[Sca-cooks] A question pardon if it has been asked

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Fri Jan 18 13:20:29 PST 2008

Rastons are an enriched dessert bread that is more on the order of a stuffed 
loaf than a bowl.  If you look at the evolution of rastons (restons) and 
consider where the recipes appear, it is obvious that this was a special 
treat rather than a common bread.

Another factor that everyone overlooks is the cost.  Bread trenchers are not 
ubiquitous.  They are common only in the wealthiest of households, because 
they are expensive.  If you look at Menagier, a rather wealthy man, bread 
trenchers are only called for at a wedding and in limited quantity.  A 
trencher loaf is smaller than a bread bowl, you can get two trenchers out of 
a loaf, and you should be able to get longer use from a trencher than from a 
bread bowl.

If you used just one loaf of trencher bread per person per day (and the 
great households probably averaged 4 to 6 loaves per person per day), 
calculated at the lowest cost for wheat in the Assiza Panis, it would cost 2 
1/2 s. and 1/2 ton of flour per person per year.  Using two bread bowls per 
day would likely be triple the cost of two trencher loaves.  As the great 
households appear to have spent 25 to 30 per cent of their annual budgets on 
bread, including trencher bread, using bread bowls would be a major increase 
in costs.

There is a steady decline in the use of bread trenchers between the 14th and 
17th Centuries, probably due to declining crop yields induced by the "Little 
Ice Age" and the rising costs brought on by the climate and the reduction of 
labor and land use brought on by the Plague.  This would also have an effect 
on any bread bowls.


>I have seen the discussion on bread bowls, and other topics that have
> made me think. Yeah for me that can get dangerous. But here is my 
> question.
> While I know that the more documentation that you have the better it is,
> but where does common sense come into play. For example of the bread
> bowls. Rastons where you make the bread, btw it is a great bread recipe,
> and then you take out the insides crumble it up add clarified butter put
> it back in and serve it. Would not that be an example of using bread as
> a bowl? So would it not be a logical thought that other stuff may have
> been presented this way?
> Please forgive any ignorance I may show but I am quite curious and like
> I said I think to much for my own good. I have been meaning to ask but I
> fear to offend or start a um a heated discussion.
> Anne de la Mare

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