Baking is one of the most popular hobbies these days because of the pandemic wherein people stay at home most of the time due to quarantine and lockdowns. Young and old alike, men and women have come forward to showcase their skills in baking bread and cakes. Baking is a hobby that you can enjoy and at the same time earn some money to augment your income.
Baking started as early as 300 - 200 B.C. in Greece when public bakeries were built and these bakeries were started by former slaves who were brought to Greece for manual work. When they were freed, they worked the same jobs that they had when they were still slaves and one of them was baking.
When the Roman Empire was formed, including Greece, those in the empire also had the baking industry. The baker’s guild was founded to set standards for quality and for creating jobs. By 400 A.D the Roman Empire had been overwhelmed by the Huns in Europe.
The Dark ages in Europe began with the Moslems encouraging sea trade and the feudal lords closed their cities’ gates and eventually baking became the most undesirable job. At that time, wheat disappeared. During that same period, the only bread that could be made was a back variety made of rye or barley. When baking was again established, it became a dignified profession.
The baking industry was established in America with the Jamestown colonists. Commercial bakeries were operating in 1604. And they met competition with housewives who baked in ovens just as good as the commercial bakers.
The baking industry has changed little from Roman times until the industrialization era in the United States in the last half of the 19th century. The 19th-century baker made breads, cookies, biscuits, pies, and cakes.
One of the basic ingredients to make bread and other baked goodies is flour. Flour is described as the finely ground or powdery product taken from milling cereal grains, root crops, starchy vegetables, and other foods.
The wheat flour is unique among cereals because when it is mixed with water in the right amount, the protein will form a springy dough that is capable of holding the gas and will set to a spongy product when heated in the oven.
Wheat flour has its own parts, one of them is gluten which is the mixture of wheat proteins forming the hard, rubbery, and flexible product when flour is mixed with water. Gluten has almost equal parts of glutenin and gliadin. The dough is given strength to hold leavening gases and regulates the structures of the baked products by glutenin while gliadin produces elasticity or stretching attributes of gluten.
Flour has some characteristics that we have known as a baking enthusiast such as:
- Whitish color - this is essential due to the fact that it affects the brightness of the baked bread although it is not always true that white color implies a good quality of the finished product
- Strength - this means the ability of the flour to make a big loaf produced from the presence of protein and enough quantity and quality to retain the gas with enough “diastatic” action to produce sugar for the same gas production
- High absorption - it is the capacity of the flour to have the maximum amount of moisture in the dough that can produce a quality bread
- Tolerance - its capacity to resist the processing force produced by mixing, fermentation, and other baking processes with good results.
It is really necessary that we know how to choose a good flour when we are planning to bake bread or cakes or other baked products whether it will be for personal consumption or for business purposes.
Aside from knowing the characteristics of a good kind of flour, it is also nice to know that the bread that we eat or any other baked products were produced with flour that has some nutritive value.
Wheat flour gives us large amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. When you see the word “enrich” on the package of the bread, it means that there are some vitamins such as B-complex in the bread that are important for healthy nerves. Riboflavin is good for hair and skin while niacin prevents pellagra. Added to the flour is the mineral iron that avoids anemia or a low supply of the necessary red blood cells.
When baking our bread, it is not only the flour that is important to bake a delicious bread. There should always be liquid ingredients that should be mixed with the flour such as plain water, milk, or fruit juice.
Water is the cheapest ingredient of the bread dough and one of the most important ones due to the fact it transforms the protein of the flour into gluten. Some other functions of water are:
- It regulates the consistency and temperature of the dough (warming or cooling) the dough
- It dampens and swells starch to make it digestible
- Dissolves salts, controls, and distributes non-flour ingredients evenly.
Milk also is an important liquid in baking as it supplies liquid to the dough and cake mix. Some milk types are whole fresh milk, evaporated milk, skim milk cream milk, dry milk, and buttermilk or sour milk. It depends on what bread or baked products you’re going to use with milk.
It is important that we know some basic things about the ingredients we are going to use and the background story about baking so we have sufficient knowledge on this important hobby or interest that we are going to embark on.
While baking your bread, you might be standing excessively for the hours of preparing and baking your bread or cake. Why not use an anti-fatigue mat from FlexiSpot? This company is manufacturing a product called Standing Desk Anti-Fatigue Mat MT1 which can be used when you are dealing with office workload and even while standing and cooking in the kitchen.
It is an ergonomic standing solution that prevents pains and exhaustion making you more comfortable working in a standing posture for work or the kitchen. It is durable with an anti-skid surface and beveled edges that prevent curling up and easy to clean with a damp cloth.