- Yeast has been around since prehistoric times. Airborne yeasts have always there. Any dough, if left for long enough, will develop a yeast of some kind. Have you ever left oats with bran to soak in milk overnight? I did once, by accident. It made the most amazing yeast and an incredible loaf. The Greeks made it by using wine, the ancient Brits from the foam on their beer. Anyone can make their own yeast when they can’t get to the shop – it just takes a bit of time. Most cereals have a yeasty surface and I have an expert post on this aspect on the way.
- Through the ages, the poor ate the tastiest and healthiest bread. There are many examples starting with the Greeks and ending where this discussion starts. I always feel the need to know what I eat and where it comes from, before I chew. The poor ate black and whole flour bread and the rich, white. (This may explain the ill health of many upper classes compared to the strength and mental agility of the lower ranks of society in those days). Nowadays we pay a fortune for simple bread in South Africa and its a rarity. In Italy one only buys delicious bread since the Italians simply refuse bad food and the Germans have a bread industry that produces a huge variety of delicious breads. I cannot understand why we can’t start baking. Let us teach the poor to bake their own cheap bread. At least it will taste like something and they just may make money out of the rich that will queue to buy it. Why can’t we build an oven in each town, for example? Or just bake one in somebody’s kitchen. On a fire. In a pot. Just DO something about it. Club together to buy the flour if you have to. Create something that belongs to the town and market it, tell everyone. I would be there in a flash – and if not, sure as hell, I’ll send for some. Make something for the food-obsessed tourist to taste, to try, to see! Anything, anything to save us from eating the mass produced tasteless square blocks of uninspiring bread baked by unethical companies that pay their employees badly and dupe the public into fixed prices. Why do we buy it? Captains of Industry simply take longer holidays in foreign countries where they can eat decent bread. Are South Africans so brainwashed into eating mass produced bread that they like it, or do they have no sense of taste?
- The first mechanized bread machines started popping up around 1912 when the bread-slicing machine was invented by an enterprising German. Nobody wanted to buy it because they thought that the bread would go stale and he had to invent a machine that sliced and wrapped the bread. A good couple of years later, he did. Then we slid into an era of truly horrible bread. It was only in this century that the general populations realized that the darker breads were healthier, but for no understandable reason accepted the awful bread that industry produced whilst simultaneously destroying the livelihoods of millions of small bakers. As demand grew the Captains of Industry needed to speed up the process of making bread rise more quickly but what they produced, tasted disgusting, as it still does today. Chemicals are added so that there is no need to let bread rise at all, increasing production to match requirements of an exploding population. Ascorbic Acid (vit C), potassium bromate, ly-cysteine, sodium metabisulfte………and so on. They are simply whipped into the bread, taking no time at all. Be that as it may, for these machines, no more qualified bakers are needed because any one can do it. Baking goods companies can, now, even imitate sourdough with other chemicals, and so on and so on ………. Do South Africans actually like eating this or do you also feel duped or dissatisfied? Like so many of us, do you simply have no option?
- You can bake your own bread. It will, undoubtedly, be healthier, cheap and easy enough and could never taste like the bread from a shop, nor should it. It may even give you something else to talk about! If there is anything left, find a way to store it. The most basic bread recipe I know comes from Mark and this is it: 1 kg flour, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp salt, 650 ml tepid water, 2 x 10g pkts instant yeast. Mix sugar and salt and yeast together and put into the well that you have already made in the flour when you put it into the mixing bowl. Add the tepid water, slowly so that it doesn’t splash everywhere and mix the dough carefully. At first it will be messy dough but that will turn, after some kneading, into bread dough. Knead it some more. Put it in a bowl, cover with something like glad wrap. Place in a warm spot. Wait about 30 minutes, turn it into whatever shape you like and put it onto or into something well greased and floured. Bake in the container of your choice at 180 C. Mark has even used this recipe with freshly made yeast and it was delicious.
- Try it and see.