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Delicious bread recipe from Switzerland

Bread as a food that is prepared according to a bread recipe was of great importance even thousands of years ago. The grinding of cereals in order to process them for nutritional purposes began in Europe north of Switzerland and the alpine region over 30,000 years ago. The path from cereal to bread is complex and was simplified for human beings over the centuries through the use of technology.

At first, men harnessed themselves to a plough and later on, they were replaced by animals, for example oxen. Nowadays, this task is performed by modern machinery. Originally, harvesting with a scythe or a sickle was also an extremely laborious process. The sheaves were then laid out to dry, before being thrashed with flails.

Then, the wheat had to be taken to the mill in order to perform the necessary preliminary work for the bread recipe. Next, the milling step was performed with rubbing stones, before the use of water- or windmills, which were finally replaced by the industrial mill.  

Preparing dough Preparing dough
The joy of freshly made bread. The joy of freshly made bread.
Bread recipes. Bread recipes.

From bread recipe to ready-made bread

Before wheat was cultivated, its ancestors emmer wheat, spelt and einkorn wheat grew on the fields. At the time, the bread recipes that we are familiar with from bakeries nowadays in Switzerland were as yet unknown. Instead, the ground wheat was mixed with water. Then roots or berries, herbs, honey or mushrooms were added according to taste and the result was a varied edible porridge. Only later on was it discovered that the porridge could be transported more easily if it was baked and that it kept longer. This led people to bake round flat cakes either in ashes or on hot stones. It was probably through chance that the discovery was made that in order to obtain a loaf of bread the baking process would have to be modified. If what was sought was a loaf, the dough had to be surrounded uniformly and completely by the baking heat. This is how the forerunners to the first baking ovens arose. A sort of pot was placed over the dough which, as before, was baked on a hot stone. Also, the effect of yeast fungus on bread was recognised.

Preparation with loving care.Preparation with loving care.

The Egyptians were already doing it

Bread dough, left to stand for a while exposed to the air, begins to ferment due to the action of yeast fungus present in the atmosphere. Now, while following a bread recipe, the thin dough cakes were comparable to a fermented drink. The more compact dough mixtures were transformed into a yeast dough that when baked, yielded a much tastier bread. This process was only controlled over the course of time. Since there are various types of yeast fungus, at first, it was pure luck as to whether the bread would turn out well or not. The Egyptians were clearly dab hands as far as baking leavened bread was concerned. According to archeological findings, they were already capable of baking leavened bread in bakeries over 5000 years ago. The Egyptians also dedicated themselves to the task of developing the baking oven. The shape of their baking ovens could be compared with that of a beehive. They were made of clay and were capable of developing high temperatures. Thirty different types of bread existed as early as 3000 BC.

Braided bread made with pure butter.Braided bread made with pure butter.

The first large Roman bakeries

The Greeks and Romans eventually took their know-how regarding the craft of baking over the Alps. The first large mills arose as did mechanical kneading machines, which were operated by oxen or slaves. In 400 BC there were already over 250 bakeries operating in Rome alone that consumed around 30 tonnes of wheat every day. Wheat porridge finally disappeared in the twelfth century in favour of baked leavened bread with its looser texture. Finally, the Celts were already familiar with yeast from beer brewing. Villages constructed communal ovens and there was a weekly baking day.

Bread and its significance

Bread was always a sign of one’s social origin, both in Switzerland and elsewhere. In Egypt, the bread recipe was reserved for the pharaoh. Slaves were only served up cereal porridge. Whenever there was a lack of bread, stagnating birth-rates, migrations and uprisings were observed. Whoever was in power could decide where a mill should be built. The expression ‘panem et circenses’ is closely associated with the Roman Empire.