15 October 2010

GUEST BLOG: Use your loaf!

By guest blogger AVRIL POVAH

It’s easy to take bread for granted, being such an important part of our diet. We went from farm to fork in the bread-making lesson at Chorlton High School on Saturday 9 October, with Rob, our Cooking Leader for the day, explaining that bread is one of the oldest prepared foods, perhaps developed by accidental cooking or deliberate experimentation with water and grain flour. The uses and properties of wheat flours were eloquently described by Rob, along with the composition of wheat, which we consumed raw many millions of years ago. Eventually, using tools to pound the grain and adding water to the crushed kernels to form a wholesome gruel, early humans developed what we know today as our daily bread.

The myth and process of bread-making was slowly unravelled, and we watched yeast (our leavening agent in bread) slowly ferment; the fermentable sugars present in dough turn into carbon dioxide, causing it to expand or rise as gas pockets or bubbles. The scientific aspects were quite intriguing to us all, and for a minute I felt I was back in the chemistry classroom. The actual name for bread is old English, derived from many Germanic languages (Brot in German and Brod in Swedish), and may be connected with the root words of "brew" or even of "break" or "broken pieces".

There are many variations of bread: it can be made with yeast, bicarbonate of soda (as used in traditional Irish soda bread), different flours and by incorporating other ingredients and nutrients, and we made a variety of loaves and baps. We also made some naan bread - a very popular choice! These were stuffed with garlic paste and cheese and devoured straight from the pan for our lunch with some marinated olives, avocado and roasted red pepper hummus. Made with love by hand, not by machine, this bread was truly delicious!

More photos from the bread-making class are on our Facebook page.

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