Feature Article: History of Easy Baking Recipes

by | Mar 3, 2022 | Featured Article | 0 comments

Easy baking recipes have fed civilizations and continue to contribute to generations of good food.

Bread is the simplest form of a baked product. For over 30 000 years, it has evolved into many baked products depending on the ingredients and preparation. Reading Eleanor Gaccetta’s Generations of Good Food, we are introduced to several easy baking recipes that have been part of family meals and gatherings. Gaccetta’s collection of family dishes also featured bread, cakes, pies, cookies, and pasta dishes, all of which require baking skills. More than the tasty recipes that she shares, the author reminds us how easy baking recipes play an essential role in humanity’s daily diet.

More than six thousand years ago, baking changed our lives and still plays a significant role in today’s modern society.

Baking history can be traced to ancient times with the Romans, but it isn’t hard to imagine earlier civilizations doing the bakery. The early baking process involved soaking wild grass grains in water and mashing the mixture into a broth-like paste before cooking onto a flat, hot rock. Later, the process involved roasting, and in Ancient Greece, baking meant cooking in enclosed ovens. By 300 BC, baked pastries had already become part of festivities and celebrations, and being a pastry cook was considered a respected profession. Mastering fire, the early humans prepared large bread daily. Baked bread provides nutrition, is easy to prepare, and is cheaper than preparing meat dishes. The ancient flatbread soon evolved into flavored bread and eventually into sweets delicacies such as cakes, cookies, tarts, pies, and a wide variety of pastry dishes.

As the knowledge of making dough and creating stone ovens spread among families, baking became a fundamental skill, and bread and other baked dishes became part of family tradition and gatherings. Commercial baking also flourished, especially in Europe. With the invention of alternative leavening agents such as baking soda, baking became increasingly easy and accessible.

The evolution of baking and the creation of hundreds of baking recipes scattered worldwide is perhaps one of the most underrated stories in human history.

As mentioned above, Eleanor Gaccetta’s Generations of Good Food displayed a variety of easy baking recipes, and they’re not only pastries. Pies and pasta dishes also featured prominently in her book. This gives us a glimpse of how far baking has evolved.

We discover that baking is not only about preparing dough and eggs. Meat such as pork, chicken, fish, and beef can be baked. Stuffing, coating, and other baking techniques paved the way for easy baking recipes, including pizzas, meat rolls, dumplings, baked potatoes and beans, casseroles, and lasagna. Many of these dishes have different versions depending on the cultural background of their bakers.

Many of these baked dishes prepared at home are now finding their way to restaurants, hotels, and food factories. Machines and technological advancements have enabled bakers and food scientists to mass-produce these baked goods and sell them in grocery stores.

Today, these easy baking recipes form part of a silent billion-dollar industry continuously feeding humanity and will continue to do so perhaps until the end of human civilization. Millions of Americans consume bread and pastries daily in the United States alone. In 2016, the retail sales of bakery products in the U.S. reached $68.17 billion dollars, with China in second place with $32.77 billion. Baking indeed is here to stay, and these easy baking recipes will continue to evolve and adapt to the need of the times.

So the next time you’re baking something, think that you are taking part in a tradition that spans thousands of years and an industry that’s bigger than most businesses.

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