ANST - Practical arts a

Mark Harris mark_harris at
Mon Aug 18 08:35:08 PDT 1997

Bear said:

>> I still would like to see some practical items. Brewer's: You buy your
>> apples as juice. How about a medieval apple press. I still don't think
>> it has to be a piece of art. Just fuctional, using medieval materials
>as you can. Breadmakers: how about an oven? ...

>> Stefan li Rous

As a baker, I'll stick my neck out a little and say that there is little
practical between a medieval oven and a modern oven.  Both are sealed
cavities with a heat source.  The difference is where medieval ovens
used mass to retain and distribute heat, the modern oven uses a
thermostatically controlled heat source to maintain temperature.
Neither is particularly suited for hauling around to events, although I
understand that two medieval ovens are set up at Pennsic each year.

More portable ovens can and are being made. Yes, they can still be
difficult to haul around. Take a look at this file in the FOOD section of
my collection:

ovens-msg         (54K)  8/ 7/97    Medieval ovens and SCA camp ovens.

The real differences in baking are in the type and qualities of the
yeasts and flours.  The subject is better suited to research papers than
practical display.

Yes, but there still are a number of questions about medieval bread to
be researched. And not just paper research. As common as breadmaking
was in the Middle Ages, we have very few recipes because breadmaking
was so common that either it was so common writing down recipes was 
thought to be unneeded or the finer details were kept quiet as trade

See these files in the FOOD section as a starting point:

BNYeast-art       (14K)  4/24/97    ÒA Brief Note on YeastÓ by Katerine
bread-msg         (86K)  8/ 4/97    Medieval breads and grains.
yeasts-msg        (18K)  4/30/97    Medieval use of yeast. Using it in the

As for display, how about a series of breads made with different flours. Off
the top of my head, I can think of five or six grades or types of medieval

What did a trencher really look like? What grade of flour was really used in
making them?

If you want to see something practical in medieval baking, ask a baker
to field prepare a loaf of bread using bake stone, bake stone and
ceramic cover, or a dutch oven (this last may not be truly period, but
it effectively simulates baking in an iron pot).  

There are a number of fritters, flat breads and such to research. What 
about rolling pins? Were they used? How was the bread put in the oven
and removed? I've done very little baking but I'm sure there are other
tools that were used. What was used to sift flour? Make such a sifter
using period materials.

What about more period ways to cook at events? See:

utensils-msg      (68K)  9/ 9/96    Utensils, plates, trenchers, cast iron

Stefan li Rous
markh at


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