To make bread, you only need a few simple ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast, which must be mixed until they become a dough that you will introduce into the oven for baking.
Grains are the most important source of human nutrition. In ancient times, different types of cereals were used:
- Wheat is the most widely cultivated grain and possesses such virtues that it is considered the most suitable for baking. The endless varieties of wheat can be divided into two broad categories:
- Soft grains, which are intended for breadmaking, and hard grains, which are found in hot-dry regions.
- Rye is sparsely used in Italy while in the rest of Europe it is the most widely used cereal for breadmaking.
- Oats are now grown almost exclusively for cattle feed. Grains are generally used because its flour is unable to rise.
- Millet constitutes one of the most important sources of livelihood in Africa and Asia.
- Corn, originally used for cattle feed, is one of the most important crops on the European continent.
- Spelt has been rediscovered if a good bread is made from it by mixing spelt with spelt and rye flour.
- Rice has several varieties: common, semi-fine, fine and superfine: this flour also needs the support of a “strong” flour: wheat.
Flour is the result of a complex multi-stage process to which cereal grains are subjected. Industrial flour production is carried out by sophisticated machinery that manages to remove the outer part and the germ, while retaining the starchy fraction.
Yeast is used to make the mass “rise” through the transformation of sugars and the development of alcohol and carbon dioxide. There are different types of yeast:
- brewer’s yeast consists of living cells and possesses all the characteristics of living things. It perishes very quickly (6-7 days).
- sourdough is that used in home baking. It does not consist of pure yeast but also contains milk enzymes and acetins.
Salt is used in a percentage ranging from 1 to 2 percent although there are regional breads that are free of it.
Liquids: water is essential in the preparation of bread. It is water that hydrates the flour, swells the starch grains and gives plasticity to the dough.
Milk can be used instead of water to make some particular types of bread.