From wild to crop

Bread one of our staple foods

Bread in Malaysian dietary habit differs from the other culture, our own bread is known as roti canai, tosai, roti arab and chapatti.

Even though eating bread is not in our everyday culture, the kind of bread in our culture made us eat it as part of our everyday food. 

Usually, people will consume bread using butter and jam however, as we prefer adding the flavour of spiciness in our day to day menu, we would like to eat bread using dips such as curry and sambal. 

The kind of bread that we have we usually consumed as breakfast. 

Different kind of bread is made from the grain and today I would like to talk about the wheat as grain. 

In Malay, whole wheat flour is known as tepung gandum.

Malay know tepung gandum not only to make bread but also, they associate with fritters or cekodok. 

Wheat

Wheat
One of the earliest crops that being grown. Image from Pixabay

When wheat was discovered? 

Wheat is a type of grass that grows wild and first discovered in the Mediterranean climate. 

I was wondering how does the Mediterranean climate look like? As I was born and grow up in an Asian country, I do ponder about this. 

Wheat is grown in a climate that has hot dry summer and mild winter which is suitable for the growth of the grain. 

To be specific it is first  found that in Jordan a name place Jericho has become the evidence of growing cereal in form of wheat and barley. 

These two plants grow very well in muddy soil (a mixture of clay and sand), which could be irrigated without too much trouble if necessary. 

The other site that has produce wheat in the same era as Jericho is the site name Tell Aswad about 25 kilometres southeast of Damascus, Syria. 

Where wheat is grown in the world

In the past, according to the archaeologist, besides Jericho and Tell Aswad, a city like the Nile Valley of Egypt and early settlement in northern Syria (Tell Mureybet) farming appear much later and they used wild wheat rather than domesticated wheat. 

Now wheat is grown in almost every continent except Antarctica. In

Asia, the wheat is largely produced in Central Asia especially in Kazakhstan, the Middle East and Pakistan.

While my country, Malaysia are not producing wheat rather import it from Australia, Canada and the United States.

We import wheat and turn it into flour. 

How wheat is first  grown 

As the wheat grows wild, it needs to be undergone selection before it develops into crops.

10,000 years ago, human, began to collect wild seeds of wheat and at the same time select and replanting seeds from the plants that easy to harvest. 

Characteristics that made wheat into flour 

Did you know that not every type of wheat is suitable for making bread? 

For easy understanding, soft wheat with weak gluten and low protein content are not suitable for breadmaking.

Type of wheat

While hard wheat with strong gluten and high protein content are preferred. 

So how do we know the wheat is hard or soft?

During the milling process usually, the hard wheat will physically be damaged then the soft wheat.

This damaged wheat absorb water more than undamaged wheat (soft wheat) making it an important influence on the weight of the bread and the softness of the bread crumb. 

Gluten 

The amount of gluten in the wheat is important to determine whether the wheat will be used to make bread.

Wheat-containing gluten with less than 11% is not suitable for making bread if used alone.

Gluten is the protein in wheat that able to hold gas and would rise the bread.  

Wheat for baking bread is not the same in classification for both in West and Asian. 

For the bread-making in the west, they used hard wheat which essentially produced flour with high gluten and protein suitable to make bread and pasta. 

While soft wheat has a low protein level that suitable for producing cake and biscuits. 

In Asia, we are using semi-hard wheat, a combination of hard and soft.  That is suitable for making chapati and roti canai. 

The first cake

It was believed that among the first cake was a plain cake made of oat flour, cream cheese and honey. 

Another type of cake use wheat flour, honey and sesame seeds was invented for a special festival.

At that time butter was not exist thus the pastry chef used either full-fat cream cheese, oil or animal fat as one of the main ingredients. 

Cake at that time was so special that it is only eaten on a particular occasion for instance in theatre or during a religious festival in Greek. 

Fast forward, the Greeks established a professional association where the bakers are the member. 

Today, cake is available in wide range and easy to get in any parts of the world.

Either it is home bake or we can find it in bakery shop.

Conclusion

Wheat is one of the must ingredient in our cooking or bakery. It can turn into anything that is delicious and healthy.

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