Bake beɪk/ v. gerund or present participle: baking the art of cooking food with prolonged dry heat, typically through the use of an oven.
The practice that takes us back to childhood treats made by granny, the scent of such memories still have us drooling today. We decided to go on a journey through the baking course of history and divulge a baker’s dozen (thirteen) interesting pieces of information on baking and its evolution throughout history.
1 – The beginnings of bakery
In 2014, a stone age oven was discovered in Croatia estimated to be around 6500 years old making it potentially the world’s oldest oven. So, next time you associate baking with your grandmother, give her some credit, she’s got nothing on those bakers.
2 – Raise a glass to your loaf
For those who have said nothing good ever came from drinking beer, the Egyptian bakers of yester-millenia beg to disagree. They were the first to bake bread using yeast that was formerly used to brew their ale!
3 – It may be all Greek to you, but it certainly wasn’t for the Greeks
Around 600 BC, baking bread became a Greek affair and the Ancient Greeks never failing to impress were the innovators behind the invention of the first enclosed ovens
4 – Do as the Romans do
Fast forward 300 years to 300 BC and baking finds a strong foothold in the Roman empire with pastry chefs holding esteemed professions and pastries themselves considered decadent and festive. If anyone didn’t need baking courses, it was the Romans who were always in competition with themselves to invent the next tasty baked treat.
5 – Too many cooks didn’t spoil the broth in Ancient Rome
Around 1 AD, the capital of the Roman empire counted more than several hundred pastry chefs and an enormous number of breads that included libum (sacrificial cakes made with flour), placenta (groats and cress), spira (flour pretzels), scibilata (tortes), savaillum (sweet cake) and globus apherica (fritters).
6 – The Romans… Not your run-of-the-mill bakers
Unlikely to disappoint the Roman reputation for technical innovation, the Romans had mills to grind grain into flour and ovens with chimneys to bake their bread, the empire even established a baker’s guild in 168 BC.
7 – Baking becomes England’s cup of tea
The Roman skills in baking quickly were revered and word spread through Europe and Asia and by the 1400s, commercial trading of bakery had reached the capital of England.
8 – Baking leaves its mark in London
The commercial trading in London included many regulations with around twenty applying solely to bakers including one where every baker had to impress their seal on every loaf of bread they made.
9 – Baking soda rises to the challenge
As we entered the 1800s, alternatives to yeast became available and baking soda in particular came into common usage. Making bread with baking soda allowed for a lighter dough.
10 – USA becomes a breadwinner
Before long, a commercialisation of baking through the use of automated machinery allowed for widespread distribution of baked goods and in the United States of America, production and marketing techniques inspired by the Romans were adopted.
11 – We even made a sing-song about it
The art of baking has held a significant role in society throughout the centuries and its impact can even be seen in children’s nursery rhymes in the United Kingdom. The song “pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man” is inspired by the baking profession.
12 – We know which way our bread is buttered
Healthy alternatives to traditional baking ingredients have gained particular notoriety in modern baking. The use of applesauce in substitute of butter, for example, ensures a finished baking result that is lower in calories, fat and cholesterol.
13 – That makes a baker’s dozen
La Belle Assiette doesn’t just connect private chefs with you, if we’ve raised your interest in baking and you’d be interested in learning how to do it yourself, just take a look at our baking courses here. They’re the best thing since sliced bread!