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Baking - Introduction

If you try to define 'baking' in the most general sense, it usually means anything that has flour at is base and is cooked in an oven. Bread however forms the basis for all the baking that has followed. Stone Age farmers created the first flat bread, then in the Bronze Age they discovered by putting a pot over the bread they could cook in what was a primitive oven.

Yeast. The Egyptians discovered how to use yeast. They quickly realised by saving a small piece of fermented dough from an earlier batch all they had to do was mix it into the new dough.

History. During the Middle Ages the difference between what was bread and what was cake was not very clear. Size may have played a role. "Cake' could be translated into Latin as "panis biscotus", which means little cake or pie. By the 17th century things had changed. You would recognise many of the ingredients used at this time can also be found in modern cakes; for example, chocolate, sugar, vanilla and treacle. By the end of the century you could also find cake tins.

The technology of the 19th century provided the greatest breakthrough. Chemical raising agents, such as, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder replaced yeast. A ready supply of white flour and the development of an oven with reliable temperature control also made for a much simpler cake-making experience.

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Bread - Introduction

Bread is considered to be a staple food. This means it is a basic and necessary food item. Grains are ground into flour and mixed with water to make a dough. When that dough is baked, it becomes bread.

In Western countries yeast is usually added to the dough to help it rise. In other parts of the world, people may prefer flat breads. Some examples are aesh from Egypt, naan from Indian and tortillas and tacos eaten in South and Central America.

Many types of flour can be used to make bread: white, wholemeall, semolina and spelt, atta/chapati flour just to name a few.

Many people have a favourite bread. What is yours? Thick white bread ... for toast & sandwiches, ciabatta or long bread sticks?

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Log onto Encyclopedia Britainnica to find out about bread and bread making, yeast and flour. All the articles link to animations and illustrations you are able to use in your assignments.

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Pastry - Introduction

Pastry-making is an ancient art. In ancient Greece pastry cooks were considered to be a separate trade from bakers. The ancient Greeks and Romans did not use butter in pastry, instead they used oil, which meant it would have looked very different from the pastry we know today.

What we would recognise as pastry today did not appear until the 16th century. Early Crusaders returned to Erope with sugar cane and puff pastry which caused cooks to try-out these new products. No longer was pastry just a way of enclosing and protecting food so it would not be burnt while cooking.

Today's patisserie' can cover both sweet and savoury dishes. most of which are baked in an a relatively hot oven, and then they may be served either hot or cold.

References: Maree, Aaron, 1994. Patisserie: an encyclopedia of cakes, pastries, cookies, biscuits, chocolate, confectionery & desserts. HarperCollins, Sydney.

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