“Our Daily Bread”
“GIVE us this day our daily bread.” No doubt you recognize those words as a portion of the best-known prayer ever uttered—the so-called Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:9, 11, King James Version) Back in Jesus’ day, bread was the staple food in Israel and could well serve as a symbol of physical sustenance.
In most parts of the world today, bread no longer dominates the menu as it once did. Our literal daily bread today is often a mere accompaniment to a meal. Nevertheless, bread continues to play an important role in the lives of millions the world over.
In Mexico housewives make thin pieces of bread called tortillas. In Ethiopia the women make a simple bread by pouring a soupy liquid in circles on a hot griddle. In Western lands bread is mass-produced in an astounding variety of shapes and sizes. And many housewives in those lands continue to delight their families with homemade varieties.
Who is not captivated by the aroma of bread as it is taken hot from the oven? It can draw passersby into a bread shop. For many it conjures up the warm remembrance of home and the security of childhood.
Just who invented the art of bread making is not known. At Genesis 3:19, the first human sinners were told: “In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground.” Apparently, the word “bread” was here used merely as a symbol for food in general. At Genesis 14:18, 19, however, we read that when the priest Melchizedek came out to bless the patriarch Abraham, he “brought out bread and wine.” This no doubt referred to a form of bread that served as the staple food for the people of ancient times. In some parts of the Middle East, bread continues as such.
Ancient Egypt had commercial bakers, as did later nations, such as Greece and Rome. By the end of the 19th century, the industrial revolution was in full swing. Bread making was moving out of the home and into factories for mass production. A number of new inventions served these production needs: mixing machines, chain conveyors, automatic baking ovens, as well as slicing and wrapping machines. Bread making had developed from household art to commercial science.
Much, if not most, of the bread consumed today in industrialized lands is produced commercially. And it continues to be an important part of the cuisine in many cultures. What would a spaghetti dinner be without crusty Italian bread? Or imagine a hearty German repast of sauerkraut without the taste of dark, chewy pumpernickel! Who can resist pancakes on a cold winter morning? Pancakes are nothing more than quick-fried bread made of cornmeal, whole wheat flour, or buckwheat flour.
A type of bread that has become very popular in Western lands is that used in Italian pizza. It is also enjoyable to view its preparation; even mature adults will watch in childlike wonder as a pizza baker twirls the doughy disk over his head with all the flair of a circus performer.
Something for everyone? Yes, indeed! But perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy bread is to try baking your own. You may be surprised at the satisfaction you can derive from this hands-on endeavor. And it can bring a housewife a sense of creative accomplishment that she may not find in the laundry room or scrub bucket.
The accompanying recipe will help you make a yeast-raised bread popular in Western lands. Measuring and mixing the ingredients can be fun. And kneading the dough can be a healthy outlet for all sorts of frustrations! Watching the bread rise is yet another fascinating aspect of bread making. Rising is the result of fermentation. When added to the dough, yeast generates bubbles of carbon dioxide gas, making the dough porous. Now the dough is punched down, shaped into loaves, and allowed to rise again in bread pans prior to baking. Into the oven the loaves go—and what a marvelous aroma fills your home! Best of all is the tasting. You may find it hard to go back to store-bought bread. And once you get the hang of bread making, you may be moved to experiment with different flours, such as wheat, barley, rye, corn, rice, potato, or soybean.
True, it may be more convenient for you simply to purchase some of the various commercially made varieties of bread. But whether your joy is in baking it or in eating it, whether it is a major part of your diet or simply a side dish, try not to take bread for granted. It is God himself who provides “our daily bread”!
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Dissolve 1 cake of yeast (or 3 packets of dry yeast) in 4 cups [1 L] of warm water
Stir in 5 cups [600 g] of flour (whole wheat or white)
Let rise to double its size in a warm place
Add 2 teaspoons [10 g] of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar [100 g], 1/2 cup [115 g] of vegetable shortening
Add about 4 more cups [480 g] of flour to firm up the dough
Knead on floured surface for 15 minutes
Let rise in greased bowl to double its size
Knead lightly, and shape into four loaves
Let rise for a few minutes in greased bread pans
Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit [163° C.] for one hour