prepared from rice. Noodles from finger millet and other African grains could probably be economically produced in small-scale industries, as the equipment needed is not overly complicated and the capital investment is modest.

LEAVENING LOAVES

Raised bread has become what is perhaps the world's premier food. Wherever it is introduced people eagerly adopt it and clamor for more. Unfortunately, however, leavened breads can be made only from wheat or rye, neither of which grows well in the tropical zone where the neediest people are concentrated.15

For at least 30 years scientists worldwide have searched for ways to make raised bread without using wheat and rye. Such work could have profound implications for Africa (see box, page 310) but, despite the theoretical promise, nowhere has there been much practical success so far. Local staples tend to make unattractive, short-lasting, poor-rising breads that the public shuns. Dough strengtheners and other modifiers (such as emulsifiers, pentosans, xanthan gum, and wheat gluten) can be added. They make acceptable breads, but usually they must be imported and are expensive.

Now, however, there is a possibility of a breakthrough: research has shown that it is possible to prepare loose-structured bread from local grains using a swelling and binding agent. Different types have been tested. Dried pregelatinized cereal or tuber starches have shown some success. Glyceryl monostearate is said to be effective. Locust bean gum, egg white, and lard are also fairly good. These compounds act to bind the starch granules together, making it possible for the dough to hold carbon dioxide gas and thereby to rise. Baked products obtained this way have greater volume, softer crumb, and a more regular texture.

FAO Bread

Although none of the techniques has yet yielded light, high breads like those from wheat, there has been partial success. Perhaps the most advanced is a project operated by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The FAO method involves

15  

Gluten gives bread its light texture, and this elastic protein is unique to wheat and rye. When the dough is fermented, gluten's network of protein strands traps carbon dioxide released by the yeast. As the gas bubbles up, it raises the dough into the light. open texture of leavened bread. Triticale. a man-made hybrid between wheat and rye. not unexpectedly, can also produce raised breads. (Triticale is described in a companion report. Triticale: A Promising Addition to the World's Cereal grains. For a list of BOSTID publications, see page 377.)



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