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Sourdough loavesSourdough is a type of bread produced by a long fermentation of dough using naturally occurring yeasts and lactobacilli. It usually has a mildly sour taste because of the lactic acid produced during anaerobic fermentation by the lactobacilli.[52][53]

Sourdough breads are made with a sourdough starter. The starter cultivates yeast and lactobacilli in a mixture of flour and water, making use of the microorganisms already present on flour; it does not need any added yeast. A starter may be maintained indefinitely by regular additions of flour and water. Some bakers have starters many generations old, which are said to have a special taste or texture.[52] At one time, all yeast-leavened breads were sourdoughs. Recently there has been a revival of sourdough bread in artisan bakeries.[54]

Traditionally, peasant families throughout Europe baked on a fixed schedule, perhaps once a week. The starter was saved from the previous week's dough. The starter was mixed with the new ingredients, the dough was left to rise, and then a piece of it

Sourdough breads are made with a sourdough starter. The starter cultivates yeast and lactobacilli in a mixture of flour and water, making use of the microorganisms already present on flour; it does not need any added yeast. A starter may be maintained indefinitely by regular additions of flour and water. Some bakers have starters many generations old, which are said to have a special taste or texture.[52] At one time, all yeast-leavened breads were sourdoughs. Recently there has been a revival of sourdough bread in artisan bakeries.[54]

Traditionally, peasant families throughout Europe baked on a fixed schedule, perhaps once a week. The starter was saved from the previous week's dough. The starter was mixed with the new ingredients, the dough was left to rise, and then a piece of it was saved (to be the starter for next week's bread).[48]

The rapid expansion of steam produced during baking leavens the bread, which is as simple as it is unpredictable. Steam-leavening is unpredictable since the steam is not produced until the bread is baked. Steam leavening happens regardless of the raising agents (baking soda, yeast, baking powder, sour dough, beaten egg white) included in the mix. The leavening agent either contains air bubbles or generates carbon dioxide. The heat vaporises the water from the inner surface of the bubbles within the dough. The steam expands and makes the bread rise. This is the main factor in the rising of bread once it has been put in the oven.[55] CO2 generation, on its own, is too small to account for the rise. Heat kills bacteria or yeast at an early stage, so the CO2 generation is stopped.

Bacteria

Salt-rising bread employs a form of bacterial leavening that does not require yeast. Although the leavening action is inconsistent, and requires close attention to the incubating conditions, this bread is making a comeback for its cheese-like flavor and fine texture.[56]

Aeration

Aerated bread was leavened by carbon dioxide being forced into dough under pressure. From the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, bread made this way was somewhat popular in the United Kingdom, made by the Aerated Bread Company and sold in its high-street tearooms. The company was founded in 1862, and ceased independent operations in 1955.[57]

The Pressure-Vacuum mixer was later developed by the Flour Mill

The Pressure-Vacuum mixer was later developed by the Flour Milling and Baking Research Association for the Chorleywood bread process. It manipulates the gas bubble size and optionally the composition of gases in the dough via the gas applied to the headspace.[58]

Bread has a significance beyond mere nutrition in many cultures because of its history and contemporary importance. Bread is also significant in Christianity as one of the elements (alongside wine) of the Eucharist,[59] and in other religions including Paganism.[60]

In many cultures, bread is a metaphor for basic necessities and living conditions in general. For example, a "bread-winner" is a household's main economic contributor and has little to do with actual bread-provision. This is also seen in the phrase "putting bread on the table". The Roman poet Juvenal satirized superficial politicians and the public as caring only for "panem et circenses" (bread and circuses).[61] In Russia in 1917, the Bolsheviks promised "peace, land, and bread."[62][63] The term "breadbasket" denotes an agriculturally productive region.

In many cultures, bread is a metaphor for basic necessities and living conditions in general. For example, a "bread-winner" is a household's main economic contributor and has little to do with actual bread-provision. This is also seen in the phrase "putting bread on the table". The Roman poet Juvenal satirized superficial politicians and the public as caring only for "panem et circenses" (bread and circuses).[61] In Russia in 1917, the Bolsheviks promised "peace, land, and bread."[62][63] The term "breadbasket" denotes an agriculturally productive region. In Slavic cultures bread and salt is offered as a welcome to guests.[64] In India, life's basic necessities are often referred to as "roti, kapra aur makan" (bread, cloth, and house).[65]

Words for bread, including "dough" and "bread" itself, are used in English-speaking countries as synonyms for money.[1] A remarkable or revolutionary innovation may be called the best thing since "sliced bread".[66] The expression "to break bread with someone" means "to share a meal with someone".[67] The English word "lord" comes from the Anglo-Saxon hlāfweard, meaning "bread keeper."[68]

Bread is sometimes referred to as "the staff of life", although this term can refer to other staple foods in different cultures: the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "bread (or similar staple food)".[69][70] This is sometimes thought to be a biblical reference, but the nearest wording is in Leviticus 26 "when I have broken the staff of your bread".[71] The term has been adopted in the names of bakery firms.[72]