Bread has always been considered as the wealth of the Rus. Give us this day our daily bread…
Slavic people mainly grew wheat, barley, oats, and millet. Rye bread became Russia's real "daily bread", even though it had come to Russia from outside.
How did the first bread taste? Sour bread from leaven dough was particularly loved by Russians. They used beer or kvas base, yeast or a part of old dough as leaven that gave sourness. "A working man," wrote18th-century historian Ivan Boltin, "can eat at one go up to two pounds of black bread together with schi. While in France one person eats on an average a pound of wheat bread a day, a Russian, not only a working man but also an idle person, cannot be satisfied with this amount."
The role of bread in the life of Russian people was so great that famine began in the country in bad harvest years despite the fact that in Russian woods there was plenty of game and the rivers teemed with fish. But as numerous sources recorded, meat could not replace bread for the Russians.
Neither could white wheat bread substitute black leavened bread. When Russian troops, who entered the boundaries of the Khanate of the Crimea in 1736, got isolated from the rye flour carts and bread had to be made from wheat flour, diseases set in among the troops.
In time, bread making in Russia was improved, the range of baked bread varieties extended, and their quality bettered. This was furthered by high flour milling skills.
During the 17th century, 25 varieties of wheat and 30 kinds of rye flour were produced. Russian flour makers and bakers were so skilled that foreign ambassadors often sent Russian bread as a delicacy to European courts.
As to wheaten bread, it was considered over long centuries as a luxurious and dainty food. In monastery bakeries bread was usually made from wheat flour.
As you should know, bread is extremely valuable foodstuff. Scientists insist that it contains more than 200 useful substances among which are 5-8% protein and 40-50% carbohydrate. So, the people, who eat bread, cover all organism needs in energy. Bread is rich in rough fibre that contains vitamins and mineral substances.
Bread exterior also plays a vital part - it must look attractive, "pleasant to eye" and its aromatic bouquet has more than 200 different smells. Sometimes coriander, caraway-seeds, vanilla and other things to diversify the taste and the smell of bread are added to the dough.
By Olga Timokhina