Though the Ages
An Egyptian

1. The Egyptians
 
The Iron Age

2. The Iron Age
 
The Romans

3. The Romans
 
A Vicious Looking Viking

4. The Vikings
 
Henry The Eighth!!

5. The Middle Ages
 
The Industrial Revolution

6. The Industrial Revolution
 
The Twentieth Century

7. The Twentieth Century




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Bread Through The Ages!


1. The Egyptians

The Egyptians were the first to produce risen loaves by using yeast. An accident? Perhaps someone left their bread dough outside in the hot sunshine too long. Heat causes the yeast to grow and make light, air-filled bread!!

They rather cleverly invented the first ovens for baking bread and believed that they would continue farming after death!! The Egyptians were the first to invent calenders in order to better plan the planting and harvesting of their crops.

The type of bread you ate depended on how rich you were - poorer people ate a rough type of loaf while the rich ate a better class of bread!

The Egyptians




2. The Iron Age

Things get a bit weird now! Apparently these people did not take much notice of their pals the Egyptians.

Instead of using yeast (obviously not enough sunshine around!) these people mixed pot ash from their fires and sour milk into their dough to make it rise. Nice!! But all is not lost!!

Around this time some clever person found a way to improve the flour by using handsized mill stones.

But they still did not use ovens, preferring instead to use "griddles".

Iron Age




3. The Romans

Okay, now we finallly have some sensible people! As well as giving us straight roads and hot baths the Romans made vast improvements to the quality of bread they made.

The grain they used was better and they got rid of those strenuous Iron Age handmills. Animal power was finally introduced - less hard work for the poor miller!!

Sieves were introduced for the first time.This meant that the flour used to bake the bread was finer (Clever chappies those Romans!!)

Finally, just to show how much more intelligent they were compared to the Egyptians, they improved the way bread was baked (you could begin to dislike these Romans!). One oven was not enough, they had to have two. Some were shaped like beehives and the others were pot ovens with three legs placed over a fire.

The Romans




4. The Vikings

Everything turned into a bit of a mess when the Romans left our shores. The roads bent, the water went cold and the standard of bread making went totally down hill.

Without the Romans to show the way, people returned to the old ways of milling grain and making bread (remember the pot ash?). But help was on its way, the Vikings soon turned up and, as well as building York, plundering our towns and generally taking over, they showed us how they made bread!

However, they hadn't met the Egyptians so yeast was not used. The Vikings brought us Rye from Scandinavia but the bread was hard and unleavened (without yeast). They baked their bread in molds which had a hole in the centre (early bagels?). Why a hole in the middle, I hear you cry? Well it was used to help store the bread - threaded on tent poles!!

The Vickings




5. The Middle Ages

William the Conqueror landed and before we knew it Norman Castles began to sprout up aound the countryside! These castles had large ovens were bread was baked on a large scale for the whole of the commuinity.

The processing of grain was improved by building windmills and watermills close to where the grain was being grown Also, the Normans introduced the idea of "Crop Rotation". Instead of using all the fields at the same time crops took turns in fields every year. Other fields were left "fallow" meaning "not used" so that the ground could recover from the previous year's planting.

The Normans were determined to civilise the English. As a result the population increased, towns grew and breadmaking became a thriving business and trade.

Middle Ages




6. The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution was a time of upheaval as the population grew and people moved from villages to towns and cities. New machines were being invented which led to mills with steam power (sighs of relief from animals all over!). Those stone mills invented by the Romans and Normans were replaced by Steel Roller Mills. As farming improved so did the grain and to meet the demands of the growing population the amount harvested increased.

The methods for making bread changed as well. Silk seives were introduced and baking tins were invented making it easier to slice the bread (we are nearly at the stage of the Sliced White Loaf!)

Industrial Revolution




7. The Twentieth Century

We now have a mechanised method of making bread, but the actual process is the same as in Roman and Norman times. It seems natural that the next step be factories. Bye Bye all those windmills!!

Recently, bread making has become computerised and large scale production of bread is now normal. Roads and transport are much improved leading to faster delivery of our bread.

Now most of us buy our bread from supermarkets instead of going to our local baker or even miller! Shame! Your local baker is very proud of his craft. After many years of learning the fine art of baking, he will have a wonderful range of delicious breads for you to try. White, Brown, Wholemeal, Rye - in all shapes and sizes. So next time you visit your local baker, ask him about the different loaves he has made that morning - he will be delighted to show you that there is a whole lot more to bread than just 'sliced and wrapped'; and it's tastier too!

To find out how bread is made use the button below to and follow How Is It Made?, or explore the rest of the site!