Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water, usually by baking. Throughout recorded history it has been popular around the world and is one of the oldest artificial foods, having been of importance since the dawn of agriculture. There are many combinations and proportions of types of flour and other ingredients, and also of different traditional recipes and modes of preparation of bread. As a result, there are wide varieties of types, shapes, sizes, and textures of breads in various regions. Bread may be leavened by many different processes ranging from the use of naturally occurring microbes to high-pressure artificial aeration methods during preparation or baking. However, some products are left unleavened, either for preference, or for traditional or religious reasons. Many non-cereal ingredients may be included, ranging from fruits and nuts to various fats. Commercial bread in particular commonly contains additives, some of them non-nutritional, to improve flavor, texture, color, shelf life, or ease of manufacturing. Depending on local custom and convenience, bread may be served in various forms at any meal of the day. It also is eaten as a snack, or used as an ingredient in other culinary preparations, such as fried items coated in crumbs to prevent sticking, or the bland main component of a bread pudding, or stuffings designed to fill cavities or retain juices that otherwise might drip away. Partly because of its importance as a basic foodstuff, bread has a social and emotional significance beyond its importance in nutrition; it plays essential roles in religious rituals and secular culture. Its prominence in daily life is reflected in language, where it appears in proverbs, colloquial expressions, in prayer and even in the etymology of words, such as "companion" and "company" . Etymology The word itself, Old English bread, is most common in various forms to many Germanic languages, such as Frisian brea, Dutch brood, German Brot, Swedish bröd, and Norwegian and Danish brød; it has been claimed to be derived from the root of brew. It may be connected with the root of break, for its early uses are confined to broken pieces or bits of bread, the Latin crustum, and it was not until the 12th century that it took the place—as the generic name for bread—of hlaf, which appears to be the oldest Teutonic name. and modern German Laib derive from this Proto-Germanic word for "loaf", which was borrowed into Slavic and Finnic languages as well. In many cultures, bread is a metaphor for basic necessities and living conditions in general. For example, a "bread-winner" is a household's main economic contributor and has little to do with actual bread-provision. This is also seen in the phrase "putting bread on the table". The Roman poet Juvenal satirized superficial politicians and the public as caring only for "panem et circenses" . In Russia in 1917, the Bolsheviks promised "peace, land, and bread." The term "breadbasket" denotes an agriculturally productive region. In Slavic cultures bread and salt is offered as a welcome to guests. In India, life's basic necessities are often referred to as "roti, kapra aur makan" . In Israel, the most usual phrase in work-related demonstrations is lekhem, avoda . The word bread is commonly used around the world in English-speaking countries as a synonym for money . A remarkable or revolutionary innovation is often referred to in North America and the United Kingdom as "the greatest thing since sliced bread" or "the best thing since sliced bread". History Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods. Evidence from 30,000 years ago in Europe revealed starch residue on rocks used for pounding plants. It is possible that during this time, starch extract from the roots of plants, such as cattails and ferns, was spread on a flat rock, placed over a fire and cooked into a primitive form of flatbread. Around 10,000 BC, with the dawn of the Neolithic age and the spread of agriculture, grains became the mainstay of making bread. Yeast spores are ubiquitous, including the surface of cereal grains, so any dough left to rest will become naturally leavened. There were multiple sources of leavening available for early bread. Airborne yeasts could be harnessed by leaving uncooked dough exposed to air for some time before cooking. Pliny the Elder reported that the Gauls and Iberians used the foam skimmed from beer to produce "a lighter kind of bread than other peoples." Parts of the ancient world that drank wine instead of beer used a paste composed of grape juice and flour that was allowed to begin fermenting, or wheat bran steeped in wine, as a source for yeast. The most common source of leavening was to retain a piece of dough from the previous day to use as a form of sourdough starter. In 1961 the Chorleywood bread process was developed, which used the intense mechanical working of dough to dramatically reduce the fermentation period and the time taken to produce a loaf. The process, whose high-energy mixing allows for the use of lower protein grain, is now widely used around the world in large factories. As a result, bread can be produced very quickly and at low costs to the manufacturer and the consumer. However, there has been some criticism of the effect on nutritional value. Recently, domestic bread machines that automate the process of making bread have become popular. Types Bread is the staple food of the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and in European-derived cultures such as those in the Americas, Australia, and Southern Africa, in contrast to East Asia where rice is the staple. Bread is usually made from a wheat-flour dough that is cultured with yeast, allowed to rise, and finally baked in an oven. Owing to its high levels of gluten, common wheat is the most common grain used for the preparation of bread. Bread is also made from the flour of other wheat species, rye, barley, maize, and oats, usually, but not always, in combination with wheat flour. Spelt bread continues to be widely consumed in Germany, and emmer bread was a staple food in ancient Egypt. Canadian bread is known for its heartier consistency due to high protein levels in Canadian flour. Pita is an ancient semi-leavened bread widespread in the Middle East, Levant and South Eastern Europe. White bread is made from flour containing only the central core of the grain . Brown bread is made with endosperm and 10% bran. It can also refer to white bread with added coloring to make it brown; this is commonly labeled in America as wheat bread . Wholemeal bread contains the whole of the wheat grain . It is also referred to as "whole-grain" or "whole-wheat bread", especially in North America. Wheat germ bread has added wheat germ for flavoring. Whole-grain bread can refer to the same as wholemeal bread, or to white bread with added whole grains to increase its fibre content, as in "60% whole-grain bread". Roti is a whole-wheat-based bread eaten in South Asia. Chapatti is a type of roti. Naan is a leavened equivalent to these. Granary bread is made from flaked wheat grains and white or brown flour. The standard malting process is modified to maximise the maltose or sugar content but minimise residual alpha amylase content. Other flavor components are imparted from partial fermentation due to the particular malting process used and to Maillard reactions on flaking and toasting. Rye bread is made with flour from rye grain of varying levels. It is higher in fiber than many common types of bread and is often darker in color and stronger in flavor. It is popular in Scandinavia, Germany, Finland, the Baltic States, and Russia. Unleavened bread or matzo, used for the Jewish feast of Passover, does not include yeast, so it does not rise. Sourdough bread is made with a starter. Flatbread is often simple, made with flour, water, and salt, and then formed into flattened dough; most are unleavened, made without yeast or sourdough culture, though some are made with yeast. Crisp bread is a flat and dry type of bread or cracker, containing mostly rye flour. Hemp bread includes strongly flavored hemp flour or seeds. Hemp has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine. Hemp flour is the by-product from pressing the oil from the seeds and milling the residue. It is perishable and stores best in the freezer. Hemp dough won't rise due to its lack of gluten, and for that reason it is best mixed with other flours. A 5:1 ratio of wheat-to-hemp flour produces a hearty, nutritious loaf high in protein and essential fatty acids. Hemp seeds have a relatively high oil content of 25–35%, and can be added at a rate up to 15% of the wheat flour. The oil's omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio lies in the range of 2:1-to-3:1, which is considered ideal for human nutrition. Quick breads usually refers to a bread chemically leavened, usually with both baking powder and baking soda, and a balance of acidic ingredients and alkaline ingredients. Examples include pancakes and waffles, muffins and carrot cake, Boston brown bread, and zucchini and banana bread. Gluten-free breads have been created in recent years due to the discovery that people affected by gluten-related disorders, such as coeliac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity sufferers, benefit from a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free bread is made with ground flours from a variety of materials such as almonds, rice, sorghum, corn, or legumes such as beans, but since these flours lack gluten they may not hold their shape as they rise and their crumb may be dense with little aeration. Additives such as xanthum gum, guar gum, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, corn starch, or eggs are used to compensate for the lack of gluten.
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