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chezjim

More about early South American/Ecuadorian bread history

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Having continued on from the inquiry in this thread,

Ecuadorian bread history?

I have found a random assortment of other facts about early South American (European-style) bread, most, but not all of it about Ecuador and particularly Quito. (I doubt many people are interested in the minutiae of this subject, but to the degree anyone is they are probably to be found on this board. :) )

Here then (sans references) are my current findings. As I go on, I may well be tempted to assemble something more formal.

According to Humboldt, a Black slave of Fernando Cortez introduced wheat to New Spain, having found three grains of wheat in the rice that had been brought for the army's food.

In Quito, the Franciscan monastery kept (and may still keep) an earthen container in which Brother Jodoco Rixi of Ghent brought wheat to sow in the city. It bears an inscription (probably in Flemish) "Let he who drains me in drinking not forget the Lord."

In Chile, Marie d'Escobar, wife of Diego de Chaves brought a few grains of wheat to Lima, sometime after 1547.

The 18th century writer La Harpe said the bread in Lima was both tasty and white, and was made by Blacks for the bakers. There were three qualities: the criollo, very light, French-style bread and soft bread.

The work was so hard that masters would send disobedient slaves to work in the bakeries where they hardly slept, were poorly fed and would end up much weakened. Just the threat of this was apparently enough to impose obedience (according to La Harpe, the Greeks and Romans did the same thing.)

In Quito, about the same time, wheat bread was unusually common and very cheap, but would, says La Harpe, have been better if the Peruvians who made it had known how to knead it.

On December 24, 1790, the government offered a prize in Ambato to the first baker who would make well fermented and well baked bread. This may be one reason the city was long known for the excellence of its bread.

Already in 1802, an excellent, very white bread was being made in Riobamba. In 1892, an English traveler there said that his people "fancied the bread of the country."

In 1823 - about the same time Boussingault was in Quito -, the best bread in that province was being made in Ambato, with eggs which made it "like big cakes" and sold in Guayaquil. (Ambato's bread was still being sold there in 1875.) In San Miguel de la Chimba at that time the bread was made from potatoes and oats.

Flour then came from North America to Cartagena (Colombia) and was sent to Novita, costing 34 piasters the barrel. A four ounce roll cost a silver Real (corresponding to 2 French francs, 50 centimes an ounce at the time, the same price as meat)/ (Ecuador was then part of Gran Colombia; but wheat may have been cheaper in Quito, which grew its own).

In 1828, several types of bread were being brought to the Quito market, all in the forms of "little cakes". The price went down after noon, because of the "habit of only eating soft bread". This suggests that the bread was being made with a yeast-like substance (probably still chicha dregs), since bread made with sourdough typically lasts longer. (Note that all this was just before Ecuador's independence in 1830, which may among other things have affected production and consumption of bread.)

The bread in Guayaquil was then said to be of inferior quality, even though the flour was good. Ambato's bread continued to be known as excellent.

In 1835, a French writer found the bread in Quito "worthless", because it was mixed with a flour of peas, lentils and oats. (Note that today French flour often includes some lima bean flour.) Since no one else mentions this mixture, however, this traveler may either have eaten an unusual form of bread or the young country's turmoils might simply have impacted the cultivation of wheat, etc.

Around 1850, a French writer found European bread as made in South America unsatisfactory, despite the presence of some French bakers. In Quito, one of these (who made bread for the President) was so valued that he went unpunished after stabbing one of his servant women to death.

In 1878, locals in Quito preferred potatoes to wheat and both potatoes and wheat cost $1.60 for 100 lbs. But descendants of Europeans preferred wheat bread. "The bread is generally of very inferior quality, for several reasons. The grain is, for the most part, very poor, and not ground enough. The dough is kneaded very imperfectly and the bread is half baked."

In 1896, rolls of bread were being used as small change in Ecuador.

In the same year, bread in Venezuela was made by pounding the grain (corn, wheat, rye, or barley) in large mortars of hard wood or stone. The flour was cleaned with water, which brought the chaff to the surface, then mixed with water and ground to paste between two stones, molded into flat cakes, wrapped in leaves, and baked on flat stones heated by a fire built on them. (This may have been indigenous bread however, since the process mentions no leavening.)

Though most white bread seems to have been from wheat, one account from 1896 describes ring-shaped or flat bread made from yucca, with a yellow crust and a snow-white interior "spongy, translucent, like blown bubbles of bread".

Voila, for now. The overall picture is of a decline over time in the bread of Quito, at least. It does leave the suggestion too that some of the "white bread" eaten by travelers may have been indigenous (of corn, yucca, etc.) rather than of wheat.


Edited by chezjim (log)

Jim Chevallier

http://www.chezjim.com

Austrian, yes; queen, no:

August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoiserie came to France

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I'd add to this (since I've been investigating the history of bread in Ambato, where I live and have my bakery) that Ambato bread is generally considered to be superior for its finer texture and richer flavour, when compared to the breads of other cities. Speaking to the elderly bakers in the area reveals that Ambato was the first city to impose a fairly strict 3-rise process for wheat breads, which greatly improved their texture given the extreme altitude of the city. This rule continues to this day, which is why the bread here is still considered to be the best in the country.

Having done my own experiments with yeast-leavened breads here (and I live at probably the highest possible altitude in the city, roughly 10,000 feet), I can tell you that the processes that work well in Quito (two rises, increased quantities of yeast) either fall absolutely flat here or produce bread that is so bubbly as to have little substance and poor texture. Equally, the single and double-rise processes I learned in Canada (near sea level) produce horrible results. However, the addition of an egg to the dough, slightly less yeast, and a longer process in rising coupled with an extra rise and punching, produces fine-textured, evenly and properly rising breads that are a pleasure to bake and eat - and regardless of the flour mix I choose to use!

This makes sense given the general knowledge about altitude's effects on baked goods....

---

I've also got something to add about fine-textured indigenous white breads with chicha ferment leavening. These are generally made using a mixture of finely-ground white corn, yucca, and quinua flours (at least, according to my adopted abuela Delfina, who taught me her recipe and method) and when done properly have a flavour and texture on par with fine French wheat breads.


Edited by Panaderia Canadiense (log)

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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      The dough in the illustration is ordinary unbleached supermarket (Tesco) strong white bread flour, 11.7g protein, with ½ cup of spelt flour added for flavour. This supermarket adds Vitamin C and amalyse to their bread flour. Different flours may adsorb different amounts of water. This flour needs a bit more water. The object is to make a very soft dough -- one that has only just stopped being a batter and just holds together.
      Sourdough Bread Instructions
      A. Refresh the Starter
      1. Mix together 1 cup starter, 1 cup strong flour and 1 cup of water. It should be the consistency of very thick cream.

      Starter just mixed.
      3. Cover, and allow to stand in a warm (85F/29C) place for 4 hours.

      Starter after 4 hours.
      After 4 hours or so, it should be bubbly. Temperature is fairly critical, as discussed above. Any hotter than 85F/29C and you start to kill the yeast; any colder and it will not be as sour and will take longer to rise.
      What we are making here is a sponge starter or poolish. Starters (pre-ferments) can be roughly divided by hydration into wet, batter-like pre-ferments, often called poolish from their origin and dry, dough-like pre-ferments, often called biga, as the technique is typical of Italian bread. Some bakers call a poolish a sponge; others use sponge to refer to all pre-ferments.
      B. Make the Dough
      Assemble Ingredients as listed above.

      The storage jar with the rest of the starter is at the back right, ready to go back into the fridge for next time.
      The easiest way is to whizz together refreshed starter, flour and water (but not the salt yet) in a food processor for 20 sec.
      Alternatively mix them in a large bowl:

      Ready to mix

      Dough after mixing.
      Should make a softish dough. The wetter the dough the bigger the holes in the final bread. Different flours need different amounts of water – add more water or flour to get the right consistency. You may need to add up to another ½ cup of flour so that it just stops being a batter and holds together as a dough. On the other hand if it is too stiff then add more water. Plenty of loose flour will stop it sticking too much.
      If you are making the dough by hand then knead for 10 minutes by the clock.

      Be rough with it. Lose your temper with it. Take out your frustrations on it. Slam it about. When it is properly kneaded it should feel resilient to the touch. It has been described as feeling like an earlobe, but I describe it like feeling a soft breast or buttock. You should be able to take a pinch of dough and stretch it so thin you can see through it – called the “windowpane test”.

      When kneaded the dough will stretch without breaking
      You cannot over-knead by hand. It is possible (but quite difficult) to over-knead if you are using a mixer or a food processor, as the dough can get too hot, and if worked too long and hard the gluten will begin to break down.

      Finished Dough
      Gather it together, and wipe a little oil over the surface to stop it sticking, cover it and leave it in a warm place for 30 mins.

      Resting
      This pause, before the salt is added, is for several reasons:
      - It lets the enzymes do their stuff. They begin breaking down starches into sugars to feed the yeast to make a better crust colour. Salt tends to retard this reaction.
      - It lets the dough (and you) rest and relax after the exertions of kneading.
      - It allows the flour to complete its hydration, High levels of salt can interfere with this.
      - It allows time for you to prepare your “banneton” to receive the finished dough. See Preparing Your Banneton below.
      After 30 mins add the salt and whiz for another 20 sec, or knead for another 10 mins. Oil, cover, and leave for 2 hours or so in a warm (85F/29C) place. The exact time is not critical – anything from about 90 minutes to 3 hours will work. Temperature is more critical than time.

      Rested Dough
      The dough will have expanded a bit. Don’t worry about whether it has doubled or not. A lot of nonsense is written in some cookbooks, resulting in much overproved dough. The dough will also have got a bit softer and wetter.
      Turn out onto a floured board.

      Dusting the board with flour
      Now handle gently - don't knock all the air out. The time for rough handling is over. Take the sides and fold to the centre.

      Folding the dough
      Folding the dough like this (you can also fold top to bottom as well) gently stretches the gluten and the bubbles forming in the bread. Dan Lepard's technique for his wonderful bread is to repeat this folding operation every hour for up to 5 hours during an extended bulk fermentation phase, resting the dough between times. When the dough is ready for shaping bubbles are clearly visible if you cut a small slit
      in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
      Turn the dough over and shape into a ball. As you shape it try and stretch the surface a bit so it is taut.

      Shaping the dough
      Put it upside down (on its stretched, taut surface) into a cloth lined basket (called a banneton). The top of the dough in the banneton will be the bottom of the finished loaf.
      Preparing Your Banneton
      Traditionally, bannetons are made of cane or wicker, lined with linen, but you can improvise from a basin or a basket and a tea-towel or a piece of muslin. Ideally they are porous, so the outside dries slightly to help in crust development.

      Dough in the banneton
      Don’t worry if the top surface of the dough in the banneton is uneven: it will even itself out. Put into the fridge, covered with a cloth, overnight.

      In the fridge
      The dough is soft and needs the support of the basket. You could bake it after letting it rise for a hour or so, but its easier to handle, and gives a better crust if you keep it in the fridge (retardation) for between 8 and 24 hours. The cold will practically stop the fermentation, and so timing is not critical, and it gives you back control in that you can bake the dough when you want, rather than when the fermentation dictates.
      I’m lucky enough to have a brick bread oven that has a brick floor that holds the heat. The shell of this one I imported from France, from a company called Four Grandmere. If you are inspired to build your own, Dan Wing’s and Tom Jaine’s books are given in the references

      My oven

      Inside the oven
      You can approximate a similar environment in a domestic oven by putting a pizza stone or a layer of quarry tiles or engineering bricks on the lowest shelf to provide bottom heat.
      You are aiming for 440F/230C or even 500F/260C, as hot as most domestic ovens can manage. Heat the oven at least an hour before you want to bake to allow time to stabilise, and for the heat to soak into the tiles or equivalent. (If you have a wood fired oven you will need to light the fire about four hours before baking.)

      My oven heating up
      If you have an oven thermometer, check the temperature of the oven. You are strongly advised to do this as oven thermostats are surprisingly inaccurate.

      Thermometer
      When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge. Some advise letting the dough return to room temperature --a couple of hours or so, but I find I it better and easier to cook these very soft doughs straight from the fridge. The cold dough is stiffer, handles easier and spreads less.

      The dough from the fridge
      Again, don’t worry that it does not seem to have expanded much. Most of the expansion will be in the oven (called oven-spring). This will result in a lighter and better-shaped loaf than if the expansion is from proofing when some of the gas may leak out.

      When ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet and remove the cloth. (For the wood fired oven we use a peel, lightly dusted with dry polenta meal so the dough does not stick.)

      Slash the top firmly with a very sharp knife. Professional bakers use a razor blade on a stick, called a “lame”. Slash quickly and decisively – it is a slash not a cut. Don’t mess the dough about. Spray the knife blade with cooking spray to prevent it from tearing the dough.

      The slashes allow the dough to rise in a defined way, and lessen the resistance to expansion by making weak points in the crust. In ancient times the pattern of slashes identified whose bread it was in the communal oven.
      Here a slightly careless slash has caught the dough on one side, so the finished loaf will be a bit uneven and rustic.

      Into the oven:

      Just loaded:

      20 minutes later, and halfway through the bake. Most of the expansion has happened. Our loaf is the one on the left.

      The pattern on the rye bread on the front right is created by using a banneton made from coiled cane. No cloth is used in that sort of banneton. Bannetons can be obtained from any good baking supplier. The ones shown come from Four Grandmere and the San Francisco Baking Institute.

      Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until it is a good colour. You might need to rotate it after 30 mins.
      Let the bread cool to warm before you slice it. Hard to resist the temptation to slice into the loaf too soon, but it needs time to finish cooking and for the structure to firm up as it cools.

      I like an open texture, as it gives more room for the butter. The crust is a little thick as the bread was slightly over baked.

      That completes the basic bread lesson.

      Variations on the basic recipe/technique
      I’d advise practicing plain white bread before trying variations. When you get that right you can get fancier. You might not get it completely to your satisfaction the first time, but as you go on your baking will improve. There are infinite variations possible.
      Crust Variations:
      My brother prefers a flour dusted crust. These were the other loaves in the bake:

      To get this effect, lightly dust the banneton and the top of the dough with flour before putting in the dough.

      The legs in the top of the picture are my sister-in-law, painting the scene. I’m the one sitting down; my brother is loading the oven.

      The dough is slashed in a feather pattern. To achieve this, make alternate slashes from each side of the loaf to just over halfway across. This pattern was tought to us by Ian Duffy, then of the San Fransisco Baking Institute.

      This is a loaf with 25% rye flour.
      For a shiny, thinner crust, put an empty pan in the bottom of the oven and pour a cup of boiling water into it after you have put the bread in the oven (be careful of the hot steam), and shut the door quickly. The idea is to provide a burst of steam, which gelatinises the outside of the dough. Professional ovens have steam injection for this purpose. Alternatively (but not as good) you can paint the bread with water before it goes in the oven, or use a garden sprayer. (Be careful not to get cold water on the oven light or it might shatter.) The baguettes below are made like this.
      Other crust variations you can try:
      Brush with milk or cream
      Brush with egg glaze (egg yolk+milk)
      Toppings (stick on with egg-wash or water):
      Porridge oats (oatmeal)
      Muesli
      Poppy seeds
      Sesame seeds
      Grated cheese


      Flavours and additions
      Add with the salt, but you might want to chop them and then hand-knead them in – the food processor chops them a bit too fine
      Onions (soften in butter first),
      Hazelnuts, walnuts
      Olives,
      Sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed?)
      Caraway seeds
      Dill weed
      Raisins
      Smarties or M&Ms
      Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
      Flour variants: I’d recommend replacing only 1/3-1/2 of the plain strong white flour with:
      Wholemeal (whole wheat) (will not rise as much)
      Granary (has added malt)
      Rye flour (makes a sticky dough)
      For dark rye add 1 Tbs black treacle (molasses). Some like caraway seeds as well.
      Spelt (ancient wheat) (Poilane is reputed to use 1/5th Spelt. This was the example bread).
      “Mighty White” (steamed, corned grains)
      For a sweet bread: add sugar and butter with the fruit. Saffron for Easter.
      Baguettes
      Baguettes, that typical French loaf, are long thin loaves made with a soft, white dough. Because they are thin, they are baked at a higher temperature but for less time. The dough is delicate, and needs supporting continuously during proof and baking. You can get special pans for this. I’ve now thrown away my tin baguette pans (the ones in these pictures) and instead use a silpat baguette form (from www.demarle.com). You can just see it in the crust variation photo. Much easier and no sticking.
      To Make Baguettes from the Finished Dough
      Divide the dough into four, at the shaping stage:

      Roll and stretch into long cylinders, tucking the end in neatly. Cover, put into a large plastic bag, like a dustbin liner so that they do not dry out too much, and put in the fridge overnight. Next day take them out, and slash the tops.

      Put them in the hottest oven you can, and throw half a cup water into a pan or onto the oven floor. Beware of the hot steam!

      Bake until golden, say 30 mins

      Let cool on a rack. Enjoy with cheese and a glass of wine, or maybe some good soup.

      References
      Dan Lepard Baking with Passion - Dan Lepard - A great book. Website: www.danlepard.com.
      Joe Ortiz The Village Baker ISBN 0-89815-489-8 wonderfully evocative.
      Bread Builders. Hearth loaves and Masonry Ovens - Daniel Wing and Alan Scott. The definitive book on building and using brick bread ovens.
      The Bread Baker's Apprentice - Peter Reinhart
      Breads from the La Brea Bakery - Nancy Silverton
      Elizabeth David English Bread and Yeast Cookery ISBN 0-14-046791 is, like all her books, masterly for its time.
      Tom Jaine, Building a Wood Fired Oven for Bread and Pizza. Prospect Books ISBN 0907325
      Web resources
      www.danlepard.com
      www.fourgrandmere.com (Click on the Union Jack to get the English version).
      www.sfbi.com
      www.demarle.com
      www.sourdoughhome.com
      http://samartha.net
      www.sourdo.com
      www.faqs.org SLKinsey is a contributor- a good resource.
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
    • By Terrasanct
      Hi all, haven't been here for years, not since about the time Bourdain was stuck in Lebanon.  It's been a while.  But I knew it was the best place to ask a food question.  On a trip to Seattle a year or so ago, we stopped at the Starbucks reserve at the headquarters.  They sell Princi baked goods.  There were so many things I couldn't figure out what to get, so I got a big round loaf of bread and a package of three huge crackers.  The crackers were just so good, and we've been getting them on every trip.  Since the apocalypse and everything, no traveling and lots of baking.  I ordered some overpriced semolina, thinking those huge crackers must be semolina based.  The crackers I baked were very good, but not quite the quality I was hoping for.
       
      So here are the things I could do differently--I only have regular olive oil right now, not extra virgin.  That might make a difference in the richness. The recipe calls for half semolina, maybe a higher percentage would be better?  I was able to roll out really thin, so that's not a problem.
       
      If anyone is familiar with those crackers and how they are made, I'd appreciate it.  Maybe I'll stick around this time.
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