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The upper part, accessible from the top, was the baking chamber.
An oven of similar shape, but often constructed of hollowed stone instead of clay, was used by the early Jews.
Larger, bi-level ovens have been unearthed which would have been more suitable for baking commercial quantities.
They have a top rack to hold the loaves, while the fire below is stoked with "the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven..." (Mt. These baking techniques and others were known to the Romans, whose own commercial bakeries were not established unitl a relatively late date (171-168 B. Once Roman administrative genius was applied to even so commonplace a task as breadmaking, the results would be impressive." ---The Bible Cookbook, Daniel S. 371) About ancient Roman ovens "Many kitchens had an oven, furnus, sometimes called a fornax...
At some stage in the Neolithic era people had learned that if, instead of using ordinary grain, they used grain that had been sprouted and then dried, it made a bread that kept unusually well. The Egyptian process was to sprout the grain, dry it , crush it, mix it to a dough and partially bake it.
The loaves were then broken up and put to soak in water, where they were allowed to ferment for about a day before the liquor was strained off and considered ready for drinking." ---Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers Press: New York] 1988 (p.48) "Leavening, according to one theory, was discovered when some yeast spores--the air is full of them, especially in a bakehouse that is also a brewery--drifted onto a dough that had been set aside for a while before baking; the dough would rise, not very much, perhaps, but enough to make the bread lighter and more appetizing than usual, and afterwards, as so often in the ancient world, inquiring minds set about the task of reproducing deliberately a process that had been discovered by accident.
For six thousand years and more it is the oven, however crude or complex, which has transformed the sticky wet dough into bread.
It is the oven which influences the final character of the loaf; the effieciencycy of an oven, or lack of it, can determine the success or failure of any bread baker's business. It was the Egyptians who first used a manufactured portable oven.
Archaelogical evidence confirms yeast (both as leavening agent and for brewing ale) was used in Egypt as early as 4000 B. Food historians generally cite this date for the discovery of leavened bread and genesis of the brewing industry.This was a beehive- or barrel-shaped container of baked clay, usually divided into two by a central horizontal partition.The lower section formed the fire-box in which were burned pieces of dried wood, foten taken from the Nile, or even dried animal dung.The fact ovens based on this simple design formed the majority of those in use throughout Europe until little more than two centuries ago.Although some of the early Roman ovens had chimnesy to improve the draught and carry away steam, it was many centuries before chimneys were commonly used or dampers incorporated so that the heat could be more effectively controlled." ---The Story of Bread, Ronald Sheppard & Edward Newton [Charles T. 107-109) ""When I break your staff ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and shall deliver your bread again by weight; and you shall eat, and not be satsified." ---Lev. This type of oven may have been a small earthenware cylindar called tannur in the Bible as it is by present-day rural north Africans who still use it.