The Farmhouse Bakery
Krause Family Farm

Grain kernel diagram.

A Very Brief History of Bread

Painted on the walls of 4000 year old Egyptian tombs are scenes from everyday life, including depictions of bread-making. There were even precisely drawn 'recipes' for bread-making, not to instruct the household cook, but to help the departed soul have some decent, freshly baked bread baked in the afterlife.

It is thought that bread was discovered by accident about 6000 years ago in Egypt, when natural yeast found in the environment developed in a bowl of wheat porridge, fermented and rose when baked.

In time, people would have discovered that this ‘new food’ was more nourishing than the porridge it had been made from. Since this discovery people all over the world have been using ‘natural yeast’ (aka a sourdough culture) to make bread.

In the 1880s commercial yeast was introduced and quickly established itself as a standard ingredient in bread making.

Selected over countless generations and optimized for the role of putting gas into dough, the purified monoculture (single strain) of yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, allowed bakers to produce bread in a fraction of the time sourdough cultures took, and also gave them a decisive gain in control due to its mechanical and predictable behavior, something that made it incredibly well suited for industrial bread production.

Although bread made using commercial yeast physically resembles bread made using a natural sourdough culture, the biochemical processes that lead to the final product are vastly different resulting in a significant difference in the chemical composition of the finished loaf. It is now increasingly believed that the slow fermentation that occurs in sourdough not only produces bread that is more nutritious, but that is also easier to digest, and that cutting out this crucial process through the use of commercial yeast may at least be partially responsible for the higher incidence of bread intolerance we are seeing in recent years.

Within the last century the speeding up of the bread making process for mass consumption has radically altered what we know as bread.

Though we use commercial yeast here at the bakery for some of our products, we still incorporate a longer fermentation process for easier digestion.