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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Toasting bread

A pleasant flavour and colour are produced when slices of wheat bread are toasted, corresponding to the organoleptic characteristics of bread crust. The chemical reactions involved in this process are essentially the Maillard reaction and caramelization.

It’s likely that toast originated as a way to preserve bread rather than as a tasty breakfast item smothered in butter and jam. By scorching slices of bread, they lasted longer as a palatable food.

The practice of browning bread is an ancient one. Early civilizations placed bread over an open fire in order to keep the bread from growing mold. The Romans brought the idea back from Egypt in 500 B.C. and then took it to Great Britain when they invaded in A.D. 44.

The word “toast” actually comes from the Latin “tostum,” which means “to burn or scorch.” The first breads were likely toasted by laying them in front of the fire on a hot stone. Later, simple devices were created to toast bread in the fire, such as wire frames to cook the toast more evenly.

The very first toaster, invented in 1893 by Scotsman Alan MacMasters used coils of steel wire through which electricity flowed to produce the heating needed to toast the bread. Unfortunately, the steel wire would get too hot, react with oxygen and burn away. He called the device the “Eclipse Toaster,” and it was manufactured and marketed in Britain by the Crompton Company.

In 1905, two Chicago inventors created an alloy that was highly fire resistant. That meant others could take another shot at a safer, more effective electric toaster. In 1906, the first U.S. patent application for an electric toaster was filed by George Schneider of the American Electrical Heater Company of Detroit, using Marsh’s wire.

The basic design of the toaster has remained essentially unchanged since 1919 when Charles Strite patented the automatic, pop-up toaster. Strite’s invention brought together a number of ideas in one machine, notably a heating element on a timer linked to a spring powered pop-up mechanism.
Toasting bread
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