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A Baker's Peel Vert

A pre 17th century blog

Odin’s Playground

Odin’s Playground this year was fun, for the short time I could be there.  I had planned to fence on the saturday, but then had to go to a baby shower in the evening, so it was just the fencing, then I’d come back on sunday and do more of the games.  As it turned out it was great weather on Saturday, but poured all night and all day sunday.  So Sunday was canceled, which meant only one Rapier Tourney and no games for me.

The tourney had a large number of entries.  It was a lot of fun.  There were a number of fencers from the okanagan who I don’t get to fight a lot.  It was also my first tourney since Eddies.  I did well.  I had 9 wins which put me about a third of the way up the ranking, at the bottom of the mid level fighters.  The field of 13 fighters was good with a general mix of people from the two dons all the way down to someone at their first tourney.  Only one person truly dominated me, and that was Godfrey.

It was a fun tourney, as it was only worth a few points in the grand scheme of the event, and so most people weren’t quite on their game, which helped for a first tourney back since spring for me.  It meant that I got to focus on putting into practice what I’ve been working on: aggression, dagger work, adjusting stances to fit the situation, etc.

There was a big problem for me though.  I wasn’t on my game at all.  I’ve been improving my game at practices, but then when I came into tournament I just didn’t have my head in it.  I couldn’t analize like I have been.  I was tentative in my engagements.  I was double thinking everything and slowing myself down, I wasn’t committing.  It was so odd to do that after working so much on committing in practice.  I wonder if it has anything to do with it being a tournament instead of a practice.  Maybe I need to work on my tourney mindset.

The Sunday I did come back even though it was canceled.  I brought fresh baked bread around to trade with people.  Everyone was very happy to have fresh hot bread on such a miserable day.  I can’t wait to have a portable bread oven so I can do that at all events.

Studenting

At Tir Righ August Investiture I was taken as a student by Viscountess Safiye al-Konstantiniyye.  She has been helping me with my A&S for about six months now, and we agreed on the studenting at AT war this year.  She’s amazing at research, and focuses on Turkish clothing/accessories and metal working.  In addition to the amazing circlets that she makes she also made the wedding ring I gave to my wife for SCA events, it’s based on a 16th century English poesy ring.

For the studenting I made her a large loaf of the bread I’ve been working on.  It turned out perfect, or darn close.  I had wanted to have a flour design on the top, but I haven’t quite worked that out yet.  It was thick and heavy and a little nutty.  I could truly see living on that style of bread.

There was a fairly large group observing the studenting, Safiye’s other student, Eleanor was there, as was my wife Kayleigh, Safiye’s husband Savaric, and a number of people from Lionsdale and Lionsgate.

Mistress Safiye is working with me on bringing my research up to the next level.  Her research is so amazing, I don’t see how I can come even close.  But I hope that I can emulate her.

Which reminds me, I should put the bread research into a single format eventually to bring it all together.  I will take care of that after I’ve gotten to the point where my bread is close enough to what I want that I consider it medieval style instead of medieval inspired.

Sep 8&9 practice

Had a great two practices this week.  I’m sore and a bit bruised, but none the worse for wear.

The first practice was Lionsdale’s Wednesday practice.  It went really well.  It was our first day indoors, the hard packed dirt is amazing on the knees.  It lets you practice a bit harder without the knee pain that I get occasionally from lunging too much on concrete.  We started out with a bear-pit to warm up, as we’re all getting ready for the fall tournament season and shaking off the dust from war fighting.  I haven’t fought in a tourney since Sir Eddies, and I”m planning on fighting this weekend, so I needed the practice.

With the bear-pit I started working on the semi-refuse guard that we were taught a few weeks ago.  It seems to work well for defence and fits in perfectly with my current style.  It’s very aggressive while allowing me to defend quickly.  I was still having some issues with controlling my opponents blade, but not too much.

After warming up with just the three of us (Sebastian, Alejandro, and myself) a fourth person got there, Cion.  He’s working on getting authorized, so we decided to test him out on the basics.  We had him teach us how to stand, how to lunge, cut, and Parry.  He taught us how to use a dagger, a shield, and a baton.  We didn’t work on cloak, as we didn’t have one with us that day.  He’s doing pretty good.  Then we quizzed him about the rules for different things like engagement, holds, melee, and weapon requirements.  He’s got most of those down too.  That just left combat.  So we started a four man bear-pit to test him out.  He seems safe, though we haven’t tried unsafe activities against him yet, which is a major portion of the auth test, dealing with others mistakes.

August 25

Had a great time at Fencing last night.  Wait, what?  This is a food blog now?  No, this is a fencing blog.  Hmmm…. to be fair my Laurel was at practice today, does that connect my interests enough?  Ok then.  Back to the blog.

There were five fencers last night, two of us were being taught by Oberst Luther (his cadet and me) and one was being taught by Don Richarde (his cadet).  With Luther he had originaly planned on working on fighting from the knees, but both Alejandro and myself weren’t all that keen on it, as we have a generally good concept of it, and we don’t tend to need it as much as other things.  So he asked what we would like to learn.  Alejandro asked that at the next practice that Luther would be at if he could go over combatting various period styles, but that it wouldn’t work for today as it requires some research on Luthers end.

Instead we went over fighting someone you’ve never seen, and also one of Luther’s mainstays the semi-refuse stance where your feet are in presented, but your torso is twisted so your dagger is forward.  It was working a bit, so I plan to continue to use it and see if it’s a good fit for me.

I’m ramping up my fencing practices as I’ve got a few tourneys comming up soon.

Medieval Style Bread part 4

21. part 2

Hmmm… I think I should start giving these posts better names.  Like Rolof.

Anyway.  The next part of my mission is accomplished.  I made bread this week that seems to fit the descriptions.

It is thick, and hard to kneed, and has a tight enough crumb that I can easily see the stale version being good for trenchers.  It’s also whiteish.  Although I haven’t done my flour experiments yet, I imagine that this bread would not be dissimilar in colour to what was eaten in the 16th century.

I kinda winged it this time round.  Here is the recipe that I used (created retroactivly):

Medieval Style Bread Part 3

21.

Ok, so I made the first batch of bread yesterday, and learned a lot.

In kneeding it was definatly “as hard as ye can handle it”, as I had to wet my hands twice while working it for it to kneed properly.  The sponge was a bit disapointing.  The yeast culture seemed to separate from the water and slow down.  This must be why people recomend that you stir the yeast every few hours when doing a low yeast content sponge.  Also, I’ve read that if you let the yeast sit in water too long that it exhausts the yeast, but I suspect that’s if you’re not adding the flour  for the yeast to eat.  I think I’m going to bump the amount of yeast back up to where I had it before.  I’m also going to decrease the length of time I let the sponge sit, as with a full ammount of yeast I just have to wake it up, rather than trying to breed it.

Medieval Style Bread Part 2

Only a few days later, and I already have to update the post.

On Yeast:

I’ve been doing some research into yeast and have come to the conclusion that I am using way too much yeast in this dough.

Small amounts of yeast will reproduce rapidly given the right stimulants.  So, if I decrease the amount of yeast, but let the sponge work for longer (a few hours instead of 20 min) then the resulting yeast will be stronger, and I won’t need to use as much.

Some people seem to recommend using 1 tsp of yeast in a sponge to get the same effect of a normal 1 tbsp.

I am thinking 1 1/2 tsp, or 1/2 a tbsp instead.  It’s a little more, but this should work.  My plan is to make the sponge in the morning, let it grow all day, then make the dough in the evening and let it rise all night, then make the bread the next day.

A very medieval system.

Medieval Style Bread Part 1

So I’ve decided to give medieval bread a shot.  Everyone knew it was coming eventually, it’s the natural progression from my other baking projects.

I want to work on this in steps though.  This post will be about the theories behind the bread, and then I will have future posts about different aspects of it.

Now, if you’re wondering if this counts towards my A&S 50, the answer is: “Kinda”.  In order for a project to count I need to create something.  For years I’ve done research but never done anything with it.  Part of why I wanted to do A&S 50 was so that I would start actually producing something from my research.  As such, my bread experiments will only count when I actually make the bread, rather than just researching it.

Now, on to Bread.