Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom In Bread Baking

'Baking bread' from Tacuini sanitatis
‘Baking bread’ from Tacuini sanitatis

I think it’s amazing that Western society is having to re-learn the importance of fermentation in bread baking in the 21st century. There is abundant evidence of humans producing fermented bread many thousands of years ago, although presumably the earliest bakers didn’t realise exactly what benefits the fermentation conferred to their diet. However, an 11th century medical text called Tacuini sanitatis explicitly states that ‘white bread was considered to improve human wellness but it had to be completely fermented’ (Food Microbiology 37 (2014), 30-40). Unleavened bread, on the other hand, can cause ‘bloating, flatulence and obstructions’. Isn’t it incredible that this knowledge was documented a thousand years ago?

What’s maybe slightly less impressive is the advice to take ‘good, mature wine’ to remedy the symptoms above, although I am willing to subject myself to a trial in the name of research……

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