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History of bread  

We understand bread to be a staple food, but in medieval Europe bread served another purpose too. Until the 15th century, bread was used a trencher on which the food would be served, before being fed to the dogs or provided to the poor as a source of food. A trencher is a form of absorbent plate measuring 15cm by 10cm, which would eventually be made from wood in the 1600s.

Bread baking was industrialized in the 19th and early 20th century. This is thought to be a huge step for the industrialized modern world. Sliced bread, as we know it, was born in 1912 when Otto Frederick Rohwedder began work on a machine that would slice the bread automatically. Bakeries, however, were not keen on the idea of bread-slicing out of concern that the bread would dry out too quickly. It was not until Rohwedder - considered the father of sliced bread - created a machine that would wrap the bread as well as slice it, that the idea became popular.

For generations there was a noticeable distinction in the types of bread favored by the different classes, for instance whilst the poor invariably opted for whole grain bread, the rich would favor white bread instead. This trend would shift, however, towards the late 20th century when whole grain bread grew in popularity for its nutritional content.

Further developments in the mid 20th century enabled bread production to increase rapidly. The Chorleywood Bread Process enabled the use of inferior grain in the bread production process due to the high-energy mixing afforded by the mechanical working of dough. This system increased the output of high quality bread and is a system that is now used worldwide.

Today’s bread production can incorporate the use of chemical additives, which can decrease the time needed for fermentation. These additives can also reduce the time it takes for mixing and so is understandably a popular method for smaller bakeries that look to increase their output and remain competitive. Bread that is produced in this way is referred to in the trade as, ‘no-time bread’ due to the lack of fermentation needed for the dough. L-cysteine and sodium metabisulfite are common additions that are added to the dough. The additives are added in the form of a base containing most other ingredients. These bases have enabled people to bake at home with relative ease and are responsible for surge in popularity of domestic bread-making.