would stay fresh for longer could be produced. The process was so successful that 80% of the bread in the UK is produced by the Chorley process (News Magazine. 2011). Such manufacture together with gas ovens created mass quantities of bread at a low price; hence the homogenous white sliced loaf has spread worldwide. Such an increasing demand for white bread began to take its toll on smaller independent bakers with many of them being forced into liquidation or facing take over.
The first Bread brand to grace the UK market was Wonder Bread, a name suited to the post war affluence which was sweeping the country. The term ‘Bread winner’ came to refer to the man or women who worked to earn a wage, such focus on the importance of this commodity was not unlike the high regards which the Egyptians held during the times of antiquity. With regard to the display of bread which was produced for the assessment, there were influencing factors behind the choice of dough’s and flavour variations.
A starting point was the style of bread which I wanted to be reflected through the display. Despite an average artisan bread roll being as much as twice as expensive as the standard sliced white loaf, demand for better quality bread is on the rise. It would be easy to mistake this cultural shift as applicable to the more affluent societies of Britain, but as research shows, it is the middle class who are greatly contributing to the bulk of consumers who are purchasing for quality rather than quantity. Figures suggest that a bread revolution is far from close, but where 80% of the ? . 4bn worth of bread which is produced every year is sliced white loaves, the niche of master bakers which currently occupy only 5% of the market, have room to grow (Rigby. R. 2010). Another important influence on the market, and one which was reflected by the choice of breads in the display, is that of flavour, ingredients, and recipes from abroad. Despite an economic depression, many Brits can still afford to venture overseas on holiday and often return to the UK wanting to experience the cuisine of the county which they have visited.
Many of the flavour combinations which featured took influence from the Mediterranean; from Greece, Italy and from France. These are countries which were highlighted as being popular tourist destinations and so are likely to have influence on the UK Bread market. There is a broad range of dishes which these breads could be served with; soups, entrees such as tapenade or as individual snack items to perhaps be enjoyed with a coffee or over breakfast.
Nutrition is affecting the growing demand for artisan breads. For the majority of loaves produced using the Chorleywood process, cheap varieties of Wheat are used, these tend to be low in protein, vitamins and minerals. By contrast, the better quality wheat, which is by and largely used in smaller bakery operations, has a protein content of between 8 and 13%. Elements of the grain such as the germ, endosperm and kernel are also rich in vitamins B and E, as well as a range of minerals.
Although a focus on nutrition is perhaps less relevant to the breads which featured in the display, Brioche and White Bun Dough, as Brioche is high in fat and a very luxurious bread originally baked by the Romans as a sweet holiday bread. It is also often served as a pastry, a very popular feature of breakfast for many consumers, or as an element to a dessert (La Gourmandise. 2012). White bread, as has already been touched on, often has a similar nutrient content to that of wholemeal or granary breads, as the table highlights.
To briefly analyse the data below, the white flour which was used in both recipes, is comprised of both insoluble and soluble non starch polysaccharide (NSP), as well as high levels of carbohydrate (Bake info. 2012). As well as nutrition, the appearance of the bread display was perhaps the overriding factor when deciding on dough, flavours and shapes. As the images below show, the addition of sugar in the Brioche dough, and egg as a glaze on the white bun dough helped to create a glossy golden brown finish when the bread was baked.
This is due to a chemical process called the maillard reaction. Such a reaction occurs when carbohydrates in the bread combine with the proteins in egg at temperatures of at least 100? C. For the reaction to occur successfully, moisture in the bread has to be of average proportion, as if the dough is too wet the reaction will be inhibited. Often the maillard reaction contributes to flavour as well, distinctively this flavour tends to be nutty (Forbes. P. 2003).
The addition of Olive Oil coats each strand of Gluten in a thin film, this means that a lighter, softer dough can be achieved as the gluten will not set as hard when cooled as with a dough which doesn’t have Oil in it. And so to summarise the success of the Bread display, which was produced, it is noticeable that a wide range of both shapes and flavours was produced, and the two dough’s both complimented and contrasted each other. A range of skill was displayed and if the display were to be created again, perhaps a wider variety could be included.