The Ancient Egyptians had a dynastic rule lasting more than 2000 years. In that time there have been many variations in bread making and baking. At the start of the first dynasty around 2100 BC, the wheat used for bread making was Emmer (Triticum dicoccum). This was a small grain low yield variety with a high protein content and a low gluten content. By the Ptolemaic dynasty around 280 BC the common wheat used for bread making was Khorasan (Triticum turgidum turanicum). This is a hybrid of Durum Wheat (Triticum turgidum durum) and Polish Wheat (Triticum polonicum). This wheat has a higher yield than Emmer, but it is still a high protein, low gluten wheat. All of these plants originate in the fertile crescent of the Middle East.
Ancient Egyptian flour will not produce a high rising dough as it is too low on gluten. The types of bread that it is well suited to are flat, round loaves that are baked in a hot oven. There is a lot of diagrammatical evidence to suggest that the common bread was a small round and flat loaf. Bread has survived in the Mortuary Tomb at Dyr Al-Bahari. This is about 2000 BC in the reign of Mentuhotep II. Triangular flat loaves about 1cm thick and 15 cm long have been found to contain sand grains within the dough prior to baking.
Flat round or triangular bread of about 10-15 cm would have been used to assist with eating and mopping up other food. Larger rounds of between 15 and 25 cm would have been used as plates to hold food - then being eaten at the end of the meal.
Natron is a natural salt found in Egypt and this was used in the process of mummification as well as for cooking and baking. This type of salt was known to have been added to bread. There is also some evidence to suggest that, in some cases, bread was formed in clay moulds before baking to give a consistent shape and size to each loaf.
In 1949, an American serviceman obtained a hand full of grains that were supposedly from an ancient Egyptian tomb. These were taken back to the USA and grown to produce wheat plants. After growing on, the wheat was eventually able to produce a viable commercial crop and in 1990 the variety was registered as Triticum Turgidum and marketed under the registered trademark as "Kamut" flour This is genetically Khorasan wheat and the word Kamut is Egyptian for wheat
Download the following .pdf recipes
|Emmer Wheat Bread|
|Khorisan Wheat Bread|
This part of the Bread Pages looks at the key recipes that were used in different periods of history.