Beer Barm Bread (Manchet)

I know I’ve been talking about ale or beer barm bread off and on for a while now. In fact I made some out of mead barm too. And I’ve come up with a number of ways of making a medieval loaf. Today I put my money where my mouth is. I’ve got some barm from a local brewer and I’m making beer barm bread. Technically it’s ale barm bread, but that’s a modern technical difference, not one from period. In the pre-modern period it would just have been called beer barm.

First up, our recipe:

Fine Manchet. “Take halfe a bushell of fine flower twise boulted, and a gallon of faire luke warm water, almost a handful of white salt, and almost a pinte of yest, then temper all these together, without any more liquor, as hard as ye can handle it: then let it lie halfe an hower, then take it up, and make your Manchetts, and let them stande almost an hower in the oven. Memorandum, that of every bushell of meale may be made five and twentie caste of bread, and every loafe to way a pounde besyde the chesill.

The Good Huswife’s Handmaide for the Kitchen,
1588
(more…)
Artist: Clara Peeters

How to Eat in the 16th Century

Meals change over time. What we eat, and how much we eat changes. In the 16th century we see the transition from the medieval context of two main meals a day, with the first one happening sometime after 10 am, to a more modern concept of three meals a day. However, even still, they were not the same style of meals we’re used to.

How to put together a basic set of food for a day, not a feasting day, but a standard day. For some of this I’ll be using previous work I’ve done, the OED, and I double checked a few various texts. Think of this one not so much of an article as a set of guidelines for making things more period for those of us who are 16th century.

In Tudor England the three meals of the day were called Breakfast (brekfast, brekefast, breckfast), though this was not eaten by everyone, however it did gain in promenence through the 16th century; Dinner (diner, dyner, dinere, dener, dynnor, dennar) was the meal eaten around the middle of the day, from what I can tell it could be eaten as early as ten or as late as two, this also tended to be the larger meal of the day; Supper (soper, sopper, soupier, suppare, suppair, super) was the final meal of a day. There is the implication that this meal was a lighter meal than dinner and probably generally consisted of either soup or pottage.

(more…)

Bagels / Pretzels

One great thing about being done the A&S 50 is that I don’t feel bad about doing a recipe where I didn’t do the recreation and the background research is shaky. So, with that said, here’s pretzels.

Ever since I made some modern soft pretzels I’ve been reading about the history of pretzels. Modernly we use boiling water with baking soda in it. Previously they used lye in the water to accomplish the same dark colour.  However, I can’t find any use of lye or ash in boiling water in the production of bread products in the SCA period. Some people have suggested that they used malt in the water but again there’s no proof of it. That of course doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Pretzels of course are a period shape

Konzil von Konstanz (ÖNB 3044, fol. 48v), c. 1465-1475

(more…)

Medieval Fruitcake

47.

A number of years ago I put together what I thought might be a good period fruitcake recipe. I never got around to making it, so, since we’re having a Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice theme for culinary night this week here’s an updated recipe and my finished version of it.

I originally got the idea for this from Jennifer Strobel, so again, many thanks go to her.

Medieval Fruitcake

(more…)

Sourdough Fritters

44.

I made a fast recreation because I wanted to make fried bread and had the ingredients, they were underwhelming. But not every recreation is successful.

From Libro B from “Due Libri di Cucina” we get a few fritter recipe, but the simplest one is this:

LVII
Chi voI e fare frictelle levetate, tolli lu leveto del pane overo formento, se non petisci avere suco de bono herbolato, et frigile in olio tanto che non vaga tucto socto.

He who wants to make leavened fritters, take the leaven of the bread or else corn, if you cannot have juice of good herbs, and fry them in oil so much that they do not go all beneath.

(more…)

Medieval Bread for Everyone

It’s been a while since I did a medieval bread post (*cough*five years*cough*) so I thought it was time to bring it up again. I wanted this to be a post and recipe for everyone to be able to make medieval style bread.

I’ve been making sourdough a lot the last few months (thank you Lady Audrey) which has given me a better appreciation for the art and act of levening. This made me want to return to my old bread recipe. So for the first one were starting from my reassessment of medieval bread. Searching more info I found Steamy Kitchen which seems a super similar one.

(more…)

cooking down the cheese

Caws Pobi

38.

You can call it caws pobi, cause boby, or even Welsh rarebit or Welsh rabbit. It’s the same thing. It’s the food spoken of in 1542 by Andrew Boorde: “I am a Welshman, I do love cause boby, good roasted cheese.” (Fyrst Boke of the Introduction of Knowledge, 1542). There are earlier references to it, but by the 15th and 16th century it was essentially the Welsh national dish (First catch your peacock: The classic guide to Welsh food, B. Freeman, 1996, p. 31). It even shows up on a list of dishes presented in the late 15th century at Pembroke Castle by the Earl Marshal (likely Henry Tudor before becoming king):

Ballock broth, Caudle ferry, Lampreys en galentine, Oysters in civey, Eels in sorré, Baked Trout
Brawn with mustard, Numbles of a hart, Pigs y-farsed, Cockentryce
Goose in hogepotte Venison en frumenty, Hens in brewet, Squirrels roasted
Haggis of sheep, Pudding de capon-neck, Garbage, Trype de mouton, Blaundesorye, Caboges, Buttered worts
Apple muse, Gingerbread, Tart de fruit, Quinces in comfit
Essex cheese, Stilton cheese, Causs boby

(Mediaeval Pageant, J.R. Reinhard, 1939, p. 42)[emphasis mine]

(more…)

Flatbread

25. 26.

This past weekend my wife and I went to July Coronation.  It was a very long court for me to have forgotten my chair, but some very well deserving people were recognized.

After court we went back to Mistress Safiye’s sunshade and got out the brazier, filled it with charcoal, and got to work.  It was flatbread day.  I’d been planning this one for a while, so I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I did two different versions.  One standard flatbread and one desert flatbread.

The first was translated in Medieval cuisine of the Islamic World by Lilia Zaouali (p72). It’s originally from Ibin Razin’s Andalusian cookbook Kitab Fadalat al-khiwan fi tayyibat al-ta’am wa-l-awan (Book of the Excellent Table Composed of the Best Food and the Best Dishes)

Take semolina and moisten it, energetically mixing with a little water and salt.  Divide the dough into pieces and knead each piece with clarified butter.  Roll it out, first by hand and then with a rolling pin, fold it, add clarified butter, and roll it out again to obtain a very thin layer.  For this purpose use a shaubak, which is a piece of carved wood, thick in the center and thin at the extremities.  Small lumps of dough can be rolled out three at a time, placing one on top of the other with clarified butter between each layer.

Heat an iron skillet or one of unglazed clay. Take a piece of the rolled out dough and heat it until it has become white and lost all its moisture, at which point remove it from the fire and beat it with the hands in order to separate the layers.

(more…)