Neopolitan Peasant Bread –
Hard Crusted – Olde World
The bread crust is formed from surface dough during the cooking process. It is hardened and browned through the Maillard reaction using the sugars and amino acids and the intense heat at the bread surface. The nature of a bread’s crust differs depending on the type of bread and the way it is baked. Commercial bread is baked using jets that direct steam toward the bread to help produce a desirable crust.
The crust of most breads is less soft, and more complexly and intensely flavored, than the rest, and judgments vary among individuals and cultures as to whether it is therefore the less palatable or the more flavorful part of a particular style of bread.
The first and last slices of a loaf (or a slice with a high ratio of crust-area to volume compared to others of the same loaf) are sometimes referred to as the heel or the crust of the loaf.
Old wives tales suggest that eating the bread crust makes a person’s hair curlier. Additionally, the crust is rumored to be healthier than the rest. Some studies have shown that this is true as the crust has more dietary fiber and antioxidants, notably pronyl-lysine. The pronyl-lysine found in bread crust is being researched for its potential colorectal cancer inhibitory properties.
In many cultures, bread is a metaphor for basic necessities and living conditions in general. For example, a “bread-winner” is a household’s main economic contributor and has little to do with actual bread-provision. This is also seen in the phrase “putting bread on the table”. The Roman poet Juvenal satirized superficial politicians and the public as caring only for “panem et circenses” (bread and circuses). In Russia in 1917, the Bolsheviks promised “peace, land, and bread.”The term “breadbasket” denotes an agriculturally productive region. In Slavic cultures bread and salt is offered as a welcome to guests.
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