Need help with Bread

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Ezykle
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Need help with Bread

Postby Ezykle » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:53 pm

Hi all

I represent a 15th century baker, with all authentic flour and techniques. I have a portable oven that's as close to the illustrationsas possible. I fired the oven a half dozen times, I've got the temperature worked out nicely. However I can't seem to get my bread fluffy inside. I get the crust nice and firm but not like stone. I have proofed the dough and knocked it back many times. Anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours there's no difference. Is there a trick to getting the inside fluffy? I would like to keep it as close to authentic as possible. At the moment all I use is svelt flour and white flour, seasoned with a little salt. I then add yeast to a lightly sugared water to represent how during the period they would have taken the left over from brewing.

Can anyone help?



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby davetmoneyer » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:12 pm

Hi
You need to knead the dough at least twice as long as you would for modern bread , I would recomend kneading hard for at least 15 -20mins before proving, that should give you the desired result
Dave


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nest
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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby nest » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:00 pm

Hi, along with Dave's point re extra kneading, if you are preparing the dough outdoors you may need to allow much more time for rising and proving in cooler weather

Nest( who was asked "but did they have yeast in the middle ages" only a couple of weeks ago)

PS Dave, it was nice to meet you in real life at Corfe Castle



Ezykle
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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Ezykle » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:26 pm

Ah yes, I kneaded for at least 10, 15minutes. I was working within a fireplace so it was warm. So other than lots of kneading and being patient thats the secret?



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby nest » Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:15 pm

Hi
Spelt has low/poor gluten so perhaps check that the white flour has a high gluten to compensate?



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sally
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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby sally » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:36 pm

yep, spelt is always denser. Plus, its very fine line between enough kneading and too much. It is possible to overknead and toughen the bread that way.



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Ezykle » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:20 pm

Lovely, one of those fine line situations. I've got to use spelt because one of our members is gluten free. Bad things happen when he eats it, also it authentic. Is there any guides to when the dough is ready. I understand if its tacky in the middle its a good sign? or am I misunderstanding that?



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Midland Spinner » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:45 pm

A lot of people make their dough far too stiff - it needs to be slack enough to rise properly otherwise the bubbles can't expand. If you make it a bit wetter than you think you should have done initially, then knead it well it will probably be about right by the time it has proved a bit. As with many things, it's all down to experience & trial & error.



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby sally » Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:01 pm

I do better with spelt when I make a batter bread, and useI beer in it sometimes too which is good for extra fluffiness and tastes good. The 'Roman Army' bread recipe that is usually on the side of the Dove Farm spelt flour bag works very well but may not suit your dateline. How gluten free is your person? Spelt does have some gluten in, its just lower than normal flour. I'm a bit sensitive to gluten, but am fine with spelt, barley, oats and rye, whearas someone else might find that enough to hospitalise them. Depends on the individual- but if they are ok with rye you might try blends with that. Its also heavy, but people find it easier to accept a heavy rye (try a sourdough starter with it, really helps with lightness) than a heavy wheat of whatever variety



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Ezykle » Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:28 pm

Cheers very much. The steward will be the stage in between get him to a doctor and get him to hospital. Kind of depends how much he eats, but with leaving the yeast to break it down for a long time and knocking it back hes been ok. I think I've been making the dough too stiff, I'll try it a little tackier. We try to do as authentic as possible, so I only make menchits (small white buns) and chete loaves (Brown wholemeal loaves) Anything else is considered a sweet. I'll try adding some ale to the mix and see how it comes out. Thanks very much for the information and any other tips would be greatly appreciated, you can never know too much.



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby SteveC » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:44 pm

Ezykle wrote:I have a portable oven that's as close to the illustrationsas possible. I fired the oven a half dozen times, I've got the temperature worked out nicely.


Any chance of pictures of the oven, please?
We're talking about making bread for our living history display (C17th) and we'd rather use a 'proper' oven than a 'Dutch' one and have to explain to everyone the issues with that.

Steve



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Ezykle » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:05 pm

I'm unsure if anyone else has any picture but the illustrations but I found these particulaly helpful

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36092/36 ... /fig35.jpg
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36092/36 ... /fig36.jpg
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ucnRnzXl1qg/T ... n15thc.JPG

Theres another illustration with bakers going through each of the steps, such as making the faggots weighing the bread etc

Hope it helps



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Ezykle » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:07 pm

OOO and a modern day replica

http://www.gainsborougholdhall.co.uk/kitchen5.jpg

And if I do say the creator of that oven is a skilled craftsmen, he he



Loaflady
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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Loaflady » Tue May 01, 2012 9:46 am

Very nice! Can I ask where you found a 15th century reference to manchets? I'll be cross with myself if it's somewhere obvious and I've missed it! I know I'm probably going over old ground, but it doesn't hurt to practice loads at home first, so you get used to the feel of the dough etc before contending with the rest.
If your crust isn't crispy, you could try a higher temperature for a shorter time. How long do you heat your oven for?
You can make a good fake barm mix by adding a bottle of ale to yeast and flour to make a sponge and leaving to bubble overnight, then scooping a bit out for your bread the next morning - this has the advantage of adding a few more long fermentation goodies to your mix too. Add more flour and water and leave for the next day to use again.
It's great to hear from fellow bakers, I'll think of you all the next time it's cold and wet and It takes ages to rise! - and when I break into a loaf and tuck in!



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Ezykle » Tue May 01, 2012 5:59 pm

I got the reference from 2 places, 'All the kings cooks' Peter Brears (Worth its weight in gold) and from the venerable Jack Green. I've been playing with dough for nights now, but its all good practice. I fire the oven for about 2 hours to get it temperature. I believe I can judge temperature fairly well, got a good few tests. Warm to the touch on the outside, the inside clear of soot, sticking my hand inside and finally taking a pinch of flour and making a rather amusing and entertaining poof of flames. Why did I choose such a difficult hobby!



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby bilbobaglin » Tue May 01, 2012 8:39 pm

The Hairy Bikers were in Spain tonight watching someone making spelt bread, you could watch it for some tips on the iplayer.



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby medievalpirate » Tue May 01, 2012 11:56 pm

bilbobaglin wrote:The Hairy Bikers were in Spain tonight watching someone making spelt bread, you could watch it for some tips on the iplayer.


I'll second that, worth watching the whole series, some very nice bread being baked.


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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Loaflady » Wed May 02, 2012 9:42 am

Thanks Ezykle, will check those out. I'd been unable to track down anything earlier than 16th century, and then only baked in higher status kitchens. If you're portraying a professional baker, just make sure they're referenced somewhere with regard to the assize of bread, I've been unable to find this.
Good luck and happy baking!



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby gregory23b » Wed May 02, 2012 4:28 pm

Does Brears reference 15th Century bread or does he extrapolate?


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Ezykle
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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Ezykle » Wed May 02, 2012 7:12 pm

Brears uses a lot of references. Which along with illustrations and speaking to people have read far more than me, and from my experience the food doesnt dramatically change between the time periods. Though if anyone knows of a 15th century book on bakery I'd happily buy it, or sell a kidney.



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Hraefn » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:45 pm

Manchet doesn't turn up on any of the assizes of bread and ale afaik so isn't a commercially produced and regulated bread sold by bakers, but there are about eleventythree types that are from varying grades and grinds.
Peter's refs re manchet are mostly early 16thC Percy Household accounts, first recipe is late 16thC and from several descriptions they are 16-18oz wet weight
(One ref says 6-8oz which is the one most peeps seem to have latched onto ignoring the higher weighted ones) so not wee table buns.


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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Sophia » Sun May 26, 2013 4:49 pm

There are two types of bread at this period:

Sourdough which uses a pre-existing culture of local wild yeasts in the form of a starter.

Bread made with Ale Barm, the yeasty residue skimmed from the brewers' vats, which as they were brewing on a regular basis was easily obtained. Block yeast or dried yeast as we know it today did not exist.

Both types of bread would have been what we call today long-fermentation breads, i.e. dough prepared the previous day and left to rise before being portioned, proved and baked. Some very good images of bakers at work around (will try and find some online when I have a mo).

The ale barm is more likely to have been used for the better flours while sourdough was more likely for the poorer flours. The thing is while we have the assizes of bread and ale, we do not have any bread recipes until much later and they are generally for sweetened breads (think wiggs). What you do find is recipes for barm cakes, which makes sense as there was not bicarbonate of soda to make self-raising flour.

I hope this helps.


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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby moosiemoosiegander » Sun May 26, 2013 11:18 pm

That's fascinating what you say about the 'long fermentation', Sophia.

Do you have refs or a book that you could recommend? I'm setting up a bakery for my own living history and this would be enormously helpful as I'm having trouble finding anything solid pertaining to medieval bread. I visited a windmill today and I'm rather excited to use the lovely stoneground flour I got. Simple things...


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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Sophia » Mon May 27, 2013 10:24 am

Long fermentation simply refers to bread dough which is left to work for a longer period. Prior to the introduction of modern industrial production techniques most bread was more or less long fermentation. Also it tends to use less yeast.

Most peoples homemade bread whether made by hand or in a bread machine is short fermentation as they set it to rise in a warm place quite often in a too small bowl. Long fermentation dough is set to prove at room temperature and I use a very large bowl, professional artisan bakers have proving cupboards.

If you are setting up a living history bakery as well as an oven you will need a wooden dough trough for mixing, kneading and proving your dough. A large thick hemmed linen length that can be wrapped at least once securely round your trough (dampen before use), a stable scrubbed wooden table to knead, shape and do the final proving on, plus another hemmed cloth to cover the loaves.

This is how P and I did it when we were running the bakhus at Kentwell for Michaelmas last year and it worked well (adaptation of what I do at home and is based on traditional baking techniques used in Luxembourg where I know the Kosher baker).

If you follow this plan and get the oven going early it should work. I am sure however that there are folk out there who have done the portable stuff.


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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby moosiemoosiegander » Mon May 27, 2013 6:39 pm

Hi Sophia

Thanks for that. I was wondering if you'd come across any medieval references or resources for bread making as I've found primary sources rather scarce. I've found reference in Platina (the one where he talks about what sounds like sourdough leaven and says not to bake it the same day) but as that's Italian it doesn't necessarily reflect bread making in the UK at that time. There is mention in later recipes of using ale barm which seems more likely for finer breads in Britain as we had a rich ale brewing culture as opposed to Platinas Italy which was more wine orientated.

The Rastons in the Harleian manuscripts mention warm barm but the recipe for bread seems to have been such a no-brainer that nobody seems to have thought to write it down and I've found the same thing for pastry. The oldest actual recipe for bread originating from the UK that I've found is a 16th century one which also seems to use ale barm and the short fermentation method. Any light you (or anyone) can shed on the subject in terms of sources would be gratefully appreciated!


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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Sophia » Mon May 27, 2013 10:55 pm

Sorry - cannot help there, have also previously talked with a friend who has done a great deal of research and has found nothing. I am working on the basis of a knowledge of traditional artisan bread baking techniques used in Europe (Luxembourg is interesting as it sits between France and Germany so you see both), the practical information that I have gleaned from people who have worked in the Kentwell Bakhus plus what P and I learned last year. Also I grew up with a mother who made all our bread on a weekly basis and when possible do ours at home too. I make entirely by hand and tend to set the dough to work the night before in the colder kitchen, then shape, prove and bake the following day.


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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Loaflady » Thu May 30, 2013 2:04 pm

Hello again,
Sophia, I was really interested to hear you mention barmcakes. Could you pass on your reference please? I'd be really grateful as I've missed all mention of them so far! :roll:
I've also been searching for bread recipes pre 16thc. Apart from the 'French bread' rastons recipe, I've had no joy so far. By the way, have you tried this link for an online version? http://archive.org/details/twofifteenthcent00austuoft
Great to hear from other bakers out there. Now, I just fancy a nice fruity, beery barmcake..!
Nicky



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Re: Need help with Bread

Postby Grymm » Fri May 31, 2013 11:56 am

You'll need to trawl your way through the Assize of Bread and Beer for clues to grades of flour and permitted weights of loaves, as to pre late 16thC recipes for bread ... rocking horse droppings are waaaaaay more common.

A wee snippet of the fun that awaits you

Keep in mind that pounds (£), shillings (s.) and pence (d.) are actual measuring units of silver coinage in the medieval English monetary economy, so
there's a real weight attributable to each currency. The weighing of these materials was so exact that the laws specify amounts down to the half- (ob.) and quarter (q.) penny.

Assisa Panis (Assize of Bread):When a Quarter of Wheat is sold for 12d., then Wastel Bread of a farthing shall weigh £6 and 16s. But Bread Cocket of a farthing of the same grain and bultel, shall weigh more than Wastel by 2s. And Cocket Bread made of grain of lower price, shall weigh more than Wastel by 5s. Bread made into a Simnel shall weigh 2s. less than Wastel. Bread made of the whole Wheat shall weigh a Cocket and a half, so that a Cocket shall weigh more than a Wastel by 5s. Bread of Treet shall weigh 2 wastels. And bread of common wheat shall weigh two great cockets.

When a quarter of wheat is sold for 18d., then wastel bread of a farthing white and well-baked shall weigh £4 10s. 8d.

When for 2s., then £3 8s.

When for 2s. 6d., then for 54s. 4d. ob. q.

When for 3s., then for 48s.

When for 3s. 6d., then for 42s.

When for 4s., then for 36s.

When for 4s. 6d., then for 30s.

When for 5s., then for 27s. 2d. ob.

When for 5s. 6d., then for 24s. 8d. q.

When for 6s., then for 22s. 8d.

When for 6s. 6d., then for 20s. 11d.

When for 7s., then for 19s. 1d.

When for 7s. 6d., then for 18s. 1d. ob.

When for 8s., then for 17s.

When for 8s. 6d., then for 16s.

When for 9s., then for 15s. q.

When for 9s. 6d., then for 14s. 4d. ob.q.

When for 10s., then for 13s. 7d.

When for 10s. 6d., then for 12s. 11d. q.

When for 11s., then for 12s. 4d. q.

When for 11s. 6d., then for 12s. 10d.

When for 12s., then for 11s. 4d.

When for 12s. 6d., then for 10s. 10d. ½

When for 13s., then for 10s. 5d. ½

When for 13s. 6d., then for 10s. 0d. ¾

When for 14s., then for 9s. 8d.

When for 14s. 6d., then for 9s. 2d. ¾

When for 15s., then for 9s. 1d.

When for 15s. 6d., then for 8s. 9d. ½

When for 16s., then for 8s. 6d.

When for 16s. 6d., then for 8s. 2d. ¾

When for 17s., then for 8s.

When for 17s. 6d., then for 7s. 9d. ¼

When for 18s., then for 7s. 6d. ¾

When for 18s. 6d., then for 7s. 4d. ¼

When for 19s., then for 7s. 2d.

When for 19s. 6d., then for 6s. 11d. ½

When for 20s., then for 6s. 9d. ¾

And it is to be known, that then a Baker in every Quarter of Wheat, as it is proved by the King’s Bakers, may gain 4d. and the Bran, and Two Loaves for advantage [for the furnage?] for Three Servants, 1d. ob. for Two Lads, ob. in Salt, ob. for kneading, ob. for Candle, q. for Wood, 2d. for his Bultel ob.



Assisa Cervisie (Assize of Beer):When a quarter of Wheat is sold for 3s. or 3s. 4d. and a Quarter of Barley for 20d. or 2s., and a Quarter of Oats for 16d., then Brewers in cities ought and may well afford to sell two gallons of beer or ale for a penny, and out of cities to sell 3 [or 4?] gallons for a penny. And when in a town 3 gallons are sold for a penny, out of a town they ought and may sell four; and this Assize ought to be holden throughout all England.



Lucrum Pistoris (Gain of the Baker): And if a Baker of Brewer be convicted that they have not kept the foresaid Assizes, the First, Second and Third time they shall be amerced, according to the Quantity of their offence; and that as often as a Baker shall offend in the weight of a farthing loaf of bread not above 2s. weight, that then he be amerced as before is said; but if he exceed 2s. then he ought to undergo the judgment of the Pillory without any redemption of money. In like manner shall it be done if he offend oftentimes and will not amend, then he shall suffer the Judgment of the Body, that is to say, the Pillory if he offend in the weight of a farthing loaf under two shillings weight as is aforesaid. Likewise the woman brewer shall be punished by the Tumbrell, trebuchet, or castigatorie, if she offend divers times and will not amend.


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