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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1554

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BREAD, BISCUITS AND CAKES
 
CHAPTER XLVI
 

Cereals.—Among the large variety of vegetable products yielding articles of food for man, the " cereals " undoubtedly hold the first place. They are so-called after " Ceres," who, in Roman mythology, was the goddess of corn and tillage, or more generally speaking, of agriculture. The best-known cereals are wheat, rye, barley, oats and maize. Of these wheat comes first, and in this country scarcely anything else is employed at the present time for bread-making, although at different times other grain and vegetables have been pressed into service, generally, however, in times of scarcity and famine, when the quartern loaf has risen in price to 2s. There is a vast difference in the price of bread now and at the beginning of the eighteenth century, when also the quality was decidedly bad. In the early days of the nineteenth century the country was no doubt in a very bad way, and we whose lot is cast in the present day have much to be thankful for. A quartern loaf made at the present time from the finest flour the world produces is within the reach of almost all, for to-day the average price of bread for the country is 5d. per quartern.

Rye is used for the purposes of bread-making in some continental countries, but in England it takes more the form of a luxury than ordinary every-day food. It is hard, and less easily soluble by the gastric juices, and is less rich in nutritive properties than wheatmeal or flour. Flour or meal produced from barley, maize, or rice, cannot be employed satisfactorily for the manufacture of bread unless a considerable portion of wheat flour is added, and in countries where these grains are the staple food of the people they are as often eaten as porridge or mash as in the form of bread.

On examining a grain of corn from any of the numerous cereals used in the preparation of flour, such as wheat, rye, barley, etc., it will be found to consist of the husk, or exterior covering, which is generally of a dark colour, and the inner part, which is more or less white. That is what is seen on a superficial examination, but looked at through a microscope there is a centre white part, consisting almost entirely of

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