Bread is one of the most common foods in the world. It can be baked, grilled, fried, or steamed. You can make it with almost any kind of grain in almost any kind of shape—puffy yeast loaves, flat bread, or bread with a pocket inside.
Most of us eat bread so often that we don’t even think about it. But the story of bread is really interesting. Let’s take a look!
Most bread is made from grain that’s been ground up to make flour. People have always looked for easier ways to make flour. Try grinding some rice between two rocks, and you’ll see why—it’s hard work!
- The first bread was probably made by cooking some grain mush on a hot stone—maybe even by accident! Back then, people used stones to grind grain by hand.
- Around 800 B.C., the Mesopotamians made the first “mills” using animals or people to turn two huge flat round stones that crushed the grain between them.
- By 1150, Europeans were using windmills to grind grain into flour.
- In 1786, the first steam-powered mill was built on the Thames River in England. Barges delivered grain to the mill. There it was ground by 20 pairs of huge millstones.
What Makes Bread Rise?
Yeast is the stuff that makes bread dough rise. Without yeast in the dough, you’d get flat or “unleavened” bread.
But what is yeast? Believe it or not, yeast is actually a type of single-celled fungus. Its scientific name is Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which means “sugar-eating fungus.”
In 1859, French scientist Louis Pasteur discovered a lot about how yeast works. The yeast “eats” the sugar in the dough and produces a gas called carbon dioxide. That’s the same gas you breathe out after your body uses oxygen. The carbon dioxide makes bubbles in the bread dough—and that’s what makes the dough rise!
Yeast is used in making wine too. So the next time your church celebrates the Lord’s Supper, thank God for how yeast helps make the bread and wine that remind us that Jesus died and rose again for us.
The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
In 1917, an American named Otto Rohwedder invented a machine that sliced bread automatically. Ten years later he made a machine that could slice and wrap bread. In 1928, the Chillicothe Baking Company in Chillicothe, Missouri, installed the first slicing machine, and it was a huge success! Ever since, when people want to say something is really great, they might describe it as “the best thing since sliced bread.”
Bread Factory in Action
Want to see how store-bought bread is made? Watch an amazing video at tinyurl.com/breadfactory to see huge machines mix, shape, bake, and package the bread people eat every day.
Bread Around the World
Here are just a few of the thousands of kinds of bread eaten by people all around the world. How many of these breads have you eaten? Circle the names of the breads in the puzzle below. Stuck? See the answer at the bottom of the page.
Pita (Middle East)
Soda bread (Ireland)
Fry bread (North America)
Scone (Great Britain)
Puff Puff (Nigeria)
A Week of Bread in the Bible
Bread was an important source of food for people in the Bible, and Jesus talks a lot about it. Here are five important “bread” passages. After dinner this week, read one of these passages with your family and talk about it together.
- Matthew 4:1-4. Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness.
- Matthew 6:9-13. Jesus teaches us to pray for “our daily bread.”
- Matthew 14:13-21. Jesus does a miracle with bread.
- John 6:28-35. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.”
- Matthew 26:26-29. Jesus breaks bread at the Last Supper.