Bread (Encyclopedia of Food & Culture)
BREAD. What is bread? At its simplest it is merely a paste of flour or meal and water cooked over or surrounded by heat. More complex breads are leavened in various ways and contain salt and other ingredients, particularly fat and sugar. Although bread is usually thought of as being made from wheat, it can be made from virtually any grainye, corn (tortillas), barley and oats (bannocks), teff (injera), amaranth, millet, and rice. Only wheat, however, has the gluten that is essential to a risen loaf, so unless these other grains are mixed with wheat, the loaves will be flat. Many, such as oat, barley, and pure rye bread, will be heavy and dense as well.
The kernel of wheat is the grain used in most breads. Wheat is the single grain that contains enough gluten to allow the development of the protein strands that are the foundation of bread. These strands form layers and pockets that trap the steam from the water and the carbon dioxide released by the yeast during the fermentation process and thus give the bread its rise. Since other grains do not have this capability, they are usually combined with wheat flour to increase the gluten level of the mixture.
Wheat is not actually a seed but rather a true fruit. The wheat grain has three parts. Bran is the outer layer of the wheat kernel and is high in fiber and nutrients. The germ is the "embryo" of the kernel, and when sprouted, it reproduces new wheat plants. The endosperm makes up most of the kernel and is the food reserve for the germ. The endosperm is extracted during the milling process to make common white flour.
Wheat is rich in complex carbohydrates, which are an excellent source of energy for the human body. It also contains many essential B vitamins and the key minerals iron and calcium. After the milling process, in which the bran and germ, which contain most of the vitamins and minerals, are separated from the endosperm, enrichments frequently are added to the flour to restore the grain to its nascent nutritional levels. The two most common enrichments are folic acid, which prevents heart disease and neural deformities, and the other B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin, which prevent beriberi, pellagra, and nutritional anemia.
Types of Wheat
Many different types and strains of wheat are grown conventionally or organically worldwide. In the United States wheat is classified into four categories. Hard wheat is used for breads and similar baked goods; soft wheat is preferred for cakes and pastries; winter wheat, which includes hard wheat varieties, is planted in the late fall to over-winter in harsh climates and is harvested in the spring; and spring wheat is planted in the spring and is harvested in the late summer or early fall. Wheat is further categorized as red wheat, that is, hard, red winter wheat; or white wheat, that is, soft, white spring wheat. The thousands of varieties of wheat grown in the United States break down into six classes: hard, red winter; hard, red spring; soft, red winter; durum, primarily used in pasta making; hard white; and soft white.
In the late 1990s the artisanal baking world developed an interest in wheat's particular profile. This profile is generally indicated by a farinograph, which displays such important factors as protein (gluten) levels, ash content (a measure of extensibility, related to fiber), and falling number. Each of these elements plays an important role in the overall baking process, and each farinograph number tells the baker what type of results to expect. The baker's knowledge of the specific flour's profile dictates how much water to add, how long to knead the dough, and how long the fermentation time should be.
Identity preserved (IP) wheat has also attracted interest. Traditionally, when the wheat is harvested, it is stored in large silos prior to distribution to the mill. The mélange of different strains of wheat, even within a single category, present in the silo makes it virtually impossible to know how the flour will perform once it is milled. Yet these "blends," as they are called, are the most prevalent grains in the marketplace. Using the IP methodology, only one type of wheat is stored in a particular silo, thus giving the discerning baker more control over the outcome of the final product. While this IP methodology will probably never rule the marketplace due to silo space limitations and lack of general interest, it will continue to gain market share as the artisanal side of the baking industry continues to flourish.
The History of Bread
It is widely believed that the domestication and cultivation of wheat and other grains directly influenced human transition from nomadic people to domesticated, stationary people. In most parts of the world this transition was completed as wheat and subsequently bread became significant dietary staples. However, people continued nomadic ways where cultivation of grains was either not feasible or not desirable.
The earliest breads were more like porridges and flat cakes. Grains were mashed with water or milk and were eaten either raw or cooked, providing nutrition and sustenance. The porridge became thicker and more paste-like, and eventually this paste was cooked either on a hot rock or in an early subterranean oven, creating a more mobile product. Twenty-first-century descendants of those earliest breads include Middle Eastern pita bread, Indian naan, and pizza.
The first leavened breads were invented nearly seven thousand years after flatbreads were introduced into the diet. To put the history of bread on a timeline continuum, it is necessary to start nearly ten thousand years ago. About 8000 B.C.E. the first grinding stone, called a
About 3000 B.C.E., also in Egypt, varieties of wheat that were tougher, that is, more tolerant of weather and environment, were developed. It is widely thought that, owing to the Egyptian skill with brewing beer and the warm climate, wild yeasts attracted to the flour mixtures created the first sourdough. Recognizing the fermentation process, bakers began to experiment and developed the first purposefully leavened breads. By about 2500 B.C.E. the first true sourdoughs were in regular production in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions.
In about 2300 B.C.E. the cultivation of grain began in India along the Indus Valley. Around 1500 B.C.E. horses took over the task of plowing and the first iron plowshares were introduced. In about 1000 B.C.E. yeasted breads became popular in Rome. The circular quern, the basis for milling until the Industrial Revolution and the basis for so-called stone-ground flours in the twenty-first century, was developed by about 500 B.C.E. The water mill was invented in Greece around 450 B.C.E. Consequently culinary historians credit the Greeks with ushering in bread baking as an art form.
In Rome the first bakers guilds were formed as a means of unifying the craftspeople around 150 B.C.E. Well-to-do Romans insisted on the more exclusive and expensive white breads. Darker whole wheat and bran breads were for the masses, an attitude that persisted well into the twentieth century in Europe and North America. By about 100 C.E. Mexican natives made the first stone-ground corn tortillas. By 300 C.E. the Greeks had developed more than seventy different types of bread, showing their penchant for furthering the bread baking craft. Around 600 C.E. the Persians developed a windmill prototype that changed the face of bread production.
In medieval times bread baking became a status symbol in Britain. The upper classes preferred fine, white loaves, while those of poorer status were left with the whole wheat, bran, and coarser breads. By 1066 hair sieves were employed to sift the flour, producing a finer white flour. In 1569 in England, Queen Elizabeth I united the "white and brown" bread bakers to form the Worshipful Company of Bakers. The Great Fire of London in 1666 reportedly was started by a baker. In 1683 the bagel was introduced in Vienna as a thank-you gift to the king of Poland.
Wheat was first planted in the United States as a hobby crop in 1777. During this century the earl of Sandwich gave his name to the sandwich, originally meat between two slices of bread. In 1789 mobs calling for bread helped trigger the French Revolution. In 1834 the roller mill was invented in Switzerland. Rather than crushing the grain as in stone-ground methods, the steel roller mill breaks open the grain, allowing easier separation of the germ, bran, and endosperm. This invention drastically changed milling around the world and increased the consistency of milled flour.
Bread in Modern Times
Leavened bread was generally prepared outside the home, and this led to the development of communal bake houses. Usually situated by rivers or streams, these bake houses presented serious fire hazards due to the construction materials of the buildings and ovens. The proximity to water put them near the mills and close to natural fire suppression. Bake houses were usually owned by land barons and lords. Bakers and bakery owners used the ovens on a communal basis for a fee paid either in money or in kind. The very nature of the bake house allowed bakers to bake more bread, thus increasing their ability to distribute it and keep prices down.
The same innovations of the industrial revolution that made white wheat breads more plentiful also made mass production the norm. By 1825 German bakers created the first cakes of commercial yeast, which expedited the process and consistency of yeast activity and influenced taste and visual appeal as well. In the twentieth century hydrogenated oils, artificial preservatives, emulsifiers, and other chemical additives entered the dough to soften the crumb (texture) and to lengthen the shelf life of mass-produced breads. Factory bread has become standard in most industrialized countries.By the early twentieth century bread flour was largely replaced by bleached, bromated, and enriched flour. The grain is bleached and sterilized with chemicals to make it white and soft. It is then enriched by adding back the vitamins and minerals destroyed in the processing. Obviously this industrialization of bread methodology and production altered the taste and appearance of bread. Some authorities feel this methodology is largely responsible for the mid-century decline of bread consumption in the United States. In 1910 the per capita consumption of bread products was roughly 210 pounds. By 1971 consumption had been cut nearly in half, to approximately 110 pounds per person. This trend turned around with the rediscovery of artisanal breads and methodologies. The trend back to more wholesome and historical breads began in the United States in the 1980s. Some bakers who wanted to be more mindful of the
By the twenty-first century bread products were sold on three major levels. The first is the traditional neighborhood bakery, still in existence in large urban centers in the twenty-first century. The second is the grocery store, or supermarket. Third is what might be called the bakery café, along with the specialty foods store.
The neighborhood bakery. The neighborhood bakery has its roots in western Europe and is known for its local roots and outreach as well as the freshness of its products. This is particularly true in France, where local boulangeries are numerous. Each one offers local residents their daily bread, fresh, uncommercialized, and unique to that particular bakery.
Local bakeries build their client base from the immediate neighborhood, especially in larger urban centers, where population density and foot traffic allow the independent baker to make a living by directly connecting to his or her customer. Breads are baked fresh daily and are meant to be consumed that day or the following day at the latest. Even though, as a result of the extended fermentation used, many of these breads have a longer shelf life than one or two days, it is the freshness that sells the bread.
Grocery stores. The amount of bread purchased at grocery stores and supermarkets is the largest portion by far primarily because of the convenience of one-stop shopping. These bread products have been developed and baked with a longer shelf life in mind than breads baked in a neighborhood bakery. Frequently made with dough conditioners, emulsifiers, and mold inhibitors, they are meant to withstand plastic bags and to last for several days in the store.
In general the types of breads found in the grocery store are a result of the bread industrial revolution that took place at the beginning of the twentieth century. Consumer desire for white bread with a soft crust along with mechanized developments in the milling and baking industry made it possible not only to mass produce a homogeneous product but also to distribute it over a wide geographic area. While exceptions exist, most of these factory-produced breads have taken a formula detour from similar products produced in neighborhood bakeries. Dough conditioners make it easier for the wholesale bakery's machinery to handle the dough without damaging it and to soften the crumb of the bread. Emulsifiers homogenize the dough (in some cases it is nearly batterlike) so each loaf of bread resembles the ones before and after it. Mold inhibitors are used in the actual formula and are sprayed topically as the bread exits the oven to delay the onset of bread mold.
Bakery departments have also been created in the grocery store itself to reach the customer who wants a fresher product. Breads are baked throughout the day, and in addition to being fresher they generally have a more pronounced flavor. Where the baker gives care and attention, the in-store product can come close to the quality of breads produced by the local neighborhood bakery. However, when the baker is working from a base or mix or even with a par-baked product (a frozen, partially baked bread that is finished off in the store), the overall quality is usually only a slight improvement over the bread on the store's shelves.
Bakery café and specialty foods stores. Bakery cafés and specialty food stores have experienced widespread growth since the early 1980s. Both typically provide a higher-quality product than that found in the grocery store. Whether purchased from a high-quality wholesale bakery or baked in-house from a fresh or par-baked product, baked goods comprised a wide selection.
Bread Preparation: Yeasted Dough
Yeast dough production requires twelve basic steps no matter what type of dough is produced. Dough types are generally classified as lean dough (low in fat and sugar), including French baguettes, rustic breads, Tuscan breads, hard rolls, and pizza; rich dough (with sugar, fats, or eggs added), including brioche, challah, and egg breads; and rolled-in dough (with fat incorporated in many layers using a rolling and a folding procedure), including croissants, Danish pastries, and cinnamon rolls.
The Twelve Steps of Yeast Dough Production
Scaling is the exact measurement of all ingredients (professional bakers and dedicated amateurs measure by weight) and the French term, mise-en-place, applies to having all the ingredients scaled or prepped and ready before starting production.
Mixing and kneading involve the incorporation by hand or by machine of the ingredients in proper sequence to form the bread dough, which is then further kneaded. Kneading or working the dough by hand or by machine further disperses the ingredients and develops the gluten in the dough.
Fermentation, also referred to as the first rise, is the process whereby the gluten (protein) in the dough is allowed to relax while the yeast grows and reproduces. The yeast digests the sugars in the flour and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). The carbon dioxide gets trapped in the pockets that result from the kneading process and causes the bread to expand or rise and develop flavor. At this point the dough can be left at room temperature if it is to be baked that day, or it can be retarded; that is, the fermentation period can be extended in a cool environment, usually a specialized refrigerator. Doughs that have been retarded for twelve to twenty-four hours generally have more complex flavors and are easier to fit into the baker's production schedule. There is also a noticeable buildup of natural acidity, which helps extend shelf life.
Punching down or deflating the dough, also called turning, refers to the general deflating of the dough mass by either gently pushing down or folding the dough, not hitting it as implied. The purpose is twofold, to increase the strength and tolerance of the gluten and to de-gas the dough prior to scaling. After punching, the dough is allowed to rest before moving on to the next step.
Scaling is cutting and weighing individual pieces of dough, which will become the actual loaves of bread.
Rounding occurs once the dough has been scaled. Each piece is gently shaped into a round ball before moving on to the next step. This rounding allows uniformity in subsequent steps.
Benching is allowing the dough pieces to rest, usually for fifteen to twenty minutes. The time varies with each type of bread and with the amount of leavening used. Clean, dry towels placed over the dough during this period prevent a dry crust from forming on the dough.
Make-up is forming the individual pieces of dough into their final shapes, free-form loaf, pan loaf, dinner rolls, and so forth.
Proofing, also referred to as the final rise, allows the dough to rise one last time before baking. The yeast is still alive and continues to leaven the dough. Proofing generally takes place in a warm, draft-free environment either at room temperature or in a proof box, where temperature and humidity are controlled. At this point shaped loaves can be retarded for twelve to twenty-four hours and baked at a later time.
Baking is the actual cooking of the bread. When the dough is put in the hot oven, it undergoes oven spring, one last push of the yeast to make the dough rise. The actual temperature and time depend on the oven type (deck, rotary, convection, rack, and so forth) and the use of steam, although yeast breads are generally baked at a high temperature. Technically speaking, this is when the starches gelatinize and sugars caramelize, giving the loaf its final appearance.
Cooling begins when the finished bread is removed from the oven. The bread cools completely before it is packaged or sliced. Cooling racks are usually nothing more than wire shelves that allow air circulation on all four sides of the bread. Even breads baked in or on pans are quickly removed to a cooling rack so the bread bottoms do not become soggy from continued steaming.
Storing prevents the staling or starch retrogradation that begins as soon as the bread is removed from the oven. To preserve their thin, crisp crusts, some breads are best not packaged (lean breads in particular), but modern baking and distribution practices require many bakers to do so. Once a loaf has been put into a bag, the staling process is somewhat slowed down and the crust becomes soft. Wrapping and freezing help maintain quality for a longer period of time. Refrigeration, on the other hand, speeds up staling.
Methods of Preparation
While the twelve steps of baking are virtually constant for almost any bread form, three predominant production variations exist. Each is a means of manipulating the key ingredients to produce a predictable loaf of bread. Production timing is also influenced. The key difference is fermentation, the natural process that occurs after the ingredients have been mixed and the dough has been kneaded. The length of fermentation time has a significant effect on the overall flavor profile, on the end product, on the baker's production life.
Straight dough method. The straight dough method is perhaps most familiar to all bakers, professional and amateur alike. It incorporates the twelve steps in a direct fashion as dictated by the ambient temperature of the bakeshop, proceeding through the steps with no break. The total time of the cycle would be about four hours from start to finish. Because of the relative shortness of the baking cycle, a higher proportion of yeast is used than in other methods so that fermentation can run its full course. The result is a bread with a stronger yeast flavor than other breads.
Sponge method. The sponge method follows the same twelve production steps with a few exceptions. Initially a percentage of the total flour, water, and yeast are mixed to form a sponge or pre-ferment. The sponge method enhances the flavor profile of the final product. Since less yeast is used, a longer, cooler fermentation can be applied, ranging anywhere from three to twenty-four hours. During this time the lactic acid bacteria in the water-flour mixture have full time to develop. The resulting buildup of organic acids and alcohols contributes to a more developed flavor profile. When the sponge is ripe, it is incorporated into the remaining flour, water, salt, and other ingredients. The twelve steps are followed from this point on.
Typical pre-ferment types. Poolish, one of the first preferments made with commercial yeast, originated in Poland and is widely used by French bakers. Made with a higher percentage of water as opposed to flour than other pre-ferments, poolish has a batterlike texture. Biga, a pre-ferment of Italian origin, is more doughlike than a poolish and is commonly made with equal parts (by weight) of flour and water. Old dough is a piece of dough from an earlier batch of bread that is allowed to ferment and then is incorporated back into a fresh batch of dough. Called pâte fermentée (fermented dough) by the French, it can be fermented for up to six or eight hours at room temperature or longer under refrigeration.
Sourdough uses wild yeast to build a culture. Wild yeast, the flora, is present in the air and on the skins of fruits and vegetables. The baker basically harvests those wild yeast organisms and creates a culture that will leaven bread dough.
First, a culture is created using water and flour. This mixture is left covered with cheesecloth or another porous material at room temperature until it begins to ripen. At this point, the wild yeasts, having found the food (primarily natural sugars) in the flour, begin to feed and reproduce. A slightly acid smell and bubbling indicate that the culture is alive. The culture is continually fed to increase its volume and leavening strength until there is enough starter (levain) to leaven a batch of dough with enough left over to perpetuate the culture. Under the right conditions, cultures can be kept vital and alive for many years. The sourdough method is a time-intensive method, since no commercial yeast is used to speed up production. The benefits are many, however. Due to the lower yeast levels, the slower activity produces a stronger flavor profile and more noticeable sour aroma, an increased level of organic lactic acids, and a greater array of naturally occurring bacteria. It is primarily due to the abundance of naturally occurring acids, alcohols, and bacteria that breads baked with the sourdough method become stale more slowly, have a better shelf life for the vendor and the consumer, and have less molding.
Traditions: A Historical Perspective
Bread and traditions pertaining to it are deeply ingrained in lore and language worldwide. From its beginnings bread has held a special, even sacred sway on humankind. As bread is the staff of life, it is truly all-pervasive.
Challah is the Jewish bread served on the Sabbath and on holidays in which the twelve tribes of Israel are represented by twelve braids on each loaf. For Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the challah is wound in a ring to symbolize the continuity of life. Some loaves have a ladder on top, representing the ascent of God on high.
According to legend, a baker alerted the forces of Vienna to the approach of the Turks in the siege of 1683. The bakers commemorated the Viennese victory with a crescent-shaped roll, precursor to the croissant, as the symbol of the Turks was a crescent.
In France a law prevented bakers from increasing the price of bread beyond a point justified by the price of the raw materials. Tuscan bakers, during the time of papal dominance, were subjected to an extremely high salt tax. As a result Tuscan bakers decided to abolish salt in their breads. Tuscan tastes adapted to this custom, and a traveler will note, for example, that Tuscan prosciutto is considerably saltier than its regional counterparts.
Several cultures celebrate the Epiphany (6 January) with a ring cake with a tiny doll representing the Christ child baked in it. Whoever gets the piece with the doll is crowned king or queen for the day and is obliged to reciprocate by giving a party on Candelmas (2 February).
Bread in the Lexicon
Bread has been a part of language for many thousands of years. Because of the importance of bread worldwide, it should come as no surprise that bread talk has permeated the everyday vocabulary. In 1933 nearly 80 percent of the bread sold in the United States was sliced. The expression "the best thing since sliced bread" was coined from this market predominance. The term "break bread," meaning to dine together, highlights the reverence given to bread and its importance at mealtime.
The expression "bread upon the water" describes resources risked without expectation of return. Bread was a form of currency in ancient Egypt, and the term "bread" is colloquially used as a term for money. "Breadwinner" designates the person who earns the better part of the household income.
Bread has long been called the staff of life. This metaphor of the wheat stalk expresses the importance of wheat, grains, and in turn bread. The term baker's dozen refers to a count of thirteen, rather than to twelve, a traditional dozen. Dating back to the Middle Ages, some bakers cheated with undersize and occasionally adulterated loaves. An extra loaf or item was thrown in to reduce suspicion.
Bread and Human Biology
Bread is a great source of energy because it is rich in complex carbohydrates. The human body slowly turns these carbohydrates into sugars, which the body utilizes for energy. Breads and grain products occupy the first and largest rung of the widely accepted Food Pyramid. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated that all adults should eat six to eleven servings of carbohydrates daily (depending on age and gender), and bread can make up a large segment of this daily intake. As approved by the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), breads rich in whole grains can advertise that they help fight heart disease and cancer. Breads (and grain-based foods in general) that contain 51 percent or more whole grain ingredients by weight can use the following health claim on labels: "Diets rich in whole grains and other plant foods low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers." Whole grain breads are also a great source of fiber and roughage, which aid the body's digestive and waste elimination systems.
Grain products are enriched with iron, folic acid, and other B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin. Over the years enrichment has helped eliminate nutrition-related diseases, such as beriberi, pellagra, and severe nutritional anemia. Research has shown that folic acid helps prevent heart disease. Women of childbearing age also need folic acid. The daily minimum requirement of four hundred micrograms is essential in preventing birth defects of the spinal cord and brain.
See also Bagel; Beriberi; Bread, Symbolism of; Judaism; Metaphor, Food as; Niacin Deficiency (Pellagra); Pizza; Symbol, Food as; Wheat.
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Peter S. Franklin
Bread (Contemporary Musicians)
For a nation disheartened by the Vietnam War, discouraged by the Watergate scandal, and dismayed by the mounting energy crisis during the 1970s, the sounds of "soft rock" provided a measure of melodic comfort for Americans. During that era, such balladoriented acts as the Carpenters and America climbed the charts. Joining them was a Los Angeles-based former studio band, Bread, a group formed in 1969 by a trio of session players: David Gates, James Griffin, and Robb Royer. The three, according to the Encyclopedia of Rock, had fronted a previous band, Pleasure Faire; all three, the book noted, "were multi-instrumentalists and prolific songwriters." Gates would become the group's most famous member.
A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Gates grew up in a musical household; his father was a band director and his mother a piano teacher. The young musician, who played piano, guitar, and bass, was already working in nightclubs and at dances before he graduated from college. "My grades were slowly slipping," he related in an autobiographical article on the Super Seventies Rocksite. "At the end of my junior year I told my father I'd like to go to California to give [music] a try. I said, 'Let me go out for the summer, just to see what happens.'" What happened was that Gates found the Crossbow, a nightclub in the San Fernando Valley. Up-and-coming 1960s musiciansncluding Glen Campbell, Leon Russell (whose sister Gates dated) and Jerry Coleet there to jam and compare notes. Gates joined in their sessions and was offered professional work.
Gates began to make his mark in pop composition, breaking into Billboard's top ten with his 1963 song "Popsicles and Icicles," sung by the Murmaides. Later, his string arrangement was used for "Buy for Me the Rain" by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. By the time Gates joined Pleasure Faire with Griffin and Royer, the latter two had collaborated (under pseudonyms) on the lyrics for the single "For All We Know," the Academy Awardwinning theme to the 1969 movie Lovers and Other Strangers and a hit single for the Carpenters. Pleasure Faire was not destined for success, but Gates, Griffin, and Royer stayed together, writing ballads under the group's new name, Bread. That moniker, Gates told Australian television interviewer Kerry Ann, came from a simple source: "Bread came off a bread delivery truck at the moment we were trying to pick a name." He then quipped, "I'm glad it wasn't a rubbish or garbage truck."
Bread released an "unsuccessful but critically acclaimed first album for Elektra," according to Encyclopedia of Rock; but by 1970 the group had begun charting singles. A Gates song, "Make It with You" became one of the top singles of that summer, hitting number one on the Billboard chart in August. Such singles as "It Don't Matter to Me," "Everything I Own," "Let Your Love Go," "Aubrey," "Diary," and "If" followed, the latter of which has become a pop standard. ("It's been played at so many weddings and so many people have recorded it," remarked Gates in the Kerry Ann interview.) In 1971 Royer was replaced by Larry Knechtel, a longtime session musician whose credits included "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Classical Gas," and "Bridge over Troubled Water." Knechtel, who contributed piano, organ, guitar, and harmonica work, helped Bread chart "Baby I'm-a Want You" during 1971. The single became the title track of a 1972 album, the fourth such Bread collection to earn gold record certification.
Drummer Mike Botts joined the group in 1970, replacing studio musician Jim Gordon. Botts, revealed Irwin Stambler in Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul, was a percussion prodigy who at age 12 "lied about his age to the musicians' union so he could play professionally." On his official website, Botts recalled his years with Bread. At its peak, the band "became the allconsuming part of our professional lives," he wrote. "We were either in the studio or on the road from 1970 to May of 1973. That's when the group decided to take a hiatus from all the pressure and pursue some individual projects and goals."
By this time the tide was turning in musicoft rock soon gave way to disco and punk's decidedly harder edge. Still, there was work for Gates and company. A "best of" collection went gold in 1973, with a follow-up album in 1974. In 1976 the band reunited for an album that went gold on the strength of one high-charting single, "Lost Without Your Love." As Botts noted on his website: "The band continued to tour through 1978 but unfortunately some irreconcilable differences within the group eventually involved all of us in litigation and caused the group to disband once again."
Since then the band members have performed individually, most notably Gates, who wrote and recorded "Goodbye Girl," the title song of the Academy Awardwinning comedy of 1978. In 1994 he released a CD entitled Love Is Always Seventeen. But Bread wasn't through as a group. The tide turned again in the mid-1990s, when, as Botts recalled, he was phoned by Gates's representative, who proposed a new tour to mark the group's twenty-fifth anniversary. Bread's travels took the group on a successful two-year tour (1996-98) through Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom. A 1996 CD, Essentials, was available only outside the United States as of 2002.
Some critics see Bread as a band most notable for songs that turn up at wedding receptions ("weenie music," wrote humorist Dave Barry, as quoted by Knight-Ridder reporter Ben Wener in a Lubbock Avalanche-Journal article). Indeed, Entertainment Weekly columnist Ty Burr acknowledged that image when in 2001 he confessed his fondness for the group, even while rating such pleasure high on the "guilt-o-meter." The band, he wrote, was "never cool. Bread never will be cool." Still, "it's clear that when Gates poured on the syrup, glory was attained. Sentimental? Oh yeah. But the kind of sentimentality that asks no quarter and offers no apologies." To Gates, the music is "timeless," as he told Wener. "If you listen to disco, if you listen to Donovan, those things are locked into the time they're from. Our songs aren't dated like that. They're like jazz standards."
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