[Sca-cooks] bretzel, bread and lye oh my

wheezul at canby.com wheezul at canby.com
Sun Aug 22 14:11:30 PDT 2010

> There is a depiction of a bretzel in a work written in the early 12th
> century
> (chronicle of Ekkehard of Aura):
> http://www.kulinaristik.net/images/ms373_fol95_medium.jpg
> According to the site, mentioned above, the picture comes from MS 373,
> fol.
> 95v,  Parker Library, Cambridge.
> http://parkerweb.stanford.edu/parker/actions/thumbnail_view.do?size=basic&ms_no=373&page=95V
> Enjoy!
> E.

Thank you Emilio!  I portray 2 time periods - 16th century German and a
12th century crusader.  I appreciate the new image.   Beside the Hortus
Deliciarum image that Huette mentions, there is also a 12th century
illumination in Codex Stuttgart BL 20 60 f. 43v. of the Last Supper which
has a bretzel on the table.  This one clearly has the center twist.  I'll
see if I can find a bildindex link.  The one you have posted seems to me
also important because of the inclusion of a beaker.  Usually there are
bowls, mostly footed, or perhaps hanaps on the table.  I can't recall
another 12th century beaker on the table but my survey is not totally
inclusive yet :)

Of course, things like this send my brain off in all kinds of directions. 
I started to ruminate on the statement I read in one of the German
histories of either cooking or baking that there were multiple kinds of
bread known in 12th century France.  I can't exactly remember the number
but 22 is sticking in my head.  I think that reference is in my office, so
I might have to tell everyone for sure later if there is interest.  What I
do know is that the statement was not footnoted.

This led me to wonder if the source for that statement was based on
something in Alexander Neckam's lexicon.  Unfortunately, my latin is
limited, and I didn't find an obvious list of bready type things (grains
though!).  I did note that the master cook (archimacherus) had in his
cabinet 'vel salem panem' along with the spices, amidum and aromatics. 
These sound cracker like to me, but the footnotes say 'sianum (all.
semmel)' which I think at least later is a white bread roll. I wonder if
it could be a pretzel? But alas, no word.  (Note to self - check Du
Cange).  There's also a list of equipment in the kitchen that bears

I also checked Urban Tigner Holmes "Daily Living in the Twelfth Century"
(based on Neckam).  It didn't mention pretzels, but had a bit on bread.  I
was intrigued that Adam du Pont had 3 kinds of bread in his house azimus,
infungia and placenta, which is given here as leavened, unleavened and
perhaps dumplings.  Also a reference is given to a description of bread
making in 'Chevalerie Ogier le Danois' verse 8352 with a notation in
Holmes that the yeast used was liquid.  Might be worth investigating too,
if no one else has already done it.

Last question - is there any evidence of the period use of lye in the
making of pretzels?


More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list