Homemade bread's taste unmatched

| January 2006

One of my treasured childhood memories is of my mother baking bread. It smelled wonderful as it cooked, and we always ate the first loaf out of the oven before it cooled. She'd slice it into thick pieces and spread it with home-churned butter for us. The fanciest gourmet restaurant can't outdo that fresh bread and butter.

Although bread lost favor temporarily among low-carb advocates, it remains the staff of life for many people. If made from unrefined flour, bread is full of healthy vitamins and minerals.

A long history

Experts think that humans have been baking bread for more than 12,000 years. It's believed that most of the bread-making process was discovered by accident, as people learned to pulverize grains, mix flours with liquids, and bake hard, little bread cakes, using hot stones or ashes to heat them.

The first breads were flat breads, many kinds of which are still made and enjoyed today. The Egyptians were the first to make raised breads, and they are also credited with inventing ovens in which to bake bread.

Before people learned to use yeast, they used sour dough to make raised loaves. A little bit of dough was saved each time they baked bread. Airborne yeast made their home in the dough, which caused it to ferment, or sour. The fermenting yeast made little bubbles of carbon dioxide gas, causing the dough to expand and rise. Eventually, cooks learned how to grow yeast and better control the rising process.

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