Baking - Bread§Culturalsigniﬁcance Baking,especiallyofbread,holdsspecialsigniﬁcance BirdbakedfrombreadontheMarchequinoxtocelebratespring…
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Bedouins making and baking bread
Anders Zorn - Bread baking (1889)
Baking is a method of cooking food that uses prolongeddry heat, normally in an oven, but also in hot ashes, or onhot stones. The most common baked item is bread butmany other types of foods are baked. Heat is gradu-ally transferred from the surface of cakes, cookies, andbreads to their centre. As heat travels through it trans-forms batters and doughs into baked goods with a firmdry crust and a softer centre. Baking can be combinedwith grilling to produce a hybrid barbecue variant by us-ing both methods simultaneously, or one after the other.Baking is related to barbecuing because the concept ofthe masonry oven is similar to that of a smoke pit.Because of historical social and familial roles, baking hastraditionally been performed at home by women for do-mestic consumption and by men in bakeries and restau-rants for local consumption. When production was in-dustrialized, baking was automated by machines in largefactories. The art of baking remains a fundamental skilland is important for nutrition, as baked goods, especiallybreads, are a common but important food, both from an
economic and cultural point of view. A person who pre-pares baked goods as a profession is called a baker.
1 Foods and techniques
A Palestinian woman bakingmarkook bread on tava or Saj ovenin Artas, Bethlehem
All types of food can be baked, but some require specialcare and protection from direct heat. Various techniqueshave been developed to provide this protection.In addition to bread, baking is used to prepare cakes,pastries, pies, tarts, quiches, cookies, scones, crackers,pretzels, and more. These popular items are known col-lectively as baked goods, and are often sold at a bakery,which is a store that carries only baked goods, or at mar-kets, grocery stores, or through other venues.Meat, including cured meats, such as ham can alsobe baked, but baking is usually reserved for meatloaf,smaller cuts of whole meats, or whole meats that containstuffing or coating such as bread crumbs or buttermilkbatter. Some foods are surrounded with moisture dur-ing baking by placing a small amount of liquid (such as
2 2 BAKING IN ANCIENT TIMES
A terracotta baking mould for pastry or bread, representing goatsand a lion attacking a cow. Early 2nd millennium BC, Royalpalace at Mari, Syria
water or broth) in the bottom of a closed pan, and lettingit steam up around the food, a method commonly knownas braising or slow baking. Larger cuts prepared with-out stuffing or coating are more often roasted, which isa similar process, using higher temperatures and shortercooking times. Roasting, however, is only suitable forfiner cuts of meat, so other methods have been devel-oped to make tougher meat cuts palatable after baking.One of these is the method known as en crote (Frenchfor in a crust), which protects the food from directheat and seals the natural juices inside. Meat, poultry,game, fish or vegetables can be prepared by baking encrote. Well-known examples include Beef Wellington,where the beef is encased in pastry before baking; pten crote, where the terrine is encased in pastry beforebaking; and the Vietnamese variant, a meat-filled pas-try called pt chaud. The en crote method also allowsmeat to be baked by burying it in the embers of a fire a favourite method of cooking venison. In this case, theprotective casing (or crust) is made from a paste of flourand water and is discarded before eating. Salt can alsobe used to make a protective crust that is not eaten. An-other method of protecting food from the heat while it isbaking, is to cook it en papillote (French for in parch-ment). In this method, the food is covered by bakingpaper (or aluminium foil) to protect it while it is beingbaked. The cooked parcel of food is sometimes servedunopened, allowing diners to discover the contents forthemselves which adds an element of surprise.Eggs can also be used in baking to produce savoury orsweet dishes. In combination with dairy products espe-cially cheese, they are often prepared as a dessert. For ex-ample, although a baked custard can be made using starch(in the form of flour, cornflour, arrowroot, or potatoflour), the flavour of the dish is muchmore delicate if eggsare used as the thickening agent. Baked custards, such ascrme caramel, are among the items that need protectionfrom an ovens direct heat, and the bain-marie method
serves this purpose. The cooking container is half sub-merged in water in another, larger one, so that the heatin the oven is more gently applied during the baking pro-cess. Baking a successful souffl requires that the bakingprocess be carefully controlled. The oven temperaturemust be absolutely even and the oven space not sharedwith another dish. These factors, along with the theatri-cal effect of an air-filled dessert, have given this bakedfood a reputation for being a culinary achievement. Sim-ilarly, a good baking technique (and a good oven) are alsoneeded to create a baked Alaska because of the difficultyof baking hot meringue and cold ice cream at the sametime.Baking can also be used to prepare various other foodssuch as pizzas, baked potatoes, baked apples, bakedbeans, some casseroles and pasta dishes such as lasagne.
2 Baking in ancient times
An Egyptian funerary Model of a bakery and brewery (11th dy-nasty, circa 20091998 B.C.)
The first evidence of baking occurred when humans tookwild grass grains, soaked them in water, and mixed ev-erything together, mashing it into a kind of broth-likepaste. The paste was cooked by pouring it onto a flat,hot rock, resulting in a bread-like substance. Later, whenhumans mastered fire, the paste was roasted on hot em-bers, which made bread-making easier, as it could nowbe made any time fire was created. The worlds old-est oven was discovered in Croatia in 2014 dating back6500 years ago. The Ancient Egyptians baked bread us-ing yeast, which they had previously been using to brewbeer. Bread baking began in Ancient Greece around600 BC, leading to the invention of enclosed ovens.
Ovens and worktables have been discovered in archaeo-logical digs from Turkey (Hacilar) to Palestine (Jericho)and date back to 5600 BC.
Baking flourished during the Roman Empire. Begin-ning around 300 BC, the pastry cook became an occu-pation for Romans (known as the pastillarium) and be-came a respected profession because pastries were con-sidered decadent, and Romans loved festivity and cele-bration. Thus, pastries were often cooked especially forlarge banquets, and any pastry cook who could invent newtypes of tast