[Sca-cooks] Bread Recipe from my files

V A phoenissa at gmail.com
Thu Jul 12 11:08:34 PDT 2007

On 7/11/07, Vitaliano Vincenzi <vitaliano at shanelambert.com> wrote:
> The only ingredient I question right now is the olive oil, which I know
> was used in period for medicinal purposes, but haven't seen much use of
> it in my readings as a food item.

Olive oil was (and has been, for all of recorded history) used prolifically
for many purposes -- medicinal, cosmetic, and culinary -- all along the
Mediterranean.  Of course, the farther north you go in Europe, the harder it
is to cultivate olives, so if olive oil was used in northern Europe, it
would have been (for most of the Middle Ages) a fairly expensive commodity,
since it had to be imported...so if you're looking at, say, 14th-century
English recipes, you wouldn't see a ton of olive oil, but it'd be all over
the Italian cookbooks of the same period.

> 2 Envelopes Active Dry Yeast
> 2 cups warm water (100°F to 110°F)
> 2/3 cup olive oil
> 3 tablespoons sugar
> 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
> 2 teaspoons salt
> ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
> 2 teaspoons garlic powder
> 2 teaspoons dried leaf basil
> 1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
> ½ to 1 cup bread flour (can use all purpose flour)

Looks yummy!  If you look at the ingredients individually, they were all
used in *some* form (e.g. fresh garlic instead of garlic powder :-) in
medieval and renaissance cooking.  But flavored breads, delicious as they
are, seem to have been developed waaaay after the SCA period.  Bread in that
time was very basic: flour, water and leavening.  Not even salt, in some
places -- Tuscans were, and still are, (in)famous for not adding salt to
their bread doughs!  (When Dante was exiled from Florence, he wrote that he
longed to return to the land where the bread was unsalted...and the
traditionally rustic Florentine breakfast is still a slice of wheat bread,
toasted, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with coarse salt.  Beats
buttered toast any day.)

Even though bread was the most basic staple of pre-modern diets, it's one of
the most difficult things for us to recreate, since very few recipes were
actually written down.  There are a few from the 15th and 16th centuries.
If you're curious to know more about it, check out this site:
http://www.whirlwind-design.com/ATOC/temperance.html by Wulfric of Creigull,
a fellow Westerner who also happens to have earned his Laurel for baking
bread. :-)  I've used his version of the "Fine Manchet" recipe (it's on the
site, in the baking section) several times with great success -- it's very
easy, very straightforward, and very much like most of the modern bread
recipes I use.

Happy baking! :-)


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