Baking may be regarded as a science, but it’s the chemistry between the ingredients and the cook that gives desserts life. Baking is done out of love, to share with family and friends, to see them smile. Anna Olson
Since the existence of man, the very first instances of baking was believed to have occurred when wild grass grains were soaked in water, mixed together and mashed into a kind of broth-like paste which was cooked by pouring it onto a flat, hot rock, resulting in a bread-like substance. After the experimentation and mastery of fire, the paste was roasted on hot embers which made bread-making easier. To date the world’s oldest oven was credited to the evidence in Croatia dating it back 6500 years ago. The Ancient Egyptians had baked bread using yeast.In Ancient Greece (600 BC) bread making had lead to the invention of enclosed ovens. Baking flourished further during the Roman Empire with professional pastry cooks being in vogue. Rome saw the establishment of the bakers’ guild with an wide variety of breads being available like the libum (sacrificial cakes made with flour), spira (modern day flour pretzels), savaillum (sweet cake) to name a few. Ovens with their own chimneys and mills to grind grain into flour were common features in Roman towns.
Cooking involves a deadline and hungry people and ingredients that expire in a week. It’s stressful. Cooking happens on the stove and on the clock. Baking happens with ingredients that last for months and come to life inside a warm oven. Baking is slow and leisurely. Regina Brett
Over time and with travel, the Roman technique of baking spread throughout Europe and to eastern areas of Asia. Towards the 13th century, commercial baking started off in London with strict regulations being enforced. Yet it was only by early 19th century that alternate leavening agents (besides yeast) like baking soda were more common. Slowly baked goods were available on the streets as handcarts or in downtown cafes (first being in Paris) or stores. With the advent of automated machinery, the commercialization of baking grew by leaps and bounds.
Baking can be done with a few simple ingredients, so it’s about simplicity and nostalgia – people are reminded of their childhood. Paul Hollywood
The technique of baking is not confined to bread alone, but ranges from biscuits to cakes, casserole to pudding and pies as well as roast, tarts and viennoiserie to list a few. Each country has their own set of baked goods. Adobe bread of southwest US, Barley bread in England, Baozi of China, pan de vapor of Mexico, Naan of India are a few of the baked breads that vary across various regions and countries. In fact a bread variety can be named for every letter of the alphabet.
If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation. Regina Brett
Fast forwarding to today, baking has become an art with more flavours, designs and artful masterpieces being created. From cultural as well as religious significance to high teas, daily food, party events and even nursery rhymes (pat-a-cake, bakers’ man) the art of baking has always been an integral part of man’s subsistence and lifestyle. A day at home or any festive season, (especially Christmas) without baked goods would be like missing important pieces of the puzzle, not to forget the pleasant memories as well as burst of flavours and taste lost. As Lidia Bastianich said, “Make gifts meaningful by putting the time in creating them, whether baking and cooking, or in making arts and craft. It will all have more meaning for the giver and receiver.” Baking is a labour of love and something that brings rest to a tired, wandering or lost soul with a plate of freshly baked bread, whichever style of type it may be.