Old fashioned hot cross buns
Food Timeline FAQs: bread....Have questions? Ask!
Bread, beer & yeast
The history of bread and cake starts with Neolithic cooks and marches through time according to ingredient availability, advances in technology, economic conditions, socio-cultural influences, legal rights (Medieval guilds), and evolving taste. The earliest breads were unleavened. Variations in grain, thickness, shape, and texture varied from culture to culture.
Archaelogical evidence confirms yeast (both as leavening agent and for brewing ale) was used in Egypt as early as 4000 B.C. Food historians generally cite this date for the discovery of leavened bread and genesis of the brewing industry. There is an alternate theory regarding the invention of brewing. Some historians believe it is possible that brewing began when the first cereal crops were domesticated. Sources generally agree the discovery of the powers of yeast was accidental.
"No one has yet managed to date the origins of beer with any precision, and it is probably an impossible task. Indeed, there are scholars who have theorized that a taste for ale prompted the beginning of agriculture, in which case humans have been brewing for some 10,000 years...Most archaeological evidence, however, suggests that fermentation was being used in one manner or another by around 4000 to 3500 B.C. Some of this evidence-from an ancient Mesopotamian trading outpost called Godin Tepe in present-day Iran- indicates that barley was being fermented at that location around 3500 B.C. Additional evidence recoverd at Hacinegi Tepe (a similar site in southern Turkey) also suggest that ancient Mesopotamians were fermenting barley at a very early date...There is no question that fermentation takes place accidentally (as it must have done countless times before humans learned something about controlling the process), and most investigators believe that barley was first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent region of lower Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Grain is heavy to transport relative to the beer made from it, so it is not surprising that there may be evidence of ale in these outposts and not unreasonable to suspect that accidental fermentation did occur at some point in the ancient Mesopotamian region, leading to beer making."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas, Volume 1 [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000 (p. 619-620)
"It seems that the discovery of ale was stimulated by the process of bread-making. At some stage in the Neolithic era people had learned that if, instead of using ordinary grain, they used grain that had been sprouted and then dried, it made a bread that kept unusually well. Something very like this was used in brewing. The Egyptian process was to sprout the grain, dry it , crush it, mix it to a dough and partially bake it. The loaves were then broken up and put to soak in water, where they were allowed to ferment for about a day before the liquor was strained off and considered ready for drinking."
---Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers Press:New York] 1988 (p.48)
"Leavening, according to one theory, was discovered when some yeast spores--the air is full of them, especially in a bakehouse that is also a brewery--drifted onto a dough that had been set aside for a while before baking; the dough would rise, not very much, perhaps, but enough to make the bread lighter and more appetizing than usual, and afterwards, as so often in the ancient world, inquiring minds set about the task of reproducing deliberately a process that had been discovered by accident. But there is an alternative and even more likely theory-that on some occasion ale instead of water was used to mix the dough. The rise would be more spectacular than from a few errant spores and the effect would be easy to explain and equally easy to reproduce."
---Food in History, Tannahill (p. 51-52)
"The brewing of beer may well have occurred soon after the production of cereal crops, and no doubt for a long time beer was home-produced and in the hands of housewives responsible for preparing the gruel or bread...the first production of beer may be reasonably considered as an accidental discovery resulting for the malting of grain for other purposes."
---Food in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diet of Early Peoples, Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell, expanded edition [Johns Hopkins:Maryland] 1998 (p. 166)
On the Web
English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David
Six Thousand Years of Bread, H.E. Jacob
The Story of Bread, Ronald Sheppard and Edward Newton
Ancient ovens & baking
"The most important part of the baker's equipment is, and always has been, his oven. For six thousand years and more it is the oven, however crude or complex, which has transformed the sticky wet dough into bread. It is the oven which influences the final character of the loaf; the effieciencycy of an oven, or lack of it, can determine the success or failure of any bread baker's business. It is the heart of the baking process...It was the Egyptians who first used a manufactured portable oven. This was a beehive- or barrel-shaped container of baked clay, usually divided into two by a central horizontal partition. The lower section formed the fire-box in which were burned pieces of dried wood, foten taken from the Nile, or even dried animal dung. The upper part, accessible from the top, was the baking chamber. An oven of similar shape, but often constructed of hollowed stone instead of clay, was used by the early Jews. Instead of placing the dough pieces for baking on the bottom or sole of the baking chamber, the Jews put the pieces on the sides. Being damp and sticky they remained in place intil they had dried out, when they fell to the bottom of the oven. The Jews also had fixed ovens in some of their houses, frequently in the main rooms. These ovens or hearths took the form of clay-covered hollows in the floor which were heated with burning wood. When the heat was sufficient the embers were raked out and the pieces of dough placed in the hollows and covered over. In Jerusalem there was a bakers' quarter where bread was baked in tiers of stone-built ovens, or furnaces as they were called in the Bible. In Ancient Rome bread ovens in the public bakeries were originally hewn from solid rock. These ovens were heated by the familiar method of burning wood in the baking chamber, raking out the ashes and putting in the dough to bake. The oven opening was closed with a large stone, sometimes sealed with clay. Ovens which worked on this principle, but were constructed of bricks or small stones, may still be seen in the ruined city of Pompeii. The fact ovens based on this simple design formed the majority of those in use throughout Europe until little more than two centuries ago. Although some of the early Roman ovens had chimnesy to improve the draught and carry away steam, it was many centuries before chimneys were commonly used or dampers incorporated so that the heat could be more effectively controlled."
---The Story of Bread, Ronald Sheppard & Edward Newton [Charles T. Branford:Boston MA] 1957 (p. 107-109)
""When I break your staff ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and shall deliver your bread again by weight; and you shall eat, and not be satsified." ---Lev. 26:26. This type of oven may have been a small earthenware cylindar called tannur in the Bible as it is by present-day rural north Africans who still use it. A fire is kindled in the bottom and the dough is slapped against the hot interior walls, yielding curved disks of bread. Many other sorts of oven have been discovered in Israeli excavations. Larger, bi-level ovens have been unearthed which would have been more suitable for baking commercial quantities. They have a top rack to hold the loaves, while the fire below is stoked with "the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven..." (Mt. 6:30). These baking techniques and others were known to the Romans, whose own commercial bakeries were not established unitl a relatively late date (171-168 B.C.). Once Roman administrative genius was applied to even so commonplace a task as breadmaking, the results would be impressive."
---The Bible Cookbook, Daniel S. Cutler [William Morrow:New York] 1985 (p. 371)
About ancient Roman ovens
"Many kitchens had an oven, furnus, sometimes called a fornax...The oven consisted of a square or dome-shaped hollow construction of brick or stone, with a flat floor, often made of granite, sometimes lava. It was filled with dry twigs when lit. When the flire was spent, the glowing embers were swept aside. The first heat of the glowing oven was suitable for baking unleavened or thin breads. Pizzas are still cooked this way, and this type of oven is still considered best for baking top-quality bread. Thin breads go in first, then large round loaves to in, or meat dishes, and the door is closed. After an hour or so, these are removed, but the oven is still hot, so finer pastries follow, then dishes that require the least heat, such as meringues."
---Around the Roman Table: Food and Feasting in Ancient Rome, Patrick Faas [Palgrave MacMillan:New York] 2003 (p. 132)
Compare with Colonial American ovens.
What is a "Baker's Dozen?"
A "Bakers Dozen" is 13 items (cookies, muffins, bread, etc.). The practice stems from Medieval times when bread was sold by the loaf. Because some loaves were lighter than others (purposeful shortweighting or ingredient differential) laws were enacted requiring bread be sold by weight. Adding an extra baked good to the customer's standard dozen ensured customers they were getting their money's worth. This practice remains active today in many bakeries across America.
"Baker's dozen. There are many theories about the origin of this phrase. The most commonly accepted theory dates back to fifteenth-century England. It seems that bakers had long had a reputation--whether deserved or not--for short-weighting their bread. As a result, very strict laws were passed, regulating the weight of various kinds of breads, muffins and cakes. But, as every cook knows, it's not possible--especially when cooking with the primitive ovens then available--to have the loaves absolutely uniform in weight. So the practice developed of giving thirteen loaves on every order for twelve, thereby guaranteeing that there would be no penalty for shortages. Another theory is that the phrase developed by analogy from printer's dozen, for in the early days of publishing it was the custom of printers to supply the retailer with thirteen copies of a book on each order of twelve. Since the retailer was billed at list price, the return on the thirteenth book represented his profit on the transaction. As a sidelight on this medieval selling technique, by the way, we may note that one of the most prevalent practices of the book trade is for the publisher to offer retailers "one-for-ten" or one free book with every ten ordered, thereby increasing the retailer's margin of profit and, of course, the number of books sold by the publisher. The there's still another theory. It seems that the bakers of the medieval period had such a bad name that the words baker and devil were sometimes used interchangeably. Thus, the term baker's dozen may have evolved from devil's dozen, which was a common folk phrase meaning thirteen. And thirteen was the number of witches usually reprsent at meetings summoned by Old Nick."
---Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, William and Mary Morris [Harper & Row:New York] 1962, Volume 1 (p. 23)
Why were bread boxes invented?
Bread boxes certainly would have discouraged mice, but that was not the reason they were invented. Homeade bread (without chemical preservatives) has a very short shelf life. In the olden days, much bread was consumed the day it was made. Leftover bread quickly staled unless stored in a protective environment that could control air flow and moisture. Before the advent of cheap metal products, bread was stored in crocks. These containers could not be completely airtight (hence the holes in the metal bread box) or bread's own natural moisture would do it in.
"Among the vital points to remember about the storage of bread are, first, the larger the loaf the longer it stays fresh; next, that a loaf should never be wrapped up or put away until it is perfectly cool; and that unless it is be to be consigned to a deep freeze it keeps best if it is allowed to breathe. A loaf enclosed in...a sealed plythene box or bag may appear to retain its moisture for a day or two but is in fact giving it out; this moisture is condensing in the airtight container and dampening although not quite so quickly, when bread is stored in a non-porous, highly glazed stoneware crock unless there is an air hole in the cover, or unless the cover can be raised slightly, allowing air into the crock...On street-maket stalls and in antique shops one sometimes coms across the old Doulton stoneware storage crock for bread. It is a rare occurrence to find one complete with its cover. This is because the people who made these crocks, familiar with the problems of bread storage, evolved specially designed lightweight steel covers, slightly domes and perforated with small air holes in the centre. These covers provided a very practical solution to the problems both of ventilation and of weight..."
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, American Edition with notes by Karen Hess [Penguin Books:New York] 1980 (p. 221-2)
When did we start baking square-shaped bread in pans?
Food historian Elizabeth David sums this topic up most eloquently:
"Bread baked in pans or tins of uniform shape and capacity was a late development. Indeed, it seems to have been mainly a British one, Holland being the only other European country in which the method is in general use. In France only soft sandwich loaves and rusk bread are baked in tins, provided with a sliding cover so that almost crustless tops and perfectly even shapes are achieved ..Before the advent of mass-produced tinware English household bread was either baked in earthenware crocks glazed on the inside only, or the loaves were hand-moulded and fed into the oven on wooden peels in the ancient manner, as was our bakery bread. In the seventeenth century, deep tin or wooden hoops and, more rarely, round iron cake pans were used for yeast cakes, and there were earthenware dishes for pies, 'broad tins' for gingerbread, tin patty pans, plates and oven sheets for small cakes, biscuits and confectionery...and occasionally wooden dishes for moulding rolls or small loaves--Robert May [English cookbook author: The Accomplist Cook,  specifies these--but until the turn of the eighteenth century no mention is made in cookery books of tins for bread-baking. That they were in used long before that, probably in the early years of the century, seems certain, but it is Mrs. Rundell, writing in the second editon of A New System of Domestic Cookery (1807), who makes the earliest English cookery book reference I have yet found to tin loaves: 'If baked in tins the crust will be very nice', says Mrs. Rundell. It is curious to reflect that without those tins we might never have had the sliced wrapped loaf. Dear Mrs Rundell, would she have been quite so pleased with the innovation had she forseen where it was to lead? And how was it that only the Dutch and the English took readily to bread baked in tins while the system was obviously rejected by the rest of Europe? Of course, at the time it must have seemed wonderfully convenient--it still does--to settle a batch of dough comfortably into space-saving tins, simply cover them with a cloth and transfer them into the heated oven when the dough had risen for the second time. This means much less handling in the shaping of the dough; the tricky notching, cutting or 'scotching', as the earlier writers called this part of dough management, could be dispensed with; and if the dough had been made up too slack no harm will be done; it would be confined within the walls of the tin and so could not spread and flatten out, but would spring upwards. By the early nineteeth century domestic cooking methods had aleady much changed. In the towns coal ranges with ovens were being installed in kitchens, so the separate bakehouse with its special bread oven was often abolished, and housewives or their cooks no doubt found that in the new ovens bread baked in tins or crocks was more satisfactory than the old hand-moulded 'crusty' loaves, the all-round exposure to high heat in a small space without radiation from above causing a hard crust to develop before the inner part of the loaf had properly grown...In stpite of the new tins and the new ovens, which certainly didn't become common until after the middle of the nineteenth century, most householders continued to make their bread as they had always done, often taking the prepared dough to a communal oven or to a local bakery to be baked. When Eliza Acton [English Cookbook author: Modern Cookery fo Private Families, 1845] did this at Tonbridge she put her dough into large round earthen crocks, rather shallow, wide at the top and with sloping sides. The tin loaf was given short shrift by Miss Acton. 'The loaves are technically called bricks, which are baked in tins,' she remarks, are of convenient form for making toast of for slicing bread and butter.' "
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Penguin:Middlesex] 1979 (p. 206-9)
Related food? Pullman loaves.
"Yeast has been used in the preparation of food and drink for as long as there have been leavened bread and beer, but it was only in the 19th century, thanks to the work of Pasteur, that its nature was understood...Yeast is a single-celled fungus, of which hundreds of species have been identified. Those of the genera Saccharomyces and Candida are the most useful. The single cells are very small: hundreds of millions to a teaspoonful. Instead of feeding by photosynthesis, as green plants do, they feed on carbohydrates...and excrete alcohol. They breathe air and exhale carbon dioxide...Despite the simplicity of their structure, yeast cells can operate in alternative ways; one that suits bread-making and one that is right for brewers. Given plenty of air and some food, yeast grows fast and produces a lot of carbon dioxide. It is the pressure of this gas which makes the bread rise. Only a little alcohol is formed. However, in a fermentation vat, where there is almost no air but an abundance of food in the form of sugar, the yeast cells change to a different mode, breathing little and concentrating on turning sugar into alcohol. The same species of yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, constitutes both baker's and brewer's yeast...Beer leaven, known as barm, was used for bread-making until quite recent times. The making of beer, black bread, and the alcoholic drink kvass were traditionally linked in Russia...it is no longer true that the same yeast is used for brewing and baking...In addition of fermenting and flavoring other foods, yeasts themselves may also be used as food. They contain much protein and all but one of the B vitamins (B12)...They are consequently used to provide dietary supplements for countries whos diets are deficient in protein."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 855, 857)
[NOTE: according to this source, yeast is also used to make kefir, koumiss, soy sauce, sake, and the fermentation of cocoa to develop the flavor of chocolate.]
"It is estimated that the art of making wine, leavened bread and beer was practiced more than 4000 years ago. Phenomena producing these foods were attributed to yeast. And, in many languages, the word for yeast describes the visible effects of fermentation, as observedin the expansion of bread dough and the accumulation of froth or barm on the surface of fermenting juices and mashes. Historically, it has been reported that yeast cells were first seen in a droplet of beer mounted on a crude microscope by van Leeuwhenhoek in 1680. He found globular bodies, but was not aware that these were living forms. For nearly 2 centuries the theory of spantaneous generation dominated through and research on the causes of fermentation and disease. In 1818, Erxleben described beer yeast as living vegetable matter responsible for fermentation. In the following 20 years, yeasts were sown to reproduce by budding and, in 1837, Meyen named yeast, Saccharomyces or 'sugar fungus.' By 1839, Schwann observed 'endospores' in yeast cells, later named ascospores by Reess. As early as 1857, Pasteur proved the biological nature of fermentation and later, n 1876, Pasteur demonstrated that yeast can shift its metabolism from a fermentive to an oxidative pathway when subjected to aeration. This shift, then named the Pasteur effect, is especially characteristic of bakers' yeast...and is applied in large-scale production of yeasts. Botanically, yeasts form a heterogeous group of saprophytic forms of life occuring natrually on the surface of fruits, in honey, exudates of trees, and soil. They are disseminated by airborne dust, insects, and animals."
---Foods and Food Production Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine [Van Nostrand Reinhold:New York] 1982 (p. 2163)
"Commercially produced yeast first appeared in the United States in the 1860s. Charles and Maximillian Fleischmann, immigrants from Austria-Hungary, with the financial backing of James Gaff, patented and sold standardized cakes of compressed yeast...produced in their factory in Cincinati. By the early twentieth century, factory-produced yeast was widely available. Cookbook recipes began specifying that commercial yeast be added directly to bread dough in sufficient quantities to leaven it in less than two hours. Bread changed in texture, becoming lighter and softer, and its flavor turned blander..."
---Oxford Encylopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith [Oxford University Press:New York], Volume 2, 2004 (p. 652)
[NOTE: This source contains more information than can be paraphrased here. Ask your librarian to help you obtain a copy.]
Recommended reading: Engish Bread & Yeast Cookery/Elizabeth David (p. 89-118)
If you would like to learn more about the history of bread and how it relates to different cultures ask your librarian to help you find these books:
English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Penguin:New York] 1977
---general oververview and details regarding different types of bread products (muffins, soda bread, scones, etc.)
- The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999
The History of Bread, Bernard Dupaign [Harry N. Abrams:New York] 1999
---excellent illustrations, text highlights interesting and unusual facts
The History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat [Barnes & Noble:New York] 1992, Chapter 8 "The History of Bread and Cakes."
---best overview of the history, evolution and symbolism of these items.
A Mediterranean Feast, Clifford A Wright [William Morrow:New York] 1999 (p. 548-576)
---evolution of grain, methods, and popular recipes
Nectar and Ambrosia, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara] 2000 (p. 41-2)
---symbolism of bread in religion and mythology
The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999
---separate historic entries for specific types of bread
World Sourdoughs From Antiquity, Ed Wood [Ten Speed Press:Berkeley] 1997
---ancient baking methods & modernized recipes
Recommended for K-8 lesson plans:
- Bread and other cultures, University of Pennsylvania
---lesson plan for middle schoolers
- Bread around the World, Oklahoma City Schools, Grade 2
- Multicultural exploration with bread, University of South Florida, elementary grades
Bread Around the World, Jo Ellen Moore & Gary Shipman
---Grades 1-3; lesson plan with posters
Bread, Bread, Bread, Ann Morris (Foods of the World)
---K-3 book; nice photos and simple text, covers 29 countries
World Atlas of Food, Jane Grigson [Mitchell Beazely:London] 1974 (p. 50-51)
---contains an excellent full-color two page graphic illustrating breads from different countries.
You Eat What You Are: People, Culture and Food Traditions, Thelma Barer-Stein [Firefly:Buffalo] 1999
---food notes arranged by country, highly recommended.
"The dietary qualities of bread depended on four variables (so Simeon Seth carefully explains): the kind of grain, the making of the dough, the form of oven and the baking process. He later adds a fifth, the length of time between baking and eating: different qualities are allowed to bread which is still warm, to today's bread which is cold, and to bread one or two days old: after that, it is not good to eat. One can tell the superior power of wheat, Simeone Seth continues, from the fact that the raw grain can scarcely be broken by the teeth. By contrast with bread made from fine wheat, emmer bread (artos olyrites) was a makeshift when there was no other bread to be found...Again , it was possible to make bread from oats. But oats were 'food for cattle, not people, except when extreme famine dictates that bread be baked from them...' One almost poetic evocation of good bread is due to the enthusiastic compiler of the dietary text De Cibis...He calls for white bread 'with a moderate use of yeast and salt, the dough kneaded midway between dryness and rawness', but that is only the beginning. There should be 'a little anise, fennel seed and mastic', additions still favoured by many Aegean bread-makers...Bread was the staple food of Byzantium. That evaluation is strongly suggested by the fact that grain comes first in 'Categories of Foods'...and wheat comes first among grains. Bread likewise comes first in Simeon Seth's On the Properties of Foods.."
---Tastes of Byzantium: The Cuisine of a Legendary Empire, Andrew Dalby [I.B. Tauris:New York] 2003, 2010 (p. 77-79)
"...bakers of Constantinople are the subject of quite special regulations in the Book of the Eparch compiled under Leo VI. The municipal regulations specify with great precision the price to be charged for bread, and also exempt the human and animal staff of bakeries from being commandeered for public service. 'Bakers shall sell bread by weight fixed from time to time according to the price of wheat, as ordered by the Eparch. They are to buy wheat in the Assistant's warehouse, in units corresponding to the amount on which a tax of one gold nomisma is payable. After grinding, proing and baking, they shall calculate the price by adding one deration and two miliaqresia per gold nomisma; the keration being their profit, and the two miliaresia the cost of employing the men and the animals who do the milling, and also the cost of fires and lighting. Bakers are never liable to be called for any public service, either themselves nor their animals, to prevent any interruption of the baking of bread. They must not have their ovens under any dwelling house...'"
---Tastes of Byzantium (p. 64)
"There were two useful substitutes for freshly-baked bread, for those who were out of reach of this prized commodity. They were the ring-shaped loaf boukellaton and the thickly sliced toasted barley bread paximadi. Both were typical food for the Byzantine army."
---Tastes of Byzantium (p. 99)
"White bread. Bread made from wheat is the best and most nutritious of all foods. Particularly if white, with a moderate use of yeast and salt, the dough kneaded midway between dryness and rawness, and with the little anise, fennel seed and mastic, it is very fine indeed. One with a hot constitution should include sesame in the dough. If wishing to add more moistness to the bread, knead in some almond oil."
---Tastes of Byzantium (p. 180)
Bread types & recies
"Bread was the primary product of cereals, at least for the affluent. Recipes appear to be in two general categories: leavened wheat bread and unleavened bread, often mixed with another grain. Breads are very frequently mentioned, but except for a few passages, we have only hits of the ingredients and cooking processes. I have found no statement that leavened bread was allowed to rise twice as it is currently, but I don't know if that is because only one rising was allowed or it was simply a well-known fact so that no one needed to mention it. Leavening is also seldom clearly specified. It could be the ale or beer barm (yeast), the wild yeast, floating in the air, sourdough yeast, or the yeast contained in the dough from a previous batch if bread (which was left uncooked, but dried). Consequently, any of the recipes below should be treated as speculative...the 'wheaten bread should be prepared from the least glutinous wheat flour possible, and this gently fermented with sweet leaven, such as is made form the hardest spelt flour...Bake in an oven seems to be to be safer than in a covered earthenware vessel, but better still is baking in a milk bread oven: for the baking is gentle and takes a long time and burning from the fire does not readily happen to the bread in the baking because the heat is outside the oven.'...Oribasios appears to be describing a wheat bread made with something like (low gluten) cake flour and a starter made from spelt. This dough is then placed in an oven where the heat source is outside the baking chamber. Ground spelt will ferment if mixed with water, but the process has some risks and many days before it can be used. I recommend the use of dry yeast for safety and convenience, but if you'd like to take the medieval approach, here goes"
--- Byzantine Cuisine, Henry Marks [Henry Marks:Eugene OR] 2002 (p. 138)
Starter 1/4 C(up) stone ground spelt, 3/4 cup water,1 t(easpoon) sugar or honey
Bread Starter: 3 C(ups) cake flour or other low gluten wheat flour, 1 T(ablespoon) salt, 3/4 C(up) water
Mix spelt, water and sugar/honey. Cover lightly and place in a warm place (75-85 degrees F). In 18 to 48 hours, the spelt mixture should have fermented and become somewhat bubbly. A pink tinge means it has turned bad and you should discard and start again. There will be a slight sour smell, but if the smell is more than slightly sour, it has probably spoiled and you'll need to start again. I urge caution in the use of these starters as they can produce some annoying medical problems. When the spelt mixture is actively bubbling, add the cake flour (slightly more or less than the 3 cups may be required), water and salt. Mix completely. Allow to rest for a few minutes and then knead. Knead for at least 15 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. When the dough no longer bounces back from a finger pushed into it, form it into a round shape (or multiple round shapes) and place on a baking tray sprinkled with stone ground wheat. Place this into a 350 degree F. oven and cook for approximately 1 hour (time depends on the size of the loaves you've made). To check for doneness, remove from baking sheet and tap on bottom. Bread should sound hollow. The resulting loaf is substantially less well-risen than if high gluten flour, modern yeast, or two or more rising are used. If you wish to make the bread lighter, you may start with a cold oven and allow the bread to rise more as the oven warms. Baking time will be increased slightly.
"If you wish to get the taste of spelt in your bread, but don't want to go to the trouble of making the starter, you can use spelt flour plus commercial yeast. This will produce a fairly similar tasting but better risen bread.
1 C(up) water, 1 T(ablespoon) honey, 1/2 C(up) whole spelt flour, 2+ C(up) cake (or other low-gluten) flour, 1 t(easpoon) salt, oil, 1 t(easpoon) packaged yeast. Combine yeast with warmed water and honey. Allow the yeast to grow in the spelt for at least 30 minutes, then add flour until you have formed a soft dough. Knead for at least 15 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. When the dough no longer bounces back from a finger pushed into it, form it into a round shape (or multiple round shapes) and place on a baking tray sprinkled with stone ground wheat. Place this into a 375 degree F. oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes (for two small loaves). To check for doneness, remove from baking sheet and tap on bottom. Bread should sound hollow. This bread is better risen than the preceding loaf, but is still far form a modern, well-risen loaf of bread.
"'Koukoule says, 'Brucellatum was the Latin for crusted wheat and it was used to make unleavened bread for the soldiers...The bread which is given to the troops to eat, required that it be dunked into liquid to soften it enough to be chewed.'
4 C(ups) crushed wheat, 1 C(up) water. Add the crushed wheat to one cup of warm water. it may take slightly more or less than the 4 cups of crushed wheat. When the dough has formed and holds together, knead if for 15 to 20 minutes. More crushed wheat my be needed in the kneading process. Heavily grease and flour a pan. Put the dough in the pan in a 350 degrees F. oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool until the 'bread' can be removed from the pan. Cut into 1/2 inch slices 3 to 4 inches long. Place these pieces on a baking sheet in one layer. Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and continue baking until well-toasted on both sides. This is indeed hard enough to require soaking in a liquid before attempting to chew it. The taste also leaves something to be desired, but it will stay edible for extended periods of time. I haven't been able to duplicate the traditional circular shape mentioned by Koukoules as the dough tends to lose its shape unless put into a pan."
---Byzantine Cuisine (p. 139-141)
What is spelt?
Flatbreads: pita, roti, paratha, naan, lavash, lefse & tortillas
These are the oldest breads of all. Quickly cooked, extremely delicious, and practically portable, and incredibly versatile. Originating in places where fuel was scarce, flat breads are traditionally baked in portable clay ovens called tandoors. Recipes evolved according to place and taste. Middle Eastern pita, Indian roti, paratha & naan, Armenian lavash and Norwegian Lefse are popular Old World examples. New World tortillas are similar products. Flatbreads can be leavened, or not, depending upon the recipe.
These versatile middle-eastern flatbreads are perhaps the oldest breads known. Soft and thin, they provided the basis for a variety of popular portable items, most notably pizza, and a variety of filled pocket or rolled sandwiches. Modern menus often call these "wraps." Asian and European pancakes are related in both method and function.
"Pitta (or pita or pitah...) Is a flat, roughly oval, slighly leavened type of bread characteristic of Greece and the Middle East. Typically eaten slit open and stufed with filling, it became a familiar sight on the supermarket shelves of Britain and the USA in the last quarter of the twentieth century. The word, a borrowing from modern Greek, can perhaps be traced back ultimately to classical Greek peptos, 'cooked'...a derivative of the verb pessein, 'cook, bake'."
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 258)
The Israeli and western name for the Arab bread called khubz adi (ordinary bread) or names meaning Arab, Egyptian, Syrian bread or kumaj (a Turkish loanword properly meaning a bread cooked in ashes), baked in a brick bread oven. It is slightly leavened wheat bread, flat, either round or oval, and variable in size...The name had a common origin with pizza...In the early centuries of our era, the traditional Greek word for a thin flat bread or cake, plakous, had become the name of a thicker cake. The new word that came into use for flat bread was pitta, literally pitch, doubtless because pine pitch naturally forms flat layers which many languages compare to cakes or breads...The word spread to Southern Italy as the name of a thin bread. In Northern Italian dialects pitta became pizza, now known primarily as the bearer of savoury toppings but essentially still a flat bread...Early Arab cookery texts do not refer to khubz, since it was bought from specialists, not made in the home. However, it is safe to assume that its history extends far into antiquity, since flatbreads in general, whether leavened or not, are among the most ancient breads, needing no oven or even utensil for their baking."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 611)
"...there is no earlier evidence than third-century Madedonia for the use of a flat loaf of bread as a plate for meat, a function which bread continued to perform in the pide of Turkey, the pita of Greece and Bulgaria, the pizza of southern Italy and the 'trencher' of medieval Europe."
---Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 1999 (p. 157)
Roti & Paratha
Roti is ancient, parata/paratha, a related bread, dates to the 10th century. Naan is an oval roti and made from wine white maida. Roti was introduced to the Caribbean by Indian immigrants.
"Roti. A general Indian term for bread. In this sense it covers the whole amazingly diverse range of breads found in the subcontinent. However, it is also used in narrower senses, for example in some parts of India as an alternative name for chapati and phulka, or as part of the names of particular breads. The origins of roti, as the wide meaning of Indian breads, can be traced back 3,000 or 4,000 years, to the arrival of the Aryans in the Indus Valley. In this connection it is noteworthy that barley was the major grain eaten by the Aryans. Although wheat was known from very early times, its widespread adoption for bread-making purposes came relatively late...Numerous names of breads incorporate the term roti. These may reflect the method of cooking (tandoori roti); or something to do with the shape and size (roomali roti is as thin as the scarf for which it is named). But more often they refer to the type of flour used; thus besan ki roti contains chickpea (besan) flour. Roti in the wide sense have become an important element in the intercontinental culinary scene, mainly because so many of these Indian unleavened breads have spread to other parts of the world where Indians and their foodways have become established..."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 673)
"Parata, or Paratha, an Indian flaky bread prepared by smearing the dough, which is unleavened and is also enriched with oil, with ghee or oil and folding the dough three times. More ghee or oil is brushed over and the process is repeated. The resulting packet of dough is then rolled out to the required size and fried in oil or dry cooked on a tava or griddle. The layers of pastry separate and flake while frying. Paratas are often stuffed with spicy mixtures of meat or vegetables before frying. A similar bread is made in Afghanistan and Nepal."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 575)
"Parata, paranta. Wheat dough rolled out with frequent folding over while smearing with fat, to a square or triangular shape and pan-fried using a little fat to a layery texture...Many of these are of considerable antiquity, both the puige (later termed holige) and the mandate being mentioned on a Kannada work of AD 920, the Vaddaradane of Shivakotyacharya."
---A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food, K.T. Achaya [Oxford University Press:Delhi] 1998 (p. 177)
[NOTE: This book has several pages on the history and evolution of roti, including footnotes to primary documents and academic studies. Ask your librarian to help you find a copy.]
"Of all the immigrant ethnic groups, Indians coming to the Caribbean as indentured servants did not recognize the majority of food items that they were given to eat as part of their rations. Their diet consisted mainly of staple carbohydrates and some seasonal vegetables. Most could not afford any additional supplement to their diet as they would have been charged for extra food items and their wages were almost nonexistent. Indian families could usually afford only the ingredient to make their traditional breads, chappatai or roti, which required only flour and water, and which were made on a special griddle, called a tawa, brought by Indian immigrants to the Caribbean. However, they could not afford to make the traditional accompaniments to go with these breads, like dahl, a type of porridge made from lentils. Instead, they would eat these breads with some of the local Caribbean varieties of pepper, or wild spinach (called baji). Judging by their availability and the frequency of their consumption by many ethnic groups, chappati and roti, especially, are still some of the most popular Indian foods in the Caribbean."
---Food Culture in the Caribbean, Lynn Marie Houston [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2005 (p. 22-23)
Roti simply means bread, and this is the term most often used in Trinidad for parathas, which is what these are. They are of Indian origin, but like everything else in the Caribbean, have evolved form the original. One 12-inch roti makes a magnificent lunch when a generous dollop of currie chicken, kid, shrimp or potatoes is placed in the center, and the bread is folded over it like an envelope. One can eat it with a knife and fork; fingers however, are more fun. The 8-inch roti is served as a bread with curries. I have two versions of roti, one a little more elaborate than the other, both very good.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter,or vegetable shortening
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter or shortening with the fingertips until the fat is in small flakes. Pour 1/4 cold water over the flour and mix to make a fairly stiff dough. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together but is not sticky. Knead until smooth. Cover, and leave in a warm place for half an hour. Knead again for 3 or 4 minutes then divide into 4 equal balls. Roll out on a floured board into 12- or 8-inch rounds. Brush lightly all over with ghee, then sprinkle with flour. Fold in half, then in half again, to form a 4-layered quarter circle. Cover and leave for half an hour. Then shape roughly into a circle with the hands, and roll out into a floured board into 12- or 8-inch rounds. Heat a cast-iron frying pan or griddle so that a little flour sprinkled on it will brown instantly, or on the griddle and cook for about a minute. Turn, and spread again with ghee. Cook for 1 minute longer than then. Hit with a wooden mallet all over until it is flaky. Wrap in a towel and keep warm until the other roti are cooked. Serve at once. Serves 4.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Milk, or water to mix
Ghee...or vegetable oil
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Add enough milk or water to mix to a stiff dough. Knead the dough thoroughly on a lightly floured board. Form into 4 balls and roll out into 8-inch circle. Brush all over with ghee or vegetable oil and fold into a ball again. Cover and allow to stand for about 15 minutes. Roll out again into 8-inch circles. Heat a cast-iron frying pan or griddle until a drop of water will sputter when dripped on it, or a little flour with brown instantly. Cook the roti for about 1 minute, turn, spread with ghee or vegetable oil and cook, turning frequently until the roti is baked. Remove from the pan and clap with both hands until pliable. Wrap in towel to keep warm the other roti are cooked. Serve at once. Serves 4."
---The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking, Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz [M. Evans:New York] 1973 (p. 388-389)
A roti of fine white maida, leavened, rolled out oval in shape, sprinkled with nigella (kalonji) seeds and baked in a tandoor or ordinary oven. Small, mud plastered ovens closely resembling present-day tandoors' have been excavated at Kalibangan, and Indus Valley site. In about AD 1300, Amir Khusrau notes naan-e-tanuk (light bread) and naan-e-tanuri (cooked in a tandoor oven) at the imperial court in Delhi. Naan was in Mughal times a popular breakfast food, accompanied by kheema or kabab, of the humbler Muslims. It is today associated with Punjabis, and is a common restaurant item, rather han a home-made one, all over India."
---A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food, K.T. Achaya [Oxford University Press:Delhi] 1998 (p. 170)
Lavash (Armenian flat bread)
Lavosh, lahvosh, lavash, Armenian cracker bread: a flat bread with ancient roots. According to the food historians, Lavash was/is popular in the Caucasus and neighboring middle-eastern regions. The ancient recipe remains virtually unchanged. Current applications for this bread product reflect a broad range of culinary adaptation and professional creativity. Foodservice professionals agree wraps (of all kinds) are hot. Lavash are baked in tandoor ovens.
a thin crisp bread usually made with wheat flour made in a variety of shapes all over the regions of the Caucasus, Iran (where it is often so thin as to be like tissue and can be almost seen through), and Afghanistan. It is leavened and baked in a tandoor. Lavash is served with kebabs and is used to scoop up food or wrap round food before being eaten...Its origins are ancient and it is also known a lavash depending upon the region. As in the other countries of this region large batches of this bread are made and stored for long periods. "
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 445)
"The more charming feature of lavash is its versatility. Lavash can be used as a plate, a saucepan, a spoon, or a napkin. Ranging from soft and pliable to crisp and cracker-like, lavash is a staple throughout the Caucasus, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria. In Armenia, it became an important form of national self-expression and wisdom...A very special tool is the batat or rabata, a wool- or hay-filled cushion used for stretching the dough. Every Armenian household would have a set ot two batats: one large and one small. The bug cushion was used for baking lavach, while the little one was for smaller and thicker circle bread...Tradionally, lavash is baked in a typical Middle Eastern tandoor-style oven, called a tonir in Armenia...Armenians used to bake lavash in autumn, to be stored for use throughout the winter. It was dried, stacked in piles, covered with clith, and stowed away. Top make the dried lavash soft again, it was moistened with water and covered with cloth for half an hour."
---Armenian Food: Fact, Fiction & Folklore, Irina Petrosian and David Underwood [Yerkir Publishing:Bloomington IN] 2006 (p. 26-30)
"One of the things that is absolutely compelling about flatbreads is that they are old, really old. Many of the flatbreads eaten today have changed little over the last several thousand years. Flatbreads, such as sanguake in Iran, lavash in Armenia, and fetir made by the Bedouin in Israel, are all of ancient origin. When people first began cultivating grain, flatbreads were an obvious solution to the problem of how to turn hard grain into edible food; the grain could be pounded into flour, mixed with water, and cooked on a hot stone. The earliest method of cooking flatbreads probably involved spreading a dough or a batter over a very hot rock, then peeling the bread off from the rock when it had finished cooking, a method still used by the Hopi in making their remarkable blue corn piki bread. It is also very much like the Bedouin breads from Jordan. Oven-baked flatbreads most likely came into existence not long after, as the idea was essentially the same. Instead of cooking the bread on a rock that had been heated in, or over, a fire, the bread could be baked in a "room" of hot rock or clay that had been preheated with fire. A tandoor oven (an oven of ancient origin still in use all the way from western China to India to Mali in central Africa) operates on this principle. After the oven is preheated, flatbreads (often called naan) are slapped against the hot oven walls, then skillfully lifted off when they are done. Ovens can bake more bread than skillets or stove-top methods, and in a shorter period of time, but they also tend to require more wood, coal, or dried dung, whatever the local fuel resource happens to be. The Bedouin in southern Tunisia and Algeria use an exceptionally low-tech and fuel-efficient baking method. Hot coals are placed into a hole that has been dug into the desert sand. The bakers place flattened pieces of bread dough onto the coals and then cover it with more coals and sand. When the breads are baked (a timing learned only from experience), the sand is pushed aside and the breads lifted out. A few slaps get rid of any sand still clinging to them. For most people who eat flatbreads on a daily basis, the breads are a staff of life. For a villager in north India, a town dweller in Uzbekistan, a Kurdish nomad in eastern Turkey, a day without flatbreads is unthinkable. Flatbreads are a part of every meal, day after day, year after year. "
---By Bread Alone: Ancient Ways Turn Hard Grain into Edible Food, Bergen Record, Feb. 19, 1995 (p. L 5)
"There are many different flatbreads baked throughout the easter Mediterranean, the Middle East and India--from pita or naan--but lavash is perhaps the oldest. This bread-in-various shapes and sizes, and in textures ranging from soft and pliable to crisp and crackerlike--is a staple throughout Armenia and in parts of Georgia, Iran, and Lebanon. Armenian lavash has been prepared in the same way for thousands of years: Long sheets of dough are stretched and baked in a clay oven similar to an Indian tandoor. The nomadic peoples crisscrossing Asia knew a good thing when they saw it: A filled and rolled-up lavash sandwich might be the ultimate in picnic fare (easily transportable, its food, eating utensil, and container all in one). Lavash is also delicious served with stews such as Morrocan tagine or an Indian curry, or with a favorite dip."
---The Lowdown on Lavash, Jane Daniels, Gourmet, Sept. 1997 (p. 157)
"A selection of Armenian cuisine
Food in Armenia is one of the chief attractions. Each region has its own unique cuisine with its own special flavour. For gourmands the long list of delicious local dishes is provided: kololak, khaplama, tolma, basturma...Lavash - the national thin, paper like bread of Armenians. It is baked in tonyr and they are so transparent that the sunrays pass through them. Armenians use it also as a plate, a saucepan, a spoon. Many dishes are cooked on mild fire, covered with lavash. Traditionally Armenians eat their food folded in lavash."
Related foods: focaccia, pizza & pancakes/crepes.
What is a tandoor oven?
The classic oven used by peoples of India from ancient times to present (including the Medieval period) is called a tandoor. This special oven can be used to cook a variety of foods, including bread.
Tandoor. The middle Eastern clay oven, found from Arab countries to India. The original Babylonian form of the name, timuru, is probably related to nar, the Semitic word for fire...In the tandoor, the breads (necessarily flat in shape) are slapped onto the vertical wall, where they bake quite quickly by a combination of radiant heat and convection. After the day's bread-making, casseroles and other dishes may be baked in a tandoor (as in a brick oven) to use the residual heat. In cold climates, the tandoor also heats the house, like the hearth in Europe...In the Middle Ages, skewered meats were more often roasted in a tandoor than over burning coals, as they still are in Central Asia. Tandoor meat cookery has been popular in India since 1948, when a Kashmiri restaurant named Moti Mahal became a fashionable dining spot for politicians in New Delhi. As a result, Indian tandoor restaurants have sprung up all around the world."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davison [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 781)
"In India the processes of baking, roasting, and grilling are all achieved by tandoori cooking. This is because the food is prepared in a tandoor, which simultaneously bakes, roasts, and grills. The tandoor is believed to have originated in the northeastern part of Persia (present-day Iran). Its use spread to different parts of the continent with migrations, and as a result, today the tandoor is used in all of Central Asia...In India the tandoor was initially built for the purpose of baking breads (still its main use). The dough is stretched and shaped into flat breads and smacked onto the sides of the pit, to which it adheres. It puffs up and bakes in 7 to 10 minutes. The cooked breads are then peeled off gently with long metal skewers specially designed for this purpose. In the earlier part of the nineteenth cnetury, in Peshawar, a city in the northwest frontier region of Pakistan (the part of India), an ingenious method for cooking meat was invented and introduced. Today, it has become one of the most popular cooking methods in India. In this process, whole chickens and large chunks of lamb were threaded on specially designed long skewers, lowered into the tandoor pit, and cooked. Any food thus cooked was referred to as tandoori food...Just about any meat that can be threaded on skewers can be cooked in a tandoor."
---Classic Indian Cooking, Julie Sahni [William Morrow:New York] 1980 (p. 80-1)
[NOTE: This book also cotains recipes for classic Indian breads, though no additional history or reference to Medieval times.]
"Tandoor. At the Indus Valley site of Kalibangan were found small, mudplastered ovens with a side opening 'very strongly resembling the present-day 'tandoors'. Live embers are placed at the bottom and fanned briskly so that they glow, raising the temperature of the clay sides. Thick, slighly leavened wheat rotis called naan and tandoori are slapped on to the sides to cook, with some puffing and surface charring in patches. Meat and fish can also be tandoor-grilled."
---A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food, K.T. Achaya [Oxford University Press:Delhi] 1998 (p. 247)
"A tandoor is shaped rather like the juge jar in which Ali Baba hid from the Forty Thieves. It is usually sunk neck-deep in the ground or, if built above ground, is heavily insulated on the outside with a thick layer of plaster. The charcoal fire on the flat bottom of the jar should heat the sides of the tandoor to a scorching point about halfway up, and to a hot glow for the rest, diminishing, of course, near the neck. To achieve this particular distribution of heat, the tandoor has to be lit at least two hours before anything is cooked in it, and longer if it is not frequently used."
---Foods of the World: The Cooking of India, Santha Rama Rau, [Time-Life:New York] 1969 (p. 138)
Flower pot bread
Food historians confirm bread has been baked in clay vessels from ancient times forward. Clay vessels were also used for slow cooking meats and stews in several cultures and cuisines. The Indian tandoor is one of the popular examples. Clay pots & ovens were an efficient, effective, and economical way to cook. Flower bread is indeed a modern twist on a very old theme! Our survey of contemporary U.S. magazine/newspaper articles indicates the resurgance of interest in clay baking in the early 1980s. La Cloche brand stoneware [Sassafras Entertrpises, Inc.] containers were marketed to upscale consumers in high end gourmet supply shops.
Where does Flower Pot Bread fit in?
Our research indicates this novelty baked good became popular in the late 1960s. We do not find any particular person, place, or restaurant credited for the "invention" of this loaf. Early print references in British souces may indicate the item originated there. The use of cracked wheat and other natural grains connects some flower pot bread recipes with the "back to nature" health food movement du jour.
"Terracotta flower pots make admirable bread moulds. Anyone who still possesses some of these now nearly obsolete pots may like to try the following method. The best size of a pot for a loaf is 5 1/2 inches in diameter by 4 1/2 inches deep. First temper the pots for baking by coating them liberally outside and inside with oil and leaving them empty in the oven while bread or something else is baking at a fairly high temperature. Do this two or three times. Once they are well impregnated with oil the pots will need very little greasing, and the baked loaves will slip out of the pots without the slightest sign of sticking...The trick about making good flowerpot bread is to bake the loaves upside down. This is easier than it sounds: when the dough has fully risen for the second time, break it down, knead it very thorougly and divide it into two equal pieces. Shape and fit each into a warmed and greased flower pot...What hapens when the loaves are under the flower pots is that during the first few minutes of baking the dough springs up and fills the pot, producing a perfectly even and well formed loaf, whereas if the pot is put upright into the oven in the normal way the dough rises unevenly over the top, making an untidy loaf with a mushroom top which often sticks to the sides of the pot...Cracked wheat or coarse oatmeal can be scattered at the bottom of the pots and on the sides before the dough is put in."
---English Bread & Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, American Edition with notes by Karen Hess [Penguin:New York] 1980 (p. 309-310)
[NOTE: Complete instructions & recipe for flowerpot bread are also found on these pages. We can fax or scan if you like.]
"A few years ago an attractive-looking propriety brown loaf, baked in a flower-pot shape, the outside scattered with cracked wheat grains was commony sold by London bakers and dairy shops. This loaf seems to have vanished..."
---ibid, (p. 73)
"Puffy, light whole wheat breads are displayed in real clay flower pots. Baked by Britisher Heather Linsley Ross--in her New York apartment--the flowerpot breads are selling fantastically well as centerpieces."
---"Food with a Homespun Flavor," Rosalie Greenfield, new York Times, November 21, 1971 (p. E6)
The oldeset recipe we have (in an American source) is dated 1969:
"Flower Pot Bread
2 cups milk
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. shortening
3 tsp. salt
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tsp. sugar
2 env. dry yeast
6 cups sifted flour
Wash and thoroughly grease three red clay flowerpots 5-in. wide and 5-in. deep. Bake pots at 375 deg. 5 to 10 min. Repeat the process. Scald milk in saucpan. Remove from heat and add 3 tbsp. sugar, shortening and salt. Stir until shortening is melted, then cool to lukewarm. Combine lukewarm milk, then stir in 4 cups flour and beat well. Add remaining flour and mix well. This is a sticky dough. Turn dough into a greased bowl and brush top with melted shortening. Cover with waxed paper and towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 to 45 min. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly. Divide dough into three equal parts and place in well-greased flower pots. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 deg. 35 to 40 min. with a double thickness of foil on oven rack under pots. Serve in pots using real or fak flowers "growing" from them. Makes 3 loaves."
---"Flower Pot Bread on Spring Menu," Amy Vanderbilt, Los Angeles Times, May 29, 1969 (p. F8)
About baking with clay:
"The earliest method of baking bread was to place lumps of dough, unleavened, on hot stones in the embers of a wood fire, and leave them to cook until they were hard. In other words it was the bakestone sytem, and after countless thousands of years it still survives...Baking on stones was followed...as early as the Bronze Age in Europe by the method of inverting a pot over the bread and surrounding this pot oven with hot embers. By this means the bread was protected from the ashes, and the covering pot drew the dough upwards, so that, even before the discovery of leavening, it would rise slighty, and lighter bread resulted. The inverted-pot system was certainly still quite commonly used in Britain less than a century ago...Another baking utensil similar in effect to the inverted iron pot was the dome-shaped clay cooking bell evolved by the earliest potters of Greece...This agian, or something like it in metal, has survived until today, and very useful it is. Oven proper seen to have come into being as a means of combining the hearth or baking stone and the covering pot in one single fixed construction, some of the earliest ovens having an opening at the apex through which the bread could be introduced The opening was sealed with stones or pieces of clay, and live embers piled up all round and over the oven. The crude beehive-shaped or tunnel-like clay ovens with a front opening which developed later provided a more satisfactory way of feeding the bread into the oven...the brick-built oven with tile floor, as distinct from the archaic little clay oven, which probably originated sometime betweeen 3000 and 1800 B.C.. Like the Athenian cooking bell and the primitive quern, the rough clay oven had its counterparts for several thousand years, among its descendants being our own seventeeth-century Devon gravel-tempered clay oven walls...These crude ovens differ hardly at all in form from those of the Neolithic Age."
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, American edition with notes by Karen Hess [Penguin:New York] 1980 (p. 155-7)
"...fireclay ovens were not invariably built into the wall but sometimes left free-standing...'They make such use here... of Cloume ovens, which are earthenware of several sizes, like an oven, and being heated they stop em up and cover em over with embers to keep in the heat.'."
---ibid, (p. 178)
"It was the Egyptians who first used a manufactured portable oven. This was a beehive-or barrel-shaped container of baked clay, usually divided into two by a central horizontal partition. The lower section formed the fire-box in which were burned pieces of dried wood, often taken from the Nile, or even dried animal dung. The upper part accessible from the top, was the baking chamber."
---The Story of Bread, Ronald Sheppard & Edward Newton [Routledge & Kegan Paul:London] 1957 (p. 107)
"Baking an unleavened loaf under a pot, rather than on a bakestone or griddle, would draw the dough upwards so that it would rise slightly, resulting in lighter bread."
---Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food: Processing and Consumption, Ann Hagen [Anglo-Saxon Books:Norfolk] 1992 (p. 15) "Baking: Hearthes & Ovens
In Asser's version of the story of Alfred and the ‘cales', loaves are burning at the fire; in the Claude MS. The loaves are on a pan with the fire underneath, while Matthew of Westminster's version has the bread under the ashes of the fire to bake. Axbakenne hlaf and heorobacen hlaf are two variants in translations of Gregory's Dialogues. One of the leechdoms instructs ‘bake him a warm loaf on the hearth'....but another prescribes ‘an oven-baked loaf'...Ovens were enclosed--in their simplest form an inverted pot covered with embers. A clay-lined oven had been built into the chalk rubble walls of what was evidently a cooking hut on the sixth/seventh-century site at Puddlehill, Beds...Monastic and other large establishments of the middle period had bakehouses...However, in a peasant's household bread would presumably still have been baked at the hearth fire."
---ibid, (p. 17-18)
This flat bread topped with olive oil, spices and other products an early prototype of modern pizza. The basic recipe is thought by some to have orginiated with the Etruscans or Ancient Greeks.
"Focaccia, known and loved in Italy and abroad, is a yeasted bread dough, often mixed or spread with oil, herbs, or onion, and ancient way of cooking bread dough quickly, possibly connected with offerings made by the Romans to the gods, liba... Early versions were cooked on the hearth of a hot fire, or on a heated tile or earthenware disk, like the relatd flatbreads. Many have an inventive range of flavourings, the olive oil, rosemary, garlic or onion of the schiacciata alla fiorentina of Tuscany, or the herbs, sage, rosemary, oregaon, onion, and ciccioli of the foccia genovese of Liguria. The crispy siccioli or ciccioli left over from rendering chopped up pork fat into lard can be used as a topping, or worked into the bread dough with the other flavourings...Artusi has a sweet version, stiacciata coi siccioli, in which the ciccioli are matched with eggs, sugar, and lemon or orange peel."
---Oxford Companion to Italian Food, Gillian Riley [Oxford University Press:New York] 2007 (p. 215)
"Focaccia or fougasse, a flat bread which belongs essentially to the northern shores of the Mediterranean and has its origin in classical antiquity. In ancient Rome panis focacius denoted a flat bread cooked in the ashes ("focus" meant hearth). These came the term focacia, focaccia in modern Italian, fougasse in the south of France, and fouace in the north of France...in France this form of bread had become a luxury item by the end of the middle ages. It could be, as at Amiens, a simple white bread; or it could be enriched as in Provence, where 14th and 15th century documents equate it with placentula, i.e. a sort of 'cake'. This enrichment made the product so different from plain bread that in at least one place it escaped a tax on bread. For many centuries it has had an association with Christmas Eve and Epiphany...In the Italian context one thing is obvious, namely that the addition of topping to a plan focaccia would result in a kind of pizza. However, apart from this aspect, Italian focaccia has branched out in various directions, both savoury and sweet...Numerous regional specialties such as the fitascetta of Lombardy, the Tuscan stiacciata, and the schiacciata of Emelia are all descendants. Also, a focaccia may be made with flavourings such as onion and sage or anise, or honey, etc."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 311)
Related foods? Pitta & pizza.
Food historians agree recipes titled Anadama bread, a yeast bread composed of wheat flour, cormeal, and molasses, originated in the Boston area. There are several legends and stories regarding the origin, each more intriguing than the next. None proveable to the exclusion of the others. Our examination of colonial and early American New England cookbooks does not reveal recipes by this title. We did find, however, the combination of the aforementioned ingredients was quite common. Johnny cakes, Indian bread, etc. centered upon cornmeal and molasses. No wonder? These ingredients were the mainstays of early New England subsistence.
"Anadama bread. A bread made from cornmeal and molasses. The term dates in print to 1915, but is probably somewhat older. If it were not for the frequency of their citation, it would be difficult to believe the story most often cited is of a Gloucester, Massachusetts, fisherman's wife named Anna, who gave her husband nothing but cornmeal and molasses to eat every day. One night the fisherman got so angry, he tossed the ingredients in with some yeast and flour and made a bread in the oven while muttering to himself, "Anna, damn her!" A more affectionate story has a New England sea captain referring to his wife with the same name expletive as a phrase of endearment. This Anna was apparently adept at bread-baking, and she became well known for her cornmeal-and-molasses loaf among the fishing crews who appreciated this long-lasting, hearty bread. There was, supposedly, a gravestone to this legendary woman that read, Anna wes a lovely bride, but Anna, Damn'er, up and died. One source contends that a commerical bakery called ist product "Annadammer" or "Annadama bread."
---Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 6)
[NOTE: Mr. Mariani supplies this recipe: Combine 3 c. all-purpose flour, 1 c. cornmeal, 2 pkgs dry yeast, and 1 T. salt together in a bowl. In another bowl mix 2 c. hot water, 4 T. butter, and 1/2 c. molasses, then add to flour mixture. Beat and knead to form a stiff dough. Place in greased bowl and let rise until doubled. Punch down, shape into two balls, and place in greased 8-in. cake tins. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 375 degress F. for about 1 hr., until deep brown in color."]
"Anadama bread. This yeast bread made with cornmeal and molasses originated on the North Shore of Boston. The Cape Ann towns of Rockport and Gloucester are among thsoe that claim to have invented it...These stories, traceable in written form only to the nineteenth century, are repeated by local restaurants and bakeries that serve Anadama bread. The bread's varying legends reveal a simple, home cooked regional food. Whether created by a colonial settler, who added flavorful indigenous ingredients to an English yeast bread, or by a post-Revolutionary housewife, in a community whose cuisine harked back to seventheenth-century English cooking, Anadama bread embodies the fierce local pride and deep English roots of the North Shore of Boston. The Arnold Bread Company produced a commercial variety until the late twentieth century; Klink's Baking Company in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, still distributes it to local grocery stores."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith [Oxford University Press:New York] Volume 1 (p.37)
According to the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Anadama brand bread was introduced in 1850. The first use in commerce was July 1, 1876:
Word Mark ANADAMA Goods and Services (CANCELLED) IC 030. US 046. G & S: BAKERY PRODUCTS-NAMELY, BREAD AND PARTICULARLY WHITE AND CORNMEAL AND MOLASSES BREADS. FIRST USE: 18500000. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 18760701 Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING Design Search Code Serial Number 73087934 Filing Date May 21, 1976 Current Filing Basis 1A Original Filing Basis 1A Registration Number 1056211 Registration Date January 11, 1977 Owner (REGISTRANT) Anadama Mixes, Inc. UNKNOWN Weston MASSACHUSETTS (LAST LISTED OWNER) ANADAMA MIXES, INC. CORPORATION MASSACHUSETTS 11 COLONIAL WAY WESTON, MASS. 02193 BOSTON MASSACHUSETTS 02193 Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED Type of Mark TRADEMARK Register PRINCIPAL Live/Dead Indicator DEAD Cancellation Date June 7, 1983
Historic citations for the Anadama creation legends are found in America's Founding Food: The Story of New Engalnd Cooking/Keith Stavely & Kathleen Fitzgerald (p. 250, note 79). Your librarian can help you track these cites down if you would like to examine them yourself.
Artisan (or Artisanal) bread whetted mainstream American tastes in the 1990s. Ancient products for modern gourmets. Commecial bakers producting parbaked loaves put these products in supermarkets and wholesale food outlets.
"Until the advent of the large-scale commerical baking in the late 19th century, all American berad was artisanal: mixed and shaped by hand, then baked under the eye of a professional baker or home cook. But when soft, sweet, snow-white commercial bread appeared on grocery shelves in the 1930's, coarse-grained, handmade loaves lost their appeal. And then came the Wonder Bread Years, when packaged slice bread became virtually synonomous with American food. In the 1970s, the health-food movement enthusiastically embraced whole grains and home-baked bread, a hallmark of counter-culture cuisine. By the 1990s, artisanal bread was swept up in the wave of gourmet appreciation that brought extra virgin olive oil, dark-roast coffee and European cheeses to stores. The wide appeal of artisanal bread first became clear about 10 years ago when bakers in many areas persuaded supermarket managers to stock their products. Ms. Silverton of La Brea first tried parbaking for the Southern California market four years ago..."
---"Taking the Artisan Out of Artisanal: Good Bread Goes Commercial," Julia Moskin, New York Times, March 20, 2004 (p. F5)
"Artisan Bread Baking. Single class , Friday, May 3, 1:00-4:00PM. Amy Scherber, owner of NYC's Amy's bread and co-author wtih Toy Dupree of the new Amy's Bread, demonstrates her special approach to aromatic breads, all designed for home ovens."
---"De Gustibus at Macy's presents Cooking With Simplicity, Spring 1996," New York Times, February 7, 1996 (p. C3)
Artisinal bread revolution consumes upscale restaurants.
"Bread is such a basic part of our diet that we scarcely think about it...We eat it every day, and for some of us, raised in the postwar days of "batter whipped" bread, we assume it should be soft, spongy white stuff. Not necessarily at all. Witness the resurrgence of interest in bread--all kinds of bread, but particualrly hearty, whole-grain, substantial loaves...'Breadmaking basically skipped a generation...In the prewar era, that is what you had...people in their 70's are coming in and saying they haven't had this kind of bread in 50 years. Others are discovering it: it's a lost art, the way bread had been, and should be.'"
---"When Bread is Taken Seriously," Frances Chamberlain, New York Times, April 12, 1998 (p. CT1)
"How the modern epicure swoons for the yeasty aroma, firm crust and dense honeycomb texture of a good loaf of bread. But is it the full wheat flavor or what the loaf represents that has made "old fashioned" or 'artisan" bread the fallying point of good taste?..By choosing to spend rather than save time, artisan bakers...have built a better loaf.."
---"By Bread Alone," Molly O'Neill, New York Times, April 23, 2000 (p. SM89)
"Give a man a loaf of bread, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to bake bread, in, say, a converted pajama factory in Queens, and his prospects will brighten considerably. That, at least, is the concept behind a school in Long Island City that is teaching the jobless the lost art of making bread by hand in an effort to revive a dying New York City industry. Eighteen students, covered in flour and sweat, assembled recently on the first floor of the school, the Artisian baking Center, and spent much of the day scurrying among huge barrels of flour, poppy seeds, brown sugar and oats. The students include New Yorkers moving from welfare to work, ex-convicts, high school dropouts, professional bakers taking refresher courses and the unemployed, all potentially part of a new generation of fancy-bread bakers...The baking industry, once a thriving piece of the New York City economy, that employed thousands of bread, cake, bagel and bialy bakers, has replaced bakers with machines. However, the demand for handmade bread has surged in the United States in the last decade, as more Americans choose focaccia or olive soudough baguettes over factory-made loaves. With skilled bakers in short supply, the federal Department of Labor idenitified New York City as a place in need of a baking school and, in 2000, gave .7 million to help start the first formal baking training program in the city and one of the few such programs in the country...So far, the center has placed 27 people in jobs, and employers have begun recruiting directly from the center...Until now, anyone serious about learning the art of baking artisan, or handmade, bread typically went to Kansas, to the American Institute of Baking...or enrolled in an expensive course or two at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y....Mr. Bernstein said the decline of the artisan bread industry was driven in part by many bakers' reluctance to give away their recipes for breads and other goods. When their sons and daughters decided not to go into the baking industry, they often closed up shop without passing along their trade secrets...'The true craftsmen were afraid to teach,' Mr Bernstein said, 'But we're bringing back an old tradition.'...In 1971, 12,402 people in the five boroughs...were employed by bread and cake bakers...In 1997...there were 4,555 people employed in the same industry. However, as more small retail bakeries in New York City have begun selling fancy baked goods, the number of jobs in that niche has increased..."
---"After Roll Call, Baguette Class," Sarah Kershaw, New York Times, July 18, 2002 (p. B1)
"Jim Amaral has had a nice business going since Hannaford Brothers' supermarket started carrying his handmade breads in 2001. But one morning last month while his baker shuffled focaccias, scones and organic whole-wheat breads into the soapstone oven Mr. Amaral built in a corner of the Hannaford store. Hannaford employees were pulling racks of sourdough rounds and baguettes from industrial steel ovens nearby. Those loaves seemed as crust and aromatic as Mr. Amaral's handmade breads. The hands that made them, though, were in a factory in New Jersey, where the bread was partly baked and flash frozen in a process called parbaking. Days, weeks or perhaps months ago, the frozen bread was shipped to Hannaford's. This morning, a few minutes in the steel ovens prodced bread to order. Over the last four years, a few big parbaking companies have brought supermarket shoppers around the country so-called artisan breads. Sales of the breads--hand-formed, all natural, dark-crusted loaves once found only in small bake shops--rose 10 percent last year, according to Mintel Consumer Intelligence, a market-research company, even as the rest of the industry cowered before the low-carb onslaught. But many bakers say that parbaking creates artisanal bread without the artisan and that bread makers in several communities have been driven out of business after supermarkets started selling parbaked loaves...What is at stake nationwide is an almost billion slices of the billion bread industry. Last year, sales of artisanal and artisan-style bread in supermarkets and big chains nationwide grew faster than the business as a whole, and almost 20 times faster than white bread, according to Mintel...'Foccacia, levain, ciabatta, ficelles--over 10 years ago, who knew what a ficelle was?'...Parbaking, pioneered by European baking corporations, was introduced in the United States by one of the most respected figures of artisanal baking, Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles, about five years ago..."
---"Taking the Artisan Out of Atrisanal: Good Bread Goes Commercial," Julia Moskin, New York Times, March 20, 2004 (p. F1, F5)
[NOTE: Parbaked bread debuted in 1949.]
The origin of the bagel is still an issue for debate. Most contemporary food historians conclude the bagel is of Jewish origin, probably in Poland, sometime in the 17th century. Maria Balinska's new book The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modern Bread,  traces the family of bagel-type breads to medieval Italy. She pushes back widely accepted dates and provides additional insights with regards to this food's evolution and subsequent diaspora.
Traditional bagel history notes here:
"Theories abound as to their [bagels] origin. The word derives from 'beigen,' German for 'to bend,' and the bagel is a descendant of the pretzel. The first Jewish community in Poland, established by invitation and charter in the thirteenth century, probably brought 'biscochos' with them. The boiled and baked roll with a hole dates possible from the Roman period....Today, in Cracow, where some say the present-day form of bagel was born, the bagel is alive and well, sold on many street corners."
---Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan [Knopf:New York] 1994 (p. 83-4)
"The bagel is a Jewish bread, apparently originating in South Germany, migrating to Poland and thence to North America where it has become the most famous and archetypal Jewish food. Its name derives from the Yiddish word 'beygal' from the German dialect word 'beugel,' meaning ring' or bracelet.' Its history means, of course, that it is an Ashkenazi rather than a Sephardi food. As Claudia Roden points out: Because of their shape--with no beginning and no end--bagels symbolize the eternal cyle of life.'"
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] (p. 49)
"In the Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten notes that "The first printed mention of bagels...is to be found in the Community Regulations of Kracow, Poland, for the year 1610-which stated that bagels would be given as a gift to any woman in childbirth." He adds that the word is derived from the German word beugel, meaning a round loaf of bread. There are those who dispute this and claim that it derives from the middle High German word 'bugel,' which means a twisted or curved bracelet or ring..."
---Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia, Craig Claiborne [Times Books:New York] 1985 (p. 23)
"...It's believed that bagels were invented by a Jewish baker in Vienna in 1683. To thank King John III Sobieski of Poland for saving the city from Turkish invaders, the anonymous baker crafted a hard roll in the shape of a riding stirrup, in honor of the king's favorite hobby. The bread's original name was 'bugel,' from the German for stirrup." It's high time that that piece of fakelore be laid to rest. The earliest known use of the Yiddish word "beygl" is in the communal rules that the leaders of the Jewish community of Cracow promulgated in 1610. The rules stipulate that bagels are among the gifts which may be given to women in childbirth and to midwives. The word was thus being used at least 73 years before John III Sobieski defeated the Turks. The bagel, in fact, is even older. When a word or expression is new or thought to be little known, it is often defined... yet the communal rules of 1610 contain no definition or explanation. Hence it is clear that the word beygl was well established in Cracow Yiddish of the early 17th century. Indeed, since those rules allude to earlier communal rules about bagels, we may be certain that this bread is even older. We do not know when and where the bagel was invented nor whether its inventor was a Jew or a German. Contrary to popular opinion, Yiddish beygl is not derived from German bugel, although the two words are distant cousins."
---"A Bagel Brief: Rolling Back the Lineage," The New York Times May 7, 1993 (p. 30)
"In the book Menu Mystique, Norman Odya Krohn, discussing Russian bubliki , writes: "This is the name for the original bagel that was made famous in Russian song and rhyme." Held together by string, they were said to have been sold at Russian fairs and were believed to bring good luck. Wherever it might have first appeared, the bagel's name as we know it today evolved slowly; based on the Yiddish verb beigen, meaning "to bend," the roll with the hole was called a beygel.The bagel persevered and flourished in Europe for a few centuries before heading for foreign shores. In the United States, the bagel first appeared at Ellis Island, brought by Jewish refugees leaving Eastern Europe shortly after the turn of the 20th Century. However, the destination for most emigrants was New York City, and here the bagel settled."
---"Observations; The Bagel's Beginnnings; Following this Humble Roll Around the World," Los Angeles Times, October 11, 1987, Magazine (p. 36B)
About bagels in the United States
"As a child I lived in Larchmont, New York. Every Sunday, my father would bring back bagels from one of the thirty or so bagel bakers who still practiced their art in the fifties in New York City....By the mid-1950s my father was a part of a growing Jewish Sunday-morning tradition of men who went out to buy bagels, cream cheese, and lox so their wives could sleep in...Today bagels have become such a part of American culture that Dunkin' Donuts and Burger King carry them...Until the late fifties bagels were handcrafted in little two-or three-man cellar bakeries sprinkled around New York's Lower East Side...In these cellars the oven was built so low that a pit two or three feet deep had to be dug in front of it for the man working the oven. By 1907 the International Beigel Bakers' Union was created, but by the mid-twenties the number of bagel bakeries declined as Jews turned away from their old folk customs...In 1951 a Broadway comedy, Bagels and Yox, put the word bagel into such mainstream magazines as Time; bagels were distributed at intermission. That same year Family Circle included a recipe for bageles (its spelling)...."Even up to the 1950s, you literally could not give a bagel away from Monday to Saturday," said Murray Lender, son of the founder of Lender's bagels. "Most people still thought of it as a Jewish dish." But clearly, if bagels were featured in Family Circle, they were on the way to recognition in America. Mr. Lender's father...came to New Haven in 1927 and bought a small roll and bread bakery. In 1955 when he got out of the service and went into his dad's business, Lender's started to expand, packaging their bagels to sell in supermarkets...In 1962 Lender's bought and made operational the first bagel machine. At the same time they began freezing bagels, which they marketed nationally under the Lender's brand..."
---Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1998 (p. 83-5)
When did the "Everything Bagel" appear on menus?
The "Everything Bagel" concept makes perfect sense on two levels (1) "waste not, want not" (efficient way to use up leftover toppings) (2) "more is better" (1980s culinary mantra). We have no clue which of these inspired the first "everything bagel."
It is perfectly possible Mr. Gussin's claim for introducing the "everything bagel" c., 1970s is plausible. We cannot, however, confirm it in print. This is not unusual in the food world. New products are introduced locally all the time. Established commercial food manufacturers work regularly through a process which includes trade marking product names. Local food establishments/owners/bakers/chefs are generally unencumbered by said process. Competing products with different names are difficult to trace without ready access to ingredients and method. It's not unusual to have one product known by several names. How many ways can you define "everything," yes?
Most food claimants float under the radar UNTIL something they invented goes viral and it becomes an issue of compensation or pride. When everyone claims a piece of the original pie things can get nasty. This is nothing new. Think: Ice Cream Sundaes.
A short course on current USA food-related legal property rights. There are three choices for protection: Patent (manufacturing process/equipment), Trademark (brand names) & Copyright (intellectual property, sometimes including recipes). The first two protections are managed by the US Patent & Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov); the last is handled by the Library of Congress (http://copyright.gov). In sum? You can't patent the "Everything Bagel." You can patent a process for achieving a particular product, a trade name ("everything bagel" is currently unregistered) or recipe (not a generic list of ingredients, only scope/explanatory notes).
The earliest print reference we find for an "Everything Bagel" is dated 1988: "Arkady Goshchinsky came here from the Soviet Union 11 years ago. After he was laid off as a nuclear plant engineer...he began for looking for another line of work. Thanks for friends in the bakery-supply business, three years ago, [he] wound up with a bagel store in Forest Hills Queens at 64-01 108th Avenue. Now, the Bagel Baron as his company is called, has a Manhattan location...The 'everything bagel' is dusted with salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic and onion. Bagels...are 50 cents each."
---"Food Notes," Florence Fabricant, New York Times, August 3, 1988 (p. C7)
Recommended reading: The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread/Maria Balinska
What about cream cheese?
Baguette (aka French Bread [USA], Vienna Bread [France])
Food historians tell us bread was "invented" in 10,000BC. Techniques spread throughout the world and evolved according to custom, cuisine, and local grain. Baguette, the hard crusty loaf we currently associate with France dates only to the Industrial Revolution. Steam ovens, made possible by scientific advancement, are key in the manufacture of this particular bread. In fact? Baguette is not French at all...it was invented by the bakers of Vienna.
"A baguette is a long thin loaf of French bread of the type more commonly known in English as 'French stick', or more vaguely still, as 'French loaf'. The term has become increasingly familiar in English since the 1960s. It means literally 'littlerod', and is a diminutive form derived ultimately from Latin 'baculum', 'stick staff'."
---An A-Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 15-6)
"Notes on French Bread. For nearly all English people who have ever set foot in France, the words French bread' evoke a golden-brown baguette or a long thin ficelle, the crust crisp and sweet with its characteristic leaf-shaped surface cuts, the crumb white and pitted with irregular holes, many of them very large. To us, the holes are a part of the proper character of this kind of bread...the French do use a good deal of soft flour, because that is what is produced from the wheat grown in France. So they have long ago adapted their bread techniques to their flour. Or rather, what they adapted was the 'Vienna' technique, and this didn't happen until some time in the mid nineteenth cnetury; it was the Viennese oven, with its steam injectors and its sloping floor, or sole, which was mainly responsible for creating the tradition of French bread as we know it today. English bakers, and indeed many of the older French ones, still call this type of bread 'Vienna' bread, the true French bread being the old round or cylindrical hand-shaped 'pain de campagne' or pain de menage', plump, and crossed with cuts to that when baked the crust is of many different shades, gradations and textures and the crumb rather open and coarse. It is this bread which is now enjoying something of a revival in France, perhaps because the Vienna type has not taken very kindly to the short-time dough maturing and the rapid mechanical kneading and moulding techniques of the 1970s, partly because a well made 'pain de campagne' keeps much better than baguette' loves, which is to day that it will stay moist for as long as two days, even three, whereas the long, crusty, thin loaf is, as we know, stale within an hour of emerging from the oven, and for the French three days is a long time to keep a loaf of bread."
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Penguin:Middlesex] 1979 (p. 363-4)
[NOTE: This book contains far more information on the history and evolution of French bread than can be paraphrased here. Ask your librarian to help you find a copy.]
A survey of 19th-20th century American cookbooks reveal some recipes for French bread but none for baguette. This might imply this is the provence of the professional baker. This professional baking text confirms:
"Remarks concerning hearth breads--Vienna bread, French bread, Hard crust rolls.
Vienna Bread which is made by either the Straight or Sponge-Dough method, differs in nearly every shop, and in many bakeries is far from being the genuine article. It requires a semi-tight dough and more age than for Pan Bread. Likewise for best results, a good supply of low pressure steam for the oven is indispensible. It was the carefulness of the Vienna baker, together with the good material employed, that made his loaf famous. It is chiefly care and workmanship that give Vienna bread its quality. After the loaves are moulded, they are laid, smooth side down, on cloth-covered boards, with the cloth pinched up between the loaves, and allowed to rest until double in size; then cut and baked with a good supply of steam. If no steam is available, wash with water before cutting the loaves. Other bakers lay the loaves in boxes or on boards in specially built covers, dusting the boards with corn flour, rice polish, flour or finely ground bread crumbs, setting the loaves far enough apart to prevent sticking. If boxes or boards are used in this manner, loaves must be laid smooth side up....French Bread is handled in much the same manner, only it requires a softer dough. Hard crust Rolls can be made to good advantage from either French or Vienna dough."
---A Treatise on Baking, Julius E. Wilfahart [Fleischman Division, Standard Brands Incorporated:New York] 1927 (p. 356-7)
[NOTE: (1) The 1907 edition of this book contains a brief reference to Vienna bread which is greatly expanded in this edition.]
There is a rumor that Napoleon ordered his bakers to make long, thin loaves so they could be transported in his soldier's pants. According to the food historians this is not true:
"The baguette was said to have been invented during Napoleon's Russian campaign when he ordered a new shape of bread that could be carried down his troops' trouser legs. In fact, it was introduced in the 1920s after a new law banned bakers from working before 4am. They did not have enough time to bake a fresh boule for breakfast, so they created the baguette."
---"Marching on its stomach," Sam Coates, The Times (London), August 19, 2004 (p. 6)
"American hyperbole is selling French bread abroad and, as the subsequent article shows, American beer even in Munich. Upon entering a boulangerie, the mastery of a good French baker is mouth-wateringly apparent from the buttery croissants and pains au chocolat displayed at child's-eye level. The baguettes are stacked high behind the counter, their crusts crackling softly as the heat seeps out of them. Lately this has become a moveable feast. Boulangeries have appeared in cities across the world: Au Bon Pain in the United States, D(acute)elifrance across Asia as well as countless patisseries in Europe. Of course, such establishments also sell other breads, and cakes. But they deal chiefly in authenticity, wrapping themselves in the tricolore, boasting in cute French phrases of baguettes made from French flour kneaded by French hands. Sometimes they try even harder to establish their pedigree. The baguette was invented during Napoleon's campaign in Russia, gushes the blurb of one. Traditional round loaves took up space needed for extra clothes. Napoleon therefore ordered a new shape of bread to be designed that could be carried down the soldiers' trouser-legs. What a load of old brioche. The ingredients might come from France, but the marketing is straight from Madison Avenue. The baguette is unmistakably French. It is also often delicious. But it is not that much more traditional than the TGV express trains that slice their way through the French countryside. The French word for baker is boulanger, he who makes boules, or round loaves, not a "baguettier" who makes sticks. In fact the baguette dates back to the 1920s, and its progress has done to traditional French baking what the white sliced has done to the British loaf. Changing technology was partly responsible for the baguette's introduction. By the 1920s most French bakeries were equipped with the steam ovens needed to caramelise the starch on the surface of the loaf to give it a golden, slightly translucent crust. History also played a part. The first world war created a shortage of manpower and traditional loaves prepared from a sourdough became too labour-intensive for many bakers. But the coup de gr(circumflex)ace was legal. In October 1920 a new law came into force that prevented bakers from working before 4am, which meant that they did not have time to bake a fresh boule for the breakfast table. They thus turned to the rapidly prepared baguette. The baguette was a wow. Bakers liked it because it was convenient to make and stayed fresh for only a few hours. Hence customers visited bakeries two or three times a day. Consumers liked the baguette because it is whiter and sweeter than sourdough breads. As the flour got whiter, the proving accelerated and the crumb became more like cotton-wool, France's traditional breads, once almost as numerous as its cheeses, were forgotten. And yet, just as the baguette is waging a campaign of Napoleonic proportions in international markets, at home there has been something of a revival of traditional baking. Elizabeth David noted the trend as far back as the late 1970s, in her classic book on bread and yeast cookery. In France itself, Lionel Poil (circumflex) ane, a baker on the Left Bank in Paris, has built a career--and a business--baking loaves in the traditional 19th-century way, with a rich, slightly sour flavour."
--- "French bread abroad. Sold with an American accent," The Economist, September 27, 1997, U.S. Edition, MOREOVER section
In 1993 the French government officially defined baguette. Additional investigations, courtesy of Jim Chevallier.
Boston Brown Bread
This particular item is an excellent example of how attitudes sometimes change about the foods we eat. In the 17th century and 18th centuries, Pilgrims and their descendants "made do" with brown bread. Brown was a color. The grain was wheat (think: whole wheat) or rye. Rye and Indian bread (rye & molasses) and Thirded bread (equal parts rye, maize, wheat) graced tables together as "the poor cousins" to preferred wheat flour. In the 19th century, this product was elevated by two transformations:
1. The advent of nutritional health reform...Sylvester Graham & Catharine Beecher
2. Victorian nostalgia..."bread of the olden days" became a "new" fad. Coincidentally? This is also period when "traditional" Thanksgiving customs were born. About Rye bread.
American Cooking: New England," Jonathan Norton Leonard, Time Life Books, (p. 35+) devotes an entire chapter to 17th Century Puritan/Pilgrim grain cookery. This book explains why the Puritans did not use white flour (too expensive & fancy; rye, wheat & corn flours were plentiful & cheap). As for why this brown bread was steamed rather than baked, this book notes that the first New England homes were very crude thatched huts and few had ovens. Cooking was generally done over an open fire. Steaming was an effective way to make bread without an oven. After time, this cooking method established itself as the traditional way to prepare brown bread (oft served as a Sunday meal with baked beans). Other theories suggest that steaming was employed because Puritans were forbidden to cook on the Sabbath.
"Boston brown bread. Also, "brown bread" and Boston bread." A rye-flour bread made with molasses. Boston brown bread was well known among the Puritans, who served it on the Sabbath with Boston baked beans. It was often made with graham flour."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 36)
[NOTE: "Graham flour" was whole wheat flour, promoted aggressively in the 1840s for health.]
"Once the Erie Canal was completed, connecting the port of New York and southern New England with western New York State and newly settled lands around the Great Lakes, the cost of wheat dropped, and the quantity available increased. New Engalnders seemed glad to give up rye-and-Indian as the daily loaf in favor of bread made in part or entirely of wheat. Forms of bread included loaves made of one-third each wheat, corn, and rye or from wheat and cornmeal. When more refined wheat made white loaves possible and desirable, bread containing other grains or shole, unbolted wheat, were called "brown bread" or "Graham brad." The old combination of rye-and-Indian with or without wheat flour or meal evolved into a steamed pudding by the middle to late nineteenth century. Sweetened with molasses and mixed with sour milk and baking soda this concoction became known outside the region as "Boston brown bread" and within New England simply as "brown bread."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 1004, Volume 2 (p. 185)
Brown Bread, American Frugal Housewife/Lydia Maria Child
Raised Brown Bread, Boston Cooking School Cook Book/Mrs. D.A. Lincoln
(next page has recipes for sour milk brown bread)
Boston Brown Bread, Boston Cooking School Cook Book/Fannie Merritt Farmer
"A Brown Bread Recipe
1 cup Aristos Flour
2 cups graham flour
2 cups Indian meal
1 teapoon soda
1 cup molasses
3 1/2 cups milk
A little salt
Beat well and steam for four hours. This is for sour milk; when sweet milk is used use baking powder in place of soda."
---dislpay ad, Aristos [brand] flour, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette [IN], March 8, 1914 (p. 8)
"Boston Brown Bread.
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup rye flour
1 cup graham flour
3/4 tablespoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
Combine in a separate bowl:
2 cups sour milk
3/4 cup molasses
1 cup chopped raisins
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into a buttered mold. Fill it 2/3 full. Steam it for 3 1/2 hours...This batter may be steamed in smaller molds or baking powder cans for 1 1/2 to 2 hours."
---Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer [Bobbs-Merrill:Indianapolis IN] 1936 (p. 324)
Boston brown bread is traditionally served with baked beans. Related foods? Christmas pudding & Thirded Bread.
Rye & Indian Bread
This 'make do' bread was basically Boston brown bread without the raisins. The "Indian" in early American cooking texts refers to maize. In the case of bread, specifically maize meal or flour. Laura Ingalls Wilder referenced this bread in her Little House book series.
"Ryaninjun and Brown Bread...the English settlers arrived in New England in the early seventeenth century possesed of an ancient set of attitudes about which kinds of bread were more and less desirable. Their longing for breads made exclusively with wheat could only begin to be satisfied in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, after the opening of the Erie Canal made wheat shipped in from areas to the west affordable. In Plymouth in the first few decades after settlement, wheat ranked well bening corn in acerage planted and amounts yielded...As wheat declined, rye tended to take its place...John Winthrop Jr, writing in 1662 before the difficulties of growing wheat in New England had become fully apparent, provided one of the earliest descriptions of Ryaninjun: "There is...very good Bread made of [Indian corn], by mixing half, or a third parte, more or less of Ry, or Wheate-Meale, or Flower amongst it, and then they make it up into Loaves, adding Leaven or yeast to it to make it Rise."...By all accounts, Ryaninjun quickly ascended to the status of "the standard bread for brick-oven cookery." In the earliest colonial period, when pans and other cooking utensils were expensive to import and forges for making local wares were few, this food's advantage was its convenience. The dome-shaped loaves could be baked without pans, directly on the oven floor or atop a bed of oak or cabbage leaves spread across the bottom of the oven. The leaves were said to impart a distinctive flavor to the bread...In the earliest published recipes, starting in 1829, the names "Rye and Indian" and "brown bread" were used interchangeably...Until the mid-nineteeth century, brown bread was simply another name for Ryaninjun. Around that time, however, as wheat bread became more widely available, nostalgia becan to ennoble "the old brown bread" that had previously been mostly tolerated. The long-established mixture of cornmeal and rye was placed on a tin (as opposed to bag) pudding container and thus was born steamed Boston Brown Bread. A related development was the health food movement of the 1830s spearheaded by Sylvester Graham...As early as 1839, Graham's spirited efforts to overturn the ancient bias in favor of bolted wheat flour had met with success sufficient to lead Sarah Josepha Hale to acknowledge that her recipe for "brown or dyspepsia bread" might better have been called "Graham bread." However, Hale's brown bread was not steamed Boston Brown Bread but rather a version of "bran bread," in our terms, oven-baked whole wheat bread...A typical recipe for steamed brown bread from the second half of the nineteenth century, "Mrs. Reed's Brown Bread," consisted of sour milk, baking soda, salt, two level cups of "Indian meal," three heaping cups of "flour or Graham meal," and a cup of molasses. This mixture was to be steamed for four hours and then browned lightly in an oven..."
---America's Founding Food: The Story of New England Cooking, Keith Stavely and Kathleen Fitzgerald [University of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill NC] 2004 (p. 23-28)
A Good Rye and Indian, or Wheat and Indian Bread
---Cook Not Mad, anonymous
Rye and Indian Bread
---Directions for Cookery, Eliza Leslie
Rye and Indian Bread
---New England Economical Housekeeper, Esther Allen Howland
Rye and Indian bread
---Jenny June's American Cookery Book, Jennie June
Rye & Injun bread/Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Rye'n'Injun bread referenced by Laura Ingalls Wilder in Farmer Boy is basically Boston brown bread without the raisins. America's earliest European settlers considered finely ground wheat(en) bread to be the highest standard in this particular food genre. Wheat was an "old world" grain. Seeds were transplanted and harvested but it took several decades before these early plantings yielded enough grain to produce the amount of bread colonial houswives craved. In the meantime, make-do cooks worked with native crops (maize aka Injun, or Indian, meal) and hardier old world grains that proliferated more quickly (rye). Several new kinds of hybrid breads were introduced to the early American diet. Combinations of rye and corn/maize (aka injun) were not uncommon. Molasses was a cheap substitute for real cane sugar. None of these native ingredients were particularly loved.
Settlers pushing west were constantly forced to reconcile "old world" recipes with "new world" ingredient realities. Such was the case in the Ingalls family. Northern American frontier fields readily accomodated rye (a cold weather grain) and maize (a native grain). In sum: Rye & Injun bread was a product of necessity. Fortunate cooks sometimes able to add "old world" ingredients (raisins, spices) to make the bread more palatable. About Rye and Indian bread, with period recipes.
"Nowadays we would call this Boston Brown Bread, using all-purpose flour instead of rye, adding raisins, and 'steaming instead of slow-oven baking. Its history reaches back to the first New England colonists, whose only grains were the rye they brought from Europe and the corn they got from the Indians (hence 'injun' for cornmeal). Later wheat flour was added and the name 'thirded bread' was used for the three grains. How and why the this loaf changed over the years from an unsweetened yeast bread to a soda bread heavy with molasses we do not know, but it happened before Mother Wilder raised her family." ---The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Clasic Stories, Barbara M. Walker [Harper Collins:New York] 1979(p. 86)
[NOTE: This book contains a modernized recipe. Your local public librarian will be happy to help you obtain a copy.]
One third wheat (white or whole/Graham), one third Indian (corn/maize) meal and one third rye. This Early American "make do" bread was another variation on Boston brown and Rye and Indian breads. Maslin, a mix of wheat and rye, was an Old World version of this New World blend. The triple blend concept was not new to America. In 1792, some Parisian bakers were baking "Bread of Equality," a combination of brown, white and rye grains.
One pint of rye meal; one pint of Indian meal; one pint of wheat flour; half a cup of yeast; mix it up with warm water to a stiff doug; set it to rise eight hours. Bake it either in loaves or biscuit. Wet hands in cold water to put it into pans. Bake it in a hot oven forty minutes."
---Mrs. Putnam's Receipt Book and Young Housekeeper's Assistant, Mrs. Putnam, new and enlarged edition [Blakeman & Mason:New York] 1862 (p. 2-3)
---Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book, Mary Lincoln
Brioche is complicated because the term represents both base dough and finished product. Print references exist from Medieval times forward. The ingredients and their proportions varied according to place and period. Applications and finished products are interesting and unique. So are the historic references. The original reference to Marie Antoinette's famous quote "Let them eat cake" was for brioche. The expression "To make a brioche" has nothing to do with baking.
What exactly is brioche?
"Brioche--Cake made out of yeast dough, often made in the shape of a circle or a ball surmounted by a head...Until the middle of the eighteenth century brioches were made in Paris with baker's yeast. Brewer's yeast, which had been in use for a long time in Poland and Austria, was introduced into Alsace and Lorraine when the court of King Stanislas was transferred to Lunefille. In the olden days the brioches of Gisors and Gournay, great butter marketing centres, used to be famous."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961 (p. 178)
Why call it "brioche?" Theories abound:
"The word brioche originated as a derivative of the verb brier, a northern dialect variant of Old French broyer, 'knead'; this was a Germanic loanword, related to Old High German brehhan, break'."
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 43)
"The name of this cake, according to some etymologists, is derived from two old words bris (break) and hocher (stir) which put together have resulted in the word brioche. This etymological explanation, which appears to be a little whimsical, is today generally accepted. Some authors maintain, however, that the word comes from Brie, the name of a district of France famous for its manufacture of an excellent cheese, where it is said, this cake was invented. According to these authors, the brioche pastry was originally made with Brie cheese."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961 (p. 178)
"We know that butter did not become popular until comparatively late...the Francs used it more than did the Gauls, and the latter more than the Romans; but its range was extremely limited. Fats were animal fats which were easy to preserve and convenient to use. The first pastries therefore combined flour, eggs, honey and lard, and very soon after, cheese. We know that brioche was originally a pastry made with Brie cheese."
---Gastronomy of France, Raymond Oliver, translatd by Claude Durrell [World Publishing Company:Cleveland OH] 1967 (p. 160)
How many varieties of brioche are there?
The 1961 edition of Larousse Gastronomique provides three recipes for basic brioche dough employed for making these finished products: simple brioche, common brioche, brioche mousseline (additional butter), brioche en couronne (crown-shaped brioche), brioche Goubaud, cheese brioche, filled brioches a la bohemienne or brouchees glacees, fruit briochin, large brioches a tete, and small brioches. (p. 179-180)
Compare these recipes:
"Bonnefons speaks of brioche; his recipe calls for butter and soft cheese, which would probably have been like our cream cheese, but his brioche contains no eggs, and the shape is not described."
---Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789, Barbara Ketcham Wheaton [Touchstone Book: New York] 1983 (p. 180-181)
 Brioche paste
Take fifteen good fresh eggs, four pounds of very dry flour, and two pounds of fresh butter. Lay the flour on the table after you have sifted it. Divide it into four equal parts, take one of them to make the levian; make a hole in the centre, and use some yeast that has been well washed., What we call wshing the yeast, is pouring some water over it, stirring it, and then letting it stand still. When all the dregs are at the bottom of the vessel, you throw away all the water that is on the top, and take about a large table-spoonful of the sediment which you put into the fourth part of the flour. Then take some hot water, pour it gently over the yeast, and mix the paste directly, in order to avail yourself of its strength. Do not make it too liquid; powder some flour in a little stew-pan, put the yeast paste [what we call levain] into the pan, make slight slits over the paste: cover the pan, and lay it before the fire; a quarter of an hour after, see whether the yeast has risen; if it has swelled, dilute the brioche directly in the following manner:
Make a great hole in the remaining three fourths of the flour, put four small pinches of salt on as many different places, with a good pinch of sugar to correct the bitter taste of the yeast, and a little water to melt the salt. Then take two pounds of butter, which you break into small pieces with your hand, and put in the middle of the flour: next break the eggs, and smell them successively to ascertain if they are good: mix the whole well together, and then faisez the paste as follows; spread it lengthways on the edge of the table, then with the palms of both hands, press upon it, pushing it by degrees towards the middle of the table; when you have thus worked the whole of the paste, bring it back again towards the edge, and fraisez it a second time, again bring it near the edge of the table, andpour it back again towards the edge of the table, and pour the yeast paste all over it; next divide the whole into small pieces, which you shift from one place to another; this operation is to mix the yeast with the paste properly. Now fraisez the paste well again twice, and gather the whole up together. Take a large sieve or an earthen pan, in which spread a towel, powder a little flour over the towel, put the paste on it, and cover it with the towel. In simmer time remove the paste to a cool place, and in the winter to a warm one. Observe that the paste is better when made on the preceding day, and take care to break the paste several times before you use it; then cut it into equal pieces, and shape them with the palms of your hands; lay these on the less even size; shape off small balls which you turn also with your palms, bursh them over with a beaten egg, then make a little hollow, put the small ball into it, brush twice over with the egg, and bake it in a hot oven. Ifc you wish to make a large brioche, you must make a very large round well-bittered paper-case; and them mould your paste accordingly. Make a head the same as for the small one, and bake in a hot oven, but not so hot as is used for the small ones, for the larger the articles on the pastries are, the less must be the heat of the oven. The borders of the brioche, or pies, &c. Would burn before the middle part could hardly be heated. When you perceive that the brioche has colour enough, if it should not be thoroughly baked, cover it with paper without losing sight of the colour. This same paste may serve to make all sorts of little entrements, such as Les petites nattes en gateaux de Nanterre; Les petits pains sucres. The only difference is, that you must put some coarse sugar over these, and sometimes currants inside.
If you make them of different shapes, you give them different names, and by this means you make a multiplicity of entrements; however, you have already a sufficient number of them at your disposal, without introducing many sorts of brioches, as they are too nourishing after dinner; but they are very good for balls and routs. It is easy to make a great number of different dishes with the brioche paste, by giving it different forms, and employing different means for the top; sometimes use the dorure, sometimes use the white of egg, and sometimes coarse sugar spread over without colour; put patper over them to prevent them from taking too much colour. Sometimes you may use milk alone to colour it, sometimes the same paste. When you have given several forms to the paste, and intend to give them several names, you may likewise change the flavour by using a little saffron dissolved in a glass of malaga and sugar: make some of one sort, with half of this paste, and with the remainder add a few black currants, and give to these a different form still; by these means you will obtain a multiplicity of cakes, having all the same originals, but possessing different flavours, and different appearances."
---The French Cook, Louis Eustache Ude, photoreprint of 1828 edition published by Carey, Lea and Carey, Philadelphia [Arco Publishing Company:New York] 1978 (p. 403-5)
"Take 1 lb. of sifted flour; put a fourth part of it on the paste-board to make the sponge; make a hollow in the centre of the flour, and put in it 1/2 oz. of German yeast dissolved in 1/2 gill of warm water; mix as for puff paste, but rather softer; When the paste is made, gather it in a lump, and put it to rise in a warm place, in a covered stewpan, with a little warm water in it; take the remaining three parts of flour; make a hollow in the centre; then add:
1 pinch of salt,
1/2 oz. of sugar,
2 tablespoonfuls of water, to melt the sugar and salt,
10 oz. of butter,
Mix the paste lightly; then add another egg; mix again, adding another egg, till 7 eggs in all have been used in the paste,--which must be neither too soft, nor too hard. When the sponge has risen to twice its original size, mix it lightly with the paste, and put the whole in a basin, in a warm place, for four hours; after which, put it on the board; roll and fold it, over and over again; put it back int he basin, to rise again, for two hours; and repeat the folding and pressing down; then put the paste in a very cold place, for two hours. After that time, form into a round lump, and put it on to a baking-sheet; make a hole in the centre, and pull out the the paste till it forms a ring 12 inches in diameter; let it rest; egg it well with the paste brush; then make an incision all round the inside of the ring, and open it well, to prevent its closing; put in a brisk oven for half an hour. I advise giving the brioche this shape, as it will make it easier to bake; it can, however, be made up into loaves, rolls, buns, or any fancy shape."
---The Royal Cookery Book, Jules Gouffe, translated from the French and adapted for English use by Alphonse Gouffe [Sampson Low, Son, and Marston:London] 1869 (p. 199-200)
 4314 Brioche Paste
"Ingredients: 500g (1 lb 2 oz) sifted flour, 250g (9 oz) butter, 6 eggs, 12g (1/2 oz) yeast, 15g (1/2 oz) salt, 25g (1 oz) sugar, 1 dl (3 1/2 fl oz or 1/2 U.S. cup) lukewarm water.
1. Take a quarter of the flour and make a well in the centre; place in the yeast and dissolve it with a little of the water. Add a little more water, mix into the flour and make it into a soft paste. Roll in a ball, cut a cross on top, cover and allow to prove in a warm place until doubled in size.
2. Make a well in the remainder of the flour, place 2 tbs lukewarm water or milk and 4 of the eggs in it and mix to a dough kneading and beating it vigorously on the table. Add the other eggs one at a time continuing to knead the paste well. When it is very smooth and elastic add the salt and sugar dissolved in a little water, then spread on top the butter, softened to the same texture as the paste; knead small portions of the paste and butter together and successively, then gradually reassemble the whole together.
3. At this stage place the first dough which would be doubled in size on top of this paste and mix in small amounts at a time until all is amalgamated. Place the paste in a basin, cover with a cloth and keep in a fairly cool place to prove for 12 hours. After 5 or 6 hours arrest the fermentation of the paste by beating it with the palm of the hand then allow it to prove again for the remaining time.
1. By increasing the amount of butter a finer paste can be obtained; up to 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) may be used but usually 400g (14 oz) is sufficient.
2. The more butter there is in a brioche paste the less it must be kneaded.
3. This paste is used for certain fruit timbales. In this case it is placed to prove in a tall Charlotte mould and cooked in the same mould."
---The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery, A. Escoffier, translated by H.L. Cracknell and R.J. Kaufmann [John Wiley & Sons:New York] 1979 (p. 513-4)
L'Arte du Bien Manger, Edmond Richardin's brioche recipe lists these ingredients/proportions: 500 grammes de farine de gruau; 375 grammes de beurre; 7 a 8 oeufs; 10 grammes del sel; 25 grammes de sucre; 10 grammes de levure; 3 deliliters d'eau tiede. He also includes recipes for La brioche mousseline, La brioche parisienne and La brioche Nanterre (p. 797-799). These recipes are in French; we can scan/e-mail.
The original (French) edition of Larousse Gastronomique offers these recipes: Pat a brioche ordinarie, Pate a brioche commune, Pate a brioche mousseline, Briocne en Couronne, Brioche au fromage, Brioche garnies a la bohemienne, dites aussi bouchees glacess, Brioche Goubaud, Brioche mousseline, Petits brioches, Grosse brioche a tete, Briochin aux fruits. (p. 244-246). Most of these recipes were included in the 1961 Englished edition referenced below. If you would like copies of the original French, let us know.
 Brioche dough
"Ingredients, 3/4 cups (500 grams) of sieved flour, 1 1/2 cups (400 grams) of butter, 1/3 ounce (10 grams) of dried yeast, 6 eggs, 3 tablespoons (25 grams) of fine sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) of salt and 1/2 cup (1 decilitre) of warm water. Method, The leaven, Put a quarter of the flour in a circle on the table, put the yeast in the middle, dilute with a little water, moisten and mix as usual keeping the dough rather soft. Roll into a ball, make a crossways incision on the top, put into a small bowl, cover it and leave in a warm place ofr the paste to ferment and double its volume. The dough: Put the rest of the flour in a circle on the table, put 4 eggs and 2 tablespoons of warm water in the middle, moisten the dough, and knead it. Add sugar and salt dissolved in a few drops of water, then incorporate the previously softened butter. Add the remaining 2 eggs, one by one, while continuing to mix the dough. Mix everything together well. Spread the dough on the table, pour the leaven into the centre and blend it in as described for the butter above. Put the dough into a bowl cover with a cloth and put in a warm place to rise. Five or six hours later beat the dough and from then on keep in a cool place until needed."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961 (p. 350-351)
[NOTES: (1) This source also offers Brioche dough II (4 eggs, must be rolled with a rolling pin) and Mousseline brioche dough (same a above, adding 4 tablespoons (60 grams) of softened butter per pound of dough. (2)Jacques Pepin defines Brioche Moussline as "a brioche dough loaded with butter."---La Technique Times Books:New York 1976 (p. 402)]
"Let them eat cake!"
Food historians confirm the composition of brioche evolved over time. The brioche referenced by Marie Antoinette in her infamous proclamation "Let them eat cake" ("Qu'ils manget de la brioche") was probably not the same food we enjoy today.
"Brioches originated as soft and light white loaves, enriched with butter and eggs, much much less so than those we know today. They were baked without moulds. Looking at Chardin's beautiful paintings of brioches you can see that he has quite clearly defined the notches round the base of his cottage-loaf-shaped confections, which are handsome and tall but not tidy like a moulded cake. So I think that in the eighteenth century, and at the time of that poor, foolish Marie Antoinette is supposed to have said, when told that the people of Paris were rioting for bread, qu'ils manget de al brioche', the composition of the cake must have been simply that of an enriched bread much like that of our own Bath buns and Sally Lunns, so made at that period without benefit of moulds or tins, although paper bands were sometimes wrapped round them for baking. Certainly it would not be possible to bake today's liquid brioche mixture or crust for a fillet of beef or a large sausage then the brioche mixture is made with fewer eggs and less butter, or it would be impossible to handle."
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Penguin:Middlesex] 1977 (p. 497)
"'Quils mangent de la brioche' (usually translated into English as "let them eat cake"), the statement attributed to Marie Antoinette on being told that the people of Paris were rioting because they had no bread, has achieved more notoriety than it deserves. Eighteenth-century brioche was only lightly enriched (by modest quantities of butter and eggs) and not very far removed from a good white loaf of bread."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 107)
Compare with this French bread event, 1956.
What does it mean when someone "makes a brioche?"
"To Make A Brioche--'Faire une brioche' means to make a blunder or bloomer, 'to drop a brick'. This is how the expression originated: After the foundation of the Paris Opera (which goes almost as far back as the invention of the brioche) the musicians of the orchestra had the idea of punishing any member of the orchestra who was guilty of playing out of tune by making him pay a fine. The total sum of the fines collected was spent on brioches which were eaten by all the members at a gathering for which a date was fixed. The musicians who were thus fined had to wear a badge representing a brioche in their button holes. These facts soon became known to the general public and thus the expression 'to make a brioche' passed into general speech when one wanted to say that someone had acted foolishly or made a silly mistake."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961 (p. 180)[NOTE: This story also appears in the original 1938 version.]
Related food? Kugelhopf.
Campaillou is a contemporary artisan French sourdough bread composed in the rustic style. The concept is ancient; the modern product is a brilliant marketing coup. Back to (delicious!) basics. Campaillou is generally is described as "light rye sourdough." About sourdough. Although Campaillou's concept is ancient, the earliest print references we find to breads with this name are from the early 1990s. This coincides with the birth of the artisan (aka artisanal) bread movement. We find no references to Campaillou in Larousse Gastronomique (1938, 1961, 2001), Julia Child's cookbooks, Beard on Bread/James Beard or other bread history books.
Campaillou in the news:
""Maison Blanc started 10 years ago because we couldn't find decent French bread anywhere in Britain and we needed it for the restaurant," says Jenny Blanc, who was then partner with her former husband, the chef Raymond Blanc. "When we started, there wasn't a part-baked frozen or ready-to-cook petit pain in the shops and supermarkets didn't even sell croissants. Now you can buy them anywhere, albeit many are frightful. "Opening the bakery was something of a landmark. It became so successful because it was the first real taste in Britain of a genuine French product." Until then, "French" loaves in Britain had been made with English or Canadian flour by British bakers. The Blancs set out to import French flour. They could then offer authentic French bread made with French flour by French bakers. "We still buy from our original suppliers. We were their first customer in the UK, now they have lots more. It wasn't difficult getting them to deliver, but we had to take a large consignment, three or four months' supply. Now they've got a depot and an office and everything in this country and we get supplies weekly. "Originally we ran the bakery more as a hobby, because our main interest was in the hotel and restaurant. Then, about two years ago, when the business was divided, I decided to develop it because there is now such a demand for speciality breads."..."Baguettes are still our best sellers. In addition, everyone is looking for something that says health and quality and looks rustic. The traditional French flours we use don't contain any additives." It is only the flours for the English breads made at Maison Blanc that contain any improvers.Four bakers, under chef boulanger Olivier Bileau, make the 42 different types of loaves and rolls produced in the bakery every night. They start work at about 7pm to make the bread doughs, prove, shape and then bake the loaves in one of three ovens. The speciality French breads go into either a rack oven or a flat oven and the English tin and cob loaves in a standard baker's oven. The doughs are mixed by machine but every French loaf, except the baguettes, is shaped by hand. A loaf from Maison Blanc takes about five hours to make. The paysan, cereale, Parisien, campagne, campailloum seigle, tournesol, bavarois rye, pain de son, pain a l'oignon, country grain, marbre and various pains aux raisins and olives are more-or-less round or oval. The pain aux noix has a curious flat top, made by rolling a flat edge from the basic round and folding it back over the loaf. The tresse is a dextrously executed plait dressed with poppy seeds and the meule couronne a crown-shaped baguette. The rolls are in different shapes, including the Maison's mini Oxfordian which started life in the shape of a mortarboard but has now evolved into a plump roll with a cross cut in the top. There is also a hybrid flat ciabatta made with French flour but light golden, less floury than many and delicious. The baguettes - batard, couronne, Parisien, tresse - are made with meule flour, a coarsely stoneground unbleached white flour from the Beauce region. Cereale is a mix of four flours: rye, barley, oats and rice plus wheatgerm and rye. Campagne is a light white bread; marbre a marbled mix of doughs from rye and campagne flours; country grain contains rye, oats, rice, wheat, maize and buckwheat flours and sesame and sunflower seeds. Campaillou contains some sourdough starter along with the yeast and is crusty and moist. Tournesol is a wheat and rye flour with sunflower seeds; pain de son has added bran and is covered in crushed bran. "We've always had a core of French bakers, but we have had one or two good English bakers who have picked up the French techniques very well. Patisserie is another matter. It is many years of training, more difficult and all our patissiers are French," says Jenny Blanc. She has a cordon bleu training. "I spent several years cooking in my parents' hotel, the Rose Revived at Newbridge, a lovely little Cotswold hotel and restaurant on the river. But my experience is really on the business side and I don't cook now."---"Boom-time catering to the upper crust - Maison Blanc. (1 of 2)," By Janette Marshall, The Independent - London, 6 April 1991 (p. 35) "Brakes has turned to traditional breadmaking methods to produce its new range of part-baked Artisan Breads aimed at providing a premium bread offering for operators wanting to add variety, quality and a point of difference without the hassle or skill involved in making it from scratch. The breads are made using natural and premium ingredients such as spelt, Campaillou and Camp Remy flours. Some are bulk-fermented for up to eight hours, a process which reduces the need for yeast and allows the flavours to develop and spread throughout the dough. The dough is then stone-baked, which gives the bread a strong crust and unique appearance. Those launched under the Real French brand are made in France from wheat grown a minimum of half-a-mile from any roads."
---"Daily bread," Caterer & Hotelkeeper 22 February 2007
"Euro doughs Traditional breadmaking methods are the mark of Brakes Premier Artisan Bread Range of part-baked breads that require just a few minutes in the oven. They are bulk-fermented for up to eight hours to reduce the need for yeast and to allow the traditional flavours and ingredients to spread through the dough. The dough is carefully handled to retain air, and stone-baked for a strong crust and deep flavour.Four lines under the Real French brand are made from wheat grown a quarter-of-a-mile from any road. They include Pavй Rustique Pavй Rustique Multi-Cereals, with brown and yellow linseed, sesame and sunflower seeds and an oat flake finish the hand-finished, chewy Baguette Artisan, made from rich Camp Rйmy flour and the Artisan Bread Selection, which includes lines made from a 50-year-old starter dough.Other breads include Focaccia, an Olive Bloomer, a hand-cut, Soil Association-certified Organic Bloomer, using organic and malt wheat flour, and the Campagne Rye Boule, a blend of French wheat, light rye and Campaillou flour. Pack sizes range from 10 to 30 rolls."
---"Buy It: Baking sense," Caterer & Hotelkeeper, 26 June 2008
Bruschetta & garlic bread
Food historians confirm Mediterranean peoples have been dipping bread in spiced oil for thousands of years. Combinations, recipes, meal function and toppings varied according to time and taste. Garlic is one of the few "constants." Bruschetta, as we know it today, is an Italian combination originating in the Tuscany region. The tomato topped starter we American enjoy today is a recent iteration. American-style garlic bread also descends from this tradition. Food historians offer two theories regarding the original purpose of bruschetta:
"Bruschetta, A Tuscan dish designed to show off the new season's oil at the time of the olive harvest. "
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 110)
"Bruschetta. The now ubituitous garlic bread is a lineal if somewhat debased version of the Italian bruschetta. This is a slice of bread toasted brown on each side and then moistened with a generous dribble of olive oil (it can also be rugged with garlic, but this is optional). Its name reflects its original cooking method: it is a derivative of the Italian verb bruscare, roast over coals'."
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2003 (p. 44)
"Bruschetta. Toasted bread, often rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. Also schiena d'asino, soma d'aj in the south, and fettunta in Tuscany. Bruschetta has always been a way to salvage bread that was going stale by adding oil and seasonings. Sometimes the bread is entirely immersed in oil, but usually the oil is poured on the top after the bread is rubbed with a garlic clove. In recent years adding toppings, particularly chopped onions and tomatoes, has become popular in restaurants."
---The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink, John Mariani [Broadway Books:New York] 1998 (p. 45)
American-style garlic bread
Garlic bread, as most Americans know it today, descends from ancient Mediterranean bruschetta. The Americanized version typically substitutes butter for oil, garlic powder/salt for fresh product and commercial oregano. It may, or may not, also include some kind of "Italian" cheese (Romano, Parmesean) in either fresh grated or commercial powdered form. American-style garlic bread is prepared with long crusty loaves ("Italian" or "French" bread). Bread is sliced vertical or horizontal; butter/spice/cheese mixture is spread, then wrapped in foil and warmed in the oven. Frozen and pre-made garlic bread products may be found in most supermarkets. Garlic knots first surface in the 1980s.
"The relationship between bruschetta and "garlic bread" is a peculiar one. In principle, bruschetta is the honest, poor man's original -nothing but charred, oil-soaked bread rubbed with garlic-while "garlic bread" is the embellished pretender. But somehow things have got mixed up. British democracy has confused them. Garlic bread became genuinely democratised, sold in dispiriting packs of two, or even four, for 99p in the brightest freezer cabinets. Meanwhile, the monied torchbearers of democracy - in fact, the elite - went crazy for bruschetta, paying a small fortune for pane covered in broad beans or anchovies at the River Cafe. And so, bizarrely, buttery indigestible garlic bread has come to seem unpretentious "people's food", while bruschetta is the poncy snack of the People's Party. This is an unfortunate state of affairs. Everything that is best about bruschetta -- its power to bestow well-being in one crisp bite -- is betrayed by garlic bread. To begin with, as Marcella Hazan points out: "The most important ingredient in bruschetta is not garlic but olive oil." The garlic on bruschetta is rubbed on, so that you inhale the fresh garlic perfume as a backdrop to the olive oil, rather than eating great lumps of it. The origin of bruschetta was probably the ancient Roman practice of tasting newly pressed olive oil on a piece of bread, with or without garlic -- a practice that has continued in the oil-producing areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. The name derives from bruscare, meaning "to roast over coals". Alice Waters's version of bruschetta involves frying country bread in large amounts of oil, until thoroughly impregnated, and Elizabeth David recommends baking slices of white bread in the oven."
---"Toast of the Tiber," Bee Wilson and Frances Stonor Saunders, New Statesman, April 24, 2004 (p. 50)
Slice French bread idagonally almost through loaf. Soften 1/2 cup butter, add 1 clove garlic, and let stand 15 minutes. Remove garlic, spread butter betwqeen slices, and bake in moderately hot oven (400 degrees F.) about 5 minutes, until loaf is thoroughly heated. Serve hot with cheese platter or with salad course."
---Edith Barber's Book Book, Edith M. Barber, eitor of Fod Column, New York Sun [G.P. Putnam's Sons:New York](p. 103)
These tasty morsels combine the flavor classic bruschetta with the convenience of modern garlic bread. While the product is simple, and could have been enjoyed for thousands of years, print references first surface in the late 1980s.
"SIMPLE ingredients - flour, water, yeast. It's how the cook treats these elements that determines whether French baguettes or pita bread will make an appearance on the dinner table. But if your name is Frank Zitoli, rest assured that the bread basket will include garlic knots, tiny morsels of bread tossed with olive oil, lots of fresh garlic and grated Romano cheese. In a word - irresistible. "My Uncle Mike first introduced me to them,"said Zitoli, referring to Michael Prudente, co-owner of Prudente's restaurant in Island Park. Prudente's garlic knots were a slightly different shape, said Zitoli "but when he asked me what I thought of them, I told him they were great." Zitoli loved garlic knots, but would the public? At the time, he owned Pizza Delight in Plainview. "I put a bowl of them on the counter and offered them free to customers. I waited for their reaction. As soon as a person would pop one into his mouth, his eyes would light up and a smile would come to his face." That was 10 years ago, and he sold thousands at 10 cents a piece. But Zitoli didn't stop there. He splits garlic knots and stuffs them with provolone, prosciutto or sausage. He stuffs the dough with slivers of cheese before baking, adds whole-wheat flour, substitutes semolina. For champagne parties at his restaurant, Franina, in Syosset, Zitoli tucks in smoked tuna and smoked salmon. He has gone as far as presenting filled garlic knots in the shape of wreaths and Christmas trees. "I feel they are a success because I fuss with the details," he said. "I hire part-time people who do nothing but peel garlic, and the cheese is grated here." Why Romano cheese? "It brings out the flavor of the garlic," he said. Will garlic knots catch on? Are they the garlic bread of tomorrow? Danny Horton, owner of Victor's Pizza Delight in South Huntington, learned to make garlic knots from the former owners, Zitoli's sister and brother-in-law. At Victor's you can still buy them for a dime apiece or eat them with the daily specials - lasagna, chicken parmesan, ziti. "During a busy day, we can make as many as 1,500 garlic knots," said Horton. Across Route 110 and down the road at Francesco's Pizzeria, owner Michael Macchia said he believes they're popular because "People love garlic." A regular customer who was waiting for two pizzas to come out of the oven said she picks up garlic knots when she buys pizza and leaves them in the refrigerator as snacks for her children after school. "A few seconds in the microwave makes them taste freshly baked," she said, "and it makes a good alternative to a sugar snack." Macchia charges 15 cents each for garlic knots. "They take a lot of time to make because they're formed by hand," he said.
---"Irresistible Garlic Knots Twists of garlic are cheap and popular munchies in the bread baskets at several local restaurants," Marie Bianco, Newsday 6 July 6, 1988 (p. 3)
"Garlic knots, addictive, tempting morsels, have been drawing raves recently in casual Italian dining spots all across the Island. I first encountered them at Franina's, 58 West Jericho Turnpike, Syosset (496 9770). It was love at first bite."
---"A La Carte: Bread," Joanne Starkey, New York Times, March 5, 1989 (p. A19)
"Call them pizza knots, garlic knots or warm rolls. Those tiny twists of baked pizza dough, glistening with garlic butter, were love at first bite when I tasted them at Franina in Syosset more than a decade ago. They are still there, piping hot, peeking out from the impressive bread baskets. And, they are just as compelling and addictive as ever. Bread may be a constant here, but there have been changes. Years ago, Franina, a modest storefront in a strip shopping center that includes a doughnut shop and a cleaners, was a casual cafe. Today it is plush inside, despite its still simple exterior."
---"Garlic Knots Excel in Now-Plush Decor," Joanne Starkey, New York Times, April 28, 1996 (p. LI15 )
"Papa Ciro's Handmade Knots, new to the bread category, bring convenience, flavor, and variety to any meal, according to Joseph Vetrano, company president. "We offer the only garlic knot for retail sale," he says. Other flavors include cinnamon knots and jalapeno garlic knots. The family-owned Roslyn Heights, N.Y., company makes its bread knots by hand using a family recipe. "Our family has created these handmade knots for three generations," Ventrano says. The tradition continues today at Papa Ciro's restaurant in New York. "You can find my father in the restaurant making these knots. His photo is on the back of our package." Four years of trial and error were required to successfully manufacture the bread knots for retail, he notes. Papa Ciro's Handmade Knot Company is owned by Ventrano and his brother, Pasquale Vetrano Jr., company vice president."
---"Bread Category's New Twist: Papa Ciro's Handmade Knots," Gai D. Fleenor, Frozen Food Age, April 2007 (p.17)
"There are two words for bread in Hebrew: lechem and challah. Lechem is the everyday bread...Challah is the special, usually white egg bread reserved for the Sabbath. Challah is also the word that refers to the portion of dough set apart for the high priests in the Temple of Jerusalem. One of the three commandments incumbent upon women, "taking challah," evolved sometime following the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E. Following the rising of the dough, women would separate a piece and burn it to remind them of the offerings to the Temple. For nearly two millennia it has symbolically replaced the sacrificial offerings. All challah that is baked today is kosher only if "challah has been taken."...It was the Eastern European immigrants who put challah on the gastronomical map in the country. In biblical times...Sabbath bread was probably more like our present-day pita. Through the ages and as Jews moved to different lands the loaves varied. But only in America could Jews eat challah...every day of the week...Elsewhere a round challan at Rosh Hashanah became a symbol of life. Usually the Rosh Hashanah bread is formed in a circle, to signify the desire for a long life. At this point, local traditions diverge. Some people add saffron and raisins to make the bread just a little bit more special than a typical Friday-night load. In certain towns of Russia, the round challah was imprinted with the shape of a ladder on top, to symbolize the ascent to God on high...Many challot traditions were lost as a result of the Holocaust or because of Soviet religious suppression..."
---Jewish Cooking In America, Joan Nathan [Knopf:New York] 1998 (p. 72-3)
[NOTE: This book contains more information and several recipes. Ask your librarian to help you find a copy.]
"Challa...Pronounce Khal-leh, with a rattling kh. Thyme with "a doll a." Hebrew: challah. A braided loaf of white bread, glazed with egg white, very soft, delicate in flavor...Challa is a Sabbath and holiday delicacy. For Shabbes it is always made in a braided form. On holidays it may be kneaded into other shapes: circular, ladderlike, etc...Two challas, uncut, are on the table of observing Jews on Sabbath eve; thy are not cut until after the broche (blessing). This practice perpetuates the memory of the Temple, where two rows of bread were lined up before the altar. The home, which is of limitless importance in Jewish life, is in fact called in Hebrew "migdash mehad"--or "a small temple." When a challah (or any Sabbath bread) is baked, a small piece of dough is, by tradition, tossed into the oven or fire--as a token of sacrifice. Why? Because challa is a Hebrew term used in Numbers 15:20 and Ezekiel 44:30, where it means "the priest's share" of the baking dough."
---The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten [McGraw Hill:New York] 1968 (p. 68-9)
"Hallah. A form of bread (II Sam. 6:19). The term also applies to the portion of dough set aside and given to the priest (Num. 15:19-20). The etymology of the word is traced either to the Hebrew root for "hollow" and "pierce"...suggesting a perforated and/or rounded loaf, of to the Akkadian "ellu" ("oure"), referring to the bread's sacral use. Until new evidence allows more precision...hallah must be rendered "loaf" (parallel to the Hebrew word kikkar). In the Bible, hallah is a bread offering subsumed under minhah, the grain sacrifice. Commonly used in an unleavened form, and only rarely in a leavened form (Lev. 7:13; probably Num. 15:20), the bread is made with or without oil (Ex. 29:2, 23...)... Post Bibilical. According to the rabbis, the precept of setting aside hallah applies to dough kneaded from one of the five species og grain (Hal. 1:1), since only from them can the bread (referred to in Num. 15:19) "when you eat of the bread of the land" etc.) be made, although Philo ...limits to wheat and barley alone....The quantity of dough from which hallah must be taken is not explicitly stated in the Bible, and Shammai and Hillel already differed on the quantity...In later generations...the quanitity was fixed, based on the worlds "Of the first of your dough," which was taken to mean "as much as your dough was," viz, "the dough of the wilderness." How much was this? It is written (Ex. 16:36)...Hallah is one of the 24 perquesites of the priest (cf Ezek. 44:30)...Hallah must be eaten by priests in a state of ritual purity; the commoner who eats it deliberately is liable to the penalty of "keret"...The word "hallah" is popularly employed for the special Sabbath loaves."
---Encyclopedia Judaica, volume 7 [Keter Publishing House:Jerusalem] 1971 (p. 1194-5)
[NOTE: this source contains much more information than can be paraphrased, esp. with regards to ancient ingredients and proportions.]
We've been asked about cheese sticks (cheese straws) before. The origin/evolution/history of this delicious item is relatively easy to trace. The reason it's mandatory for Alabama functions is more challenging to capture in print. In sum: our food history & southern USA cookbooks generally agree cheese straws are popular, but they don't say why. Presumably, the reason is obvious to folks who know. The rest of us are left in the dark.
We do know the southern states of America have a special love for all things cheese. Chess Pie, cheese straws, cheddar biscuits &c. are traditional fare. Straws/sticks/biscuits must be served hot! hot! hot! or not at all.
About cheese straws (aka cheese sticks)
The general consensus regarding traditional Southern cheese straws is that the recipe originated in England. It was introduced to the colonies by British cooks. Early recipes indicate this might have been a popular way to use up extra puff-paste dough. Food historians trace the origin of puff-paste to Renaissance times. A survey of early cheese straw-type recipes reveals these tasty items were know though time by different names. Likewise, there are several recipe variations. One common thread connecting these recipes is they were to be sent hot as possible to the table. This holds true today.
About Southern USA cheese straws
"Cheese straws are made by every good cook throughout the Southern states. They are a staple of the cocktail table...and they are superb morsels to nibble upon with bourbon and sherry...The straw originally referred to the shape--long and narrow. Most Cheese Straws in the South are now round like little biscuits. Cheese Straws came from England and, despite the superb true cheddar, often were made solely from Parmesan, which has been imported into England for centuries."
---Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie: 300 Recipes that Celebrate the Glories of Southern Baking-With a Generous Accompaniment of Historical Lore, Bill Neal [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1996 (p. 54)
"It's hard to say how, when, or where these favorites came to prominence in the South, but noted cooks as widely scattered as Henrietta Dull, the Atlanta author of Southern Cooking, and Pauline Goddard Dedman, hostess of the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, were making them forty years or more ago."
---Southern Food: at home, on the road, in history, John Egerton [Univeresity of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill NC] 1993 (p. 198)[NOTE: Mrs. Dull's recipe included below.]
Cheese straw recipes through time
"To make a Ramequin of Cheese.
Take some old Cheshire cheese, a lump of bUtter and the yolk of a hard boiled egg, and beat it very well together in a marble mortar. Spread it on some slices of bread toasted and uottered. Hold a salamandar over them and send them up."
---The Experienced English Housekeeper, Elizabeth Raffald, with an introduction by Roy Shipperbottom [Southover Press:East Sussex] 1997 (p. 148)
"Ramequins a la Sefton.
After you have made the pastry for the first and second course, take the remains of the puff-paste, handle it lightly, spread it out on the dresser, and sprinkle over it some rasped Parmesan cheese; then fold the paste in three, spread it again, and sprinkle more cheese over it: give what we call two turns and a half, and sprinkle it each time with the cheese: cut about eighteen ramequins with a plain round cutter, and put them into the oven when you send up the second course; dish them the same as the petits pates, and serve very hot on a napkin."
---The French Cook, Louis Eustache Ude, photoreprint of 1828 English edition, [Arco Publishing:New York] 1978 (p. 398)
"Ramekins a L'Ude, or Sefton Fancies.
Roll out, rather thin, from six to eight ounces of fine cream-crust, or feuilletage...take nearly or quite half its weight of grated Parmesan, or something less of dry white English cheese, sprinkle it equally over the paste, fold it together, roll it out very lightly twice, and continue thus until the cheese and crust are well mixed. Cut the ramekins with a small paste-cutter; wash them with yolk of egg mixed with a little milk, and bake them about fifteen minutes. Serve them very hot. Cream crust or feuilletage, 6 oz.; Parmesan, 3 oz.; or English cheese, 2 « oz.: baked 12 to 15 minutes."
---Modern Cookery for Private Families, Eliza Acton, with an Introduction by Elizabeth Ray [Southover Press:East Sussex] 1994 (p. 318)
Two ounces of butter, two ounces of flour, two ounces of grated cheese, a little Cayenne pepper and salt. To be made into a thin paste an rolled out very thin, then cut in pieces four inches long and one inch broad; bake a very light brown, and send to table as hot as possible."
---Mrs. Porter's New Southern Cookery Book, Mrs. M. E. Porter, introduction and suggested recipes by Louis Szathmary [Promontory Press:New York] 1974 (p. 189)
---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations [Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co:London] 1875 (p. 119)
"Cheese Pastry, Ramequins of.
Take aome good puff paste. Any that is left after making pies, tarts, &c., will answer the purpose. Roll it out lightly, and spread over it nicely-and sprinkle ever fold with cheese. Cut little shapes out with an ordinary pastry cutter, brush them over with the beaten yolk of egg, and bake in a quick oven. Serve them as hot as possible. Time to bake, ten minutes...Sufficient for three or four persons."
---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, (p. 118)
Mix well together-- 4 ounces flour, 6 ounces grated cheese, 1 teaspoonful salt, the yolks of 2 eggs well beaten, a few dashes cayenne. Mix these ingredients well together, and add ice-water enough to make a stiff dough. Sprinkle four on the pastry-board, and roll the dough about one quarter of an inch thick, cut into lengths not more than five inches long and one-eighth of an inch wide. Cut a number of little rings; lay these strips and rings in a baking-pan; place in a moderate oven until a delicate brown. When ready to serve, put about five straws into two rings, placing the rings near the ends. These are particularly nice served with salads."
---The Warm Springs Receipt-Book, E.T. Glover [B.F. Johnson Publishing:Richmond VA] 1897 (p. 202)
2 ounces of flour, 3 ounces of parmesan cheese, yolk of one egg, a little pepper, cayenne, a little salt. Mix the flour, cayenne, salt and cheese together. Moisten with the egg and work into a smooth paste. Roll out on a board one-eighth inch thick, five inches wide, five inches long. Cut some of the paste in small rings--some in small strips one-eighth inch wide. Place both on greased paper and bake ten minutes, or to a light brown. Put the straws in bundles in the rings."
---Old Southern Receipts, Mary D. Pretlow [Robert M. McBride:New York] 1930 (p. 123)
2 cups flour
1 cup grated cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Butter the size of an egg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Ice-cold water to make very stiff dry dough
Mix salt, pepper and butter into the flour, add cheese and mix with the ice water. Cover and place in ice box for 30 minutes, roll out, fold and roll again. Repeat this four times. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, cut in 1/4 inch strips about 4 inches long, place on a baking sheet and bake in moderate oven until a light, crisp brown. Sometimes cut small biscuit about as large as a half dollar and bake as crackers or wafers. The oven should be very hot when put in, then reduce to medium heat."
---Southern Cooking, Mrs. S. R. [Henrietta] Dull [Grosset & Dunlap:New York] 1928, 1941 (p. 183)
Ciabatta is an old bread enjoying a resurgence in popularity among today's gourmets. Like focaccia, it is a rustic bread that is now featured in many restaurants and bakeries. This crusty flatbread is said to have originated in Tuscany. Today, ciabatta is often the bread of choice when constructing upscale Italian sandwiches, such as panini.
"Ciabatta "Slipper," A bread loaf about 8 inches long with a light, thin crust; the shape resembles a common slipper."
---The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink, John Mariani [Broadway Books:New York] 1998 (p. 74)
"Ciabatta is a type of Italian loaf made from a dough that includes olive oil as one of its ingredients. Its long, flat, vaguely shoe-like shape earned it its name--Italian ciabatta menas literally 'slipper'. It is a borrowing, via Turkish, of Persian ciabat."
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 77)
"CIABATTA means slipper in Italian. It is also the name of a light and crusty bread from the Lake Como region in northern Italy. The bread is called ciabatta (pronounced cha-BAH-ta) because its flattened oval form resembles a well-worn slipper. The crust encloses a simple, rustic bread with an extremely porous texture, making for an unusually inviting combination of chewiness and lightness. "Ciabatta is not an elegant slipper, but the kind of old slipper you slouch around in," said Jean Salvadore, who lives at Villa d'Este, a hotel in the town of Como, and who wrote the hotel's cookbook. "In the Como region, they come in all sizes. I've heard that they are becoming popular in other parts of Italy but I don't think you'll see them in the south." But if, like many people from that region of Italy, Mrs. Salvadore considers Florence to be in the south, her information is out of date. Ciabatta was recently sighted in that city. And in England, of all places, ciabatta has become so popular that it is sold in supermarkets. And now, ciabatta has made its debut in New York. Sarah Black, who owns a baking company called Campanio, is making ciabatta at the Tom Cat Bakery in Long Island City, Queens. Tom Cat distributes the breads to Dean & DeLuca, Positively 104, Marche Madison and Murray's Cheese Shop in Manhattan, and Bon Appetit Foods in Princeton, N.J. Ms. Black's delicious ciabatta is made in a large domed oval (it would be a slipper only for Big Foot) instead of the traditional flattened slipper shape. It is richly browned outside and full of holes within. She has never been to Italy, but said she became intrigued with the bread about a year ago after reading about it in "The Italian Baker," by Carol Field (Harper & Row, 1985). "I'm fascinated with breads made with very wet doughs," she said. The dough for ciabatta is so wet and sticky that in her book, Mrs. Field warns that it is "utterly unfamiliar and probably a bit scary." She goes on to say that "the shaped loaves look flat and definitely unpromising," but urges the baker on, because the recipe produces an excellent result. Ciabatta, like other old-fashioned country breads with moist, gummy doughs, is slow-rising and calls for relatively little yeast. Ms. Black is not the only one who has become fascinated with it. George Balasses, who owns Balasses House Antiques in Amagansett, L.I., and who has been baking bread for decades, came upon a recipe for ciabatta in The Observer while he was in London in November. He tried it when he returned home. "My first attempts, following the recipe in the paper exactly, fell short of my expectations," he said. "I think the dough was too runny; it needed some more flour." He experimented a few times and once he felt he had gotten it right, what especially pleased him was that the dough could be made entirely in a food processor. "It's not a kneaded bread but it tastes like one," he said. One complaint he had with the recipe was that the loaf was quite small. "It's not a lot of trouble to make, but if you're going to bother at all you might as well have something to show for it," he said. Now when he bakes the bread, he increases the recipe by half. Mr. Balasses added that in England, the bread is usually made in the flattened slipper-shape. The Observer traced the origin of ciabatta in England to a chain of shops called La Fornaia, which it said was started in London in 1985 by an American, Peggy Dannenbaum. Ciabatta is excellent with some cheese or salami, and it's convenient to split in half horizontally and use for sandwiches. Mrs. Field's recipe is more complicated than Mr. Balasses', but the finished breads, four little slippers, have a craggier texture, a crisper crust and a somewhat earthier flavor. The recipe calls for making a starter or "sponge," a mixture of yeast, flour and water that first must be allowed to rise. A little more yeast, plus flour, salt, water and olive oil are combined with the starter to make the dough, which is best mixed in an electric mixer. Instead of merely dumping the sticky mass of dough onto a baking sheet, shape the dough into loaves and wait for it to rise again. Most of the effort in this recipe involves waiting for the dough to rise, not attending to the ingredients. These are not recipes for people with a microwave mentality. The rising times are long and slow, a factor that contributes to the flavor of ciabatta. It's the kind of cooking, as in making a good baked potato or a tender pot roast, that requires the passage of time, but no great effort, to produce its reward."
---"DE GUSTIBUS; So What if It Looks Like an Old Shoe? Ciabatta Is Loved," Florence Fabricant, New York Times, February 12, 1992 (p. C6)
Food historians generally agree cinnamon toast descends from a venerable line of ancient spiced breads and sweet cakes. When cinnamon was introduced to Europe by returning Crusaders, it became the spice of wealthy choice for cakes, pies, breads, puddings and other dishes. English "Pokerounce" was the medieval counterpart of today's cinnamon toast. Easier to prepare and digest than French toast and bread puddings, these pieces of toasty deliciousness were embraced for invalid dishes, nursery foods, laboring class desserts, tea room dainties, college dorm cooks, and scout campouts. Worth noting: This is one of the few recipes that has not changed much in 600 years. Some recipes transcend technology.
Cinnamon toast through time
Cut fine thin toasts, then toast them on a gridiron, and lay them in ranks in a dish, put to them fine beaten cinnamon mixed with sugar and some claret, warm them over the fire, and serve them hot."
---The Accomplisht Cook, Robert May , facsimile reprint [Prospect Books:Devon] 2000 (p. 176)
[NOTE: Claret is a type of sweet wine.]
"For the benefit of those who had children with a 'sweet tooth,' the instructress initiated the club into the mysteries of cinnamon toast. It was one of the simplest things to make you ever saw. Slices of bread, dipped for a moment in hot water, fried in a spider, dusted with powered sugar and cinnamon, and there was a dish which would be appreciated by any child, whether it dwelt in Whitechapel or Belgravia."
---"Cooking Classes for the Poor," The Church Weekly [London, Middlesex], May 26, 1899 (p. 20)
"Cinnamon toast is served with apple sauce. Shape thin hot toast with a cookie cutter, and spread with a cream of butter and sugar seasoned with cinnamon."
---Des Moines Daily News [IA], October 19, 1909 (p. 5)
"The course luncheon was also popular, as were the cinnamon toast and tea later. The restaurant, occupying the largest part of the floor, was conducted by former and prospective Smith College students, it being 'Smith Day.'"
---"'Vassar Day' at Bazaar. 'Smith Day' Netted 0 for the College Settlement Fund," New York Times, November 22, 1916 (p. 24)
"Cinnamon Toast (six portions)
6 slices of stale bread
1/3 C-powdered sugar
Make a delicate brown toast and butter each slice. Mix the sugar and cinnamon, and place in a shaker. Shake the desired quantities of sugar and cinnamon over the hot buttered toast. Keep in a warm place until ready to serve."
---A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband With Bettina's Best Recipes, Louise Bennett Weaver [A.L. Burt Company:New York] 1917 (p. 369)
"Cinnamon crackers are first cousins to the fashionable cinnamon toast of the tea rooms,and less trouble, too. Butter the crackers evenly--and a satisfactory way to do this is to melt butter in a sauce pan and dip each cracker quickly and lightly into the melted butter--then sprinkle thickly with granulated sugar mixed with powdered cinnamon. Place on an inverted baking pan in a hot oven. When brown and crisp remove and ornament the center of each with a raisin that has been soaked in hot water until soft and plump. If put on while cinnamon and sugar are still hot the raisin will stick in place. Half a nutmeat may be used in the same way or a bit of candied orange peel."
---"A Pastry Substitute," Los Angeles Times, December 31, 1919 (p. I12)
Cut stale bread in one-fourth inch slices, remove crusts, and cut in three pieces, crosswise. Toast, spread with butter, and sprinkle with sugar, mixed with cinnamon, using three parts sugar to one part cinnamon. Let stand in oven until sugar has melted."
---The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, Fannie Merritt Farmer [Little, Brown:Boston] 1923 (p. 67)
"Raisin Cinnamon Toast.
Cut slices of raisin bread half an inch thick; beat two tablespoons of butter to a cream and gradually beat into it half a cup of sugar mixed with half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and beat until creamy; spread on the slices of raisin bread: place the bread slices on a baking pan and set in a hot oven until lightly browned. Serve hot."
---"Chef Wyman's Suggestions for Tomorrow's Menu," Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1924 (p. A6)
[NOTE: This item was suggested for breakfast.]
Toast bread; butter while hot and sprinkle with a mixture of 1 part cinnamon to 4 parts sugar. Keep waerm in oven until serving time." ---My Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book [Meredith Publishing:Dew Moines IA] 5th edition, 1930, 1939 (p. 18)
Spread 6 slices white, whole-wheat or raisin toast with 2 tablesp. Butter, margarine, fat or salad oil...Trim the crusts or not as preferred. Blend 1 teasp. Cinnamon with 3 tablesp. Granulated sugar and sprinkle over the toast. Place in a moderate oven of 350 degrees F. Or in broiler oven until sugar melts, then cut in triangles or strips and serve. If preferred, the bread may be toasted on one side only, and the combined butter, cinnamon, and sugar spread on the untoasted side. Put in broiler oven until the sugar melts. Brown or maple sugar, honey, grated cheese or a mixture of 1 tablesp. Each of orange juice and grated orange rind, and 1.2 c. Granulated sugar may be substituted for the cinnamon mixture."
---The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, completely revised edition [Farrar & Rinehart:New York] 1944 (p. 515)
Toast two or more rounds of malt or honey bread on one side only, butter the other side and sprinkle thickly with castor sugar mixed with cinnamon. Grill rather slowly to a good even brown. Cool slightly before cutting into fingers. Make at the last minute and eat hot."
---Constance Spry Cookery Book, Constance Spry [Pan Books:London] 1956 (p. 906)
Bread is toasted over hot coals to a golden brown and buttered while hot. Raisin, white, or whole wheat may be used in the following variatons as a bread or as a dessert for meals cooked along the trail. Here are some variations...Cinnamon Toast: Mix cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over buttered toast for breakfast or a woodland tea."
---Cooking Out-of-Doors, Alice Sanderson Rivoire compiler [Girl Scouts of the United States of America:New York] 1960 (p. 96)
[NOTE: This scout handbook also offers recipes for applesauce, chocolate, orange, pineapple and apricot marshmallow toast.]
Related recipes? Cinnamon rolls & French toast.
Clover leaf rolls
The earliest USA print references we find for "Cloverleaf" aka "Clover Leaf"" tripartate yeast-based bread products are from the 1910s. Early references do not credit a particular place/person/period for the invention of this culinary item. Presumably? "Clover Leaf" type items descended from creative traditions practiced by creative cooks. To wit: the smaller the item, the quicker it cooks. The final product can be pulled apart into the three separate vertical morsels for convenient consumption.
"Clover Leaf Rolls. Materials:--Milk, 2 cups; butter, 3 tablespoons; sugar, two tablespoonfuls; salt, one teaspoonful; compressed yeast cake, one; bread flour. Directions.--Scald the milk in the saucepan and add the butter, sugar and salt to the milk when luke-warm, add the yeast cake dissolved in one-fourth cup of lukewarm water and gradually add about three cups of flour. Beat thoroughly, cover and let rise until light and full of bubbles. Cut down and add flour to make a stiff dough; knead and let rise again until it doubles in bulk, knead lightly and pinch off three small rolls about the size of marbles; dip in melted butter and place them in the space for one muffin pan. Repeat until the pans are full. Sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Cover, let rise and bake from fifteen to thirty minutes in a hot oven. These are very nice for afternoon luncheons, inexpensive and very easy to make."
---Janesville Daily Gazette [WI], November 15, 1913 (p. 9)
For these three very small portions of dough are required. Form each into a small round ball, brush the sides with melted shortening, and place three of the balls together to form a triangle or clover-leaf. In order to obtain the best shape bake these rolls in muffin pans."
---Mrs. Allen on Cooking, Menus, Service, Ida C. Bailey Allen [Doubleday, Doran & Company:Garden City:New York] 1929 (p. 213)
"Clover Leaf Rolls.
Twenty-Four 2-inch Rolls
Have all ingredients at about 75 degrees F.
Cream: 1 tablespoon lard, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.
Add and beat well: 1 cup scalded milk.
Dissolve for about 10 minutes: 1 cake compressed yeast in: 1.4 cup 85 degrees F. water.
Add these ingredients to the milk mixture. Sift before measuring and add: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
Beat well. Cover with a cloth and permit to rise until double in bulk. Sift before measuring: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour.
Add it to the batter with: 1 1/4 teaspoons salt.
Beat well. Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it, so that it is lightly greased all over. Cover with a cloth and permit to rise until about double in bulk. Now, fill greased muffing tins about 1/3 full with 3 small balls, as sketched below. Brush the tops with: Melted butter.
Permit the rolls to rise, covered, in a warm place until about double in bulk. Bake in a preheated 425 degree F. oven for about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove at once from pans."
---Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker [Bobbs-Merrill Co.:Indianapolis IN] 1962 (p. 573-574)
Related recipes? Monkey bread & Parker House Rolls.
The origin of the croissant is one of the great food legends of all time. The Larousse Gastronomique offers this explanation regarding the origin of the croissant:
"Croissant...This delicious pastry originated in Budapest in 1686, when the Turks were besieging the city. To reach the centre of the town, they dug underground passages. Bakers, working during the night, heard the noise made by the Turks and gave the alarm. The assailants were repulsed and the bakers who had saved the city were granted the privilege of making a special pastry which had to take the form of a crescent in memory of the emblem on the Ottoman flag."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Jenifer Harvey Lang, editor [Crown:New York] 1988 (p. 338)
It's an interesting story. Is it true? Alan Davidson, noted food historian, expresses his doubts:
"Culinary mythology--origin of the croissant
According to one of a group of similar legends, which vary only in detail, a baker of the 17th century, working through the night at a time when his city (either Vienna in 1683 or Budapest in 1686) was under siege by the Turks, heard faint underground rumbling sounds which, on investigation, proved to be caused by a Turkish attempt to invade the city by tunnelling under the walls. The tunnel was blown up. The baker asked no reward other than the exclusive right to bake crescent-shaped pastries commemorating the incident, the crescent being the sympol of Islam. He was duly rewarded in this way, and the croissant was born. The story seems to owe its origin, or at least its wide diffusion, to Alfred Gottschalk, who wrote about the croissant for the first edition of the Larousse Gastronomique  and there gave the legend in the Turkish attack on Budapest in 1686 version; but on the history of food, opted for the 'siege of Vienna in 1683' version."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 232)
While the history of pastry dates back to ancient times, the history of the croissant [as we know it today], seems to be a relatively new invention. Part of the problem may be how one defines "croissant." Food history sources confirm that crescent-shaped pastries were baked in Vienna during the 17th century and that they migrated to France soon thereafter. They recount, but do not confirm/deny the story of the brave bakers who supposedly created the first croissants. This is what Mr. Davidson has to say:
"...croissant in its present form does not have a long history...The earliest French reference to the croissant seems to be in Payen's book "Des substances alimentaires," published in 1853. He cites, among the "Pains dit de fantasie ou de luxe," not only English 'muffins' but 'les croissants'. The term appears again, ten years later, in the great Littre dictionary  where it is defined as 'a little crescent-shaped bread or cake'. Thirteen years later, Husson in "Les Consommations de Paris"  includes 'croissants for coffee' in a list of 'ordinary' (as opposed to 'fine') pastry goods. Yet no trace of a recipe for croissants can be found earlier than that given by Favre in his Dictionnaire universel de cuisine [c. 1905], and his recipe bears no resemblance to the modern puff pastry concoction; it is rather an oriental pastry made of pounded almonds and sugar. Only in 1906, in Colombie's Nouvelle Encyclopedie culinaire, did a true croissant, and its development into a national symbol of France, is a 20th-century history."
---Oxford Companion to Food (p. 228)
Chef Jim Chevallier, who has conducted extensive research on the history of the croissant, concurs the origins recounted in most texts are truly "colorful tales." Chef Chevallier's research focuses on the connection between the French Croissant and the Viennese Kipfel. In doing so, he pushes back the date for this particular breadstuff [in Vienna] to 1630. He credits August Zang, a Viennese baker, for introducing this item to Paris in the late 1830s. If you would like more details we recommend Chef Chevallier's book: August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoiserie Came to France.
Marie Antoinette's croissants?
Chef Chevallier addresses this as well. In sum: much of what we "know" about food history belongs to the realm of "fakelore" or "food mythology." If a "fact" is published widely it somehow becomes "true." Marie Antoinette ('Let them eat cake') and Catherine de Medici (forks!) are two famous people regularly misquoted/misapppropriated historically in the food world. Completely understandable, given their actual stature/stance in history.
"The Austrian-born Marie-Antoinette was perhaps France's most elegant and glamorous queen, and the oft-repeated idea that she introduced France's most elegant breakfast food has sufficeint poetry to have endured. If, after all, one accepts the idea that Austrian bakers had only a century before invented the ancestor of the croissant, it is but a short step to imagine that this Austrian princess then brought it to France...But the claim only appears well after the eighteenth century, despite the fact that French queens in general, and Marie-Antoinette in particular, were closely watched and chronicled. Had Marie-Antoinette brought any food into fashion the fact would have been widely mentioned in the gossip sheets of the time. Yet the closest thing to a period reference for this tale is a tantalizing note by her maid...that the Queen had a particular prefernece for 'a sort of bread she was used to having since her childhood in Vienna.' Also, a list from 1780 of those serving the Queen includes a German cook...It is not impossible that the latter provided a kipfel, or perhaps a pain viennois for the Queen's breakfast, but if so, her consumption of it appears to have had no wider influcence. It is always problematic to demonstrate the absence of reference, and in this case, all that can be said for the most part is that neither kipfel nor any baked good closely associated with Marie Antoinette is mentioned in the more common sources of life in that period...At the mid-point of the nineteenth century, references to the croissant began to appear in France."
---August Zang and the French Croissant: How Viennoiserie Came to France, Jim Chevallier [Chez Jim Books:North Hollywood CA] 2009 (p. 9-10)
A mid-19th century French recipe for croissants:
Almond Paste Crescents
Blanch, peel, and pound 10 oz. of almonds; add 10 oz. of pounded sugar, and moisten, to a stiffish paste, with some white of egg; Sprinkle a pasteboard with fine sugar; roll the paste on it to a 1/4-inch thinckness, and cut it out, with a 1 1/2-inch round cutter, into crescent-shaped pieces, 3/4 inch wide; Bake the crescents in a slack oven; and, when cold, glaze them with some Glace Royale, flavoured with Kirschenwasser; strew some coarsely sifted sugar on the top, and dry them in the oven for two minutes."
---The Royal Cookery Book, Jules Gouffe, translated and adapted for English use by Alphone Gouffe [Sampson Low, Sone & Marson:London] 1869 (p. 548)
The lesson here is never completely trust the first source you use when researching history, even if it is a standard reference volume. Sometimes it takes a little work to separate the legends from the facts.
Related food? Cronuts.
Thrifty cooks have been finding creative ways for using up stale bread since the beginning of time. The connection between stale bread and soup dates to the Medieval times, when soup was served in sops (pieces of stale bread). French onion soup is classically topped with a crust of stale bread
Croutons, purposely spiced and gently toasted, are more refined twist on this culinary theme. One might reasonably argue croutons were inspired by biscotti and other ancient twice baked goods.
"Crouton. Derived from the French crouton, has been an English word since early in the 19th century, whereas two other connected French culinary terms, croute and croustade, have remained French...All these terms derive from the Latin word crusta, meaning 'shell'. Thus the outside of a loaf of bread is the crust or croute. Crouton, the diminutive form, usually refers to the familiar little cubes of toasted or fried bread which might originally have been cut from a crust...It first appears in French in the 17th century when it is described as 'a little piece of bread crust served with drinks'. In recent times, croutons are often added to fish soups, and occasionally to certain salads."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 229)
"Croutes for soup. Thick slices of French bread (flute) which have been partly hollowed out or cut in two lengthways and dried in the oven. Croutes are served with all kinds of soups, usually separately, either plain, garnished or filled...In the Middle Ages, the thin slices of bread soaked in stock, wine or milk, which were served with gruels or liquid stews, were called soupes. Later the name croute was given to lightly browned slices of bread served after the soup: these were coated with puree, garnished with crayfish or asparagus tips, and moistened with partridge gravy or cooked au gratin using Parmesan cheese."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Completely Revised and Updated edition [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001 (p. 380)
The Larousse de la Langue Francaise [Librarie Larousse:Paris, 1969 ] traces the word crouton in French print to 1596. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the oldest instance of the word crouton in [English] is 1806.
You can view several 19th century crouton recipes published in American cookbooks courtesy of Michigan State University's digital cookbook collection (recipe search: crouton).
The origin & evolution of Hollywood (brand) Bread makes for a good story. Not sure if any of it can be substantiated. In 1969 a syndicated article profiling Eleanor Hansberry's life was published nationwide. In it, the ingredients (but not the proportions or cooking directions) for Hollywood Bread are revealed. This was three years after the Federal Trade Commission ruled the company was misleading consumers with low-calorie claims. We find no evidence Ms. Hansberry had any kind of culinary/nutrition/home economics experience or training, which makes her story sketchy. Nor do we find evidence she patented her formula.
According to the records of the US Patent & Trademark Office, Hollywood brand bread was introduced to the American public June 10, 1938, by National Bakers Services (Chicago & Florida). The trademark is currently "dead," indicating it is no longer being manufactured:
"Word Mark HOLLYWOOD Goods and Services (EXPIRED) IC 030. US 046. G & S: BREAD. FIRST USE: 19380610. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19380610 Mark Drawing Code (5) WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS IN STYLIZED FORM Serial Number 71618550 Filing Date September 8, 1951 Current Basis 1A Original Filing Basis 1A Registration Number 0561621 Registration Date July 15, 1952 Owner (REGISTRANT) NATIONAL BAKERS SERVICES, INC. CORPORATION ILLINOIS 1747 VAN BUREN STREET HOLLYWOOD FLORIDA\ 33020 Attorney of Record RICHARD H. COMPERE Prior Registrations 0373270;0385529 Type of Mark SERVICE MARK Register PRINCIPAL-2(F) Affidavit Text SECT 15. Renewal 2ND RENEWAL 19920728 Live/Dead Indicator DEAD"
"A new bread that overcomes most objections in reducing diets has just been placed on sale in Washington. It is called Hollywood Bread. Thousands of women throughout the country who are overweight today are including this new bread in their diets. It helps them remove excess poundage without endangering or sacrificing energy. Hollywood Bread is delcious in flavor, yet it contains less calories than most ordinary breads. It is made of whole wheat and eight nonfattening vegetables important to the diet. It is rich in minerals and vitamins so necessary for health and energy. It's filing but not fattening, because it is baked without lard, grease or animal fats."
---"New Type Bread Helps Women Cut Weight," Washington Post, October 20, 1939 (p. 20)
"The Federal Trade Commission ordered National Bakers Services, Inc., Chicago, to stop misrepresenting that its Hollywood Bread contains fewer calories than other commercial breads. In an opinion written by FTC Chairman Dixon, the commission said there is 'no significant difference' in the calorie content of National's Hollywood bread and commercial white bread. The only reason a slice of the bread contains fewer calories is that it is thinner. The commission said the concern's advertisements 'definitely create the impression that Hollywood Bread is specialy concocted by a formula which results in a bread of lower calorie content,' when in fact the 'only way' a consumer can reduce with bread is to eat less of it. By not informing the consumer of this 'unvarying fact,' the concern is being deceptive in its advertising, Chairman Dixon said....National licenses more than 180 bakeries to produce its trademarked bread. These licensees pay National a fee of one or more cents a loaf to defray the cost of advertising, th commission said."
---"National Bakers Barred From Saying Its Bread Has Fewer Calories," Wall Street Journal, February 14, 1963 (p. 5)
"Everything--good and bad--happened to Eleanor Hansberry early...The young lady stopped growing upward, but began growing outward. She weighed 145 pounds and dreaded to give up that morning toast. Idly, the young lady wondered if anyone had tried to make a nonfattening loaf of bread. Or, let us say, less fattening...She [approached] Elam Health Foods [with] an idea for bread. They had expermental ovens, and they tried Eleanor's formula. It consisted of eight vegetables--parsley, celery, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, artichoke, lettuce and pumpkin. To this, she added a smidge of seaweed. 'That,' she said, 'is five percent of the loaf. The rest is flour, honey, skim milk, molasses, malt, no sugar and no shortening. Go ahead. Bake it.' She waited. And tasted. It had good flavor. The average one pound loaf of bread runs between 64 and 80 calories per slice. Eleanor's came to 46 a slice. 'One more thing,' she said. 'most loaves are cut into eighteen slices. I want mine thin sliced to 25 per loaf.'...Ironically, Eleanor Hansberry has never baked a loaf of bread. Never."
---"Jim Bishop: Reporter," Statesvulle Record & Landmark [NC], September 3, 1969 (p. 7A)
"If you care what goes into your food...Approximately 46 calories per 18 gram slice...For 40 years we have always believed that there is no substitute for quality...Eleanor R. Hansberry, President, Hollywood bread...Here's what doesn't go in it (granulated sugar & shortening)...Here's what goes in it...Hollywood Bread is a uinque blend of 8 vegetable flours, stone ground wheat, honey and molasses. Naturally good for the whole family."
---display ad, Washington Post, February 9, 1978 (p. E16)
Unrelated food? Colonial American diet bread.
Irish soda bread
Irish soda bread, as we know it today, surfaces in the mid-19th century, when bicarbonate of soda was first used as a leavening agent. Prior to this time, similar breads and raised cakes were made with sourdough and barm brack, yeast created by fermenting ale. About leavening agents. Traditional Irish Soda Bread comes in three varieties: white, brown and fly (with raisins or currants). The bread is cut into farls, four equal parts, to promote even baking on hot girdles.
"One of the oldest of all leavens is the sourdough method, and like many great discoveries it probably came about by accident. An old fable describes what happened. Long ago in the "stone age" when a woman made bread by the simple expedient of mixing ground corn and water together and baking the dough on hot stones or in the fire, a gound girl had just put down a loaf to bake when her lover invited her to go on a hunting trip. Off she sped, leaving the mixing bowl unwashed. When next she went to mix a cake in the bowl, a lump of sour fermented dough from the last baking was mixed in with the new dough. The result, of course, was delicious spongy bread which gained her the reputation of being the best bread-maker in Ireland, to her immense satisfaction. Even her lover had to admit that she was a better cook than his mother. Barm beer or liquid yeast obtained from beer-brewing was used from early times. Sowans (fermented juice of oat husks) was another traditional leaven, as was potato juice (potatoes grated and the juice allowed to turn sour). Bread soda, which would act not only as a leavening agent, but create the traditional soda bread, did not come into use until the first half of the 19th century. Cream of tartar and commercial baking powders continue to be used down to the present time."
---Land of Milk and Honey: The Story of Traditional Irish Food and Drink, Brid Mahon [Mercier Press:Boulder CO] 1998 (p. 73-4)
"Soda Breads. Quickly made breads, griddle cakes and scones with bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar or tartaric acid became popular in Ireland, Scotland and England well over a hundred years ago. The properties of chemical raising agents had been appreciated early in the nineteenth century, and experiments with commercially practical formulas had been successful during the 1850s, and earlier...At first, chemical mixes seem to have been used mainly to lighten home-made biscuits, girdle scones, oatcakes, and other bakestone products which had previously been made without any benefit of any aerating agen. It was only later, after they had been much advertised as yeast powder, dried yeast, yeast substitute, that housewives began to think that chemical mixtures could...replace fresh yeast in their tea cake, spice cake and bread recipes...At that period, German or compressed yeast, much like the bakers yeast we know today, was increasingly replacing the old ale yeasts and barms, as was very generally known, although incorrectly, as dried yeast...It is try that well-made Irish soda bread, baked over a peat fire and with meal ground from soft Irish wheat unblended with imported high gluten grain, is unsurpassed for flavour. The drawback with these breads, even when made in ideal conditions, is that they quickly become dry, so are only at their best when freshly baked..."
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Penguin:Middlesex England] 1977 (p. 517-8)
"When an article of food has become part of the national diet it is more often than not an honest-to-goodness product, and generally speaking it is well to look at the original ways of makinb before accepting whole-heartedly all the modern 'improvements.' This is true enough of soda brea, a staple Irish food. To the Irish wife the use of yeast for bread came slowly, and even now soda bread is preferred by the old country people. Four, salt, baking soda, and good buttermilk were the ingredients as I knew them long ago. The acid of the buttermilk in conjunction with baking soda was sufficient to release the ncessary carbonic acid gas to make the bread light. Nowadays in most recipes one sees that a mixture of soda and cream or tartar is called for. Buttermilk of the kind that we had then is less pelntiful or procurable now, so one must accept midifications. Even so, bread and scones made with sour milk and a modified amount of cream of tartar are better, I think, than the more modern baking-powder bread mixed with sweet mlk. To make good soda bread of a light and melting texture buttermilk or sour milk is essential. When sweet milk is used the amount of cream of tartar is generally twice that of bicarbonate of soda; if sour milk is used one may reduce the amount of cream of tartar to equal to or even less than that of bicarbonate of soda. For this type of bread no rising is called for; the moment soda bread is mixed it must be oven cooked. Only the lightest kneading, enough for shaping, is required; anything more makes the bread heavy. Three kinds of soda bread were common, white, fly, and brown, the fly variety containing currants in rather exiguous quantities. Ours, of course, was baked wither on a girdle or in the oven, but up in the hills the farmer's wife used either her girdle or her pot-oven, and the loaves or farls to be cooked on the former might be 1 1/2-2-inches thick, and were stared off on moderate heat so that they were cooked through before the browning process began. When baked and brown below the loaves were turned and finished off. What we liked best in those far-off days were the loaves of the wiefe who cooked them in her Irish pot-oven. These had a thin skin-like crust, a brownness and flavour all their own, a perfeftcion achieved by no written rules but by years of practice. The dougn was put into the heated, floured pot with room left for rising, the upturned lid was put on the few hot turfs set in it, then th pot was set in the hot ash at the side of the fire. It is a long time since I or any of my contemporaries watched this being done--we only remember it. We bake our soda bread now sometimes in the oven but preferably on a girdle, and this must be heated to the right degree. A common mistake is to get this too hot to begin with, and then the crust of the bread cooks too quickly while the inside remains uncooked. A good teast is that when flour is dusted on to the greased girdle it becomes light brown in clour in about 3 minutes. It is desirable to turn the loaves only once, baking as far as possible on one side before turning. If the girdle overheats this point may have to be disregarded. The dough is shaped with the hands into a large flat round and then with a sharp knife cut across into four; these are called farls. We still make all three varieties, using half brown and half white flour for brown loaves and 1 1/2 oz. currants per pound of flour for the fly variety."
---The Constance Spry Cookery Book, Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume [Pan Books Ltd.:London] 1956 (p. 775-776)
[NOTE: Soda Bread recipes from this book here.]
Soda bread/cake recipes
"Irish Brade breachd.
To as much flour as will make two quartern-loaves put a half-pound of melted butter. Make the dough with fresh yeast, and when it has risen, mix in a half-pound of beat sugar, a half-pound of currants, picked, cleaned, and dried; the same quantity of stoned raisins; a few sweet almonds blanched and chopped, and some candied orange-peel sliced. Mould and bake the loaves. They may be made of any size."
---The Cook and Housewife's Manual, Mistress Margaret Dods [Mrs. Isobel Christian Johnston], facsimile 4th edition revised and enlarged 1829 [Rosters Ltd:London] 1988 (p. 454-455)
[NOTE: The word "breachd" is defined in this book as "This Irish word signifies spotted or freckled. This mottled loaf is the holiday cake of Munster."]
Ingredients.--1/4 lb. of butter, 1 lb. of flour, 1/2 lb. of currants, 1/2 lb. of moist sugar, 1 teacupful of milk, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoonful of carbonate of soda.
Mode.--Rub the butter into the flour, add the currants and sugar, and mix these ingredients well together. Whisk the eggs well, stir them to the flour &c., with the milk, in which the soda should be perviously dissolved, and beat the whole up together with a wooden spoon or beater. Divide the dough into two pieces, put them into buttered moulds or cake-tins, and bake in a moderate oven for nearly an hour. The mixture just be extremely well beaten up, and not allowed to stand after the soda is added to it, but must be placed in the oven immediately. Great care must also be taken that the cakes are quite done through, which may be ascertained by thrusting a knife into the middle of them: it the blade looks bright when withdrawn, they are done. If the tops acquire too much colour before the inside is sufficiently baked, cover them over with a pices the clean white paper, to prevent them from burning.
Time, 1 hour. Average cost, 1s. 9d. Sufficient to make 2 small cakes. Seasonable at any time."
---The Englishwoman's Cookery Book, Mrs. Isabella Beeton [Ward, Lock, and Tyler:London] 1862 (p. 208)
Mix thoroughly equal parts of tartaric acid and carbonate of soda, and put the mixture aside to be used as required. Dissolve a tea-spoonful of the powder and a pinch of salt in a breakfast-cupful of milk, and stir the liquor into apound of flour. Knead the dough till it is smooth and light, put it into a tin, and bake the loaf in a brisk oven. Sometimes sour milk or buttermilk is used instead of sweet milk, and then a smaller proportion of tartaric acid is required. Time to bake, about an hour. Probably cost, 3d. for a loaf this size." (p. 888)
Mix one tea-spponful of tartaric acid with two pounds of flour, and a tea-spoonful of sat. Dissolve a tea-spoonful of carbonate of soda in a pint of milk, and when it is free from sediment add it to the flour, and mix the whole quickly into a light dough. This quantity will make two loaves. They sould be put into a brisk oven immediately, and baked for a hour. Probably coast, 6d." (p. 79)
---Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery with Numerous Illustrations [Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.:London] 1875
[NOTE: This book also offers a recipe for soda biscuits, soda scones and four recipes for Soda Cakes (with currants).]
3 cupfuls Wheatenmeal.
1 cupful Flour.
1/2 cupful Castor Sugar.
2 tablespoonfuls melted Butter.
1 1/2 teaspoonfuls Salt.
1 teasppnful Baking Soda.
1 pint Sour Milk.
2 teaspoonfuls Cream of Tartar.
Utensils--Two basins, egg-beater, wooden spoon, measuring spoons, cup, sieve, saucepan, loaf tin.
Beat the eggs well, then beat in the sugar and salt, and stir in the butter. Add the flour, sifted with the soda and cream of tartar, to the egg mixture, alternately with the milk. Beat in the wheatenmeal. Bake in a well-buttered loaf tin from 3/4 to 1 hour in a rather hot oven."
---Cookery Illustrated and Household Management, Elizabeth Craig [Odhams Press Limited:London] 1936 (p. 541)
[NOTES: (1) This item appears in a chapter titled "To Put on Weight, Fattening Recipes." (2) Ms. Craig does not offer temperature ranges for "rather hot" ovens. She notes a "fairly hot oven" is 350-375 degrees. "Quick oven" os 375 and "very hot oven" is 375-425 degrees. All Fahrenheit. Her cupfuls are "1 average teacupful" (p. 6-7).]
This is without doubt the most delicate of soda bread, but can only be made when good rich butttermilk is available
2 lb. flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 heaped teaspoon salt
1 1/2 oz. butter or margarine
1 pint (approx.)
Sift flour, salt, and bicarbonate of soda together. Rub in the butter. Mix with buttermilk to a good soft dough. Shape rapidly on a floured board intoa large round about 2 inches thick. Cut into four. Put these quarters or farls on to a hot ungreased girdle. Cook on low steady heat about 12-15 minutes on each side. When the bread is done it will sound hollow when lightly tapped.
1. For brown and fly breads 1 dessertspoon sugar is added.
2. If the buttermilk used is not rich and good, or if it is replaced by sour milk, a small teaspoon of cream of tartar should be added to the above recipe.
3. Fat in soda bread is optional; it certainly makes the bread keep better.
4. If the loaves are to be baked they should be put in a moderate oven for approximately the same time as is taken on th girdle, 25-30 minutes.
5. If sweet milk is used for mixing, the proportions of soda and cream of tartar of two of cream of tartar to one of bicarbonate of soda, as in recipe for Brown Soda Bread.
"Brown Soda bread may be made as for previous recipe, using half wholemeal, half white flour. If the bread is to be made with sweet milk the following recipe may be used:
Brown Soda Bread
1 lb. 6 oz. wholemeal flour
12 oz. white flour
2 level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 pints milk or milk and water (approx.), according to the strength of the flour
4 level teaspoons cream of tartar
2 level teaspoons salt
2 level teaspoons sugar (optional) Mix and shape, divide and bake as above, but allow 30-35 minutes. This makes four good-sized farls."
---The Constance Spry Cookery Book, Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume [Pan Books Ltd.:London] 1956 (p. 776-777)
"Brown Soda Bread
Ingredients: 3/4 lb. wholemeal flour; 1/4 lb. white flour; 1/2 teaspoonful salt; 1/4 teaspoonful bread soda; 1/2 pt. buttermilk (a little extra if required); 2 oz. margarine.
Method: Mix all dry ingredients together, rub int he margarine. Make to a very wet dough with buttermilk or well soured milk. Knead lightly. Put in a greased 7" cake tin. Make a cross on top with a floured knife. Cover with a lid and bake in a hot oven for about half to three quarters of an hour."
"Soda Bread (White)
Ingredients: 1 lb. flour; 1/2 teaspoonful bread soda; 1/2 teaspoonful salt; 1/2 pint buttermilk or sour milk.
Method: Sieve flour, salt andfinely powdered bread soda into a bowl. Mix to a loose dough with the well soured milk. Turn out on to a floured board and knead lightly until the underside is smooth. Turn the smoooth side up. Place in a well heated, greased, 8" cast iron pot. Make a cross on top with a knife. Cover with lid. Bake in a hot oven for about 40 minutes. Alternatively a baking tin may be used instead of an iron pot."
---250 Irish Recipes: Traditional and Modern, [Mounth Salus Press:Dublin] 196? (p. 101-102)
[NOTE: According to this book a "hot" oven is 425-450 degrees F. (p. 109).]
Bread is a universal food. Ingredients, recipes, cooking methods, cultural position and table placement vary according to place/people/period. Norwegian Lefse is a perfect example. This special griddle bread has may variations. Traditionalists still use specialized cooking utensils to achieve this particular bread. Modern cooks approximate by adapting ingredients and appliances. Lefse grains also vary through the ages.
What is Lefse?
"The quality of the flatbread depends upon what sort of flour is used. The same is true for the soft thin bread often known as lefse/levse/lafsa. It was usually baked for feasts, and rye or wheat was then preferred (from the nineteenth century, potatoes too). In some areas the soft breads are soft from the beginning,because they are fried less than the crisp ones, but in most places the lefse is made the same way as crisp bread and stored. When it is prepared for use, it is sprinkled with water to become soft. At festive occasions lefse is buttered and folded according to certain established rule, which are different from region to region. Up until the early twentieth century people baked lefse in the homes, but today a lot of small bakeries deliver the crisp kind in cartons or the soft king in plastic bags."
---Food Culture in Scandinavia, Henry Notaker [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2009 (p. 50)
Lefse, like many other traditional dishes adopted of the years by American cooks with strong "0ld Country' roots Lefse has many variations. Each recipe reflects a special connection with unique family roots. Below please find general notes on Norwegian Lefse. Attached please find several recipe variations. Our research suggests potato variations are especially beloved in Minnesota. This "new world" ingredient was not known in Northern Europe until the 16th century.
"In Norway today lefse is omitted from full meals, as are all breads, except flat bread; in Minnesota, however, lefse appears regularly as a unique ethnic specialty at community dinners, bazaars, and family meals. There seems to be an infinite variety of lefse produced in the villages, valleys and regions of Norway, but in Minnesota the item is fairly predictable. Specifically referred to as 'potato lefse' in Norway, the usual Minnesota version calls for mashed potatoes, salt, shortening, and flour. The ingredients are combined while hot, then chilled, rolled into thin flat rounds, and baked on a stove top or a large griddle. The most typical lefse in Norway, especially from the western regions, is here called 'Hardanger' or "Norwegian' lefse. Three egg yolks, baking soda, and buttermilk replace the potatoes. When baked, this lefse is extremely crisp and must be softened before serving by being placed between two damp towels. Kept dry, it may be stored indefinitely; in fact, rural Norwegian bake lefse only a few times a year, storing the accumulation in an out building called a bryggehause.. The modern Norwegian American's lefse grill might be sold as a 'Heritage Grill' or a pancake griddle and is usually thought of as an all-purpose cooking surface. The 'lefse stick,' a flat two-foot by three-quarter-inch wide wand, is an indispensable utensil that the cook slips under the lefse, deftly turning it to brown on both sides. Minnesota lefse is somewhat thinner than a commercially prepared tortilla but is much larger and softer. Traditionally, the surface is a mottled brown and white, a result of uneven cooking due to variations in flour, potatoes, or other ingredients. The younger generation of Norwegian Americans, especially those who learned to cook lefse in church kitchens, are more demanding of consistency. In order to achieve and even-colored lefse and eliminate brown spots, they use commercially prepared potato flakes and rely on one brand of flour, which the community had agreed is the best. Lefse is served plain, with butter, butter and sugar, or wrapped around a filling. Many think of lefse when they want a snack and sometimes use it as a vehicle for herring, goat-milk cheese (jokingly called 'Norwegian peanut butter' because of its color, consistency, and popularity), cold mashed potatoes, sliced meatballs, or even cold lutefisk."
---The Minnesota Ethnic Food Book, Anne R. Kaplan, Marjorie A. Hoover, Willardd B Moore [Minnesota Historical Society Press:St. Paul] 1986] (p. 117-118)
[NOTE: this book does not contain a recipe for lefse.]
"Lefse is a Norwegian bread that resembles a large flour tortilla but is made with a potato dough and has a different texture and flavor than tortillas. It is rolled out with a special rolling pin, handled with a slecial wooden stick and cooked on a special griddle. making lefse is not yet a lost art. But it is dwindling...Only russet potatoes should be used for lefse...The potatoes are peeled and boiled with lots of salt. If necessary, salt also can be added later to the dough...Nothing is added to the potatoes while they are being mashed. Afterward they are mixed with butter and evaporated milk. When cool, they are mixed with flour to make a dough. Lefse is traditionally rolled out with a ridged rolling pin, which helps to get the dough thin and makes a pattern on the surface. The pins, the long wooden sticks used to transfer the lefse to the griddle and electric lefse griddles, and be found in Scandinavian stores. The large round griddles are manufactured in Minneapolis. Lefse can also be cooked on an ordinary griddle on the range, in an electric skillet or in an iron skillet. In this case, the lefse must be made smaller to fit the utensil. In rolling lefse, it is important to roll out the edges so they will be as thin as the rest of the circle. Lefse is served warm with butter and with or without sugar. The lefse is buttered, sprinkled with sugar if desired, rolled up and cut into shorter lengths for serving...Lefse can also be cut into pie-shaped wedges, buttered, sprinkled with sugar and rolled.
5 lb. russet potatoes
1/2 lb. butter
1/2 small can evaporated milk
Peel potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender, using twice as much salt a usual. Drain potatoes and put through a ricer, beat in a mixer or mash until no lumps remain. Mix in butter and milk while potatoes are hot. Let stand overnight at room temperature. Do not cover, but lay a clean towel over bowl at nights. In the morning, measure potatoes. Add half as much flour as potatoes and mix well with the hands as in mixing bread dough. Press dough down evenly in a 9X12-in pan and chill at least 1 hr. before using to make dough easier to roll. Take a piece of dough the size of a large egg or small hamburger patty. Pat it out on the floured pastry cloth, then roll it with a ridged lefse rolling pin into a circle as thin as possible. Transfer lefse with a lefse stick to an ungreased lefse grill, and iron griddle or an iron skillet. (Make lefse small if necessary to fit size of griddle). Cook over high heat, 450 to 500 deg. for 25 to 30 sec. on each side or until lefse is lightly flecked with brown. Pile cooked lefse on top of each other on a cloth until all are finished. Then cover with a cloth and let stand about 1 hr., turning pile over once. Separate lefse and spread out on clean towels and let stand until cool. To store lefse, fold each in quarters and place in an airtight tin in the refrigerator for two or three weeks or freeze. Lefse is served warm. Reheat on hot griddle. Spread with butter, then sprinkle with sugar, roll up and cut in lengths in pie-shaped wedges, spread with butter, sprinkle with sugar and roll. makes 25 to 30 large lefse. Note: Recipe may be reduced to make as small a quantity as desired."
---"Lefse is Catnip to Norwegians," Barbara Hansen, Los Angeles Times, June 6, 1974 (p. G2)
"Lefse is a...popular Christmas Eve tradition...
2 pounds (4 large) baking potatoes, pared and quartered
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup half and half
1 2/14 cup sifted flour
Cook potatoes with salt in boiling water in saucepan until tender. Drain well. Rice potatoes, using a potato ricer. Cover and chill in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight. Firmly pack chilled riced potatoes into measuring cup. You will need 3 1/2 cups. Place back into bowl. Add melted butter and half and half, mixing until smooth, using large spoon. Add flour a little at a time, mixing until dough forms. Shape mixture into 12-inch roll. (Be sure to remove all air from mixture when shaping into roll.) Divide roll into 12 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough very thinly on a sell-floured pastry cloth the 12-inch circle, using stockinet-covered rolling pin. The Lefse should be very thin, about 1/16 inch thick. Carefully roll Lefse around rolling pin so it can be transferred to griddle. Bake Lefse, one at a time, on a very hot ungreased griddle or in a 12-inch skillet (475 degrees). When small brown spots appear on the underside of the Lefse, turn over, using a long metal spatula. When browned on both sides, fold into fourths, using metal spatula. Remove from griddle. Place on a dish towel (do not use terry towels). Cover with another dish towel. Bake another Lefse and place on top of the first one, placing the point of the wedge in the opposite direction. Recover with towel. Continue in this way until all the Lefse are prepared. Cool Lefse to room temperature. When cooled, wrap Lefse in plastic wrap, placing 6 in a package. The place in plastic bag to keep Lefse soft. They can be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Makes 12 lefse. To serve: Lefse should be served at room temperature. Unfold lefse and cut in half. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with brown or white sugar. Fold each half into thirds, forming pie-shaped wedges."
---"Christmas in the Country, Part VI: Maintaining Traditional Dining Rituals, Los Angeles Times, December 22, 1978 (p. OC-C8)
Historic grains & breads of Norway
VIKING ERA "Two sorts of bread are mentioned in the RigsPula, the white loaves of wheat in the home of the nobleman and the heavy loaves of coarse bread in the thrall's cabin. Very little wheat was cultivated in Scandinavia, and importing it was necessary. Wheat products were very exclusive and primarily enjoyed by the elite for festive occasions, and wheat was used in the hold bread at the communion table of the churches. Neither was rye extensively cultivated, even if this grain, so well suited for bread baking, steadily increased in importance, especially in Denmark and souther Sweden, where it has dominated since c. 1500. The cultivation of rye was accompanied by new baking techniques, the use of leaven and ovens. The first and simpler ovens were made of brick, but solid stone ovens were built in palaces and manors, and also in the northern parts. From the late Middle Ages commercial bakeries and guilds of professional bakers are documented. The coarse loaves in the poem may be representative of the earliest breads. As in other parts of the world, they were simply made by shaping a flat cake of dough, made from flour or crushed grains kneaded with water or another liquid, and put in the ashes or on the embers or on a flat stone beside the fire. The process is a natural interpretation of names such as ashen bread and ember cake, words used in both Norwegian and Swedish. Early on, these breads were mainly baked from oats and barley, and they were unleavened because those two grains don't contain the necessary gluten for leaven baking. In hard times they might be unsavory and coarse in poor homes because of the substituted for grains added to the dough: husks, crushed and dried bark, and in Iceland also reindeer moss. Barley is the oldest grain in Scandinavia and dominant in the north and in the mountainous regions, while oats were introduced in more humid areas. Barley or oats were also the basic ingredient in porridge and gruel, the most common of daily dishes, and the main source of starch besides bread in the nutrition of ordinary people."
---Food Culture in Scandinavia, Henry Notaker [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2009 (p. 3-4)
EARLY MODERN PERIOD "Scandinavian breads were of many sorts and forms: round or oblong, thin or thick, leavened or unleavened. They were baked from many different grains. Barley and oats were common in the North, rye in the South, whereas wheat bread--in the early modern period as in the Middle Ages--was primarily eaten by the elite, at festival time, and in church rituals (holy bread)...Unleavened breads were baked on stones (slabs of rocks), griddles, or small frying pans. They had in common that they could not be kept for more than a few days. It is possible that the need for preservation was one of the motivating forces behind the very thin dry and crisp breads that could be stored for years. They are typical of northern Scandinavia...In grains had been ground on manually operated rotary querns, but in the late Middle Ages the millstones worked by steam water were introduced, and larger amounts of grain could be ground in a shorter time. But the mills depended on a good flow of water, which mainly occurred in spring and in autumn. And these two seasons were just the seasons for baking of the thin crisp bread."
---ibid (p. 16-17)
Related foods? Old World Flatbreads & New World tortillas.
Monkey bread (aka pull-apart bread, bubble bread, Christmas morning delights) descends from traditional sweet, yeast rolls with centuries of history. Food historians tell us the first peoples to make sweet, buttery rolls with cinnamon were ancient Middle Eastern cooks. These recipes and spices traveled to Europe in the Middle Ages with crusaders, travellers, traders and explorers. Recipes varied according to culture and cuisine, but the concept remained stable. German kuchen, French galette, Pennsylvania Dutch sticky buns, and monkey bread all descended from these old recipes.
Culinary evidence confirms the practice of combining little balls of dough in one pan for cooking was popular in the mid-19th century. Parker House rolls are perhaps one of the best known examples. Pioneers and cowboys also favored one-pot baked goods because they adapted easily to portable Dutch ovens. Early-mid 20th century American cookbooks are full of recipes for refrigerator rolls; dough chilled overnight which could be used to make breads of many shapes and flavors. "Clover leaf" rolls with cinnamon and butter toppings were common. Modern recipes with this name date in print to 1945. Some food historians state Monkey Bread was a collaborative culinary product of ZaSu Pitts (actress & accomplihsed cook/cook book author) and Ann King (her African- American Albany Texas cook). Ms. Pitts' recipe here.
How did monkey bread get its name?
Food historians offer several theories (see below). All are interesting; none are definative.
"Monkey bread. This pull-apart yeast bread, also known as "bubble loaf," began showing up in women's magazines and community cookbooks back in the 1950s. There are two types, a savory and a sweet...The sweet is also known a bubble loaf because the dough is pinched off and rolled into balls. These are dipped in melted butter and then layered into the pan with a flavoured sugar mixture or a caramel or brown sugar glaze."
---American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 312)
"Monkey bread. A sweet yeast bread, sometimes mixed with currants, formed from balls of dough, laid next to one another, which combine during baking. The origin of the name is unknown, though it has been suggested that the bread resembles the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), whose prickly branches make it difficult to climb. There is also a fruit called "monkey bread," from the baobab tree...of Africa, but there is not evidence of any connection between it and baked bread. It is probably that the name comes from the appearance of the baked itself, which resembles a bunch on monkeys jumbled together."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 208)
[NOTE: According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition) the term "monkey-bread," meaning the fruit of the baobab tree, dates in print to 1789.]
"Since monkeys are known for gleefully pulling at, well, everything, it makes sense that an audience-participation loaf should be called monkey bread. Formed of balls of dough and baked in a ring mold, monkey bread emerges as golden puffs that are irresistible to both hand and eye. The idea is that you pick it apart like a bunch of . . . that it's more fun than a barrel of. . . . You get the idea. (The actual cucumber-shaped fruit of the baobab tree that goes by the same name isn't much good to anyone except its namesake -- unless you're in the market for a float to hold up your fishing nets.) With a kind of simian stealth, monkey bread has entered American cuisine, not through high-end restaurants but via the food pages of newspapers across the country and Internet chat rooms. Cindy Crawford prepared her family's version on "Good Morning America" just in time for Christmas 1999, and even in this carb-abhoring age when Dr. Atkins rules supreme, it was one of the two most requested recipes of 2002 from the Chicago Sun-Times Swap Shop column. Variations range from those heavily sweetened with pecans and cinnamon, a virtual coffee cake, to ones with blueberries, butterscotch and even Parmesan cheese, garlic and herbs. But we're not exactly talking haute cuisine. Way too many versions use frozen biscuit dough, and many encourage the participation of children in the cooking as well as the eating. But while no four-star chef seems to have proclaimed his devotion to monkey bread, there is one exemplar of high style and taste who has happily attached her name to this confection. Nancy Reagan served monkey bread in the White House, especially during the holidays, and her recipe was printed in the American Cancer Society Cookbook, published in 1985. Not surprisingly, her version is monkey bread at its purest and most elegant: buttery and yeasty, as much brioche as bread."
---"Just Say Dough," Michael Boodro, The New York Times, February 23, 2003 (Section 6; Page 64)
[NOTE: Reagan-era Monkey Bread recipe.]
"The origin of the name "monkey bread" is anyone's guess. One reader wrote that the name is derived from the amount of "monkeying around" needed to prepare the balls of dough. Another theory comes from the notion of pulling apart the sections of cake and playing with your food in monkey-like fashion."
---"Pull for perfection; Irresistible monkey bread is worth the extra fuss," Jim Frost, Chicago Sun-Times, July 16, 1997, (Pg. 2; NP)
Vintage Monkey Bread recipes
"The last person from whom you woul expect a shock treatment is ZasSu Pitts. However, you're in for it if you mention the word cooking to her. She did and we never saw such a surprising transformation in anyone before. The truth of it is that Zasu just loves to cook. She candidly assures you that she's a whiz in the ktichen. Almost any kitchen, mind you, but preferably her own. One of the things that irks her about working in Ramshackle Inn, is that it keeps her away from her kitchen so much. Of course it would be a pelasure for anyone to work in her kitchen--even someone who is not partricularly enamored of cooking. It's the kind of kitchen tha most women dream about. Zasu Pitts' kithcen doesn't conform to the accepted rule in shape. When discussing gthe construction with her architect she said with a wave of those hands 'Why have all those corners--how about having it round?' The architect echoed, 'Why not?' So round it is...Outside of actually cooking, ZaSu...likes to talk about food. She'll swap recipes at the drop of the hat...
"Monkey Bread (by ZaSu Pitts)
1 12/ cup cakes compressed yeast
1 cup milk scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1 tablespoon sugar
3 to 4 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
Method: Dissolve the yeast and the sugar in the lukewarm milk. Add the butter, then flour,eggs, well beaten and the salt. Beat well. Let rise and beat again. If the dough should rise too quickly, place in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. Roll out very thinkly and use a small diamond shaped cutter. Butter each piece individually and fill a ring half full. Let rise to double in bulk and bake in a moderatley hot oven (425 degrees F.) for about 20 minutes."
---"Culinary Clinic: ZaSu Pitts Just Loves to Cook," Winnepeg Free PressCanada [Canada] February 8, 1945 (p. 11)
1 1/2 cakes yeast
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups sifted enriched flour
Melted butter or margarine.
METHOD: Dissolve yeast in lukewarm milk. Add sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, salt and flour. Beat well. Place in a large greased bowl; cover with clean cloth and let rise until doubled in bulk. Knock down and roll out on floured board very thin. Cut dough in diamond-shaped pieces. Dip each piece in melted butter and arrange in a ring mold untilmold is half filled. Let rise until it reaches the otp of the pan. Bake at 400 deg. until golden brown. Turn out on a round plate and let guests break off pieces. This makes a rich bread."
---"Callers Ask for Recipes on Turkey, Bread, Grapes," Los Angeles Times, September 26, 1957 (p. A5)
"Mrs. Vivian Hartman, a friend to whose good taste I genuflect, introduced me to Ann King's 'monkey bread.' Ann King, a good-looking black women, long ago worked out her formula for monkey bread with the late film actress Zasu Pitts. If you're a veteran viewer of movies you'll remember Zasu Pitts. She was the sweet- faced, willowy character actress with popping, bewildering eyes, and she was much given to anxiously wringing her hands when before cameras. Miss Pitts was quite a gourmet and combosed several cookbooks incluind one called Candy Hits by Zasu Pitts. Ms. King won't give her fomula for monkey bread, but you can but it most days at the Piggly-Wiggly store in Albany, Texas, where Ann lives. At the store it comes frozen and in a one-pound pound ring, shaped sort of like an angel food cake. You just brown and become an addict. The rolls of bread are all twisted up in spaghetti snarls. I like it rather well browned and it's so 'short' you don't need any butter with it. 'I took out a patent on my version of monkey bread,' said Ann King. 'I understand some restaurant in Sallas is serving what they call monkey bread, but my customers say it doesn't taste nearly so good as mine."
---A Bowl of Red, Frank X. Tolbert [Texas A&M University Press:College Station TX] 1972, 1993 (p. 170-171)
"Monkey Bread. This is a sensationally good and oodly textured sweet bread or coffee cake. It has been known a monkey bread for as long as I can remember. I have never seen an explanation for the name; perhaps it has stuck because of the bread's silly shape. I have also heard it called bubble bread. It is made in a tube pan, and if you follow directions carefully you will have a very light finished product that can be cooled and sliced or served warm and pulled apart in little clumps. You must, however, take special care in the baking to see that it is thoroughly cooked before it comes ou of the oven."
---Beard on Bread, James Beard [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1975 (p. 121-123)
[NOTE: Mr. Beard's recipe follows. We can send if you like.]
"Monkey bread is a heavy, sweet loaf that serves as a Reagan family tradition. The origi nof the name is uncertain...Mrs. Reagan's explanation may actually be the best: she claims it is so named 'because when you make it you have to monkey around with it.'... Reserved for special occasions and holidays, Monkey Bread is a definate derivation from the lighter fare prefeered by the First Lady...
"Makes one 9-inch extra-high ring 1 package active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm milk (105 degrees F. to 115 degrees F.)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon water
1. Butter inside of a 9-inch tube pan and dust lighly with flour. To extend the height of the pan, use 2 collars of aluminum foil, each 4 inches high; secure one collar around the center ring, and use string to tie the other collar in place around the outside of the pan.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast micture with sugar, salt, and 2 of the eggs. Blend well.
4. Add flour and the remaining warm milk; blend well.
5. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the unmelted butter until well distributed.
6. Mic the dough hook or turn out and knead by hand for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.
7. Place dough in a well-greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place for 1 1/4 hours until double in bulk.
8. Punch down, knead again, and let rise for 35 minutes.
9. On a lighly floured board, roll out dough and shape into a log 2 inches thick.
10. Use a thin, sharp knife to slice dough into 24 even pieces; shape each into a Ping-Pong-size ball.
11. Roll the dough balls in the melted butter and layer evenly in the prepared pan. Let dough rise again in a warm place for 20 minutes.
12. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
13. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with the water. Use a pastry brush to lighly moisten the top of the ring.
14. Bake on lower shelf of preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until bread rises above the foil collar and the top turns golden brown.
15. Let pan cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing foil collars.
16. Serve the warm loaf in a bread basket; it pulls apart easily to yield individual servings. Serve with butter and marmalade if desired."
---The White House Family Cookbook, Henry Haller [Random House:New York] 1987 (p. 332-333)
Related recipe? Clover leaf rolls.
National Loaf (UK)
The term "national loaf" or "national bread" surfaces thrice in modern English history. In the late 19th century, the term meant bread made with domestic wheat. Primary accounts confirm substantial reliance on imported wheat to satisfy demands for this most staple food. This "national loaf" was promoted as patriotic, superior, and sustainable. During WWI, bread was rationed. The term "national loaf" was a metaphor for providing adequate food for citizens, not an actual product. During World War II, "national bread" was an actual commercial product subsidized by the English government to ensure adequate bread supply for citizens. The bread was introduced in 1941 and sold through 1953.
"Can nothing practical be done to help the cultivation of wheat in England? Of all the national industries which have been brought to ruin by cheap production and carriage over seas, the case of wheat is the strangest...Good English wheat is superior in certain definite respects to all other kinds; bread made from it possesses qualities which not bread made from foreign-grown wheat can rival. Morever, many consumers are quite aware of this, and would gladly get the native article if they could; but they are helpless in the hands of the trade, which has been drifting for a long time into the way of using more and more foreign flour...We can never grow enough wheat in this country to furnish ore than a fraction of our bread supply; why should not the well-to-do public have the option of of purchasing that fraction at a somewhat higher price than the inferior foreign stuff? It would cost the no more than they already pay for a great deal of their bread and they would get value for their money. The point is that at present the public has no choice in the matter. It buys bread just as bread, without distinguishing or having the opportunity of distinguishing, between the materials of which it is made. Comparatively few bakers even know or are what flour they are using or where it comes from. But give consumers the option of buying a standard 'national' loaf containing a guaranteed amount of English wheat, and there can be o doubt that they will readily by it at a price which would make wheat-growing remunerative to the British farmer. At any rate, the experiment is worth making and it can be done without cost or difficulty by a little organization. Let us go somewhat more into detail to make the idea clearer. The qualities in which bread made from English wheat is superior are the following: (1) It has more flavour, (2) it keeps fresh longer, (3) it is more satisfying...there is no reason why this movement should not be checked and English wheat be put on its legs again by voluntary effort, without violating any principles of supply and demand. An ordinary West-end price of best bread at present is 6d, the quartern. At this price millers profit, while paying the farme 30 s. a quarrter. Give the public the chance of buying such a loaf, guaranteed to be of a standard quality and quite a sufficient number will avail themselves of it to appreciably increase the demand for English wheat, not merely from patriotic motives but because they will get a better article."
---"The National Loaf, a suggestion," St. James's Gazette, [London], September 4, 1895 (p. 4)
“Commenting on the proposal put forward in these columns for the formation of a National Loaf League, the object being to produce and vend a loaf which shall contain 50 or 75 per cent of British –grown flour, the Manchester City News says:--There is nothing to be said against the suggestion; but everything in its favour. The buyer of the national Loaf would pay more for it, but he would undoubtedly get a more substantial and satisfying food. There is already much irregularity in prices of bread retailed; prices ranging from fourpence to fivepence-half penny the four pounds for the same alleged quality of bread. No doubt a flour-pound loaf made of English wheat should be sold retail at sixpence, and leave the farmer thirty shillings a quarter for his wheat. The St. James Gazette makes an appeal to the well-to-do classes to support the proposed League and go in for a national loaf on something like philanthropic and patriotic principles…There is little doubt that there would be an immediate demand for it so long as customers could be sure of getting the genuine article. All that is required is for some reliable bread-baker to produce the article and guarantee for its purity.”
---”A National Loaf,” St. James Gazette, October 1, 1895 (p. 10)
"The much proclaimed 'National Loaf' of bread will soon make its appearance in Britain, the food ministry disclosed today. It will be made from 85 per cent whole wheat flour, which is said to be more digestible than the bread of 100 per cent whole wheat. Arrangements have been made with millers and bakers for immediate production of whole wheat flour and bread in quantities sufficient to meet all demands. The loaf will be standardized. The much heralded 'fortified white loaf,' to which vitamin B1 and calcium would be added, will not be available for a few months, the food ministry said. Some food experts complained that the vitaminized bread would be a snare and a delusion if the public relieved in its advertised health properties."
---"Britain to Bake War Bread for All Its People," Larry Rue, Chicago Daily Tribune, February 5, 1941 (p. 7)
"London...The recipe for war time natioan bread was given out for the first time today. William Mabane, parliamentary secretary for the food ministry told the house of commons that, apart from wheat, salt, and 'varioius improvers recognized as adjuncts of bread bakinng,' the permitted ingredients are 'wheat flour or 85 per cent extraction, imported white flour, oats products, barley, rye, milk powder, and calcium.' Bakers also may see a proportion of potatoes and potato flour. The composition of the national bread is not standardized throughout the country, Mabane said, but the proportion of silutants, 'altho it may vary slightly in different areas, does not generally exceed 5 per cent.' The British Hotels and Restaurants association today advised its memebers to serve bread only in small pieces, and rolls of not more than one-half ounce weight; not to place butter on the table because it 'encourages consumption of bred,' and to serve large portions of potatoes and other vegetables."
---"Commons Get First Glimpse of Wartime Bread," Larry Rue, Chicago Daily Tribune, January 23, 1943 (p. 2)
"In a White Paper, the Churchill government has ordered one of the biggest ever bonfires of red tape and buff forms and pink bureaucratic paraphernalia. The plan is for the decontrol of bread and the ending of animal feeding stuffs rationing and price control. One of the results is that Britain will have a white loaf which is really white for the first time for 12 years...the Churchill government has felt it wise to compromise lest there should be too violent an outcry and too big a rush of new wage claims to meet higher food costs. It has been decided...to continue the subsidized one and three-quarter pound national loaf at sevenpence halfpenny (eight sents). Bakers will be obliged to supply this loaf. Its price will be kept down by subsidy. But there will be an alternative, unsubsidized, really white loaf at about tenpence. What is more, it will be a better white loaf tha the prewar white loaf because it will have put back into it all the vitamins and nutritious what-nots which are taken out to make it white and which in the old days were not put back in again."
---"White Bread on Menu for Britons Again," Peter Lyne, Christain Science Monitor, January 22, 1953 (p. 5)
Scholary economic analysis of this bread may be found in Food and Agriculture in Britain, 1939-1945, R.J. Hammond, Food Research Institute [Stanford University Press:Stanford CA] 1954 (p. 180-183)
Pain de Campagne
Pain de Campagne (literally translated from French as "Country Bread") is a naturally leavened round loaf. The natural leavener is similar to American sourdough. Our survey of bread history souces and historic (American) newspaper articles and magazines reveals this type of of bread was enjoyed long before the unbiquitous baguette, now generally considered synonymous with "French Bread." Pan de Campagne, and other rustic county loaves, have enjoyed a resurgence of culinary interest in recent years. American food critics offer two possible reasons (1) The decline of the quality of the baguette (2) Consumer interest in a wider variety of breads beyond the plain soft white sandwich loaf. Bakery chains such as Panera Bread are happily capitalizing on this delicious market.
About French sourdough
""For nearly all English people who have ever set foot in France, the words 'French Bread' evoke a golden-brown baguette...English bakers, and indeed many of the older French ones, still call this type of bread 'Vienna' bread, the true French bread being the old round or cylindrical and-shaped pain de campagne or pain de menage, plumb and crossed with cuts so that when baked the crust if of many different shades, gradations and textures and the crumb rather open and coarse. It is this bread which is now enjoying something of a revival in France, perhaps because the Vienna types has not taken very kindly to the short-time dough maturing and the rapid mechanical kneading and moulding techniques of the 1970s, partly because a well-made pain de campagne keeps much better than baguette loaves, which is to say that it will stay moist for as long as two days, even three, whereas the long, crusty, thin loaf is, as we know, stale within an hour of emerging from the oven, and for the French three days is a long time to keep a loaf of bread..."
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Penguin:Middlesex] 1977 (p. 362-364)
""I have myself also found, in spite of the delicious qualities of the baguette loaf at its best, that pain de campagne, nowadays made with wheat flour, and often on the leaven system, can be much better. In small town and village bakeries in the Nivernais, in the Auvergne, in the Ardeche and in the Jura, I have found big round loaves so good and whith a flavour and texture so unlike any others in their true savour and their incomparable scent that it is this bread that I would make, were it feasible, rather than any of the baguette type after wihch so many people hanker in vain."
---ibid (p. 279)
"The French pain de campagne made on the old leaven system has been mentioned more than once in these notes. The following passage from one of William Jago's fine works on professional breadmaking explains how the dough was fermented: 'In France and other parts of the continent bread is made from leaven which consists of a portion of dough held over from the previous baking. The following descriptin is given on the authority of Watt's Dictionary of Chemistry. 'A lump of dough from the preceding batch of bread is preserved; this weighs about 12 lbs, made up of 8 lbs of four to 4 lbs of water, and is the fresh leaven (levain de chef). This fresh leaven after reamining for 15 hours, is kneaded in with an equal quantity of fresh flour and water, and this produces the levain de premiere; again this is allowed to stand for some hours 9about eight) and is kneaded in with more flour and water. After another interval of 3 hours, 100 lbs of flour, 52 of water, and about 1/3 lb lf beer yeast are added; this produced the finished leaven (levain de tout point)...In the more important towns this mode of bread-making is now largely supplanted by the use of distillers' yeast, and seems now to have largely given place to methods more nearly allied to Viennese and Englsih processes. Leaven fermentation is due to the presence in the leaven of certain species of yeast, which grow and multiply in that medium. These induce alcoholic fermentation of the sugar of the flour.'---William Jago and William C. Jago, The Technology of Bread Making, 1921).'"
---ibid (p. 381-382)
"Sourdough breads fell out of favor in French cities after the turn of the [20th] century,w hen commercial yeast became available. Recently, however, sourdoughs are back in vogue and, once again, prevail in the smaller bakeries of France."
---World Sourdoughs from Antiquity, Ed Wood [Ten Speed Press:Berkely CA] 1996 (p. 52)
[NOTE: This source includes a recipe for "French Bread," concocted with home-made sourdough culture.] Recipe here
Panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
Food historians generally credit the Portuguese for introducing bread/breading to Japan cuisine in the 16th century. Tempura a fusion of these two cuisines.
Our survey of food history sources suggests modern panko has been used by Japanese cooks for a century or so. This exotic item caught the attention of American chefs in the early 1980s. Chiefly featured for outer coatings "panko encrusted," this Oriental product does not play a supporting role like traditional breadcrumbs mixed in meatloaf. Panko remains popular in 21st century due to its interesting texture, subtle flavor and striking visual appeal. Today, Panko can be found in most mainstream USA supermarkets. Some stores position panko in the ethnic aisle; others shelve it in the breadcrumb/stuffing section along with standard American brands. Today we have Italian style and chipotle flavored panko. Only in America!
"A Japanese product called panko sounds as if it might be the next toy craze. But a kitchen craze is more like it. Panko is Japanese for bread crumbs, and chefs and home cooks are discovering that this light, airy variety is worlds away from the acrid, herb-flecked, additive-laden bread crumbs in the supermarket, the more upscale crumbs from a bakery like Ecce Panis or even homemade bread crumbs from leftover loaves. Panko has a texture more like crushed cornflakes or potato chips, but with a neutral flavor, only a trifle sweet. Some panko is made with honey, some with sugar, but all contains a sweetener and some kind of fat, which makes the crumbs brown easier. Panko is what gives tonkatsu, the fried pork cutlet served in Japanese restaurants, its coarse-grained, crunchy crumb coating. Some caterers in New York and California have also started using panko to give deep-fried cocktail party shrimp a textural boost and keep sogginess at bay. ''The texture of the crumbs is very important in the way it performs,'' said Wayne Nish, the chef and an owner of March restaurant, who was among the first to use panko to bread chicken, fish and even rack of lamb in non-Japanese recipes. ''The structure creates little air pockets to help keep it crispy.'' In a way, panko is coming full circle around the globe these days. It actually reached Japan via Western cuisines. In 1543, bread was introduced to Japan by Portuguese traders, the first Europeans to land there. The Portuguese word for bread, pao, became pan. Around 100 years ago, the Japanese interest in Western food grew, said Elizabeth Andoh, a cookbook author and teacher, who is based in Tokyo. ''In particular, there was a fascination with German and Prussian food, a result of the Japanese envy of German military prowess,'' she said. ''They thought the diet was an important factor in German might, so the Japanese imitated Wiener schnitzel with pork, calling it katsudetsu, which became tonkatsu. They used ground dried bread, or panko, as a coating. And they first began serving it in the military academies.'' Japan won its war with Russia in 1905, and that did it, Ms. Andoh said. Guns, tonkatsu and panko were there to stay. Japanese bread is essentially a dense, white squared-off sandwich bread, what might be called a Pullman loaf. But it has a striated texture, and when it dries and is pulverized, it breaks into spiky little shards, instead of fine, sandlike crumbs. Masayuki Shimura, the manager of Inagiku restaurant in the Waldorf-Astoria, said that most Japanese panko makers no longer bake bread and pulverize it, but have machines that spray unbaked bread dough directly onto heated iron sheets and bake it into shards. Panko in Japan is sold in rough, medium and fine textures, Mr. Shimura said. He said panko is not for fancy food; at his restaurant it is used only for dishes served to employees, not on the regular menu. In takeout shops in Japan, Ms. Andoh said, panko is used to coat croquettes, which are eaten at room temperature or reheated. Yet the Fauchon store in Tokyo makes its own panko from white bread like the kind the Japanese delight in slicing thick and toasting for breakfast. Panko not only provides a crispy coating, but it also makes a lighter stuffing for anything from mushrooms to trout, especially when the crumbs are toasted first. And it's even good to sweeten and use to layer phyllo or in a pie shell. Barry Wine, the restaurant consultant, who often travels to Japan, said he has used panko as a topping for macaroni and cheese, and to add extra texture to French toast. Whenever a crunchy coating is desired, and especially if the breaded food will be in contact with moisture, panko delivers abiding crunch."
---"From Japan, the Secret of Crunchy Coating," Florence Fabricant, New York Times, December 30, 1998 (p. F3)
"ASK THE COOKS This week's answer is by Peter J. Kelly, a chef- instructor at Johnson & Wales University. What is the difference between panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and regular bread crumbs? Why does panko absorb less oil?...By regular bread crumbs, you most likely mean those bought in a can or made at home using stale or fresh bread. Most people are familiar with ground bread crumbs that yield a smooth, fine coating for frying or are used as a binder in something like meatballs. These crumbs are distant relatives of Japanese panko. Once difficult to find outside of Asian groceries, panko is now sold at a growing number of supermarkets in their international-foods sections. Panko is manufactured using a process invented in Japan in the 1970s. While the secret to panko is closely guarded, we do know that yeast-leavened bread is baked to extract as much moisture as possible. This dry cooking method, along with a special flaking technique, yields a fluffy, dry crumb that absorbs very little oil. This quality comes in handy when frying at home, where it is often difficult to regulate the temperature of cooking fat. When frying, it is recommended that the oil be around 350 degrees. At lower temperatures, foods tend to absorb fat; at higher temperatures, foods will brown without cooking to the center. Panko can help soften the blow of a culinary error."
---"Comparing crumbs," Peter J. Kelly, Boston Globe, January 16, 2005 (p.43)
What is the process for making panko?
US Patent 4,423,078, issued December 27, 1983 "Production of Oriental-Style Breadcrumbs" describes the commercial process. Google "how to make panko" returns several home-based approximations.
Parker House rolls
The story of Parker House rolls, like many popular foods, is part legend, part truth. Here's what the food historians have to say:
"Parker House rolls originated during the 1870s at Boston's Parker House Hotel, which opened in 1856. They are made by folding a butter-brushed round of dough in half; when baked, the roll has a pleasing abundance of crusty surface. Recipes for Parker House rolls first appeared in cookbooks during the 1880s."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 117)
"Parker House roll. A puffy yeast roll with a creased center, created at the Parker House Hotel in Boston soon after its opening in 1855 by the kitchen's German baker, whose name was Ward. One story holds that Ward, in a fit of pique over a guest's belligerence, merely threw some unfinished rolls into the oven and came up with the little bun that made his employer, Harvery Parker, famous. Such light, puffy rolls, sometimes called "pocketbook rolls" because of their purselike appearance, were a novelty in their day and became a standard item in American dining rooms and tables."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 231)
"The Parker House is one of Boston's oldest and most distinguished hotels. These rolls (which helped in their little way to make the hotel renowned) became popular throughout New England and were generally called pocketbook rolls. The story of their origin goes back to the days of Harvey Parker, the Maine coachman who founded the hotel. One of Mr. Parker's first guests was a lady from London who misplaced her diamonds. "The chambermaid," she cried, "has stolen my diamonds!" And she went screaming through the hotel, clear down to the kitchen. The pastry cook, who was in love with the chambermaid, heard the commotion and was so angry he picked up pieces of dough in his fists and slammed them into the oven. When the rolls were baked--there was no time to make fresh ones, so they were served as they were (dented in the middle)--everyone said they were delicious. The outside was crisp and the inside was soft. Meantime the lady had found her diamonds. But from that day to this, Parker House rolls have been dented in the middle."
---New England Cookbook, Eleanor Early [Random House:New York] 1954 (p. 19)
"Before the Second World War, Parker House rolls were probably the choicest and best-known breads in American households."
---Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia, compiled by Joan Whitman [Times Books:New York] 1985 (p. 316)
The oldest print reference we find for Parker House rolls is this from 1873 (no recipe):
"Parker house rolls! Who is up to that, I wonder?" The blond beauty of the club acknowleged the rolls..."
---"Amateur Cookery: The Newest Notion of the Pretty Girls of Boston," Atlanta Constitution, September 18, 1873 (p. 2)
Recipes were published in cookbooks & newspapers
Parker House Rolls.--One quart of cold boiled milk, two quarts of flour. Make a hole in the middle of the flour, take one half cup of yeast, one half cup of sugar, add the milk, and pour into the flour, with a little salt; let it stand as it is until morning, then knead hard, and let it rise. Knead again at four o'clock in the afternoon, cut out ready to bake, and let them rise again. Bake twenty minutes.--Mass. Ploughman."
---"Parker House Rolls," New Hampshire Sentinel, April 9, 1874 (p. 1)
"Parker House Rolls
At about 9 o'clock at night take 4 lbs. of flour, rub in three oz. lard; make a hole in the flour and add one pint of cold milk, one gill of yeast, three oz. sugar, two yolks of eggs and a little salt, say one oz.; let it stand till morning; them mix and let stand till noon; then roll out and cut into rolls; let them get light and bake in hot oven."
---Secrets of the Bakers and Confectioners' Trade, J. D. Hounihan [self published: Staunton VA] 1883(p. 72)
[NOTE: This professional industry text offers three recipes titled "Parker House Rolls." Happy to share the others if you would like to compare.]
Parker House Rolls
The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, Mrs. D. A. Lincoln
[NOTE: This cookbook offers a separate recipe for pocketbook rolls (at the very bottom of the page), indicating these two items were not exactly the same.]
The Pliny quote referencing "Parthian Bread" repeated by food historians was first published in his Natural History, Volume IV. Here Pliny describes in detail the various types of grains and other items ground for making bread. Pliny appears to promote the fine wheats of the Middle East as superior to those found in his native Italy. Then, as today, soft white bread was considered superior to hard products made with coarser or less glutinous grains. Pliny describes the general bread making process but does not offer recipes. This is understandable, given the fact that most "recipes" for foods were not published in ancient times. What we know about foods of this period come from artistic renderings (Ancient Egyptian tomb drawings), literature (poems, folklore, religious writings), and archaeological evidence (cookshop ruins, middens, funery offerings) etc. "Ancient" recipes we find today are approximations made by chefs who have studied ancient ingredients, cooking methods, flavor preferences, and dining customs. Recipes listing ingredients, method and baking temps/times evolved later. Even then, the instructions were meant for experience cooks who understood what phrases like "add enough water" and "bake until done" meant. Modernized recipe, courtesy of chef Cathy Kaufman, here.
About Ancient Romans and white bread
"We are in possession of detailed descriptions of the views the Romans held on bread. For these we have to thank Pliny, who died in the year A.D. 79, and Varro, who lived a century before Pliny who lived a century before Pliny. Their observations have been correlated by Bennett and Elton. Reading what those authorities had to say throws still more light on our present attitude to white bread. It shows again that the preference for white bread goes far back into history, much further than might be assumed from the preceding sections...According to Pliny, bread of the very finest quality is that which is sine pondere, without heaviness. The lightness of bread made from white wheat flour is the excessive factor in the preference for this flour. If one sees white flour, one does not think of the colour by itself, but of the lightness of the bread which can be baked from it."
---"White Bread and the Romans," The Origins of Food Habits, H. D. Renner [Faber and Faber:London] 1944 (p. 180)
[NOTE: the book reference above is to The History of Corn Milling, R. Bennett and J. Elton, 1898.]
PLINY ON BREAD, FROM NATURAL HISTORY, VOLUME IV
Pliny's Text below was extracted from GoogleBooks online version (google pliny bread parthian) to find quickly. Keep in mind translations vary according to the interpretation and skill of the person attempting the task. Chapter 27 specifically references Parthian Bread (we bolded the text). The sentence following the mention of this bread talks about soaking bread in milk and honey. It seems to us from this translation, that Pliny is talking about a different kind of bread, not Parthian at that point. Since all bread making requires some water, we have no idea what Pliny meant by "water bread." The amount of water/liquid required to achieve an edible loaf is determined by the wheat (hard, soft), other liquidy ingredient (eggs, oil), and desired finished product.
"(10.) Wheat yields a fine flour' of the very highest quality. In African wheat the modius ought to yield half a modius of line flour and five Bextarii of pollen, that being the name given to fine wheat meal, in the same way that that of winter wheat is generally known as " flos," or the " flower." This fine meal is extensively used in copper works and paper manufactories. In addition to the above, the modius should yield four sextarii of coarse meal, and the same quantity of bran. The finest wheaten flour will yield one hundred and twentytwo pounds of bread, and the fine meal of winter wheat one hundred and seventeen, to the modius of grain. When the prices of grain are moderate, meal sells at forty asses the modius, bolted wheaten flour at eight asses more, and bolted flour of winter wheat, at sixteen asses more. There is another distinction again in fine wheaten flour, which originated formerly in the days of L. Paulus. There were three classes of wheat; the first of which would appear to have yielded seventeen pounds of bread, the second eighteen, and the third nineteen pounds and a third : to these were added two pounds and u half of seconds,91 and the same quantity of brown' bread, with six sextarii of bran.92...
CHAP. 26. (11) THE VARIOUS KINDS OF LEAVEN. Millet is more particularly employed for making leaven ; and if kneaded with must,19 it will keep a whole year. The same is done, too, with the fine wheat-bran of the best quality; it is kneaded with white must three days old, and then dried in the sun, after which it is made into small cakes. When required for making bread, these cakes are first soaked in water, and then boiled with the finest spelt flour, after which the whole is mixed up with the meal; and it is generally thought that this is the best method of making bread. The Greeks have established a rule that for a modius of meal eight ounces of leaven is enough. These kinds of leaven, however, can only he made at the time of vintage, but there is another leaven which may be prepared with barley and water, at any time it may happen to be required. It is first made up into cakes of two pounds in weight, and these are then baked upon a hot hearth, or else in an earthen dish upon hot ashes and charcoal, being left till they turn of a reddish brown. When this is done, the cakes are shut close in vessels, until they turn quite sour: when wanted for leaven, they are steeped in water first. When barley bread used to be made, it was leavened with the meal of the fitch,TM or else the chicheling vetch,21 the proportion being, two pounds of leaven to two modii and a half of barley meal. At the present day, however, the leaven is prepared from the meal that is used for making the bread. For this purpose, some of the meal is kneaded before adding the salt, and is then boiled to the consistency of porridge, and left till it begins to turn sour. In most cases, however, they do not warm it at all, but only make use of a little of the dough that has been kept from the day before. It is very evident that the principle which causes the dough to rise is of an acid nature, and it is equally evident that those persons who are dieted upon fermented bread are stronger" in body. Among the ancients, too, it was generally thought that the heavier wheat is, the more wholesome it is.
CHAP. 27. THE METHOD OF MAKING BREAD : ORIGIN OF THE ART, It seems to me quite unnecessary to enter into an account of the various kinds of bread that are made. Some kinds, we find, receive their names from the dishes with which they are eaten, the oyster-bread,83 for instance: others, again, from their peculiar delicacy, the artolaganus,1 or cake-bread, for example; and others from the expedition with which they are prepared, such as the " speusticus,"25 or " hurry-bread." Other varieties receive their names from the peculiar method of baking them, such as oven-bread,M tin-bread," and mouldbread.28 It is not so very long since that we had a bread introduced from Parthia, known as water-bread,29 from a method in kneading it, of drawing out the dough by the aid of water, a process which renders it remarkably light, and full of holes, like a sponge: some call this Parthian bread. The excellence of the finest kinds of bread depends principally on the goodness of the wheat, and the fineness of the bolter. Some persons knead the dough with eggs or milk, and butter even has been employed for the purpose by nations that have had leisure to cultivate the arts of peace, and to give their attention to the art of making pastry. Picenum still maintains its ancient reputation for making the bread which it was the first to invent, alica > being the grain employed. The flour is kept in soak for nine days, and is kneaded on the tenth with raisin juice, in the shape of long rolls; after which it is baked in an oven in earthen pots, till they break. This bread, however, is never eaten till it has been well31 soaked, which is mostly done in milk mixed with honey."
Another translation of this same passage:
"As for bread itself, it is superfluous to give an account of the various types. In some places bread is called after the dishes eaten with it, such as oyster-bread, in others from its special delicacy, as cake-bread, in others from the short time spent baking it, as hasty bread, and also from the methods of baking, as oven bread or tin loaf or pan bread; while not long ago there was even bread imported from Parthia, called water bread because though the use of water it is drawn out into a thin spongy consistency full of holes; other just call it Parthian bread...Some use eggs or milk in kneading dough, while even butter has been used by races enjoying peace, when attention can be give to the varieties of pastry-making. Anacona still retains its reputation for inventing bread made from spelt. The flour is steeped for nine days and is kneaded on the tenth, with raisin juice, into the shape of a long roll and afterwards baked in earthenware pots until the pots break. This bread is not used for food until it has been soaked, for which milk or honey-water are mainly used."
---The Story of Bread, Ronald Sheppard and Edward Newton [Charles T. Branford Company:Boston MA] 1957 (p. 23-24)
Selected food historian references to Parthian bread
"John Kirkland, in The Modern Baker, Confectioner and Caterer, quotes Pliny on a kind of bread introduced into Rome from Parthia in Asia Minor: 'It is not very long since we had a bread introduced from parthia, known as water bread from a method of kneading it, of drawing out the dough by the aid of water, a process which renders it remarkably light and full of holes like a sponge. Some call this Parthian bread.' The water, or any mixture of liquids used for mixing flour into dough, is known to bakers as 'liquor', and, as I have already written in the chapter on different flours and meals, and repeated in many of the recipes, the question on the quantity of liquor or liquid which any given flour will absorb is something which everyone has to discover for himself."
---English Bread & Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, American Edition with notes by Karen Hess [Penguin:New York] 1980 (p. 127)
"One delicacy was known as Parthian bread; it was allowed to swell in water before being baked. It was required to be so light--in contrast to the ordinary bread--it would float on the surface of the water."
---Six Thousand Years of Bread, H.E. Jacobs [Lyons Press:New York] 1997 (p. 77) "In fact, the drier and harder a biscuit was, the longer it kept--a plus for the soldiers and sailors who depended upon them. Most likely, the first biscuits resembled cookies and could be either sweet or savory. In the first century, Pliny called them Parthian bread..."
--- "Jam Session," Molly O'Neill, New York Times, May 31, 1998 (p. SM 59)
[NOTE: This article centers on biscuits and scones. Our research suggests Ms. O'Neill did not interpret Pliny's notes correctly. This might be the root of some of the contemporary confusion on the Internet today.]
Culinary historian Cathy Kaufman includes a recipe for Pliny's Water Bread in her book Cooking in Ancient Civilizations [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2006 (p. 134-135)
"Water Bread (Pliny 18.27)
It is not so very long since we had a bread introduced from Parthia, known as water bread, from a method in kneading it, of drawing out the dough by aid of water, a process which renders it remarkably light, and full of holes, like a sponge.
This chewy, spongy bread results from a high ration of water to flour. It is bake on an inverted wok (metal handles only!) to yield large, flat loaves; it no wok is available, make the breads smaller and bake them on a griddle on top of the stove.
1/2 teaspoon yeast
2 1/2 cups stone-ground all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and rolling
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water, or as needed
Vegetable or olive oil, as needed.
1. Combine the yeast, flour, and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Combine the honey and the water and slowly stir into the flour mixture to make a dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 7 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
2. Deflate the dough and let rest 10 minutes. Divide the dough into six pieces. You will roll the dough in three stages to give the gluten time to relax. Working one at a time, roll each piece on a lightly floured surface into a 6-inch circle. Starting with the first disk (to make sure the gluten has relaxed enough), roll each circle into a disk about 9 inches in diameter; let rest for 10 minutes, then roll out into disks about 12-14 inches in diameter.
3. Heat an inverted wok over a gas flame and oil lightly using an oiled paper towel held with tongs. Drape each disk over the rolling pin and transfer to the hot wok. Do not worry if the dough does not lay flat; let it cook before trying to straighten out any folds. Cook for 30 seconds. Turn with tongs and cook another 30 seconds; turn and cook another 15-20 seconds on the first side. Wrap in towels and keep warm while cooking the remaining breads."
Related foods? Naan, pita & lavash.
Who made the first potato bread, when and where? Excellent question! Breads containing mashed potatoes first surface in mid-18th century and proliferate a century later. Mashed (sieved) potatoes add color, texture, and a variety of nutrients to baked goods. The resulting product is lighter is than standard wheat bread. Cakes, biscuits and doughnuts were also made with potatoes. Norwegian lefse is a classic Northern European example. Early 19th century potato experiments isolated and extracted starch, flour and yeast.
"It did not take potato growers long to find a way to make flour from potatoes, and the next step was to add this to wheat or rye flour to make bread. Beginning in the early eighteenth century, references to potato bread were published. Initially potato flour was probably used becasue it was cheaper than wheat or rye flour, especially in times of famine or scarcity; but later some bakers concluded that adding potato flour--or mashed potatoes--produced a better-tasting bread. At an rate, potato flour will not make a satsifactory bread because it does not develop gluten, which is necesssary to give the bread substance and shape. A 1744 recipe for potato bread is very simple: 'This Root has often been employed, like the Turnep, towards making Loaves of Bread in the scarce Times of Corn. Take as much boiled Pulp of Potatoes, as Wheaten Four, Weight for Weight, and knead them together as common Dough is done for bread.' In Germany potato bread may contain spelt and rye flour. In Ireland pratie oaten is made with mashed potatoes and rolled oats. In Scotalnd tattie scones are made form mashed potatoes and just enough flour to make a dough that can be rolled and cut, and in England recipes for potato cakes frequently appeared in the nineteenth century."
---The Potato: A Global History, Andrew F. Smith, Edible Series [Reaktion Books:London] 2011 (p. 68-69)
[NOTE: The recipe above came from The Modern Husbandman, Or, the Practice of Farming, William Ellis, vol. III (July-Sept.) London, 1744 p. 119.]
"Potato bread. Usually associated with times of grain shortage, or with a need for strict economy in the kitchen, potato bread is also advocated by some nineteenth-century writers as being the best bread for toast. This is because a proportion of potato mixed with ordinary white flour makes a loaf which retains its moisture and is also very light. Dr. A. Hunter writing in a book called Receipts in Modern Cookery; with a Medical Commentary, first published in 1805, provided both a recipe, and in case it were needed yet more evidence of the English addition to toast: lovers of toast and butter will be much pleased with this kind of bread. The potato is not here added with a view of economy, but to increase the lightness of the bread, in which state it will imbibe the butter with more freedom...'"
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, American edition with notes by Karen Hess [Penguin:New York] 1982 (p. 288)
A survey of historic recipes
"How to Make Bread with Potatoes
... If you will bake a Bushel, you shall take half a Bushel of these Roots, and putting them into two little Nets, which is a Peck into each Net, boyl them in a Kettle of water till they break between your fingers, but tlet them not break in the boyling; when they have boyled a quarter of an hour, in which time they will be boyled enough, take out the Nets, with the Roots, and hang them up a while, that the water may drain from the; then put them out into a wier Sieve, made for the purpose, being almost as thick as a course hair Sieve, and strengthened with three or four strong Wiers, or small Iron Rods, over-thwart the bottom; and with an Iron Truel let them be all broken, and rubbed through the bottom of the Sieve, into a Vessel underneath; by which means the Skins of the Roots will remain behind, and the Meal will pass through, being much like unto boyled Rice. Before you put the Roots into the Nets, you must cut the great ones into halves or quarters, otherwise the small ones will be boyled to pieces, before the great ones are boyled enough. The Roots being thus prepared, you may make Bread of them after this manner. You must take as much Wheat or Barley Flower as your half Bushel of Potato Meal weights, and mix them well together with your hands; then put to it as much warm water, mix'd with a little Barme, as you think will make it into very stiffe Dough, and as much Salt as is convenient; which being done, knead it well, until it be exactly mingled, which will quickly be, by reason of the dryness and mealiness of the Roots; afterwards make Loaves of it, and ?ee that it be well baked."
---Englands Happiness Increased or A Sure Easie Remedy against all succeeding Dear Years by A Plantation of the Roots called Potatoes, John Forster [A Seile:London] 1664 (p5-7)
[NOTE: Recipe identified, obtained, and submitted by Joe Hopkins, food historian (Seattle WA).]
"227. To make Artificial or Potatoe Bread.
Put a pound of potatoes in a net, into a skillet with cold water, and (lest the skin break, and let in the water) hang it at a distance (so as not to boil) over the fire till they become soft; then skin, mash, and rub them so as to be well mixed with a pound of flour, a very large spoonful of salt, and two large spoonfuls of yeast; but less of the yeast is better. Then add a little warm water, and knead it up as other dough; lay it a little while before the fire to ferment or rise, then bake it in a very hot oven. Bread made in this matter has been frequently tried, and found to be well-tasted, wholesome and of good consistence."
---New Family Receipt-Book, John Murray, facsimile 1820 new edition, corrected [Applwood Books:Bedford MA] (p. 140-141)
Boil thoroughly, and mash fine, mealy potatoes; add salt and a very little butter; rub them with twice their quantity of flour; stir in your yeast, and wet up with lukewarm milk or water, till stiff enough to mould up. It will rise quicker than common wheat bread; and it should be baked as soon as risen, for it soon sours."
---The Improved Housewife or Book of Receipts, By A Married Lady (Mrs. A.L. Webster) Fifth edition, revised [Richard H. Hobbs: Hartford CT] 1844 (p. 128)
Potato and Rice Bread.
One quart of rice flour, one table-spoonful of mashed sweet potato, one table-spoonful of butter, mixed with half a pint of yeast and a pint of milk. Bake in a pan, and in a moderate oven."
---Carolina Housewife, Sarah Rutledge, facsimile reprint of 1847 edition with an introduction by Anna Wells Rutledge [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia] 1979 (p. 13)
[NOTE: This recipe calls for sweet potatoes, readily available in the southern American states.]
This is one of the best varieties of mixed or cheap bread when it is made with care, as its flavour is excellent, and it remains moist longer than any other except rice bread; but the potatoes used for it should be good, thoroughly boiled, well dried afterwards by having the water poured from them, and then standing by the side of the fire to steam; and be reduced to a perfect paste by mashing, or be rubbed quickly through a cullender or other coarse strainer. They should be perfectly mixed with the flour or meal while they are still warm; and after the addition of rather more salt than for common bread, the dough, which will require less liquid than wheaten-dough, should be made up smoothly and firmly, and be managed afterwards like other bread, but be baked in a more gently oven. Seven pounds of potatoes, weighed after they are cooked and peeled, may be added to each gallon of meal or flour. Should it be necessary, from circumstances that cannot be controlled, to use such as are watery, the moisture may be partly wrung from them, in a warm thick cloth, before they are mixed with the other ingredients."
---The English Bread Book, Eliza Acton, facsimile 1857 edition [Southover Press:East Sussex] 1990 (p. 157-8)
"Bread with Potato Sponge,"
---Buckeye Cookery, Estelle Woods Wilcox [Minneapolis, MN]
--- Science in the Kitchen, Ella Eaton Kellogg [Battle Creek, MI]
"Potato Ball Bread
2 cups mashed potato
1 cake dry yeast
1 teaspn. Salt
2 teaspns. Sugar
Add yeast cake powered fine, to the potato when lukewarm, and the salt and sugar when cold; form into a ball, cover and keep in a cool place 2 or 3 days. When ready to bake, add 2 cups mashed potato mixed with 1 teaspn. Salt and 2 of sugar to the ball. Make a ball of half the mixture and add enough warm water to the remainder to make 2 qts. Or more. Add warm four to knead, let rise in bulk once or twice before putting into pans. Proceed in the same manner for each baking, keeping the ball covered in a cool place between bakings. A new ball will not need to be started oftener than once in three months if at all. This yeast works very quickly an makes beautiful bread. Of course for small bakings, half the quantity of yeast would be sufficient."
---The Laurel Health Cookery, Evora Bucknum Perkins [Laurel Publishing Company:Melrose MA] 1911 (p. 433)
1 cup diced raw potato
2 cups water
1/2 cake yeast
4 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons fat
Cook the potato in the water until soft, drian, and save 1 cup of the potato water, or if necessary add more water to make 1 cup of liquid. Pice the potato. Soften the yeast in the lukewarm potato water. Sift 3 1/2 cups of flour with the salt and sugar. Rub in the fat with the tips of the fingers, and add the yeast liquid and the potatoes. Knead the dough until it springs back into place when pressed with the fingers, and add the remaining one-half cup of flour if required. Place in a greased bowl, grease the dough, cover, and let rise until double in bulk. Without kneading the dough again, pinch off small pices, shape them lightly and place by threes in greased muffin tins, to form clover leaf rolls. Let them rise again until double in bulk. Bake for about 25 minutes in a moderately hot oven (375 to 400 degrees F.), until golden brown. Serve hot.
---Aunt Sammy's Radio Recipes Revised, Bureau of Home Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture [U.S. Government Printing Office:Washington D.C.] May, 1931 (p. 82)
"Potatoe Puding made with Potatoe Powder
Take two large spoonfulls of the Powder, and pour to it by degrees a pint of Milk or a pint of Water, but be very certain it boils before you mix it, then add Eggs, Butter etc. as in a Common Potatoe Pudding and bake it."
---A Colonial Plantation Cookbook: The Receipt Book of Harriott Pinckney Horry, 1770, edited with an introduction by Richard J. Hooker [University of South Carolina Press: Columbia] 1984 (p. 81)
[NOTE: This book offers no explanation or description of "potato powder."]
"232. Potato starch or flour
Grate down peeled and nicely-washed raw potatoes into a large dish filled with water. Let this stand for twenty-four hours, occasionally stirring it. When the starch has subsided, pour the water gently off, and put on fresh water. When sufficently blanched by repeated waters, take up the cake of starch, which will have formed at the bottom, and dry it for future use. A small machine is now in use for this purpose. The flour or starch is also sold very reasonably."
---Cook and Housewife's Manua, Meg Dods, facsimile 1829 edition [Rosters Ltd.:London] 1988 (p. 222)
"Potato Starch.--(No. 448.)
Peel and wash a ound of full-grown potatoes, grate them on a bread-grater into a deep dish, containing a quart of clear water; stir it well up, and then pour it though a hair-sieve, and leave it ten minutes to settle, till the water is quite clear; then our off the water, and put a quart of fresh water to it; stir it up, let it settle, and repeat this till the water is quite clear; you will at last find a fine white powder at the bottom of the vessel. (The criterion of this process being complicated, is the purity of the water that comes form it after stirring it up.) Lay this on a sheet of paper in a hair-sieve to dry, either in the sun or before the fire, and it is ready for use, and is a well-stoppered bottle will keep good for many months. If this be well made, half an ounce i.e. a table-spoonful) of it mixed with two table-spoonfuls of cold water, and stirred into a soup or sauce, just before you take it up, will thicken a pint of it to the consistence of cream. Obs. --This preparation much resembles the 'Indian arrow root,' and is a good substitute for it; it gives a fullness on the palate to gravies and sauces at hardly any expense, and by some is used to thicken melted butter instead of flour. As it is perfectly tasteless, it will not alter the flavour of the most delicate broth, &c.
'Potatoes, in whatever condition, whether spoiled by frost, germination, &c., provided they are raw, constanttly afford starch, differing only in quantity, the round gray ones the most; a pound producing about two ounces.'--Parmentier On Nutritive Vegetables, 8 vo. p. 31
'100lb. of potatoes yield 10lb. of starch.' --S. Gray's Supplement to the Pharmacopoeia, 8 vo. 1821 (p. 198)
"Of Flour of Potatoes.
A patent has been recently obtained at Paris, a hgold medal bestowed, and other honorary distinctions granted, for the discovery and practice, on a large scale, of preparing from potatoes a fine flour; a sago, a flour equal to ground rice; and a semolina of paste, of which 1 lb. is equal to 1 1/2 lbs. of rice, 1 3/4 lbs. of vermicelli, or, it is asserted, 8 lbs. of raw potatoes. These preparations are found valuable to mix with wheaten flour for bread, to make biscuits, pastry, pie-crusts, and for all soups, gruels, and panada. Large engagements have been made for these preparations with the French marine, and military and other hospitals, with the approbation of the faculty. An excellent bread, it is said, can be made of this flour, at half the cost of wheaten bread. Heat having been applied in these preparations, the articles willkeep unchanged for years, and on board ship, to China and back; rats, mice, worms, and insects do not infect or destroy this flour. Simply mixed with cold water, they are in ten minutes fit for food, when fire and all other resource may be wanted; and twelve ounces are sufficient for a day's sustenance, in case of necessity. The physicians and surgeons in the hospitals, in cases of bread debility of the stomach, have employed these preparations with advantage. The point of this discovery is, the cheapness of preparation, and the conversion of a surplus growth of potatoes into a keeping stock, in an elegant, portable, and salubrious form."
---The Cooks Oracle and Housekeeper's Manual, William Kitchiner, facsimile 7th edition, 1830 [Applewood Books:Bedford MA] (p. 286-287)
"Potato Flour: is obtained by grinding the tubers to a pulp, as described in the artice on Starch, and removing the fibre by water-washings. The dried product consists chiefly of starch, but also contains some protein. Large quantities are consumed in Europe--in the form of bread, in the preparation of soups, etc. It is also employed to some extent in this coutgnry by sausage makers, bakers, confectioners and cooks for various commercial purposes."
---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 503)
Boil some white mealy potatoes quite soft, then peel and mash them fine. Take half a pint of the pulp, mix with it an equal portion of flour, and enough hop tea to make it into a batter; add a gill of good yeast, mix it well, cover it, set it in a warm place till it gets light, and it will be ready for use. Some people are fond of light bread mixed half and half with flour and mashed potatoes."
---Kentucky Housewife, Lettice Bryan, facsimile 1839 edition stereotyped by Shepard & Stearns, Cincinnati [Image Graphics:Paducah KY] (p. 319)
"To Make Yeast...Another Way
Boil one pound of potatoes to mash; when half cold, add cupful of yeast, and mix it well. It will be ready for use in two or three hours, and keeps well."
---Mrs. Rundell's Domestic Cookery, Mrs. Rundell, facsimile 1859 edition [Routledge, Warnes, and Routledge:London] 1859 (p. 176)
Five potatoes mashed with a handful of flour; pour on one quart of the water in which potatoes were boiled; add one tablespoon ginger, one tablespoon salt, one teacup sugar; when cool add one cup of yeast, and let rise. Will keep two weeks. Very fine for biscuit."
---Kansas Home Cook-Book, Mrs. C. S. Cushing and Mrs. B. Gray, 1886 facsimile edition [Creative Cookbooks:Monterrey CA] 2001 (p. 64-65)
"Raw Potato Yeast.--Mix one fourth of a cup of flour, the same of white sugar, and a teaspoonful of salt to a paste with a little water. Pare three medium-sized, fresh, and sound potatoes, and grate them as rapidly as possible into the paste; mix all quickly together with a silver spoon, then pour three pints of boiling water slowly over the mixture, stirring well at the same time. If this does not rupture the starch cells of the flour and potatoes so that the mixture becomes thickened to the consistency of starch, turn it into a granite-ware kettle and boil up for a minute, stirring well to keep it from sticking and burning. If it becomes too much thickened, add a little more boiling water. It is impossible to give the exact amount of water, since the quality of the flour will vary, and likewise the size of the potatoes; but three pints is an approximate proportion. Strain the mixture through a fine colander into an earthen bread bowo, and let it cool When lukewarm, add one cup of good, lively yeast. Cover with a napkin, and keep in a moderately warm place for several hours, or until it ceases to ferment. As it begins to ferment, stir it well occasionally, and when well fermented, turn into a clean glass or earthen jar. The next morning cover closely, and put in the cellar or refrigerator, not, however in contact with the ice. It is best to reserve enough for the first baking in some smaller jar, so that the larger protion need not be opened so soon. Always shake the yeast before using."
[NOTE: This book also offers a second recipe for raw potato yeast and 2 recipes for boiled potato yeast. Recipes here (1893 edition, same text).]
"Potato Starter [sourdough]
Boil and mash 1 medium-size potato. Measure the potato water and add enough lukewarm water to make 2 cups. Mix it with the masked potato in a Pyrex or crockery bowl. Sprinkle on it 1 envelope of yeast and 1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar. Cover very loosely with a plastic bag so air may reach the mixture, and leave it for at least 3 days until it has a very pungent, sour oder. Referigerate it, tightly covered, until you are ready to use it."
---Our Daily Bread, Stella Standard [Bonanza Books:New York] 1970 (p. 17)
Related food: Salt rising bread & potato candy.
Most of the information on the origin of one of America's favorite snack foods relies on popular folklore rather than documented fact. The history of hard-baked bread and flour goods actually begins in ancient times, when biscuits (literally "twice baked") fueled the Roman legions. Food historians and Catholic scholars generally agree that, from early times, pretzels held a special place in Lent, a Christian period of abstinence from eggs. Some sources trace the earliest known pretzel reference to a 5th century Vatican manuscript (Codex 3867). The text is attributed to Virgil. This reference does not include a recipe. Soft pretzels & mustard are Philadelphia traditions. Chocolate covered pretzels were introduced in the 1930s. Modern Pretzel Bread surfaces in the 1990s.
When the Romans conquered Europe they brought with them recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques. The bread made in Southern France/Northern Italy around 610AD (the date often cited for the "invention" of the pretzel) would likely have been similar in both technique and ingredients to loaves produced by Ancient Roman bakers. Many different kinds of breads were made at that time, of various flavors and grains. The crispness of the finished product is a function of oven temperature and baking time.
Why is it called a pretzel?
There are three theories:
"The German word [bretzel,pretzel] comes ultimately from tha hypothetical medieval Latin brachiatellum, a diminutive form of brachitum, bracelet'; it hence means etymologically ring-shaped biscuit'.
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxfod] 2002 (p. 269)
"Bretzel. Frequently misspelt Pretzel, is a hard, brittle roll of bread twisted into a letter B, and common in Germany and among the Germans in this country, who eat them with their beer."
---The Grocers' Hand-Book and Directory for 1886, Artemas Ward [Philadelphia Grocer Publishing Co.:Philadelphia] 1886 (p. 29)
"Pretzel...The word is from the German, and some believe it refers to the Latin word pretium, "reward," as in a little gift to a child. Others trace the roots to the Latin brachium, arm..."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 255)
Where are the ancient recipes?
Sorry, there is no "original" pretzel recipe circa 7th century Europe. Cookbooks in these years do not contain recipes for bread. What we know about bread making at this time is culled primarily from period literature/art and modern archaelogical research. Sample here:
"Picenum was a region to the northeast of Rome, corresponding in part fo modern-day Marches. The bread of Picenum was a type of sweet, dry flatbread consisting of flour kneaded with grape juice, which was soaked in milk before it was eaten (cf. Pliny, Naturalis historia 18, 106, and Marital 13, 47)."
---A Taste of Ancient Rome, Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa, translated by Anna Herklotz, foreword by Mary Taylor Simeti [University of Chicago:Chicago] 1992 (p. 58)
"Just when a baker knotted ther first pretzel is unknown...Flemish painters, imagining pretzels to be as old as the Bible, often used them as props in scenes of the Last Supper. Because the dough contains no shortening, eggs, or milk, pretzels keep extremely well, and their saltiness has made them a favorite accompaniment to alcoholic drinks throughout northern Europe. Two basic varieties are made from the same dough: the thin, hard type are baked; the thicker, bagel-like pretzels below...are boiled before baking and are often eaten, split and buttered, as a midmorning snack."
---Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking though the Ages, William Harlan Hale [American Heritage Publishing Company:New York] 1968 (p. 644)
[NOTE: This source contains a recipe for soft pretzels. You librarian will be happy to help you obtain a copy.]
Pretzels in America
Pretzels were introduced to America by Nothern European settlers. They are historically connected German immigrants (Pennsylvania Dutch) in the greater Philadelphia area.
"The Dutch probably brought the pretzel to America, and there is a story that in 1652 a settler named Jochem Wessel was arrested for using good flour to make pretzels to sell to the Indians at a time when his white neighbors were eating bran flour. The first mention of the word "pretzel" in American print was about 1824, and the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States was set up in 1861 by Julius Sturgis and Ambrose Rauch in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Most pretzels are twisted by machine, introduced in 1933."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 255-6)
Philadelphia-style soft pretzels
"The soft pretzel, a Philadelphia street tradition, is nothing more than a fresh version of the hard pretzel. Daniel Christopher Kleiss was selling soft pretzels on the city's streets as early as the 1820's. Topping them with mustard is a Philadelphia first, but the origins of this practice are unknown."
---The Larder Invaded: Reflections on Three Centuries of Philadelphia Food and Drink, Mary Anne Hines, Gordon Marshall, William Woys Weaver [Library Company of Philadelphia and Historical Society of Pennsylvania:Philadephia] 1987 (p. 52)
Pretzels originated in the Old World. Soft pretzels are a long-standing Philadelphia tradition. Pretzel bread, a creative twist on this chewey theme, surfaces in the 1980s. Early references do not describe the product. Pretzel bread, as we know it today, might have originated in America's midwest region. Most notably? Chicago. Go figure.
"The meal started with Philadelphia Pretzel Bread - warm, soft bread shaped into a huge, oversized pretzel twist that was sprinkled with sesame seeds and served with honey and cinnamon-sweetened butter."
---"A SPOT FOR VARIED AND VERY GOOD FOOD," John V.R. Bull, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 17, 1983 (p. N7)
"They tried hot dogs wrapped in pretzel bread by CrossWorld, a trading company in Columbus, Ind."
---"Chewing over Hoosier food: Japanese look for eats to go,"Douglass T. Davidoff, Indianapolis Star, June 28, 1991 (p. B1)
"Cozy Restaurant's annual Strawberry Festival and Antique Car Show at Cozy Village, located in Thurmont, will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Local strawberries will be for sale along with strawberry treats, hot dogs, barbecue pork sandwiches, ham sandwiches on pretzel bread, baked beans and more."
---"Berry Fest Comes to Cozy," Frederick News Post [MD], June 5, 1992 (p. C9)
"The Corner Bakery in Chicago has only been open a year and a half, but it already has established customer favorites. Some of them are built around a time-consuming, hearth-baked peasant sourdough bread. Take sandwiches, for example. Corner Bakery sandwiches are typically prepared several hours before lunch on whole loaves of bread and cut in portions, not on sliced bread. The difference is the crusty loaves allow the sandwiches to keep longer without getting soggy, says executive baker, Ric Scicchitano...One of the most novel is the Alsace sandwich, also known as pretzel bread. It's a dense, chewy, twisted pretzel-shaped bread filled with imported ham and Dijon mustard, inspired by Jean Joho, the bakery's Alsatian co-owner."
---"Bakerless bakeshops On-Premises baking," James Scarpa, Restaurant Business, July 20, 1993 (p. 123)
"Now that the weather is turning cooler and appetites are being whetted by football and leaf-raking, summer's lightweight sandwiches aren't a suitable match. Instead, [Jean Joho] recently held a Pretzelfest at the Corner Bakery to celebrate the pretzel and to introduce customers to delicious, robust sandwiches that start with a pretzel."
---"Pretzel Sandwich Stacks Up As Snack With French Flair," Beverly Bennett, Chicago Sun-Times September 23, 1993 (p. 1)
"Sandwiches have become so chic that trendy eateries stuff their menus with them, pushing creativity to the edge of the bread. At Bikini in Santa Monica, Calif., chef John Sedler does a topless sandwich of steamed filet mignon on pretzel bread with banana mint garnish."
--- "Building better a sandwich," Kitty Crider, Austin American-Statesman, August 4, 1993, (p. E1)
"Enloe, who has been working the streets for eight years, buys his pretzels from Gus Koebbe, whose shop is advertised by a sidewalk sign reading, "Gus' Pretzel Shop. Twisting Since 1920." Koebbe, a third-generation pretzel maker who has studied pretzel history, says he knows of only two other cities - New York and Philadelphia - where pretzels are sold on the street. His grandfather started the business in his basement and relied on his skills as a vendor to keep it going. Koebbe bought the store from his father in 1980. His 14 workers turn out about 6,000 pretzels daily in the stick and twisted varieties. He has also added the "bratzel," a quarter-pound bratwurst wrapped in pretzel bread."
---"Street-corner pretzel vendors a remnant of St. Louis institution," Connie Farroe, Associated Press, December 16, 1996 (unpaged).
"Alou Niangadou, the son of a grocerer from French-speaking Mali, left his home country in 1980 to study physics and mathematics in Paris. However, it was the training be received from an old Alsatian baker there that was to change the course of his life. Niangadou's style of bread-making -- yeast- and chemical-free -- earned him a celebrity following at E.A.T.'s and Burke & Burke in New York between 1986 and 1994 and led to his arrival in Atlanta last year as Olympic consultant and, eventually, as executive head baker at Buckhead Bread Company, where he directs production of more than 10,000 loaves a day, three-fourths of which are eaten in the city's restaurants. Title: Executive Head Baker, Buckhead Bread Company, Atlanta. Birthdate: Feb. 6, 1957. Hometown: Bamako, Mali. Formal education: Academic studies at Ecole Normale Superieure; apprenticeships, at Lulu Bakery and Le Pain de Paris, all in Paris. Career highlights: Being "discovered" by food writers from The New York Times and The New Yorker while he was baking at Eli Zabar's E.A.T.'s in Manhattan; seeing his bread served at such prominent New York dining spots as Aureole, Le Bernardin and Le Cirque; being personally commissioned by Eddie Murphy to bake 5,000 raisin-pecan rolls for the actor-comedian's wedding; opening his own bakery, Viga, in Miami in 1996...Why did you leave New York, where you're more well known? The deal here was good. Pano [Karatassos, co-founder of the group that owns Buckhead Bread Company and nine other restaurants in Atlanta] made me an offer I couldn't refuse. Besides; I'd opened a new bakery, Viga, in Miami, so the move to Atlanta brought me closer...How many kinds of bread are you baking at BBC? More than 30 varieties, including the sourdough breads I've introduced. Some of the new ones include pretzel bread, which comes in baguettes and rolls; a semi-sweet apple-walnut; an everything bread with all kinds of nuts; and a rosemary-cheddar."
---"Alou Niangadou: bread maker kneads patience with variety. (Exec. Head Baker, Buckhead Bread Co.)," Jack Hayes, Nation's Restaurant News, March 17, 1997 (p. 39)
"Blstrot Zinc. 3443 N. Southport, Chicago. French....Proprietor Doug Roth and the Levy Restaurants brought chef : Barry Rosenstein over from then popular Bistro 110, as well as much of the menu and a fondness for wood roasting. Meals bejgin with pretzel bread served with a three-mustard spread."
---"A Class Acty Any way You Slice It," (restaurant reviews), Chicago Daily Herald, August 1, 1997 (section 6, pg. 14)
"Q: I am interested in a recipe from the Buckhead Bread Co. & Corner Cafe. The pretzel sticks they serve to munch on are fabulous. I have also purchased the same pretzel bread in a small round loaf in their bakery. Since tasting the sticks and the loaf, I have searched extensively for the recipe with no success. Can you possibly get it? Thanks for your column and all the recipes already printed. Constance Wall, Berkeley Lake
A: It was Pano Karatassos, the legendary Atlanta restaurateur and president and founder of Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, who conceived the idea of pretzel bread. He called upon Alou Niangadou, an award-winning bakery chef and executive bread baker at the Buckhead Bread Co., which provides bread for all the Buckhead Life restaurants as well as other top hotels and restaurants, to come up with such a creation. The result is a unique and popular brown crusty loaf with a touch of salt, similar to a warm soft pretzel. Niangadou suggests mixing a little mustard with the butter for a terrific match."
---"From the Menu of ... BUCKHEAD BREAD CO. & CORNER CAFE,"Betty Parham, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 14, 2000 (p. H9) [NOTE: Recipe for Pretzel Sticks accompanies this article.]
"Twist this: Baking experts say pretzel bread a cousin of the ubiquitously popular crispy, salted snack is growing in popularity, popping up on menus and in sandwich orders from California bakeries to New York restaurants. The centuries-old chewy German bread with its doughy consistency and salted crust is "almost in that trend phase where youre seeing it almost everywhere," said Tom Vaccaro, senior director of baking and pastries at the Culinary Institute of America, where pretzels are taught in classes. "It offers a lot of flavor components when you eat it," Vaccaro said. "For a lot of people its in that comfort food zone, meaning a lot of people as children, as kids went to fairs, went to baseball games, football games, where you had pretzels for sale." So it wouldnt be that much of a jump for customers to order a pretzel bread sandwich, said Peter Reinhart, baking instructor at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, N.C. "Its not something thats so out of the box that no ones heard of it," Reinhart said. "We know that pretzel goes well with mustard, so it makes a good base for a sandwich." Florian Pfahler started Hannahs Bretzel (he says in his native Germany pretzel is spelled with a "b") in 2004 and has two Chicago locations with plans for more. His goal is to bring pretzel bread from Germany to the United States and says he has earned a loyal following. "What I hear time and again is, This is a tasty sandwich," Pfahler said. "The pretzel bread tastes so good." The restaurant also offers bragels (pretzel bagels) for morning sandwiches, pretzel-shaped pretzel bread and mini baguette-shaped pretzel bread for sandwiches...Corner Bakery Cafe, a restaurant chain based in Dallas, has had pretzel bread on the menu since the early 1990s and currently serves it as ham and turkey sandwiches, said Ric Scicchitano, the restaurants senior vice president of food and beverage. He calls it a signature item."
---"Fresh from an oven near you Pretzel bread twisting up at restaurants, bakeries everywhere," Caryn Rosseau Associated Press, Chicago Daily Herald, April 14, 2010 (p. 1)
"The top growing bread between 2008 and 2012 was pretzel bread, rising at a rate of more than 79 percent, according to Datassential’s U.S. Chains & Independents MenuTrends Database, which tracks appetizers and entrees across all food service segments. Brioche climbed nearly 75 percent, and flatbread grew 61 percent during the period.Pretzel bread is popping up on mainstream menus as soft-baked sticks, bagels, frankfurter rolls and burger buns."
---"Bread trending toward artisanal, Old World," Modern Baking Staff, Modern Baking, May 21, 2013 (unpaged).
Makes 8 rolls
To make hotdog or sausage buns, pat each piece into a 3x4-inch (7.5x10-cm) rectangle, fold it into thirds as if folding a letter, pinch to seal, and roll back and forth on countertop to lengthen into a 6-inch (15-cm) cylinder. To shape pretzels, roll each dough piece into a 12-inch (30-cm) rope, twist the ends together and fold them toward the centre.
3 cups (750 mL) unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) unsalted butter, cut into Ѕ-inch (1.2-cm) pieces
1ј cups (310 mL) lukewarm water
1 tsp (5 mL) instant yeast
1 tbsp (15 mL) packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt
Ѕ cup (125 mL) baking soda
Pretzel salt, sesame seeds, AND/OR poppy seeds for sprinkling
Combine flour and butter in bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on low until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add water, yeast, sugar and kosher salt to bowl. Stir several times with a rubber spatula until a rough dough forms.
Remove paddle and replace with dough hook. Knead dough on medium speed until springy and smooth, about 10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 1 hour. Dough will rise slightly into a dome.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured countertop and divide into 8 equal pieces.
Shape each piece into a round by pulling the slack surface of dough piece downward toward countertop and pinching it together on underside.
Cup dough round in both hands and rotate it several times to tighten round into a firm ball. Place rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet, pinched sides down. Lightly drape with plastic wrap and refrigerate at for at least 2 and up to 24 hours.
Arrange rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Bring 4 quarts (4 L) water to boil in a large pot. Stir baking soda into boiling water, 1 tbsp (15 mL) at a time (it will bubble up).
Drop dough rounds, 3 or 4 at a time, into pot, being careful not to overcrowd. Lower heat and simmer on one side for 30 seconds, turn, and simmer on other side for 30 seconds.
Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well, and place back on baking sheet, pinched sides down, at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
Sprinkle with pretzel salt, sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds. Use a sharp scissor, snipping twice, to create an "X" on top of each roll.
Bake until reddish brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes and eat warm or let cool to room temperature. Pretzel rolls are best eaten soon after baking."
---"How to make pretzel bread at home," Lauren Chattman, The Hamilton Spectator [Ontario Canada], March 26, 2012 (p. G12)
Chocolate covered pretzels
Food historians trace the history of pretzels, in several forms back to Medieval times. Our survey of historic confectionery texts confirms the practice of dipping extant items into chocolate to achieve the "covered" effect began sometime in the mid 19th century and proliferated in the 20th. Early dipping items featured nuts (peanuts, pecans), fruits (pineapple, strawberries, cherries) and biscuits/biscotti. And then? There's Chocolate covered ants.
The earliest print references we find for chocolate covered pretzels are from the 1930s. Not surprisingly, they come from the greater Philadelphia/Amish county, a region rich in pretzel history. We're not finding any particular person, place or company claiming to be the inventor or first to sell. In the late 1950s, some ads proclaim the product "new." BTW, chocolate covered potato chips are older.
"Benzel's Large Chocolate Coated Pretzels, doz. 10 cents."
---display ad, Handy Service Stores, Altoona Mirror[Altoona PA], February 3, 1933 (p. 4)
"Chocolate covered pretzels, 6 1/2 oz box, 39 cents,"
---display ad, Penn Fruit supermarket, Chester Times [Chester PA], October 1, 1953 (p. 45)
"As Lauren [Bacall] nibbled chocolate covered pretzels from a silver dish on the table..."
---"Simplicity, Individuality, Traits of Lauren Bacall."---Lydia Lane, Los Angeles Times, December 13, 1953 (p. D13)
"Washington Chocolate Covered Pretzels, 5-oz pkg. 39 cents...Tom's Danish Milk Chocolate Pretzels, solid milk chocolate of pretzels! 3-oz.pkg. 19 cents."
---display ad, Food Fair supermarket, Lebanon Daily News [Lebanon PA], October 18, 1956 (p. 28)
"Weekend Candy Special, chocolate covered pretzels, 99 cents lb...one of our newest candy kitchen creations specially priced. Fresh crisp with rich delicious chocolate...an unusual combination, yes but once you taste it you'll wonder why no one else has ever thought of this delicious confection before."
---May Co. [department store] display ad, Los Angeles Times, January 1957 (p. 28)
"New! Chocolate covered pretzels. reg. .20 Special Introductory Price lb. 89 cents...candies by Shaklos,"
---Journal-Daily News [Hamilton OH], February 9, 1957 (p. 5)
"Have your tried our famous chocolate covered pretzels? A fresh, crisp, tasty pretzel dipped in our own ultra milk-chocolate coating. only 70 cents. Two convenient locations. Candies by Shakos."
---Journal-Daily News [Hamilton OH], November 30, 1964 (p. 9)
Chocolate covered potato chips
Are chocolate covered potato chips a new phenomenon? No, according to an advertisement placed in the Janesville Daily Gazette [WI], April 24, 1924: "Snappy Doodles Toasted Chocolate Coated Potato Chips, 10 cents Package. Absence of regular print evidence suggests this item was not an immediate hit. This item resurfaces as a gourmet specialty food product in the mid-1980s, when Americans were having a collective love affair with everything chocolate. Today they remain almost exclusively the provenance of fine chocolatier, presumably because potato chips are easily compromised once exposed to air.
Related foods: Chocolate covered graham crackers.
Pullman loaves [aka Pain de mie, Pain Anglais, Sandwich bread]
Our research confirms straight-edged "Pullman" loaves were served in dining cars manufactured by this company. It also reveals this type of bread existed long before both railroads and the company. The original reason for the perfectly symmetrical squared loaves was to minimize crust. This loaf was the bread of choice for decorative canapes, hors d'oeuvres, etc. Early loaves were made in several shapes in addition to rectangles. Mr. James Porterfield, railway dining expert, states Pullman selected this loaf for efficient storage purposes. This may be true. He also states this is the same sandwich bread we see today in our grocery stores. We think Julia Child, James Beard and Prosper Montagne would disagree.
According to Elizabeth David, European bread makers began using square tin pans in the early 18th century.
What is Pain de Mie?
"Pullman Loaf or Pain de Mie. This is a white bread frequently used for sandwiches, a four-square loaf that has a delicate texture, a fine crumb, and good flavor. It is made in a special pan with a sliding lid at the top that keeps the bread in shape as it bakes."
---Beard on Bread, James Beard [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1975 (p. 48)
[NOTE: this book includes a recipe.]
"Pain de mie [White Sandwich Bread...] It is almost impossible in present-day America to find the firm, close-grained, evenly rectangular, unsliced type of white bread that is essential for professional-looking canapes, appetizers, and fancy sandwiches. In French this is pain de mie, meaning that the mie, the crumb or inside, is more important than the crust; in fact the crust exists merely as a thin and easily slided covering. French boulangeries form and bake the bread in special covered molds; the bread rises during baking so that it fills the mold completely and emerges absolutely symmetrical. The form can be round or cylindrical, but it is usually rectangular."
---Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child and Simone Beck, Volume Two [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1970 (p. 74-75)
[NOTE: instructions for Pain de Mie follow on pages 75-83.]
Interestingly, Larousse Gastronomique classifies this bread as Pain Anglais, known also as Pain de Mie. This book confirm's Child's observation regarding shape variations.
"English or tin loaf. Pain Anglaise, dit aussi Pain de Mie--This bread is baked in France specifically for various culinary uses (croutons, white breadcrumbs, etc.) or for making sandwiches, canapes served as hors-d'oeuvre or for toast served with tea. English loaves can be of different shapes and weight. They are most frequently baked in rectangular tins, which makes it very easy to cut off the crust (used for making white breadcrumbs), Stale bread is often used. This type of loaf is also used for making hollowed-out croustades in which various ragouts, purees, etc., are served."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Prosper Montagne [Crown Publishers:New York] 1961 (p. 170)
"Sandwich Bread.--When sandwiches are required on a large scale, it is best to order the bread of a good baker. Special tins, called sandwich tins, have sliding lids, and the bread is very moist and nice. Failing either of these loaves, the next best thing is to use a good ordinary tin loaf."
---Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book, Lizzie Heritage [Cassell and Company:London] 1894 (p. 1042)
The Pullman Connection
"The innocuous square loaf of bread found on grocery shelves all over America today and generally known as 'sandwich bread,' is referred to in the trade by its original name, the Pullman loaf. Baked in square, straight-sided bread pans with a cover to insure a top identical to the other three sides, more of these loaves could be stored in the tight space of a dining car kitchen than could loaves with beveled sides and a rounded top."
---Dining by Rail, James D. Porterfield [St. Martin's Griffin:New York] 1993 (p. 142-143) [NOTE: recipe not included.]
Related item? Sliced sandwich bread.
Food historians generally agree that rye originated in Central/Eastern Europe. This hearty cold climate grain sustained hungry humans for thousands of years. Rye cultivation probably began as an accident. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact date & place of the first loaf of rye bread. We are told the Ancient Greeks and Romans knew rye bread but did not make much use of it. Rye bread, and related products, are traditionally associated with the hungriest people of northern Europe. Recipes vary according to culture and cuisine. Rye was introduced to the New World by European colonists. This grain flourished in New England. Some popular rye breads:
Rye: origin, dispersion & use:
"Rye, secale cereale, a cereal which came into cultivation later than wheat, barley and oats. Rye was for centuries the principal bread-making cereal of N. Europe, and still is in eastern parts of the continent, especially in Russia. This is partly because it grows well in cold regions: well up into the Arctic parts of Scandinavia and up to 4.250 m (14,000') in the Himalayas. It is not just a northerly substitute for wheat, since it has its own special qualities and is preferred by some people...The original ancestor of rye was a perennial grass, Secale montanum, common in N. Africa and mountainous regions of the Near and Middle East, and known as mountain rye. Probably around 3000 BC, somewhere in the highlands of E. Turkey, Armenia, and NW Iran, where the harsh climate is unsuitable for wheat or barley, this was developed and cultivated into an annual plant...Rye cultivation entered Europe from the east around 2000 BC and had spread westwards to Germany by 1000 BC, skirting the lands where the classical civilizations were developing...The first mention of its cultivation is in the 1st century BC by Pliny, who described it as grown in the Alps and an unpleasant grain for only for the very hungry. However, the Germanic tribes valued it. When the Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain they brought rye with them and for a long time afterward more rye was grown in Britain than wheat. Bread was made from pure rye flour and from maslin (rye and wheat ground together);...Lower grades of bread were made with mixtures of rye and barley and other grains."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 677-8)
"There is evidence for the ancient cultivation of rye in the Near East dating back to the Neolithic. Gordon Hillman...found cultivated rye in the aceramaic early Neolithic layers of Tell Abu Hureyra in Neolithic layers of Tell Abu Hasan III in central Anatolia. Hillman reports that there were entire rachis internodes at these sites, proof that the selective pressures of cultivation were operating, because only a plant with a nonbrittle rachis can be harvested efficiently. It is not clear, however, if rye was actually cultivated at these Neolithic sites or whether the plant only underwent such morphological adaptations while being sown and harvested as a weedy contaniment of other crops...Possibly this process of unintentionally cultivating rye, while intentionally cultivating wheat and barley, also took place in the early Neolithic fields of Tell Abu Hureyra and Can Hasan III that Hillman investigated. So we do not know if rye was deliberately grown as a crop in its own right or if it was only "wheat of Allah." ...Rye reached Europe at the dawn of the region's Neolithic Revolution, but probably as a weed. Angela M. Kreuz...has discovered rye remains in Bruchenbrucken, near Frankfurt, in central Germany...A detailed study for an area in northern Germany has shown that the shift to rye cultivation took place during the second century A.D....During the Middle Ages, rye became a very important crop in many parts of Europe...In conclusion, although rye has been said to be our "oldest crop," and baking comapny advertisements call rye bread the traditional bread...this is certainly not the case. Only gradually did this crop, which began as a weed among cultigens, grow to prominence."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume One (p.149-151)
"Failing arechaeological proofs, Eureopean languages show an early knowledge of rye in German, Keltic, and Slavonic countries. The principal names...belong to the peoples of the north of Europe...The pirign of this name must date...from an epoch previous to the separation of the Teutons from the Lithuano-Slavs...Thus historical and philological data show that the species probably had its origin in the countries north of the Danube, and that its cultivation is hardly earlier than the Christian era in the Roman empire, but perhaps more ancient in Russia and Tartary."
---Origin of Cultivated Plants, Alphonse de Candolle, reprint 2nd edition,1886 [Hafner Publishing Company:New York] 1964 (p. 371-371)
"Common rye bread (siliginis) would equate roughly to a modern whole meal rye bread. This type of bread was commonly used for trenchers... Black rye bread (niger) was a fine-grained bread very dark in color. When baked down-hearth in kettles, as was often done in rural farmhouses, this bread resembeld a dense pudding like German pumpernickel."
---Food and Drink in Medieval Pland: Rediscovering a cuisine of the past,, Maria Dembinska, revised and adapted by William Woys Weaver [Unviersity of Pennsyvania Press:Philadelphia] 1999 (p. 114)
"Rye chaff was found in the sixth-century pottery from Portsdown, Portsmouth, and in early pottery from Canterbury. It is common at Old Buckenham Mere, Norfolk, from the fifth century on until the thirteenth...Rye would have been the ideal crop to exploit the dry, sandy soil conditions of this area...Rye was the staple crop on the continent because it was able to thrive under adverse conditons of soil and climate, but better conditions in Britain meant that settlers sould indulge their preference for other crops. Ergot would have flourished in the damper conditions prevailing in England, and this may have been the major factor in relinquishing rye as an important cereal crop...There is some evidence that wheat and rye were already being grown together as a mixed crop (maslin)."
---A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food and Drink: Production and Distribution, Ann Hagen [Anglo-Saxon Books:Norfolk] 1995 (p. 25-26)
"Thin flatbread, baked directly on hot embers, was probably the only bread most Icelanders knew up unti the late eighteenth century. Leaveners seem not to have been used, not even sourdough. The bread was thin, because flour was expensive, and lack of fuel meant that fuel-intensive ovens were not built; all baking was done on embers, or on stone or iron plated placed over or by an open fire. The flatbread ws probably baked from barley in Viking times but in the eighteenth century, rye flour was being used. for the bread, now made commercially...Rye flatbread with butter and thin slices of smoked lamb is a very traditional Icelandic treat which is often found at grand feasts and banquets as well as in simple coffee-shops or at the midday coffe table in a farmhouse. Cheese is another popular topping..."
---Icelandic Food & Cookery, Nanna Rognvaldardottir [Hippocrene Books:New York] 2002 (p. 202)
[NOTE: Recipes for Rye flatbread, Baked rye bread and Steamed rye bread follow.]
"Pumpernickel. A wholegrain rye bread from Westphalia in Germany, is leavened by sourdough culture. It is also known as Schwarzbrot because of the characteristic dark colour which results from the caramelization of the starch in the rye grain during the long, slow baking proces. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name pumpernickel, whose ultimate derivation is uncertain, originally meant 'lout' or stinker', and was then by transference applied to the bread (which was notorious for causing flatulence)."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 640)
"In pre-Revolutionary days, the best black bread in Russia was baked in Filippov's bakery on Tverskaya Boulevard, now Gorky Street. Filippov claimed that his secret lay in the flour he used. He shipped his grains in from the Tambov Province, then bround them in his own mills before sieving to eliminate all the chaff. Filippov's loaves were so good that a shipment was sent daily to the cour in St. Peterburg--and this before the advent of railways!"
---A Taste of Russia, Darra Goldstein [Jill Norman Book, Rober Hale:London] 1983, 1985 (p. 136)
[NOTE: Modernized recipe (which includes instant coffee, beer & dark chocolate) follows.]
"I have always wondered by American Jews call a very heavy and sour rye bread or Bauernbrot "corn bread." Somehow the word corn got lost in the translation. In Germany a Jewish rye bread was made with all rye flour. not here. In this country [USA] some wheat is thrown in. In Yiddish corn means grain so a corn bread could be any bread with grain. Some say that the bread got its name because cornmeal is thrown on the baking sheet when it is baked."
---Jewish Cooking in America, Joan Nathan [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1998 (p. 80)
" 'You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's rye'--or any rye bread, for that matter. That you don't have to be Russian or Polish is more to the point. Rye needs a cold climate and was never grown in ancient Israel. It originated as a weed in parts of Asia where wheat was cultivated thousands of years ago. From here it was probably brought to northern Europe. Although rye 'n injun, made from rye and cornmeal, was the staple bread of the early American colonists, it as Russian-Jewish bakers at the turn of the century and later advertising techniques that made rye bread so popular. The earliest bread prepared by the Jews was made of flat cakes baked between layers of slow-burning camel dung, as in the Book of Ezra. They also parched the grain, like the reapers in the Book' of Ruth. If they had a hearth, they roasted the dough in the ashes. When the Jews settled down and began baking bread, they baked well. Their best bread was of wheat kemach solet, 'essence of flour,' from which they made Temple sacrifices to God and bread for the rich. Barley was used by the poor and for horse feed. To make barley palatable, ground lentils, beans, and millet were added. At first, Jewish housewives and their daughters tended the ovens; later maid-servants helped. Later still, when Jews became city dwellers, men became bakers. In Jerusalem there is still a baker's street in the Old City. The first breads were small round loaves slightly raised int eh center and about as thick as a finger. Three breads per person were eaten at each meal. Thus, at the meal Abigail prepared for David and his men, she served two huge jugs of wine and two hundred loaves of bread. Rye bread, often considered inferior to wheat, is sometimes not eaten on holidays. But during the week of Hanukkah it is perfectly acceptable with a hearty vegetable soup. Black bread--rye bread made from dark, coarsely ground flour--is what poor Russian Jews ate during the week, with hallah or white bread for the Sabbath. American rye is lighter, so we need coffee, cocoa, or blackstrap molasses to a achieve the desired dark effect. It takes an expert to prepare excellent rye bread. Rye flour is harder to handle than wheat. The dough is stickier, more difficult, and must be kneaded longer."
---Jewish Holiday Kitchen, Joan Nathan [Schoken Books:New York] 1988 (p. 181-182)
Rye bread, Neighborhood Cook Book
Rye bread (American), International Jewish Cookbook
"Rye Bread--Sweet Dough or American Type
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups lukewarm water
3 cakes yeast
2 tablespoons soft shortening
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
3 cups sifted medium rye flour
3 cups sifted all-purpose white flour
Add sugar and salt to the water and stir until dissolved. Add the yeast and stir until melted. Add shortening, caraway seeds, and the flours, and mix to a soft dough. It may be necessary to add a little more white flour, as dough made with rye tends to be sticky. Turn out on a lightly floured board, and knead until satiny. Place in a greased bowl, turn over, and let rise twice, according to general directions for making bread. After the second rising, punch down and form into 2 long loaves. Place, some distance apart, on a lightly greased cookie sheet, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until double in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 50 minutes, until nicely browned. This makes 2 large loaves. For an unusual flavor add 1 tabelspoon of fennel seeds with the caraway seeds. Because 3 cakes of yeast are used in this recipe, the dough rises very quickly, and the total time required is about 3 hours."
---The Jewish Cook Book, Mildred Grosberg Bellin [Tudor Publishing Co.:New York] 1958 (p. 210-211)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "maslin" as a "Mixed grain, esp. rye mixed with wheat. Also, bread made of mixed corn." The word derives from Old French "mesteillon" which in turn derives from Latin "miscere," to mix. The oldest reference to this word in English print dates to 1303. There are many spelling variations throughout the years. Maslin bread, as is true with most European foods made with rye, was the food of the common/poorer people. Wealthy people ate bread composed solely of wheat. The wealthier the person, the finer the wheat. Maslin was also used to make other foods too, such as pottage.
"The cereals of the early medieval period were those already known in Britain. It is possible that the Saxons grew proportionately less wheat than their predecessors in Roman times raised in their continental homelands. They certainly favored the mixed crop of wheat and rye that was later called maslin (from miscelin, its name in the Merovingian and Carolingian domains of France; the Saxon term for it was later corrupted to mancorn or monkcorn. The mixed crop was well regarded, as it had been in prehistoric times, for it acted as an insurance against the failure of wheat on its own in a bad season. But when wheat was grown where soil and climate would bear it; and the ninth century saw not only Viking invasions, but also more peaceful trading expeditions from Norway, when the Norsemen came to England to purchase surplus wheat."
---Food and Drink in Britain From the Stone Age to the 19th Century, C. Anne Wilson [Academy Chicago:Chicago] 1991 (P. 235)
"In the Middle Ages white wheaten bread of the finest quality only appeared on the tables of the well-to-do...The lord of the manor could render his own land more fertile by having it marled and dunged. But it was not worth the labour of the small peasant to dig, cart, and spread the clayey marl on his strips in the openfield, when these would shortly be realloted to neighbours. So they remained unimproved, and the villagers grew maslin, rye or barley on land that might, with attention, have been made to produce wheat. Even maslin soon degenerated, after a few poor seasons, into something approaching pure rye. All wheat on damp soil is changed after the third sowing into 'siligo', Columella had written in the first century AD. He was referring to a phenomenon that occurred when hard and soft wheats were grown as a mixed crop and siligo (a soft white wheat) fared better in moist conditions. But owing to a confusion of words siligo was later taken to mean 'rye', and the medieval farmer believed, in accordance with his experience with maslin, that wheat and rye were different manifestations of the same cereal; though he noticed that the change took place in one direction only, and was irreversable. So maslin was raised as a breadcorn akin to wheat, thought its proportions must have varied from season to season and from village to village. It was grown in the first place as a safeguard, lest pure wheat should fail, and in the second place because it was a heavier producer than wheat alone. For these reasons it still had a high reputation as late as the seventeenth century. Clean rye was also grown, and was mixed with wheat at the mill in whatever proporitons were desired to produce maslin meal...verses by Thomas Tusser explain the great drawback of maslin: the rye ripened anything up to a fortnight earlier than the wheat, and if it was left to stand, began to shed its grain. The compromise solution, when both were sown together, was to cut the maslin in the middle week, after the pure rye harvest, but before that of wheat; and such was still the practice in the seventeenth century."
---ibid. (P. 238-9)
Related flour mix? Thirded bread
Semolina is not a food in itself. It is an edible starch created during the process of milling grain. In modern times, semolina is generally made from Durham wheat, a "hard wheat" descending from ancient Emmer. In days past, semolina was not limited to any particular kind of wheat grain. While semolina was likely known at the dawn of civilization, print recipe evidence dates to the middle ages. Tracing the diffusion of this food requires the services of forensic botanists and linguistic experts. Contemporary Americans generally equate semolina with pasta. Back in the day this grain was amazingly versatile.
What is semolina?
"Semolina consists of the small hard particles of wheat left in the bolting machine after the fine flour has passed through its meshes. It forms the basis of all Italian pastes from the finest vermicelli to the large type of macaroni called Zitoni. It also makes quite agreeable milk puddings. Another more creamy variety of semolina is made from maize or Indian corn."
---The Master Dictionary of Food & Cookery, Henry Smith [Philosophical Library:New York] 1950 (p. 216)
"Triticum duram (Macaroni wheat)...widely used for pasta, derived from emmer."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2000, Volume One (p. 164)
[NOTE: Emmer is a prehistoric form of wheat.]
"Semolina is usually made from the very hard durum wheat, a variety of Mediterranean origin which is now grown mostly in the USA and Canada. When coarsely milled, the brittle grains fracture into sharp chips, and it is these which constitute ordinary semolina."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition, Tom Jaine editor [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2007 (p. 711)
Why do we call it semolina?
"The word semonlina comes ultimately from Latin simila, which signified a kind of fine wheat flour (it is also the source of English simnel, as in simnel cake). This developed into Italian semola, 'grain', whose diminutive from somolino passed, with slight alteration, into English in the eighteenth century. It denotes the coarse particles left after wheat has been milled into flour and then sifted. In British cuisine semolina's commonest role has been in the making of rather uninspiring milk puddings...Eliza Acton gives a recipe for a 'good semolina pudding' in Modern Cookery, 1845, but it perhaps reaches its apotheosis in pasta and in gnocchi, small Italian dumplings often made from semolina."
---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford Univeristy Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 307)
How is semolina used in cookery?
"...to [Italian] millers semolina is the major part, the heart of the endosperm, of the wheat berry, which provides the bulk of their flour. When first separated from the bran and the rest of the wheat offal...the semolina emerges in granules, of varying degrees of fineness, according to the methods by which it has been milled. When gound to an intensive degree, the result is the finest wheat flour. In stone milling...semolina is made 'by keeping the stones a little further apart than for flour-making, then carefully sifting the meal thus produced'...Semolina meals as we know them are not normally used in bread doughs. A confusion which may arise in the minds of those familiar with Italian pasta products...is...the use of the words semola or semlino di grano duro, or hard-wheat semolina, which appear on the packets of all the good Italian pasta products. To make pasta which will dry successfully, without splintering, and cook firmly rather than collapsing into mush, an exceptionally hard-grain, high-gluten variety of wheat called durum is used; and because flour in semolina form absorbs less water than the finely ground product it makes a dough which dries out quickly. This makes it preferable for mass-manufactured pasta, although it is the durum wheat itself which is the really important factor in commercial pasta products...The semolina meals we buy in packets from the grocer vary in degrees of fineness, and can be milled from any good hard wheat, not necessarily durums, but always high-gluten. The Italian words semola and semolino derive from simila, the Latin for fine flour--fine, that is, in the sense of best quality. Some people do...use semolina for home-made pasta...Durum wheat flours are considered too tough for breadmaking on their own, but are sometimes used for blending."
---English Bread & Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David,American edition with notes by Karen Hess [Penguin Books:New York] 1980 p. 77-78)
[Medieval Arab cuisine]
"How to make Samid [samid, semolina; coarsely ground flour]/ A quart of samid, a pound and a half of Tunisia hone, a dirham and a half of saffron, an eighth of a dirham of camphor, two ounces of sesame oil. Then put the quantity of two pounds of water in the pot or copper cauldron...and kindle the fire for it until it boils. Throw the honey on it, the dissolve the saffron and camphor in the water and honey before the samid is thrown in. Then leave it to boil, and thereupon throw the samid [in], and kindle the fire for it until it boils [again] and smells good and is complete. You stir it with the poker with two ounces of sesame oil until it smells good. Then take it down and spread it out, if you wish, kin baking trays or dishes with sesame oil; the vessel being greased underneath it. You do with it as with halawa, and you garnish it with blanched almonds, and it comes out excellently."
---Medieval Arab Cookery, essays and translations by Maxime Rondinson, A.J. Arberry & Charles Perry [Prospect Books:Devon] 2001 (p. 423-424)
[NOTE: Halawa (aka halva) is a confection based on honey, flour and seeds/nuts.]
[14th century Spain]
"Semolina (Semola). If you want to make prepared semolina, set it to cook with almond milk. You can put in oil, and saffron for coloring. It should be stirred forcefully; and keep it from the smoke. Put in white sugar. Be sure you know how to prepare it so that there is no dirt."
---The Book of Sent Sovi: Medieval recipes from Catalonia, edited by Joan Santanach, translated by Robin Vogelzang [Tamesis:Barcelona] 2008 (p. 151) [NOTE: Today Catalonia is called Castile.]
Bartolomeo Scappi's Art and Craft of a Master Cook (Opera) offers a meat-day dish, Book II no. 153 "To prepare a dish of hard wheat with various other ingredients, in the Moorish style, called Succussu." Notes indicate "Succussu" was a form of kuskus, or couscous. Book II no. 170: To prepare a thick semolina soup with goat's or cow's milk." Book III, n. 220: To prepare a thick starch soup with almond milk." Recipe indicates "You can cook hard wheat the same way, although it needs more cooking than starch."
Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families offers two sweet baked semolina puddings: "A Good Semoulina, or Soujee Pudding" and "French Semoulina Pudding, Or Gateau de Semoule." (baked in fancy mold). She also offers a savory recipe titled "Semoulina and Polenta A L'Italienne (Good.) To serve instead of Maccaroni."
Pellegrino Artusi's Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well offers these recipes featuring semolina" Semolina and Fruit Preserve Pudding, Semolina cake, Semolina dumplings (Gnocchi), Semolina fritters, Semolina mold filled with meat, Semolina nuggets, Semolina pastries, Semolina pudding, Semolina puffs, Semolina soup (3 recipes).
The Larousse Gastronomique (1961 Crown NY edition) offers these recipes: Semolina kasha (Russian cookery), Semolina a pudding, English semolina pudding, Semolina subrics (hors d'oeuvres, like mini croquettes and sweet, fried in butter and garnishes with red jelly. ?
Recommended reading (semolina flour as macaroni ingredient): Pasta: The Story of a Universal Food/Silvano Serventi & Francoise Sabban
"Spelt...The place of origin of spelt (Triticum spelta), a hardy wheat, is a matter of some debate, with some experts suggesting Iran about 6000 to 5000 B.C.; other arguing for two independent sites, one in Iran and the second in southeastern Europe; and still others who would have spelt emerging only in Europe and at a later date. In any case, spelt was cultivated throughout the Near East, Europe, and the Balkans during the Bronze Age (4000 to 1000 B.C.) and , along with einkorn and emmer, it is another of the ancestors of modern wheat. Spelt was probably an important cereal of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks and seems to have been a staple of the Romans, in which case the latter people may have facilitated the grain's spread northward to Germany and Switzerland and westward to Spain, where it was still being grown at the beginning of the twentieth century. Complicating the picture, however, are the finds of spelt remains dating from 3800 to 2800 B.C. in Neolithic sites in Spain, western Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium--but whether these are the remains of domesticated spelt are another matter. Vandals have been credited with introducing spelt in Europe around the fifth century A.D. Both, whenever and wherever spelt was established, the grain became a major cereal crop in Europe and joined einkorn and emmer in sustaining multitudes duirng the Middle Ages. Around the middle of the nineteenth century (if not before), spelt was carried to North America, where production (much of it for fodder) peaked in the early decades of the twentieth century. Spelt is grown today on a small scale in isolated parts of Germany and Switzerland, and it seems to be making a comeback in the United States and Canada because of the health-food market."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kenneth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambrdige] 2000 (p. 1856)
The story of Sally Lunn is a delightful tale of culinary folklore. Notes here:
"Sally Lunns are large buns or teacakes made with a yeast dough including cream, eggs, and spice. They are generally supposed to take their name from a late eighteenth-century baker, Sally Lunn, who according to W.J. France in Up-to-date Breadmaking (1968) had a pastry cook's shop in Lilliput Alley in Bath. The earliest source of the story seems to be William Hone's Every-day Book (1827): The bun...called the Sally Lunn originated with a young woman of that name in Bath, about 30 years ago. She first dried them...Dalmer, a respectable baker and musician, noticed her, bought a business, and made a song in behalf of Sally Lunn.' Although the 30 years' seems to be an understatement, this in not inconsistent with the first two recorded reference to the word: in Philip Thickenesse's Valetudinarian's Bath Guide (1780)...and the Gentleman's Magazine (1798)...However, there exists a French cake of Alsatian origin called solilem or solimeme which is fairly similar to the Sally Lunn...and it may be that both Sally Lunn and solimem derive ultimately from French soleil lune, sun and moon (cake), golden on top over a paler base. In the southern states of the USA, the term Sally Lunn stands for a variety of yeast and soda breads."
---An A-Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 296-7)
"Sally Lunn [is] a major enigma for food historians. It is not that there is a doubt about what it actually is...However, the derivation of the name is a subject which has excited many pages of prose...Many authors remark that the French solilem is of Alsatian origin. It has, however, proved difficult to find corroboration of this in French books about Alsatian cuisine or French reference works generally...The earliest French reference which has come to light is in Careme (1815). This is long after the Sally Lunn was being cried in the streets of Bath, but just before Careme was in England (1816, working at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton). So the hypothesis that Careme discovered' the Sally Lunn when he was in England and decided to make what was doubtless a slightly adapated version of it, giving it a French name, does not work. Kettner's Book of the Table by Dallas (1877) includes, however, a memorable salvo fired against Careme on the basis is that hypothesis...The persuasiveness of this prose is undimmed after more than 100 years. In default of further evidence, such as researchers in Alcase have recently searched for in vain, it is tempting to assume that Kettner had it more or less right, although a mystery remains: how did Careme learn about the Sally Lunn before he set foot in England?"
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 684)
Original text from Kettner's Book of the Table:
"Sally Lunn is an honored name from the Land's End to John o'Groat's. But why should the reader be called to meditate upon her virtues in these pages, in which so little has been said about the Bath bun, the Banbury cake, the Scotch shortbread, the Brioche, the Baba, the Savarin, the Gauffre, and many other noble thing? The reason is that her name has been mixed up with a little culinary scandal; and it is necessary to vindicate her fair fame. The greatest cook of modern times, Careme, came over to England to minister to the palate of the Prince Regent. He did not stay long, but he stayed long enough to appreciate the charms of Sally Lunn and her ever memorable cake. He was a great cook, but a fearful coxcomb--and immeasurable egotist. If ever he made the slightest change in a dish, he vaunted the variation as an original idea, and thenceforward set up as the soverign creator of the dainty. So it was that he dressed up Sally Lunn a little, and presented her to the Parisian world as his nown--his Solilemn. The fact might well be forgotten, but here are stupid asses who will not let us forget it. They come over to England; they send up, among the sweets of a dinner, Sally and her teacake, rigged out int eh height of French fashion; and like an English dancer or singer who insists on Mademoiselle to her name, the good hones Sally that we know is announced as the imcomparable Solilemne."
---Kettner's Book fo the Table, E.S. Dallas, facsimile reprint to 1877 edition [Centaur Press:London] 1968 (p. 402)
How to make a Sally Lunn? Elizabeth David observes:
"There are...numerous methods for baking the cake--in one large hoop, in two or more smaller ones to produce muffin-size cakes, in a cake tin, or shaped by hand and put into the oven on a baking sheet. This latter method would be difficult with today's Sally Lunn recipes, which produce too soft a dough for a hand-shaping. Another possibility is to use a decorated kugelhopf or turban mould...This produced an effective-looking cake, and if it is then no longer quite an English Sally Lunn--well, Miss Acton does quite firmly call it a French cake.
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David [Penguin:New York] 1979 (p. 467)
[NOTE: Ms. David provides her recipe for Sally Lunn in this book.]
Historic recipe sampler
"Sally Lunn," Directions for Cookery/Eliza Leslie
A rich French breakfast cake, or Sally Lunn.
From three-quarters of a pound of flour take three ounces for the leaven, and make it into a lithe paste with half an ounce of solid, well-washed yeast..., mixed with two or three tablespoonsful of just warm cream, or new milk; throw a cloth over and leave it near the fire to rise for about half an hour, or until it is twice the original size. In the interim make a hollow in the centre of the remainder of the flour, and put into it a quarter of an ounce of fine salt, once ounce of pounded sugar, the yolks of four fresh eggs, four ounces of lukewarm butter, and a couple of tablespoonsful of cream, also warm. Mix the whole gently and carefully into a perfectly smooth paste, flatten it with the hand upon the dresser, spread the leaven over it, and blend them thoroughly with light kneading, as directed for brioche paste...The whole should be of the same colour throughout. Next, put it into a small, well-butttered copper stewpan or plain cake-mould, and let it remain in a moderately warm place until it has risen, like the leaven, to double its original size; then with a paste-brush or feather wash the top with beaten egg, and without disturbing it, set it into a tolerably quick oven, and bake it nearly or quite an hour; but do not allow it to be too deeply coloured. Turn it from the mould, cut it once or twice asunder, and pour over the slices plenty of good butter, just dissolved in a small saucepan; put the cake together again, and serve it immediately. It may be converted into an excellent entrements by spreading currant, or other fine jelly, or preserve, quickly upon it when it is cut, and sifting sugar thickly on the top after it is restored to its proper form: it its then called a Dresden cake. We think that when left until cold and toasted, the solimemne is even better than when served hot. It will be many hours rising; sometimes as many as six or eight. If wanted for breakfast it should be made over night.
Flour 3/4 lb; yeast, 1/2 oz; little cream; salt, 1/4 oz.; sugar, 1 oz; yolks of eggs, 4; butter, 4 oz.: to rise from 6 to 8 hours. Baked one hour."
---Modern Cookery for Private Families, Eliza Acton [reprint 1845 edition], with an Introduction by Elizabeth Ray [Southover Press:East Sussex] 1993 (p. 454)
"Sally Lunn," Buckeye Cookery Book/Wilcox
"Southern Sally Lunn," Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cookbook/Curtis
"Sally Lunn (1)
1 pound flour
2 ounces butter and lard mixed
1 teaspoonful salt
3/4 cake yeast
1 cup of milk
Beat eggs, put yeast cake in cold water with two teaspoonfuls of sugar and let stand. Pour to eggs. Melt butter and lard and pour to eggs, then add salt, flour and cup of milk. Three hours first rising, two hours second rising. Bake twenty-five minutes."
---Old Southern Receipts, Mary D. Pretlow [Robert M. McBRide:New York] 1930 (p. 102)
"Sally Lunn (2)
Easy...As made in Staunton, Virginia
Cream together three tablespoonfuls butter and one-half cup sugar, add two well-beaten eggs. Into two cups of sifted flour put three teaspoonfuls baking-powder and one teaspoonful salt--sift again and add this to the above alternately with one cup of sweet milk. Add dates or currants if desired. Pour into oiled dishes and bake in moderate oven about twenty minutes."
---ibid (p. 102)
"Sally Lunn (3)
Not so easy, Mrs. W.M. Cooke, Norfolk
One quart flour, four eggs, two tablespoonfuls sugar, one cup milk one teaspoonful salt, three ounces butter, three-quarter yeast cake dissolved in one-half cup water (in summer use a little less yeast). Beat eggs and sugar well together, add butter, then add alternately flour, into which you have put salt, and milk--then add yeast. Beat all well. Put to rise over night--(or an equal number of hours if you are going to use for supper) and the next morning beat slightly and put in pan with steeple lined with paper. Have batter stiff, and bake as you would a cake, slowly at first and then quicker. This is an old and valued recipe."
---ibid (p. 102)
Sally Lunn is among the aristocrats of Southern breads, a rich egg bread resembling brioche in its delicacy. This loaf found its original fame in England, most say at a spa of Bath, taking on the name of a tea-shop proprietress. There's little or no evidence for this nice story, but it's prettier than seeing the name as a corruption of solimeme, a simliar Alsatian bread. Corruption does occur with time, though, and what has happened to the elegant Sally Lunn in the past century is shameful. A fast little cupcake all puffed up with baking powder and sweetened beyond good taste masquerades under the grande dame's name. The recipes here should restore the original's deserved respectability. The proportion of ingredients for Sally Lunn is close to that of Pain de Babeurre, with the addition of 4 eggs. The extra liquid makes a softer dough that will almost pour.
9-inch diameter tube pan, greased.
1 cup milk
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
1 pkg dry yeast
2 Tb. warm water
4 eggs, well beaten
4 1/2 c. flour
1 Tb. salt
Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan with the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Remove from the heat and cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast softened in the water. Set aside until frothy. Turn itno a bowl, add the beaten eggs, flour, and salt. Beat well, if by hand count 400-500 strokes. If you use an appliance, the dough should be smooth, shiny, and, though very soft, not too sticky. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Beat down again an turn into a greased tube pan. Let rise again for about an hour or until doubled. Bake in a 375 degrees F. preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until golden. Let rest a few minutes out of the oven, then invert and remove from the pan to complete cooling. 1 large loaf, about 15 thick slices."
---Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie, Bill Neal [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1996(p. 90)
Nostalgic American cooking literature often refers to "old fashioned salt rising bread." What was this stuff and "old timey" was it? Our survey of historic literature (newspapers, magazines, cook books) confirms the existance of "salt rising bread" in the early 19th century. Early recipes suggest it was a "make do" alternative to traditional yeast (barm) bread. A closer examination reveals a world of interesting facts, political agenda, and some fakelore.
What is "salt rising bread?"
The Oxford Engish Dictionary defines it thusly:
“salt-rising bread, n. Etymology: < salt n.1 + rising n. (compare rising n. 10a) + bread n.(Show More) N. Amer. A type of bread made with a base of cornmeal, salt, and milk or water, which rises as a result of the action of a bacterium found in cornmeal. 1854 Trans. Michigan State Agric. Soc. 5 73 Mrs. J. L. Stout, Troy, 2 loaves salt rising bread. 1865 H. B. Stowe House & Home Papers 236 Salt-rising bread."
How is this bread different from other loaves?
The primary differences are in the method of the bread. Traditional loaves used yeast (bakers, barm, commerical). Sourdough required starter saved from previous loaves. Salt rising bread depends entirely upon spontaneous natural fermentation. Historic recipes below confirm this bread required an entirely different culinary knowledge set than standard bread. Unlike standard bread that can be forgiving with regards to flour quality, timing and baking, a salt rising loaf demanded quality ingredients, experience with temperatures, and perfect timimg. The end result was a pure white, solid loaf with light brown crust.
Was salt rising bread really popular in the pioneer days?
Our research indicates yes. American newspapers published in the 1850s-1890s confirm salt rising bread was a staple category in fairs and community food competitions. In 1889, a rukus over the winning loaf turned a peaceful Ohio county fair competition into a brawl. Other articles suggest the popularity of this bread was confined to specific regions. Most notably: the South, Appalachian region, and upper midwest. Proponents of salt rising bread gloried in its flavor, purity, and superiority over commerical yeast and bakery products. One also senses homemaker pride in producing the perfect loaf. Naysayers disliked the flavor, calling it "cheesy" and frowned upon women who refused to purchase the latest products.
The nostalgia factor
Nostalgia for "good old fashioned salt rising bread the way our grandmothers made it" first surfaces after the Civil War. This period was known food flux: Supplies were short, new commercial companies were launched (think: Fleischmann's Yeast), industrialization took hold (mass-produced bakeries), and families were uprooted (old homesteads destroyed, conestoga wagon trains). Even families who stayed put faced changes in how they provisioned, cooked and dined. The next wave of nostalgia hit in the late 1890s, when letters to the editor bemoaned the current state of commercial bread and longed for mother's salt rising loaves. In 1909, salt rising bread became a central symbol of "old fashioned" goodness in a Kansas Governor's electcion campaign. Loaf nostalgia variously popped up in the 20th century. Generally in newspaper and magazine "recipe request" columns. Answers generally reflect the responder's direct knowledge (via family, we suppose) of this type of bread.
What makes researching salt rising bread such a challenge?
Not only are the recipes different, but so are the names. We discovered these search terms in the course of our research: salt-rising bread, salt risen bread, salt raised bread, salt breaad, salt risen yeast, salt rising yeast, and bread without yeast. Certainly there are scores of additional alternative names. A careful examination of ingredients and method will confirm where the recipe falls. In the late 20th century some recipes include thinly shaved potato. One is reminded that potato yeast/bread was a recipe in its right along side of salt-rising bread. The overlap and evolution invites additional research.
Recipes & food notes through time
"Receipt fo Making Excellent Bread Without Yeast.--Scald about two handsful of Indian meal, into which put a little salt and as much cold water as will make it rather warmer than new milk; then stir in wheat flour, till it is as thick as a family pudding, and set it down by the fire to rise. In about half an hour it generally grows thin; you may sprinkle a little fresh flour on the top, and mid to turn the pot round, that it may not ake to the side of it. In three or four hours, if you mind the above directions, it will rise and ferment as if you had set it with hop yeast; when it does, make it up in soft dough, flour a pan, put in your bread, set it before the fire, covered up, turn it round to make it equally warm, and in about half an hour it will be light enough to bake. It suits best to bake in a Dutch oven as it should be put into thee oen as soon as it is light."
---The American Frugal Housewife, Mrs. Lydia Child, facsimile 12th edition enlarged and corrected by the author, 1833 [Applewood Books:Boston] (p 117-118)
“Salt Rising, or Yeast.
This kind of yeast will be found convenient when you get out of the other kinds; it does not rise quite so soon as the hop yeast, yet it makes excellent bread. Make a quart of water lukewarm, stir into it a table-spoonful of salt, and make it a tolerably thin batter with flour; mix it well, sprinkle on the top a handful of dry flour, and set it in a warm place to rise, but be sure you do note let it get hot, or it would spoil it. Turn it round occasionally, and in a few hours it will be light, and the top covered with bubbles; then make up your bread into rather a soft dough, adding as much lukewarm water as will be found necessary; grease and flour your ovens well, set them where they will keep a little warm till the bread rises and looks very light, and bake it as other light bread. The softer is the dough, the more light and spongy will the bread be.”
---The Kentucky Housewife, Lettice Bryan, facsimile 1839 edition [Image Graphics:Paducah KY] (p. 320)
"Salt rising bread, Mrs. W. Hamilton--Awarded at the Third Annual Fair of the Allen County Agricultural Society."
---Dawson's Fort Wayne Daily Times [IN], October 18, 1855 (p. 8)
"Milk Yeast (or emptyings) is made by mixing half the quanity of milk you need for your biscuit, with a teaspoon full of salt and a little flour, and setting it in a warm place. When light, mix it with the rest of the milk, and use it directly for the biscuit. It takes a pint of this yeast for five or six loaves of bread. It is nice for biscuit, but is not generally liked for bread. Some person prefer to save a small quantity of dough from each baking, by drying it or otherwise, for the next baking."
---Practical American Cookery and Domestic Economy, Compiled by Elizabeth M. Hall [Miller, Orton & Co.: New York] 1857 (p. 301)
[NOTE: the last sentence reminds of of sourdough.]
 "We have read several homilies lately upon the question of the best and moost economical way of insuring good bread. hat procured from dealers being almost invariably made from mixed, if not damaged flour, and usually more or less soured before it can be consumed. The inconvenience, and with present servants, almost impossibility of having bread baked a home, necessitates its purchase from bakers. Home-made bread is one of the luxuries of the past in most households, and while every one is willing to acknowledge its superior excellence, very few can explain in what particular respect the home-made article difers from that procured from the baker. Of late a new article of bread has made its appearance, and wherever tried has invariably given satisfaction, and fo the simple reason that it is nothing more than the old-fashioned salt rising bread of the past generation, made up and baked by the assistance of steam, thus saving an immensity of loss and trouble and always insuring an excellent article. The AEriated bread contains all the excellent qualities of salt-rising, or home-made bread, always being fresh and solid, retaining its sweet taste mucch longer than what is known as bakers bread."
---"The Bread Question," Galveston Daily News [TX], August 1, 1869 (p. 5)
"A correspondent of Household gives the following receipt for making salt-rising bread, which is said to be superior to common yeast bread, and is considered by some as more wholesome. 'Put three teacups water, as warm as you can bear your finger in in a two quart cup or bowl, and three-fourths of a teaspoonful of salt; stir in flour enough to ake quite a stiff batter; this is for the rising, or emptyings, as some call it. Set the bowl, closely covered, in a kettle, in warm water as 'warm as you can bear your finger in it' and keep it as near this temperature as possible. Notice the time when you 'set' your rising, in three hours stir in two tablespoons of flour, put it back, and in five and one-half hours from the time off setting, it wil be within one inch of the top of your bowl. It is then light enough and will make up eight quarts of flour; make a sponge in the center of your flour with one quart of water of the same temperature as rising, stir the rising into it; cover over with a little dry flour, and put it where it will keep very warm, but not scald; in the three-fourths of an hour mix this into a stiff dough; if water is used be sure it is very warm, and do not work as much as yeast bread; make the loaves a little larger and keep it warm for another three-quarters of an hour; it will then be ready to bake. While rising this last time you have your oven heating; it needs a hotter oven than yeast bread. If these rules are followed, you will have read as white as snow, with a light brown crust deliciously sweet and tender."
---"Salt-Rising Bread," Williamsport Warren Republican [IN], November 20, 1873 (p. 4)
"We are glad that our reply to a correspondent recenty has 'stirred up' some of the ladies to reply. They state the case so fully that there is little for us to say, except that we do not like sat bread nor do we think it as healthful or nutritious as that made from potatoes or hops." ---"Salt Bread," Burlington Daily Hawk Eye [IA] August 12, 1875 (p. 5)
“Please give through Household Column a receipt for salt-rising bread and biscuit-a receipt that shall not fail. I have seen and tasted that which contained only salt and water and was most beautifully white and tender and as crisp and flaky as pie-crust, but in my own hands the receipt has as often failed as succeeded. I have been told that it requires better quality flour to make the salt-rising bread than will do for shop yeast. Is this so?”
---“The Household,” New York Times, April 16, 1876 (p. 9)
“…I have looked in vain for any inquiry or information about making salt-rising bread…”
---“Salt-Rising Bread, letter to the editor, Chicago Daily Tribune, August 12, 1876 (p. 10)
“I have just been reading, while I was working the baby to sleep, the home department in the last Weekly Tribune, the subject, ‘Salt-Rising Bread.’ Now, as I think it is the simplest, most easily made, and the healthiest bread in the world…The recipe: In the morning take a quart dish (I use a pitcher), and scald it out with boiling water; then put in a pint of water, just warm enough to bear your finger in; put in a teaspoonful of salt or not as you choose; it will rise as well without it; stir flour enough in to make a thick batter; set the dish in a kettle of warm water, and set it on the back of the stove or some place where it will keep of the same temperature—just warm enough to bear your and in; then set it alone. If the flour is good it will be at the top of the dish in five hours; then take flour enough in a pan t make three loaves of bread; make a hole in the middle; put in the yeast and the same dish fill of warm water; stir it up thick with a spoon, and cover it with some of the flour, and set it to rise. When light, mold it into loaves, and set in a warm place to rise again. When light enough, bake three-fourths of an hour.”
---“Salt-Rising Bread,” Betsy, Chicago Daily Tribune, September 16, 1876 (p. 10)
“I make salt-rising bread by the following rule: One teaspoonful of salt, one of sugar; one quart of warm water so warm that you can just bear your hand in it, flour enough for a stiff batter. I put the yeast in a stone jar, and place the jar in a kettle of warm water where it will keep warm, but not hot enough to cook or scald, until it begins to rise, which will be in about four hours. Should the water rise on top of the batter, don’t put more flour in, but stir briskly until it disappears. If it is set at 4 or 6 o’clock, I can usually get it baked before 12. When it does begin to rise it will be but a few moments until it will run over, it comes up sp fast. The mix bread, only, you put it in the pans immediately. Put in a warm place until light, and bake not quite one hour. This kind of bread does not take quite so long to bake as hop yeast. Moistening with butter and water to soften the crust before baking is an improvement. You must have the best of four. If you follow these rules and fail, blame it on the flour and not...Mary Gold.”
---“Salt-Rising Bread,” Mary Gold, Chicago Daily Tribune, July 28, 1877 (p. 10)
Make into a thin batter:
1 pint of flour.
1 tablespoonful of corn meal.
Set in a warm place to rise. After it has risen, pour into it two quarts of flour, with sufficient warm water to make up a loaf of bread. Work it well, set it to rise again, and when risen sufficiently, bake it…
“Another Recipe for the Same.
Into a pitcher, put one teacup of milk fresh from the cow, two teacups of boiling water, one tablespoonful of sugar, one teaspoonful of salt. Into this stir thoroughly a little less than a quart of flour. Set the pitcher in a kettle of moderately warm water and keep it at a uniform temperature. Keep a towel fastened over the mouth of the pitcher. Set the kettle in front of the fire to keep the water warm. Let it stand three hours, then beat it up well, after which do not interrupt it. If in two hours it does not begin to rise, put in a large slice of apple. As soon as it rises sufficiently, have ready two quarts of flour, half a tablespoonful of lard and more salt, and make up immediately. Should there not be yeast enough, use warm water. Put into an oven and set before a slow fire to rise, after which bake slowly. The yeast must be made up at seven o’clock in the morning.”
---Housekeeping in Old Virginia, Marion Cabell Tyree, 1879 facsimile reprint [Favorite Recipes Press:Louisville KY] 1965 (p. 47)
"Salt rising bread," Women's Suffrage Cook-Book, Hattie Burr 
“The biggest premium at the Manchester Fair [OH] last week was for the best loaf of salt-rising bread and it stirred up a big row. Nearly every woman in Adams County and many from adjoining counties who were at all versed in the culinary art must have tried for that blue ribbon, as there were loaves upon loaves piled up. The directors finally prevailed on some parties to assume the risk of tying the ribbon. After the premium was awarded it was discovered that one of the judges was related to the successful exhibitor, and of course this created a big racket. New judges had to be selected, and the ribbon was tied the second time. The unsuccessful exhibitors did not quiet down, however. They declared the judges ‘didn’t know anything about bread, now how!’ More than 100 families are at swords’ points, and at least one engagement has been declared off. Scarcely a day passes without a fight, and the whole county is worked up over the affair.”
---“Housewives at War,” New York Times, September 15, 1889 (p. 16)
“Editor Post: Why does not some baker in this town learn how to make ‘salt-rising’ bread and bake it? Why do they persist in making this sour stuff they sell for baker’s bread? That man who has not eaten a toast made of sweet, delicious ‘salt-rising’ light bread cannot read the ‘Book of Ruth with any degree of edification, for I warrant that train Ruth gleaned in the field of Boaz never came in contact with hop yeast or alum baking powder, of which much of the stuff called bread in Washington is made. Staff of life, indeed! Bah! ‘Beat’ biscuit are good, but they are not in it at all with genuine ‘salt-rising’ bread—light bread as our mothers in old Virginia and Kentucky call it. It savors of the virgin wheat field, makes the process of digestion a delight, rather than a labor and a torture, and turns the business of catching into a luxury such as Lucullus dreamed of but never realized. There is a fortune here for a baker waiting for him to pick it up. E.W. Newman.”
---“He Sights for Mother’s Bread,” E.W. Neuman, Washington Post, June 7, 1897 (p. 9)
“Editor Post: I fully concur in all MR. E. W. Newman says in this morning’s Post concerning the poor quality of the bread furnished by our city bakers, and unite in the wish expressed by him that somebody would supply us with good, old-time ‘salt-rising bread,’ such as our mothers used to make. I have traveled pretty extensively in this country, and must say that I have never found anywhere I have been such poor, tough bread as we have here in Washington. It is lacking in nutritive qualities, and is so tough that one with good teeth can with difficulty masticate it. We get the best of flour here, and there is no reason why we should not have good bread. G.S. Roberts.”
---“Wants ‘Salt-Rising’ Bread,” G. S. Roberts, Washington Post, June 8, 1897 (p. 2)
“A revolution in breadmaking has taken place in Kansas, and Gov. Stubbs is responsible for it. During the campaign last fall in more than 100 speeches he extolled the virtues of old-fashioned slat-rising bread. He told his audience that the strength and endurance which enabled him to travel day and night in all kinds of weather was due to the fact that he ate salt-rising bread at home there times a day. He recounted hat al his meetings how he had persuaded his daughter, Miss Lenova Stubbs, to learn to make salt-rising bread, giving her presents to from time to time to encourage her. I did not matter if some of her batches failed to rise, he said; they were thrown out to the chickens and another trail made. He appealed to the women in his audiences to discard the old yeast plan of making bread and try salt-rising. ‘Nothing will bring more love into the home—the kind that endures—than salt-rising bread on the dining room table’ was the assurance the governor held out to the women who attended his meetings. Gov. Stubbs’ Democratic opponents and many Republicans treated this talk about salt-rising bread as a new brand of Kansas grand stand play to catch the women of the State. It has done more than that: it has set them baking salt-rising bread, and it is safe to say that in the last six months one-half of the women of the State have made the experiment…In talking to a crowd of his political friends a few days ago, Gov. Stubbs told them that he had gained more than a pound a month since he moved to Topeka with his family. He attributed his good health to salt-rising bread, the old-fashioned kind his Quaker mother used to bake when he was a boy on the farm in Douglas county.”
---“Boom for Salt-Rising Bread: Kansas Housewives Follow the Lead of Gov. Stubbs,” Washington Post, July 11, 1909 (p. SM4)
“Salt-Rising Bread (Aunt Martha)
1 Ѕ pts. Milk
5 tb. Sugar
1 tb. Soda
5 tb. Crisco
1 Ѕ t. salt
Scald 2 cups milk and stir in meal to make thick mush; add Ѕ teaspoon soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 teaspoonfuls sugar. Sprinkle a little dry meal on top. Place in warm place over night. Next morning add 2 cups of milk and water, the milk scalded and allowed to cool to tepid; have water tepid. Beat the liquid into the batter and add sufficient flour to make heavy drop batter; allow to rise 2 hours, after which time add balance sugar and salt, soda, melted crisco. Add enough flour to make into smooth, elastic dough. Knead well, make into loaves and allow to double in bulk before baking.
“Salt –Rising Bread (Emily)
Scald 2 cups milk; add 2 cups boiling water and beat into it enough flour to make thin batter; add 2 tablespoonfuls meal, 1 Ѕ teaspoons salt, 3 tablespoonfuls sugar. Beat until filled with bubbles, set in warm place to rise. Next morning pour off any water that rises to top, and beat down. Add enough flour with 2 tablespoonfuls meal, 2 teaspoonfuls salt, 3 tablespoonfuls sugar, 2 teaspoonfuls soda, and 5 tablespoonfuls melted Crisco or butter to make smooth dough. Knead well, mold into loaves, allow to rise double its bulk and bake in moderate oven.”
Scald 1 cup of sweet milk and stir into it enough meal to make a soft mush that will drip from the spoon. Leave in a warm place over night; early the next morning add a cup of lukewarm water, a saltspoon of salt and 1 pint of flour. Set it in warm water. When it is light and frothy, take 3 pints of flour, 2 tablespoonfuls of Crisco, salt to season, add tepid water enough to make a soft dough. Work well, make into laves, put into your pans and set to rise. When well risen, about twice its size, put in the oven to bake.”
---Culinary Echoes from Dixie, Kate Brew Vaughn [McDonald Press:Cincinnati OH] 1914 (p. 126-127)
[NOTES: (1) crisco, a tradename shortening product, is not capitalized in Ms. Vaughn’s recipes. (2) “meal” in the first recipe is short for “cornmeal.”]
“Salt Rising Bread
At night wet one pint of new milk on the stove, stir in cornmeal and let heat until it is thick as mush. Do not let it boil. Set in a warm place all night. IN the morning it will be light. Put one gallon flour in a bread bowl. Mix with warm water, a teaspoonful of sugar and a pinch of soda. Make into a very stiff batter, cover and keep warm. IN an hour or two it should be light. Work in flour to make a soft dough. Let rise, mould into loaves and put into greased pans, let rise again and bake.”
---Old Southern Receipts, Mary D. Pretlow [Robert M. McBride & Co.:New York] 1930 (p. 92)
“Salt-rising bread isn’t made a great deal any more, except by persons in whose families it has been a favored food for many years. It is much different from yeast bread. The leavening agent is a gas producing bacillus which may be present in flour, cornmeal, or in the air. The texture is heavy, the crumb is moist, and the flavor is somewhat cheesy. Addicts to this bread consider it perfectly delicious. There is a disagreeable odor while the dough is undergoing fermentation, but this disappears during baking. Chance is an important element in making salt-rising bread. We can be pretty certain about yeast breads, for we know the fermentative action of yeast, but we can only hop and guess that the bacteria which produce gas for unyeasted bread are present and will do their work. Experimenters have found that hot, dry, weather usually is favorable to these bacteria. After heavy rains success has been rare. Salt-rising bread is made from a ‘starter.’ The organism is coddled along in a liquid medium until it starts its gas formation. Then the dough is made.
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons white cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter or lard
Flour for a stiff dough
Bring milk to the boiling point and cool to lukewarm. Add cornmeal, salt, and sugar. (Some cooks omit the sugar at this time, adding it with the flour. They think sugar detrimental to the growth of the organism. This point has been disputed.] Place this mixture in a tall pitcher or fruit jar and surrounded by water at 120 degrees, which is hot to the hand. This is a higher temperature than that used for yeast breads, it will be noted. Allow to stand for about seven hours or until it shows signs of fermentation. Gas may be heard as it escapes at this point. If the ferment can be kept warm it may be allowed to rise overnight. Add melted butter or lard and one cup of flour. Beat thoroughly and let ferment again, surrounded by water at 120 degrees. When very light, gradually add more flour until the dough is soft but doesn’t stick. Knead for about ten minutes. Experiments have been shown that about 100 kneading strokes, on the average, produce the best bread, but this depends somewhat upon the vigor with which kneading is done. Place in a greased pan and allow to rise until about two and a half times its original bulk. Bake as you would yeast bread, in a hot oven, 400 degrees, for about an hour. Do not expect the loaf to look like yeast bread. It probably will not rise above the top of a standard size bread pan. It will be heavy and solid. That is its nature. As I have implied, salt-rising bread is temperamental and no directions, however explicit or complete, can assure perfect results, even when followed to the letter. You may get fine, prize taking results, and again you may meet only with disappointment. Many cooks think that one success is worth several failures, however, and follow the ‘If at first you don’t succeed’ policy with their breadmaking…If the fermentation takes place to slowly the bread may sour.”
---“Bread of Salt Rising Type Is Hard to Make,” Mary Meade, Chicago Daily Tribune, May 14, 1939 (p. D4)
“For a new lift in flavor, Van de Kamp’s old-fashioned Salt Rising Bread is the easy answer for jaded appetites, making the taste of bread come alive again at every meal. It’s the salt-rising yeast, of course, that puts that superbly different, cheese-like aroma and flavor into every loaf…the loaf that is firm, compact, solid—so fine-textured that each slice seems custom-baked to make perfect, golden toast…toast that takes to butter naturally, with lip-smackin’ goodness. Salt-Rising Bread makes so many other foods taste even better…in sandwiches for tea-time snacks, with cucumber slices, water cress, avocado, or good old peanut-butter-and-sweet-pickle…Van de Kamp’s is one of the very few bakeries in America that brings you unusual recipes, like old-fashioned Salt Rising Bread…Standard 15 oz. Loaf 29 cents.”
---display ad, Van de Kamp’s Bakeries, Los Angels Times, March 16, 1959 (p. A8)
“A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor sent waves of nostalgia sweeping over me. It concerned salt-rising bread. It took me back to my Grandmother’s home in West Virginia, and to the taste and smell of hot salt-rising bread and homemade butter…Years later Grandma’s recipe for salt-rising bread was inherited by Granddaughter, but who could duplicate it? Grandma knew when the sponge was ‘just right’ and no instructions are given for that knowing. If there is a simpler recipe, or more explicit instructions than Grandma wrote down it would be wonderful to know for the memory of hot salt-rising bread remains fresh through the years!
Grandma’s salt-rising bread
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups sifted flour
Scald milk, cool in lukewarm, add cornmeal, salt, and sugar. Pour into covered fruit jar or pitcher and place in a warm spot, perhaps a pan of hot water. Keep it hot. Let this stand for six to seven hours, until it shows signs of fermentation (gas bubbles). Add ingredients for second sponge, beat thoroughly and attain place in pan of hot water. Let rise until very light. Then gradually add about 3 ј cups of flour, until dough is stiff enough to be kneaded. Knead for 15 minutes. Shape into two loaves, place in greased bread pans, brush top with melted butter, cover and let rise until very light. (Here inexperienced cooks beware. It should more than double, I think.) Bake in hot oven, 375 and bake 25 minutes longer. And remember, never cut hot salt-rising, for it spoils the shape of the loaf!”
---“Some more on salt-rising bread,” Elizabeth Talbott Fraser, The Christian Science Monitor, July 25, 1966 (p. 15)
"Salt-rising bread is one of the oldest breads in this country. It has a delicious and unusual flavor and a very smooth texture. In fact, it is one of the most remarkable of all breads. It does present one great difficulty for the breadmaker. It is unpredictable. You may try the same recipe without success three or four times and find that it works the fifth time. Or you may bet a loaf that is halfway good. If it works, fine; if it doesn't, forget it. I am including it in this collection because it is a worthy recipe, but I do so with a warning that you may be disappointed. To keep the starter at a steady temperature, which the recipe requires, leave it in an electric oven with the light on--this will provide just enough warmth--or in a gas oven with the pilot light on. In the old days it used to be kept in hot water for 25 hours, the bowl covered with quilts. The foam that forms may not be one, two, or three inches in thickness, but if it foams at all make the loaf and see what happens. Good luck!"
---Beard on Bread, James Beard [Alfred A. Knopf:New York] 1973 (p. 68)
[NOTE: Beard’s recipe follows (p. 68-69). It includes potatoes.]
“Salt-rising bread is another of those regions American dishes for which some people have a passion and which inspire in others something short of aversion. The bread is made by a natural fermentation, and for a period it is a bit malodorous. The finished product is a bit tangy with a flavor that is at times described as ‘cheese-like.’”
---“De Gustibus: Some People Shun Salt-Rising Bread…,” Craig Claiborne, New York Times, December 8, 1975 (p. 38)
[NOTE: article includes recipe.]
“An article on salt-rising bread made by a natural process of fermentation caused a yeasty rise in the volume of mail. A recipe we printed on the request used potatoes as the fermentation product, and Nelle Keys Bell of Indianapolis wrote to protest 'that no real cook would add potatoes except in an emergency situation.' 'It makes a good bread,' she said, 'but it isn't real salt-rising, than which better bread has not yet been made.'" ---"De Gustibus: A Cozy Way to Make Salt-Rising Bread," Craig Claiborne, New York Times, March 15, 1976 (p. 53)
[NOTE: article includes recipe.]
"...Then there was the problem of salt-rising bread, an old American recipe that no longer seemed to work. The problem again was ingredients; modern cornmeal no longer had the germ in it, and that was necessary for the bread to rise; in addition, the bread dough had to be kept quite warm, 'though not necessrily warm in a bowl of rock salt, the technique that gave the bread its name'."
---"A Comforting Companion for Baking at Home," Phyllis Chasanow-Richman, Washington Post, November 25, 1984 (p. I43)
[NOTES: (1) We find no primary evidence supporting Marion Cunningham's statement regarding rock salt was used to keep the rising dough warm. (2) Recipe for Salt-rising bread follows. It includes potatoes and baking soda.]
What is sourdough? Ed Wood, sourdough expert, states:
"A true sourdough is nothing more than flour and water with wild yeast to make it rise and special bacteria to provide the flavor."
---World Sourdoughs from Antiquity: Authentic recpies for modern bakers, Ed Wood [Ten Speed Press:Berkeley CA] 1996 (p. 3)
Old World sourdough
"...if truth be told, the Old West was not responsible for the birth of sourdough. Sourdough started with the discovery of leavening agents by Egyptians about five thousand years ago. Through painstaking experimentation, Egyptians developed an active starter for a new, wildly popular beverage--beer. During the same millenium, an enterprising baker tried mixing a particularly heavy bacteria-laden starter sample with flour and water, creating the first leavened bread. A new industry was born. It was such a resounding success that the use of these wondrous sour yeast cultures spread rapidly through the Old World...Just a century ago, sourdough starter was still one of the most reliable sources for yeast cultures in the world. Old West residents from miners to ranchers made sourdough products daily...Starter is the heart of the sourdough process. A small amount of starter added to a bowl of regular bread mix becomes the ringleader of change, quickly preading its hosted, harmless bacteria among fresh ingredients...Each starter has its own characteristic taste and smell...Many older starters are guarded by their owners as if they were a key to heaven. They are passed on generation to generation and rarely shared."
---Old West Baking Book, Lon Walters [Northland Publishing:Flagstaff AZ] 1996 (p. 41,43)
Gold rush grub & sourdough starters: California & Yukon territory
"Sourdough is a dough made of flour and water fermented without years for baking bread. It is the leaven of the Bible, part of the fermented dough set aside to start fermentation another time in a new batch of flour and water. Largely, the word came into the American vocabulary at the time of the rush to the Klondike in the Yukon Territory of Northwest Canada in 1897-1989, the second great gold rush in our history. Because hardy prospectors carried sourdough in firkins or pots on their persons to sustain fermentation under whatever circumstances in the frozen north, this flavorful ingredient of the staff of life became so valued and characteristic the word was extended in meaning to personify searchers in the northlands, especially Alaskans, surviving old-timers of the rush...A short time after James Marshall discovered gold in the American River in 1848, San Francisco began to be a city of varied ethnic groups. Streaming back to The City to splurge their dust on pleasures...Forthy-Niners found the sourdough bread they had eaten in the mountains on tables in San Francisco. Most of those who joined the Gold Rush were not miners, knowing little of the processes of extracting gold from the earth...Gold-mining was an old trade in Mexico, the methods and processes in use there being brought to northern California...Along with the Mexican miners came their sourdough."
---"Sourdough and French Bread," Peter Tamony, Western Folklore, October 1973 (p. 265)
"With the advent of commercially available yeast and baking powder in the nineteenth century, the use of such starters was confined to those pioneers who moved farther and farther from settlements. These included the gold prospectors of nothern California in the 1850s and the Yukon in the 1890s. The first sourdough purveyor in San Francisco, called the French Bakery, opened the year the Gold Rush began--1849--and it was because of the bread's popularity among miners that "sourdough" became the slang term for the prospectors themselves, and later, by extension, all Alaskans. Because many of these prospectors set out by boat from San Francisco, sourdough bread is often associated with that city to this day, and it is still a San Francisco specialty."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 304)
"Perhaps no foodstuff is more closely associated with West Coast gold rushes than sourdough...Companionable as a canary, a bubbling sourdough pot could be heard in every corner of a prospector's cabin...Sourdough's active ingredient, sourdough starter, is a versatile leaven, capable of energizing flapjacks, biscuits, and even chocolate fruitcake, in addition to the daily loaf. Keeping starter alive is a way to avoid having to create starter each time the cook wants to bake with yeast. A method for manufacturing powdered yeast was not patented until 1854...However, it does not seeem to have been available or accepted quickly."
---Gold Rush Grub: From Turpentine Stew to Hoochinoo, Ann Chandonnet [University of Alaska Press:Fairbanks] 2005 (p. 137-8)
[NOTE: This book contains many primary source excerpts and modernized sourdough recipes. Your local public librarian will be happy to help you obtain a copy.]
The French connection?
Food historians confirm French sourdoughs enjoy a special place at the table. This tradition flourished in the New World.
"Because good sourdough French bread was the usual run of many bakeries in San Francisco it is difficult to detail the rise of its myth and legend prior to the advent of newspaper columnists. In general, this holds that the dough must be leavened with a closely guarded sponge, starter, or mother brought from Europe, preferably France, over a hundred years ago and passed from decade in the same bakeshop; that the loaves must be baked in brick ovens of a pattern long since disused and beyond the skillos of modern masons to recreate; that such ovens must be below sidewalk level at a precise by indefininate depth; that they must be fired to a certain temperature by certain woods; and that the resultant baking must be cooled at a certain rate in air moistened by San Francisco fog. Only when such complex elements are conjoined does the traditional sourdough French bread of San Fransico take its place beside the Sacher torte of Vienna, the jambalaya of New Orleans, the onion soup of Paris. Bread baking...is an ancient human art...The Oxford English Dictionary...records twelfth-century usage of sourdough (Sauerteig), the common denomination in Germanic languages, levain being French usage. For centuries the art of bread-making has been carried to its highest level in Paris, leaven (or its synonyms, sponge, starter, and mother) and time being the basic ingredients of its bread. The use of yeast appears to have died out in France, but was revived toward the end of the seventeenth century... Since, yeast has been used by Parisian bakers for fancy bread and pastry only...During the Colonial Period French bakers emigrated to Mexico, no doubt carrying the implements and ingredients of their trade...Through these years the leaven of Paris was perpetuating itself, eventually to enliven the celebrated sourdough biscuit of the early-day ranches on the plains of Texas and New Mexico.
"Having lived in Texas and having fought in the Mexican War, George W. Keller arrived in California in 1848. In 1948 his daughter...related stories of the early days of California told by her father. Tuolumne County records attest he bought the French Hotel in Sonora on 12 October 1849. As che recalls his words...'Baking was done in Dutch Ovens and often the bread or flapjacks were baked in frying pans, the same as the miner did in his camps.'...Among the bakeries listed in the San Fransico City Directory fro 1856 are the French Bakery, Beraud Freres, Deu's, Mme. Lantheaume, and Leagay & Co. Grocers of the first decades of this century recall French bread and milk bread as equally best sellers...
"In France bread is not called French bread, this being a naming for varied types in other places, as to San Fransicso the referent being to the traditional length of the French loaf...Old-timers wonder at newspaper stories of French bread being taken across country in batches, or being shipped afar, as a gourmet delight."
---"Sourdough and French Bread," Peter Tamony, Western Folklore, October 1973 (p. 266-269)
The Oakland counterclaim:
"For years, San Francisco has laid claim to being the sourdough French bread capital of the United States...But now there is a stirring from across the bay, a challenge to San Francisco to prove its claim and it comes from the unlikeliest of places--Oakland. A breadmaker in Oakland, long considered by San Francisco to be just a scruffy industrial city with no redeeming social value, says that San Francisco is 'just making another glamour claim that it doesn't deserve.' Armed with figures he said would back him up, Robert J. Sciacqua, president of the Colombo Baking Co., declared that the new sourdough French read capital of the country was Oakland..."
---"Rivalry in a Sourdough Bowl," William Endicott, Washington Post, January 19, 1978 (p. E15)
Where are the authentic sourdough recipes?
19th century American cookbooks sometimes contain instructions for sourdough starter and bread. They are hard to find because they listed under different names. Sourdough is revealed by examining method and mode. One of the differences between traditional sourdough and regular bread is not the type of leavening (in addition to traditional starters we find yeast-based recipes) but the fact that the leavening is saved and employed in perpetuity. Most leavened breads, then as today, are mixed quickly and baked as soon the sponge is ready. 18th and 19th century cookbooks warn cooks not to mix up too much leaven ahead of time because it sours. They also provide instructions regarding how to fix soured bread and preserve yeast longer by drying into cakes. One popular 19th century cookbook author decreed:
"All bread that is sour, heavy or ill-baked is not only unpalatable, but extremely unwholesome, and should never be eaten. These accidents so frequently happen when bread is made at home by careless, unpractised or incompetent persons...Strong fresh yeast from the brewery should always be used in preference to any others."
---Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, Eliza Leslie [Henry Carey:Philadelphia] 1852 (p. 376)
"Published in 1866, Jennie June's American Cookery Book does not use the term "sourdough" although several of her recipes would be considered sourdough breads. Jennie includes five methods for making yeast cakes that are dried in the oven or in the sun. This demonstrates that in the years immediately after the California Gold Rush, manufactured yeast was not always available...California claims the honor of originating sourdough bread. The Boudin Bakery in San Francisco says that it has produced the "original" sourdough since Isidore Boudin grought his starter...from Mexico in 1849, and mated that lively starter with French baking technique...Over the course of its history, sourdough has been fermented with everything from a starter based on unflavored yogurt to a combination of hops and potato water."
---Gold Rush Grub (p. 139)
"Receipt for making Bread without Barm, by the Help of a Leaven.
Take a Lump of Dough, about two Pounds of your last making, which has been raised by Bar, keep it by oyu in a wooden Vesse, and cover it well with Flor. This is your Leaven; then the Night before you intend to bake put the said Leaven to a Peck of Four and work them well together with warm Water. Let is lye in a dry wooden Vessel, well covered with a Linnen Cloth and a Blanket, and keep it in a warm Place. This Dough kept warm will rise against next Moring and will be sufficent to mix with two or three Bushels of Flour, being worked up with warm Water and a little Salt. When it is well worked up, and thoroughly mixed with all the Flour, let it be well covered with the Linen and Blanket, until you find it rise; then knead it well, and work it up into Bricks, or Loaves, making the Loaves broad, and nnot so thick and high as is frequently done, bu which means the bread will be better bakaed: Then bake your bread. Always keep by you two or more Pounds of the Dough of your last baking well cover'd with Flour to make Leaven to serve from one baking Day to another; the more Leaven is put to the Flour the lighter and spongier the Bread will be, the fresher the Leaven, the Bread will be less sour. Fromm the Dublin Society."
---The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, Hannah Glasse, facsimile 1747 edition [Prospect Books:Devon] 1995 (p. 151)
Is sometimes employed instead of yeast--leaven is stale or sour dough. Those who use it keep a pound or more from every baking, which is kept in a wooden bowl covered with flour; when it is to be used it is mixed with warm water, and put in a kneading-trough with an eighth part of the flour intended to be used; cover it up with a woolen cloth, and let it remain all night in a warm place. Next morning it will have risen and be fit to mix with the whole quantity of flour."
264. Bread made of Leaven.
Is more light and easy of digestion than that which is made of yeast, and many people prefer it for the food young children; but it is not so pleasant to the taste, and is not so commonly used."
---The Frugal Housekeeper's Kitchen Companion, or Guide to Economical Cookery, Mrs. Eliza Ann Wheeler [Ensign, Bridgeman & Fanning:New York] 1847 (p. 73-74)
Compare with Salt rising bread.
STICKY BUNS (aka cinnamon rolls)
Both cinnamon and bread (rolls) are ancient foods. When were they first combined? Where? What did this first product taste like? Was it anything like the delicious, gooey Philadelphia-style sticky buns we know today? Food historians have spent much time pondering origins. What we do know??! Is these items are "Old World" gifts, likely originating in Northern Europe.
According to the food historians, cinnamon originated in Sri Lanka. The early history of this spice is unclear. It is generally agreed that this spice was known to the ancient Greek and Roman people. It was highly valued. The earliest uses seem to be as incense and flavoring in wine. The ancient Roman recipes recorded by Apicius for sweet bread products do not include cinnamon; they were spiced with pepper. Ancient Egyptian breads were sweetened with honey and flavored with nuts.
Marco Polo (13th century) is credited for opening the spice trade (on a large scale) to Europe. Cinnamon and other spices were very expensive and highly prized by medieval cooks. They were incorporated into many dishes, both sweet and savoury. Indeed, spices were so popular they were one of the main reasons for the "Age of Exploration." Columbus and other early explorers were looking for a quicker route to the spice producing countries.
Modern cinnamon buns most likely descended from ancient galette and medieval fritters. Notes here:
About coffee cake & galette
About doughuts & fritters
"Dr. Ronald Wirtz [American Institute of Baking] has researched [sticky buns] in depth. He begins, believe it or not, with the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, then moves forward in time through Medieval Europe to present-day America. Wirtz follows the spice trade, specifically that of cinnamon...Wirtz believes that our cinnamon roll or sticky bun owes "some of its origins to British cooking and baking, perhaps with a degree of influence from the Dutch and Germans." He points, in particular, to the Chelsea Bun, which Elizabeth David (English Bread and Yeast Cookery, 1980) describes as "Sugary, spicy, sticky, square and coiled like a Swiss roll...a pretty hefty proposition." The originals, made at least as far back as the early eighteenth century, were apparently daintier...What I find particularly interesting in Wirtz's cinnamon-bun research is his mention of Mathew Malzbender's Practical Manual for Confectioners, Pastry-cooks, Bakers and Candy Makers, first published in Milwaukee in 1910 in both German and English...The manual's directions for making cinnamon buns, according to Wirtz, call for a sweet dough to be "sheeted out and sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon and currants, rolled up and slicked just as in current practice." Also as in the preparation of Schnecken, Wirtz does on to say in the Retail Bakers Reference Book (1928), Schnecken and "rolled up cinnamon buns" appear on the same page...Hilda Lee suggests that Schnecken became popular among bakers in Germantown, a Philadelphia suburb as early as the 1680s...No nineteenth- or early twentieth century cookbook I searched mentions them...The earliest recipe for them I could find cropped up in 1922 in Good Housekeeping's Book of Menus, Recipes and Household Discoveries...According to Dr. Wirtz..."recent history of the U.S. saw fad popularity of large-size caramelized cinnamon rolls, combining the size and make-up of the Chelsea bun with the fillings and coatings of the rich Schnecken type roll.""
---The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 316-7)
[NOTE: The book contains far more information than can be paraphrased here. Ask your librarian to help you find a copy.]
"Sticky bun. Also, "honey bun." A yeast pastry topped with melted brown sugar or honey, cinnamon, and raisins, so called because they have a very sticky texture when eaten with the fingers. Although they are popular throughout the United States, they are often associated with Philadelphia and sometimes called "Philadelphia sticky buns," although in Philadelphia itself, they are called "cinnamon buns.""
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 310)
"The cinnamon bun or "sticky bun" came to Philadelphia with 18th century English and German immigrants. They are made from a cinnamon and sugar flavored yeast dough, with raisins, nuts and carmelized topping. A coffee shop counter lined with sticky buns is still a common sight in the city."
---The Larder Invaded: Reflections on Three Centuries of Philadelphia Food and Drink, Mary Anne Hines, Gordon Marshall & William Woys Weaver [Historical Society of Philadelphia:Philadelphia] 1987 (p. 51)
Yeast dough like No. 8.
For the filling. 1/8 lb. of butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of currants, 1/2 cup of blanched, ground almonds.
Preparation: The preparation is the same as given under No. 8., Coffee Cake. Stir in 1 cup of flour more than given in NO. 8, roll out the dough to 1 inch thickness, strew it with sugar, cinnamon, currants, almonds, sprinkle with melted butter, roll it up carefully and cut slices off to make the snails. Place these into a buttered tin and set to rise about 1/2 hour. Then bake them ina medium hot oven, brush them while hot with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar."
---The Art of German Cooking and Baking, Mrs. Lina Meier [Milwaukee:WI] 1909 (p. 336)
"No. 8. Coffee Cake.
3 1/2-4 cups flour, 1 pt. of milk, 1/4 lb of butter
1/2 grated lemon rind, 1/4 lb of sugar
1 cent yeast
Preparation: The milk is made lukewarm and stirred into a smooth batter with 1 2/4 cups of flour, then the yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup of lukewarm milk is mixed in quickly and put in a warm place to rise. After the sponge has risen well, mix in the melted butter, sugar, grated lemon rind, the eggs and the rest of the flour, stir in the dough a while with a spoon. Butter 2 tins and put in the dough about 1 inch thick, then set to rise, after this strew on sugar, cinnamon and some chopped almonds. Bake in a medium hot oven to a nice color."
---ibid (p. 335)
Schnenken/Neighborhood Cook Book
Cinnamon Rolls or Schnenken/The Jewish Cookbook
History of spices
More on Cinnamon:
- Dangerous Tastes, Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 2000 (p. 36-44)
- History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat [Barnes & Noble:New York] 1992 (p. 487-490)
- Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 186-7)
Related food? Monkey bread.
The practice of serving bite-sized snacks (tea cakes, tea sandwiches) at tea came about gradually. The menu grew with the Victorian era. Many different cakes were served at tea, including crumpets & scones, "English" muffins and Victoria sandwich cakes. Tea cakes are a distinct recipe with several variations.
"Teacake. The day of the teacake, a large flat round sweet yeast-raised bun, often containing currants, is passing. In the 1960s it was still quite a common teatime treat, typically toasted and spread with butter, but since then it has rather faded from the scene...The term dates from the early nineteenth century (the earliest known reference to it is in an American cookery book, L.M. Child's American Frugal Housewife, 1832), and Dickens mentions it in Martin Chusslewit (1844): Tea and coffee arrived (with sweet preserves and cunning tea-cakes in its train).'"
---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 340)
"Tea breads and tea cakes, collective terms of which the first is the more general. It applies to all the yeast-leavened baked goods considered suitable for afternoon tea or high tea in Britain, including many spiced, fruited, and enriched breads and buns. The latter term is applied especially to flat buns...often fruited, and lightly enriched with butter and egg; these are usually split, toasted and spread with butter."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 787)
A sampler of 19th century tea cake recipes:
Jane Austen era recipes
American Frugal Housewife, Lydia Maria Child
Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management
---recipe is no. 1786
Mrs. D. A. Lincoln's Boston Cooking School Cook Book
Recommended reading: English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David. About Russian tea cakes
The history of toast may be divided in three parts: bread and it's role in human culture/cuisine, toast recipes through time, and the evolution of toasting methods. Cinnamon toast & French toast are two popular iterations.
"Toast as everyone in Britain know, is made by placing a slice of bread in front of dry heat--a fire, a grill, or an electric toaster-until the surface browns and gives off an attractive smell...The true toast addict is fussy about its preparation...Toast is a standard part of a proper English breakfast, together with a cup of tea, it forms a popular snack at any time...Certainly, toast has a long history in Britain. "Tost" was much used in the Middle Ages, being made in the ordinary way at an open fire. At this time sops--pieces of bread--were used to soak up liquid mixtures, and these were often first toasted, which reduced their tendency to disintegrate. Often toast was spread with toppings. "Pokerounce" was toast with hot honey, spice with ginger, cinnamon, and galingale. "Tost rialle" was covered with a paste of sugar and rice flour moistened with sweet wine and including pieces of cooked quince, raisins, nuts, and spices, the whole thing covered with gilt sugar lozenges. A popular dish of the 17th century was cinnamon toast, which at that time was made by covering the toast with a paste of cinnamon and sugar moistened with wine. Early settlers in N. America retained their liking for it, and it became a traditional American dish. Meat toppings for toast became fashionable during the 16th century. At first they were sweetened: for exampale veal toasts were made with choppe veal kidney and egg yolks, sugar, rosewater, cinnamon, and ginger. Various other hashes' based on finely chopped meat were served on toast. A trace of this practice survives in the serving of toast fingers with plain cooked minced meat, an adaptation made to the original dish in the 18th century. The toast-and-something habit has a long precedent in England. Towards the end of the 16th century all kinds of things began to appear on toast, such as poached eggs...buttered (scrambled) eggs; ham or bacon; anchovies; and melted cheese. All of them have remained associated with toast. The last achieved existence as a separate dish known as Welsh rabbit (or rarebit)....Toast with toppings became very popular as savoury toast, beloved of the Victorians and Edwardians...Throughout the Middle Ages and early modern period, toast was often moistened in wine when making such dishes as toasted cheese, but at the end of the 17th century it became more usual to butter it. Hot buttered toast was eaten at breakfast. Later, when afternoon tea became the fashion, it appeared here too. The 1890s saw the arrival of Melba toast. This is extraordinarily thin toast and a technique for producing it is often attributed to Escoffier and Ritz..."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford Univeristy Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 796-7)
[NOTE: This book contains separate entries for Welsh Rabbit and Toast Water (a Victorian restorative).]
"In The Origin of Food Habits (1944), H.D. Renner makes an attempt to explain the English addiction to toast. The flavour of bread', he says, can be revived to some extent by re-warming and even new flavours are created in toasting.' This is very true, but leaves the most important part unsaid. It is surely the smell of toast that makes it so enticing, and enticement which the actuality rarely lives up to. In this it is like freshly roasted coffee, like sizzling bacon--all those early morning smells of an intensity and deliciousness which create far more than those new flavours, since they create hunger and appetite where note existed...'Village life', Renner continues, makes stale bread so common that toasting has become a national habit restricted to the British Isles and those coutnries which have been colonized by Britian.'...I wonder if our open fires and coal ranges were not more responsible than the high incidence of stale bread for the popualrity of toast in all classes of English household. For toasting bread in front of the fire and the bars of the coal-burning range there were dozens of different devices...Buttered toast is, then, or was, so peculiarly English a delicacy."
English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, American Edition, with notes by Karen Hess [Penguin Books:New York] 1988 (p. 540-1)
"The complexity of colonial hearth toasters reflected the culinary importance of toast, particularly among colonists from Great Britain. Set before the fire, the most elaborate toaster held several pieces of bread in an open, four-legged, wrought iron rack. Kick toasters were used for browning both sides of the bread...In the 1890s stovetop toasters were made of perforated sheet iron and had wire supports for bread on four pyramidal sides...Electric heating elements similar to those used in twenty-first century toasters were known in the 1890s, but a functioning electric toaster did not come about until approximately 1910. This toaster was essentially a heavy wire rack on which two slices of bread were positioned near a central mica-insulating heating element."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004 (p. 544)
Want to see examples of old toasting devices? We recommend 300 Years of Kitchen Collectibles, Linda Campbell Franklin (5th edition).
White bread is not a new product invented by big food companies to "dumb down" the American diet.
In all times and places, people place a high value on the finest available food products. From ancient times forward, the finest ground wheat grain produced the whitest result. The finer the grind, the more expensive the product. Poorer people ate rougher grades of flour [whole wheat is an example] because it was less expensive. Flour was made from many grains: wheat, buckwheat, rye, barley, rice, millet (ancient China), corn, potatoes, chestnuts etc. Durum wheat, a harder grain, is typically used for pasta. Food historians tell us Durum wheat (semolina is one) has been grown for centuries in Italy expressly for the purpose of making pasta. The use of whole wheat to make pasta seems to be a relatively modern idea.
White bread was consumed by the Ancient Romans. Medieval England distinguised between brown bread vs. white bread bakers. White bread became readily available and affordable to average consumers during the industrial revolution. In addition to fine grinding, "whiteness" can be achieved naturally (oxidation) or chemically (alum, agene). "Whiteness" can also relate to the specific batch of flour, as determined by Pekar's test.
Chemical bleaching flour is a 20th century practice, as is the infusion of vitamins for enrichment purposes. Challenging the nutritional value of finely ground "white" wheat flour is nothing new. People like Sylvester Graham in the 1820s believed the fiber content of natural stone ground whole wheat was best for digestion. Did you know brown wheat flour was often referred to as "Graham's flour" in 19th century American cookbooks? Commercially prepared whole wheat bread hit the grocery market shelves in the beginning of the 20th century.
Commerical sliced white bread debuted in 1930s, courtesy of Wonder, ushering in the "modern" sandwich era.
"There has always been a certain snobbery about the colour of bread. For centuries the eating of white bread was considered a mark of social position...The Romans were probably responsible for this. The senators, the senior officers of the army and others took pride in providing their guests with white bread made from wheaten flour. Dark bread made from millet, barley, and other coarse grains was generally regarded as the food of the working classes. In Britain this question of colour hardly crops up until the Middle Ages...During the fourteenth century, even the peasant classes began to develop a taste for wheaten flour and there was a growing demand for better, which meant whiter, bread...But this demand was not to be met fully for a long time to come; in the main the poorer people had to be content with rye bread or maslin, made from a mixture of rye and wheat flours...Even the white bread which found its way on to the tables of the wealthy was by no means as white as what is baked today. Up to the middle of the last century, milling methods were crude by modern standards and the bran and dark parts of the wheat berry were never completely separated from the flour. Until the coming of the roller mill the whitest flour was virtually a wholemeal flour from which only the coarsest particles of bran had been removed by bolting through fine woollen or linen cloths. Most of the germ was retained and the yellow pigment in this had its effect on flour colour...In Early English and Tudor times the best quality white bread was known as paindemaigne or painmain...By the fifteenth century this bread was generally known as manchet...Throughout the Middle Ages, bakers, in London at least, were divided through their guilds into two distinct branches--brown and white bakers...The aim of the authorities in enforcing this division of bakers was to safeguard the diet of the poor by ensuring that the brown bread they ate contained the whole wheat germ...It was this insistence on white bread [18th century] which led to the practice of adulterating flour with alum, a practice which at one time seriously threatened the health of the population...Continually pestered for white bread [the bakers] sought ways of giving an artificial whiteness and fineness to flour of inferior quality...Although the public did not have strong feelings about the use of alum in bread, the medical profession in the first half of the nineteenth century was greatly concerned about the harmful effects of this substance...About the middle of the century the introduction of silk gauze for bolting enabled millers to obtain a better separation of the finer particles of bran and thus produce whiter flour by natural means. It was, however, the development of the roller mill which made possible the production of white flour of uniform colour and fineness...But owing to a rapidly increasing population neither millers nor bakers were able to store flour long enough for it to whiten naturally through the oxidation of the pigment on exposure to air. Fresh attempts were made to bleach flour by artificial means. Various processes were patented and these included exposing flour to the fumes of burning sulphur or resin or to the currents of air or ozone. The first really successful method involved the treatment of flour with nitrogen peroxide. In the 1920s another substance, nitrogen trochloride, commonly known as agene, came into wide use both in this county [UK] and the United States. Agene, about which there has been such controversy in recent years, was more than a bleaching agent; its most important function was as a bread improver which speeded up the ageing or maturing which occurs naturally only when flour can be stored for a considerable period. The use of agene by millers was dictated by the fact that with a large population, bakers are compelled to use their flour fairly soon after delivery. The controversy over the use of agene was sparked off in 1946 when Sir Edward Mellanby demonstrated that when, over a period, dogs were fed on a diet consisting mainly of bread with fairly high concentrations of agene they developed canine hysteria...Some doctors later claimed that agenised flour was responsible for nervous disorders, stomach ulcers, coronary thrombosis and decreased fertility. None of these claims were ever established...But there was enough doubt about the effects of agene for the United States to abandon its use as a bread improver. By the end of 1955, at the request of the Government its use was discontinued in Britain. In its place treatment by chlorine dioxide was introduced...Back in the Middle Ages doctors suspected that flour made form the whole wheat berry had more food value than white flour from which much of the berry had been sifted away; and this belief has returned in the twentieth century, with a scientific understanding of food values."
---The Story of Bread, Ronald Sheppard and Edward Newton [Routledge & Kegan Paul:London] 1957 (p. 69-75)
White bread in the USA
"The production of wheat flour picked up after the invention in 1834 of the Swiss steel roller that ground the meal very finely, a process vastly improved in 1865 by French-American Edmund LeCroix, by separating bran from granual middlings with a middling purifier and fan-driven air currents to clean the wheat as it moved through the mill. The first all-roller flour mill was displayed in the United States at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. After 1900 American wheat flour was processed to appear white by bleaching and removal of the wheat germ and other flecks of grain, thereby lessening its nutritive value. Today there has been a trend favoring unbleached and whole-wheat flours."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 129)
Notes from The Grocer's Encyclopedia, circa 1911, indicate white wheat flour was firmly established and readily available to American consumers.
Natural oxidation vs. chemical bleaching
"Natural oxidation" or "Natural aging" of flour may take several weeks or months, depending upon the wheat and the storage facility. If the flour sits too long it may be susceptible to mold or rodent infestation. This source does a fine job explaining the history [skip to page 8] and uses of both types of whitening. Earliest accounts of chemical bleaching date to the early 1900s. Several bleaching chemicals were employed.
"Freshly ground wheat contains small amounts of carotene, a plant pigment that gives it a yellowish tinge. Over time, the pigment oxidizes and the flour turns off white. But in milling, time is money, and millers begain to use an improved bleaching process using chlorine. J.N. Alsop, the founder of the Alsop Process Company, St. Louis, patented the clorine bleaching process for flour in 1904."
---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 119)
"Chlorine bleaching of processed flour is also expedient, for the giant milling combines own the plants which manufacture the white wrapped loaf, and artifical bleaching produces flour better suited to high-speed mechanical dough mixing than natural unbleached flour. Bleaching is by no means a necessity, and in some countries--France is one of them--is prohibited. It is not carried out solely in order to obtain whiter-than-white flour. it is also a method of instant maturing or ageing of the flour, and matured flour, as long as it has been deprived of its germ, has long been recognized as giving the most satisfactory performance for machine-made dough. To a certain extent flour whitens during storage. Not sufficently, however, to suit English millers and bread and biscuit manufacturers, so the flour is bleached with a chemical which speeds up the ageing process. When we remember that one of the bleaches widely used during the immediate post 1914-1918 War period and for the succeeding thirty years was called agene we immediately understand its function (This bleach is now banned in England. It was suspected, although not proved by the medial profession, of causing serious nervous disorders.) At the same time as maturing and bleaching the flour, chemicals destroy its natural vitamin B content."
---English Bread & Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, American Edition, with notes by Karen Hess [Penguin Books:New York] 1980 (p. 32-3)
Related item? Pullman loaves (aka sandwich bread, pain de mie, pain anglais)
Pekar testing to determine flour color
We learn from these turn-of-the-century professional texts that the whitest flours were not considered the best grades.
"The color of flour is best defined by the well-known "Pekar" test. A fine, creamy yellow shade is a typical color of a high-grade flour. Starch and weak wheats usually yield white flours. The various shades may be defined as ranging from a fine, creamy yellow, with good bloom, to a yellowish brown, brownish grey, greyish white, to a dead white color."Treatise on Flour, Yeast Fermentation and Baking together with Recipes for Bread and Cakes, Julius Emil Wihlfahrt, Seventh edition, revised [Fleischmann Co.:no location provided] 1905, 1915(p. 24)
"The following simple tests can be found useful in deteriming the value of a flour: Colour.--The colour should be examined dry and wet by Pekar's test. In order that this preliminary examination may be of service it is necessary to have some means of comparison, and in the absence of the tintometer there is no better plan than to select the best brand of good milling firm and use that as a standard. The examination of a single flour by the naked eye conveys very little accurate information as to the exact colour, but when two flours are placed side by side there is usually little difficulty in determining which is the better of the two. Suppose there are three flours to be examined for colour. Proceed as follows: --Procure a smooth piece of wood about 6 in. long and 3 in. wide. With a spatula place side by side a small portion of each flour, and finally the flour you have taken as a standard of comparison. These portions of flour should nearly touch one another. With the spatula smooth the flours with a firm movement from the middle of the board to the edge. The flour should now present the appearance of a beautifully smooth mass on the board, the different samples touching one anohter. Examine the flours in a good white light, and note the differences in colour, placing the flours in order of merit in a note-book, the lightest first, down to the darkest. It is best now to put the flours again on a clean board in the proper order, beginning with the lightest and ending with the darkest, and to examine them again...Starch flours, poor in gluten, are indicated by a dull white colour. The best quality flours are characterized by a bright slightly yellowish-white tinge. Lower grades are incidated by darkness in colour.
"Pekar's Test.--By this method the colours of the flours may be examined dry after having been wetted, and, therefore, some idea may be obtained of the colour of the dough. In making the test, smooth the flours as in a second dry test (that is, in order of colour) and then carefully immerse in water by allowing the board to enter the water at the edge, and then describing an arc under water. In immersing it is important to keep the board perfectly level. The flours are allowed to dry in a dark place, and then examined. Another method is to make up small pieces of doug of standard consistency, and to place each mass on a clean glass slide and then to press another glass on top, flattening out the dough into a sheet between the two glass plates. The colour may be then compared. In comparing doughs it is necessary to proceed as above with glass plates, as surface dough, under the action of the air, darkens considerably. The value of the colour test depends on comparison, and it is very necessary for the operator to have a great experience of various flours, or a definate standard to which he can refer all flours he examines. Lovibond's tintomenter gives a method of absolute comparison, but the limits of this work will not allow a detailed description."
---The Elementary Principals of Breadmaking, John Goodfellow, PhD, FRMS [The Baker and Confectioner:London] 1895 (p. 167-168)
What is flour?
Flour is generally ground grain. The roots of this product are prehistoric and cross all cultures except peoples living inhabiting Arctic regions. The grains differed according to region: wheat, rye, oats, barley, buckwheat, millet, rice, corn. Flour can also be made from some starchy roots (potatoes), nuts (acorns) and legumes (peas). Throughout time, wheat has been the grain of choice.
About flour milling
"To make wheat flour the wheat must be ground by one means or another. The evolution of grinding and milling began with the earliest known pestle and mortar, dating from about 10,000BC; this came from the Azilian culture of S. France, where it was used to grind pigments. No doubt pestles and mortar were subsequently used for grains, but the result they produce, although adequate for a gruel or pottage, does not really produce flour for bread. In most places where a series of early food-gathering implements has been found, development can be seen to have proceeded in one of two ways. One was the larger mortar worked by two or more people pounding alternately with long-handled pestles, as is still seen in Africa. This is quicker, but does not give a finer grind. The other is a device in which the top stone, or pestle, rubs against the lower stone, or mortar, with a shearing effect on the grain which can produce flour as we know it...Such devices, sometimes called saddle stones, are represented in ancient Egyptian paintings and tomb models and on Assyrian reliefs. Actual examples are found both in the old world and America, where they were used for maize. Early equipment of this type has also been excavated in the Balkans...Later progress in milling with stones depended on harnessing extra power. Once achieved, the stones could be enlarged and flattened, but the principals remained identical. Water power was perhaps first mentioned by Strabo in 150 BC...It spread throughout W. Europe, bringing the potential of fine flour to most communities. Wind power was harnessed around the year AD 1000, allowing mills to multiply still further...The conventional stone mill, even when powered by steam engines and placed in series or groups in early industrial units created for the supply of large towns, for example in Paris, had a relatively low output...The problem was resolved by the efficient, fast roller mill, first tried in Hungary in the 1820s, perfected in Switzerland in 1834, then quickly adopted all over Europe and America...For the first time, truly white flour was available at a low price."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 309-310)
Whole wheat bread
Food historians confirm whole wheat (aka Graham's flour, etc.) bread has been popular in health food circles from the early 19th century forwards. When were commercially manufactured whole wheat loaves available in American grocery stores? Our survey of historic newspapers suggests they were readily available in the early 20th century. This period makes sense: it converged health food advocates, home economists/social nutritionists, and pure food legal advocates. Food shortages caused by diverting commodities to feed WWI soldiers provided the economic push Americans needed to try this alternative product.
Whole wheat bread is one of several varieties listed in Artemas Ward's famous Grocers' Encyclopedia [c. 1911]
Commercial manufacturing/branding by Ward's Bakeries, New York, makers of popular Tip-Top brand [c. 1915]:
"Food experts all agree that whole wheat bread, made from genuine whole wheat flour, is one of the most healthful foods we can eat. You need have not doubt about getting the real thing if you buy Ward's Wheatheart Bread, the real whole wheat loaf, made from genuine whole wheat flour, ground especially for us by the old fashioned stone process. Ward's Wheat-Heart Bread is made by the Ward standard of quality, purity and cleanliness. It is the kind you can depend on. All grocers will supply you on order, made in 10 cent loaves. Made in the Ward Bakeries at New York, Brooklyn and Newark."
---display ad, New York Times, September 17, 1915 (p. 5)
WWI-era food [wheat] shortages prompt economists to promote whole wheat bread to the American public. This tidbit also explains the prevailing preference for white bread.
"Whole-Wheat Bread. To increase our wheat acreage is not the only way to meet the present shortage in breadstuffs. This of course must be the first object in any campaign to augment food supplies. However, in the grinding of the wheat and the treatment of the flour another big gain can be effected between the harvested grain and the finished loaf. It means something when we hear that 18,000,000 barrels of flour could have been added to last season's supply had whole wheat instead of white flour been the rule adopted by our millers. We cannot disregard taste and habit and prejudice, and the American people have somehow grown to connect the white flour loaf with our better brand of prosperity. Black bread in the past was for the serf, the slave and the downtrodden. White bread has the glorious heritage of the free man. But whole wheat bread is not black bread nor does it distantly resemble it in taste, color or substance. It is white bread raised to a higher degree of healthfulness and nutriment: it contains some food elements lost in milling white flour. The use of a whole wheat bread will conserve our food supplies to an appreciable extent. These are points the public should weigh well when the use of whole wheat bread is surged upon them by economists."
---"Whole Wheat Bread," Los Angeles Times, May 5, 1917 (p. I14)
Bread etiquette I: cut or tear bread served at table?
The practice of cutting bread (or not) at the dinner tabple depends period, place and culture. The role of knives and other sharp, pointy objects at the dinner table are viewed differently by different peoples. The rules also vary depending upon the size and shape of loaf and dining context. In the United States during the 1860s, finely set dinner tables did not sport bread knives. Civil War soldiers living in the fields, on the other hand, likely hacked chunks of stale bread with pocket knives.
"...the French...are shocked by knives being used on bread at table. The change to breaking rather than cutting bread, among the eighteenth-century French aristocracy, seems to have been part of the move towards an elegant simplicity in manners as the new hallmark of good taste. French bread is not usually sliced for buttering or for toasting; Anglo-Saxon methods of eating bread often require knives for spreading as well as cutting, and also the provision of butter plates. Pain de campagne, the parge, solid, round country loaf of France, is correctly cut in pieces; a man may whip out his pocket knife, grip the loaf under his arm, and carve out a slice. He must cut from the outer edge and towards his own body, so that no one else is endangered by his exploit. "Viennese" baguettes, on the other hand, are soft white table bread; they are sliced, but away from the table, and served in a bread basket. The refusal to cut them at table is a statement about the kind of bread it is, and the distinction that is being made between it an pain de campagne."
---The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners, Margaret Visser [Penguin:New York] 1991 (p. 186)
"Where people eat with their hands from a common dish, it is etiquette that nothing bitten should be put back...Such rules are made largely irrelevant by the modern custom of serving everybody separate protions, but we keep to the spirit of them by disliking teeth-marks left, for example, in bread. Bread is to broken in pieces small enough to be consumed entire and not put back on the side plate: teeth-marks remind of of teeth, and anything bitten is 'left-overs.'"
---ibid (p. 313)
Bread etiquette II: bread or butter knives?
The American Silver and Flatware 1837-1910/Noel D. Turner contains hundreds of pages describing all sorts of dinner table utensils. There are no references to bread knives in this book. Butter knives (for buttering bread) and crumb knives (for scraping bread crumbs off the table) are included. Even today, in American/European cultures, bread is generally broken with the hands. Not cut with a knife. That's why you don't find bread knives in fine restaurants. Family restaurants serving hot loaves on wooden platters with sharp knives, is a relatively modern phenomenon. In the 19th century people were "warned" about the unhealthy dangers of consuming warm bread!
Bread etiquette III: restaurant service (waitstaff protocol)
"Those in the know are aware that top-quality bread should be served at room temperature, but some guests want hot bread. However, reheated bread goes stale faster, and if it's unused, it usually had to be thrown out at the end of the night. The answer is to serve at bread room temperature and warm it up for those who request it. If you put the bread basket on the table as soon as the guests sit down, they may fill up on your wonderful bread but not order as much from the menu. So you might want to change your sequence of service and serve bread after the order has been taken. In more luxurious restaurants, though, you aren't as worried about people ordering enough food, so you can still serve the bread before the order is taken."
---At Your Service: A Hands-On Guide to the Professional Dining Room, John W. Fisher, The Culinary Institute of America [John Wiley & Sons.:New York] 2005 (p. 182)
"In some establishments, the house standard of serve may specify that bread is to be served after the order has been taken--so the guest will not 'fill up' on the bread. As the bread and butter plate is to the left of the cover, bread is served from the left. Note the use of the fork and spoon for serving the roll...You may hear this style of service referred to as 'pince,' the French word for 'pinch.' To execute this maneuver, rest the spoon on your pinky, ring, and middle fingers and use your pinky finger to grip the handle. Place th fork between the index finger and the thumb. The tines of the fork should be up for sliced bread and down to better grasp rolls. Sometimes a basket of bread and a dish of butter are placed on the table. For takes with six or more guests, two baskets and two butter plates are more convenient."
---Remarkable Service, The Culinary Institute of America, 2nd edition [John Wiley & Sons:New York] 2009 (p. 147-1948)
Why do American restaurants serve free bread with meals?
The answer is: they don't. Savvy restauranteurs set menu prices to cover this cost. Menu prices also cover ingredients, equipment, salaries, utilities, insurance, laundry and supplies. Bread has been served in American public eateries from colonial times forward. Traditionally, there is no extra charge for the "staff of life." Bread is cheap and engages the hungry diner while he waits for his meal.
In the past century, the debate over free vs fee bread has been a notable concern. The discussions held at the dawn of the 20th century mirror those today. Restaurants today generally serve "free" bread. Service has changed to help eliminate waste. In some finer restaurants, artisinal bread plays a starring role in the meal. Pun intended.
[1912: restaurant economics & meal costing]
"When the bread-and-butter fiend comes forth to breakfast this morning in New York City and goes to his hotel to order and egg with the expectation of filling himself free of charge on rolls well covered with butter, he will find himself confronted with a situation that will tend materially to reduce his appetite if his particular hotel happens to be one of the many which at a recent meeting of the Hotel Men's Association agreed to an innovation in restaurant management. Perhaps he will be warned before eating but it may be that the blow will fall when the check is presented. In the latter case we will see thrust before him an extra charge of 10 cents for bread and butter which formerly came gratis. The high cost of foodstuffs is to blame, not themselves, say the hotel keepers, who, according to their own statements, have barely been able to cover restaurant expenses under the old system. After a deal of telephoning early last night a group of the Broadway hotel proprietors came to the conclusion that enough were in agreement for them to make the Oct. 1 innovation agreed upon. From Broadway the infection spread up Fifth Avenue to the Hotel Plaza and the St. Regis, skipping here and there hotels which have a family patronage. Many other hotels like the Astor, the Waldorf, and the Park Avenue could not decide the question until this morning, when their trade should come. The Knickerbocker and the Belmont, not being members of the Hotel Men's Association refused to consider the change. Those which were agreed last night to put an extra charge on this morning's bills were the Imperial, Martinique, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and Plaza."
---"Hotels Stop Free Bread," New York Times, October 1, 1912 (p. 1)
[1915: German bread cards]
"The allied associations of the restaurant and hotel keepers of Berlin have decided hereafter to make a charge for all bread served at meals."
---"No Free Bread with Meals: War Forces Berlin Restaurant Keepers to Change Custom," New York Times, February 5, 1915 (p. 2)
"New Yorkers with long memories who recall the historic day when restaurants began charging 10 cents for bread and butter will be interested to learn that the scheme for abolishing free bread with meals throughout the German Empire, as well as putting 70,000,000 people on a bread ration, was launched with rather less excitement and far less friction...Patriotic Americans who began celebrating Washington's Birthday the night before and returned to their hotel rooms in the early morning hours had, some of them, the shock of their lives when they saw flaming red placards pasted on the walls above their beds. It look as if the place had been put under quarantine; but the poster contained the following even more exciting announcement: The Bread Cards instituted by the authorities are to be found for each of our honored guests and good for ONE DAY ONLY at the Bread Card Desk in the lobby to be obtained daily. The honored guests are reminded that from Feb. 22 bread may only be given at meals on presentation of this official bread card. We therefore beg guests always to keep the BREAD CARD by them and to give it back on paying the bill on the day of departure. THE MANAGEMENT. You could buy and eat all the cake you wanted to, but not even an American millionaire could get a crust of bread in Berlin without producing his bread card. It was Red Monday, not only were the red posters conspicuously put up in hotel rooms, but all the advertisement pillars of Berlin were plastered with red announcements explaining the intricacies of the new bread ordinance."
-- "Berlin Cheerful on Bread Ration," New York Times, March 24, 1915 (p. 4)
[1918: wheat deficit & roundabout rationing]
"Outsiders who come to Washington express amazement and voice some resentment at the glaring indifference shown by restaurant proprietors to the conservation rules laid down by the food administration. And there is some basis for their charge that the nation's Capital is doing little in the way of food economy to help the war. A tour of lunchrooms, restaurants and hotels in the district ...discloses only three places yesterday which were rigidly observing meatless Tuesday. Charge for Bread and Butter. Some of the places were not visited may, however, be faithfully observing the regulations. One of the three where the meatless day was observed was a 'white tile' lunchroom; one was a little dining room near a big hotel, and one was a hotels. Not a dairy lunch was included in the list. The visitor learned, however, that the hotels, dairy lunches, restaurants and the like had observed the rule of the Hoover administration restricting the consumption of bread and butter. Their idea of what Mr. Hoover wants coincided perfectly with what they wanted. They evolved from these wants an arrangement which was simple. They charged from 5 to 10 cents extra for orders of bread and butter."
---"Rule of Meatless Tuesday, Ignore in Most Washington Restaurants, Arouses Resentment of Visitors," Washington Post, January 2, 1918 (p. 4)
[NOTE: Meatless and Wheatless days were proscribed by the Hoover's Food Administration: guidelines here.]
[1921: meal costing basics]
"Seven hundred of the nation's leading restauranteurs...[attended] the third annual convention of the National Restaurant Association...Regarding the prices of meals...it is as impossible to set a uniform price on meals as it is to set a uniform price on theater seats. However...restaurant prices are today 25 per cent lower than last year and will drop lower. This leading restauranteur also was asked if free 'spuds' and free bread and butter, which are now unheard of, will return. 'There never have been free spuds and free bread and butter, with meals,' he stated. 'They have never been free any more than there has been free lather with a shave in a barber shop. If a restaurant does serve bread and butter without cost they charge that to the expense."
---"Would Eliminate 'Hasher,'" Los Angeles Times, October 4, 1921 (p. II1)
[1956: wheat surplus packs political punch]
"Congressman Burdick, who comes from North Dakota where a great deal of the nation's wheat is grown, complained the other day to the House of Representatives restaurant manager about the policy of charging a nickel extra for bread with meals. Mr. Burdick says that's no way to encourage people to eat up the wheat surplus. The manager replied that he had to charge for the bread. He said that when bread was free, some Congressmen lived on bread alone except for a cup of coffee to wash it down. With people eating up the free bread the House restaurant couldn't make enough money and it might run a deficit and the manager said he wouldn't run a deficit. We leave for the moment, the problem of the wheat loans to Mr. Burdick and Mr. Benson, and to the others the privilege of enlarging on the obvious comment that it would be nice if the Congressmen who are careful about their own money were as careful with the taxpayers. Our hero is the House restaurant manager. Here's a man surrounded daily by a large and varied group of provident spenders who stands his ground and insists his chop-house is going to pay its way and not go into debt. Character like that frankly awes us. Certainly such talents deserve broader fields. Such a man should not be confined to managing the House restaurant, where only a little money is spent. The job for him is to manage the whole House--for a starter."
---"The Manager," Wall Street Journal, March 5, 1956 (p. 10)
[1997: artisinal bread revolution]
"Using his plastic tongs as a pointer, a waiter at Aquavit quickly indicates the key sectors of his teeming wicker breadbasket. There are slices of sourdough bread, seven-grain bread and semolina with golden raisins and fennel. Off to the either side lurk a dried-blueberry-and- walnut roll and a stern looking flat Swedish rye bread. The basket sags under the weight. The tongs hover expectantly. The pressure builds. For the unprepared diner, it's like a lecture followed by a pop quiz...In a more innocent time, bread was a simple affair at most restaurants. The diner was presented with a roll, perhaps, or a few chaste slices of sourdough bread. No more. The artisinal bread movement that has gathered force in the last decade seems to have entered a baroque phase. The once-humble breadbasket has become a painstakingly composed still life that arrests the eye with beguiling shapes and textures, a flavor festival that clamors for attention with waves of spices, herbs and fruits--sometimes all in the same roll. It is symptomatic of the present movement that Marcus Samuelsson, the chef at Aquavit, started out with a three-grain bread, upped the ante to five and pushed onward to seven. And it was perhaps inevitable that Daniel Bouley, whose Bouley bakery in TriBeCa is the latest in a wave of restaurant-bakery partnerships, should devise a bread trolley with 22 different offerings. Bakers, chefs and food historians have a few theories for the bread explosion in general...Most agree that bread, for reasons no one fully understands, simply sat there, ignored, while a culinary revolution swept over the land. 'Bread has been a disgrace on the American plate for ages,' Said Barbara Haber, a food historian at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College... ...Diners are reeling. Two seconds after unfolding their napkins, they get an invitation to carbo load. A few short years ago, many restaurants could not manage to serve bread with a crust worthy of the name. Now, the bread selection is beginning to rival the wine list. 'Restaurants and chefs have very sophisticated marketing ideas about their bread baskets...They look for special colors and textures and shapes. And everyone wants something custom.'....There is probably an upper limit to creativity, imposed by money. Bread is one of the two things that restaurants give away, the other being water, which, unlike bread, costs virtually nothing. As the chefs pile nut upon nut, grain upon grain, and the expense spirals upward, more and more restaurants are not only thinking the unthinkable but talking about it: charging for bread."
---"Ready or Not, Here Comes the Bread," William Grimes, New York Times, October 1, 1997 (p. F1)
[2011: restaurant economics II: free vs. fee revisited]
"After learning the hard way about how rowdy inebriated customers can get waiting for something to come out of the kitchen on a busy night, I can attest to the calming influence of hot bread and herb butter! Something tasty to nibble on can also mellow the temperament of guests who have had to wait for a table, been subject to a reservation mix-up, or are just plain cranky due to no fault of the restaurant. I've heard veteran guests tell their friends, "you're going to love the bread here." That, too, is worth the extra pennies and time to serve it...Bread is something that is very very cheap to make, and customers really enjoy it. I know that it's up to the discretion of each restaurant but I am of the strong opinion that in today's economic climate it's good to keep offering your customers what they expect and that it's not that expensive to offer a great product at a reasonable price. ..."We're located in the Midwest's heartland and my decision to not offer complimentary bread, for some, is considered a travesty. While I grew up in the Midwest and love a bread basket as much as anyone, I couldn't stand future thoughts of wasted product, theft and the expectation of providing something free simply because "everyone else is doing it.' I understand the theories behind "free bread.' I just didn't want to bow to peer pressure. I also wanted this restaurant to be different. Our current menu includes an oven-warmed baguette with garlic and herb-whipped butter and it is a very popular menu item. Very infrequently, we have a new guest that is looking for that complimentary bread basket and my staff knows to use very gentle words in directing them to the bread offering on the regular menu. Almost always, the guest will order the bread and that's that. ..."Serving bread after the order is taken has its merits by not filling a customer up on bread. The practice of serving a customer alcohol on an empty stomach, however, raises serious concerns that may outweigh the loss of an appetizer sale. I also have found that if the staff is trained to politely ask if the customer desires bread before automatically serving it will minimize cost. ..."Last year our total cost of high-quality dinner rolls was more than ,000, which is not chump change for an independent operation like ours. We surveyed our Facebook fans and our e-mail list. The answer? They would like something to nosh on - not necessarily dinner rolls. We eliminated the free rolls and now give out a basket of oyster crackers, bread sticks and flat bread with an anise honey butter. For an additional .75 (.25 over cost), customers can order a 16-ounce semolina boule onion loaf with honey butter. ..."We are well-known for our honey wheat bran rolls. We have never charged for them and refill orders for additional requests as well. I have considered charging for additional rolls at lunchtime only. The last few years have been extremely tough on my restaurant, and although charging for additional rolls is not a make or break policy, every little bit of savings helps. But I am afraid that the negative feedback would outweigh the savings. So, I haven't pulled the trigger. ..."We used to automatically send out one roll per entree and, in turn, threw away at least 80 percent of them. Now the servers ask after the salads if guests would like bread with their meal. We have saved a ton in wasted dough (pun intended). ..."We changed our menu about five years ago and discontinued the practice of the free breadbasket. We chose to move our signature bread offering of biscuits, zucchini bread and corn muffins served on a grilled flour tortilla plate to our appetizer page for .50 each. Incidentally, we sold 941 of them last year alone. It was not without great debate and apprehension that we finally chose this approach. I agree with you on the point that people tend to skip an appetizer for the table if the bread is brought out first. I battle with my staff on this point regularly. ..."The price of every item across the board is soaring in this industry from goods to utilities to fuel. We have not raised our prices in five years, but we have cut back costs wherever possible. Our business is stable and I am happy to report has survived these economically challenging years. We are a family owned and operated business of over 20 years. We did not get this far serving free bread. Our personal connection to our customers and our approach - make them feel special and want to chose us over our competitors - are what keep them coming back week after week. ---"Free Bread: Bane or Boon?" Restaurant Hospitality, June 1, 2011 (p.1)
[NOTE: The editorial that set these answers in motion was "Do Customers Get Bread or Not?" Michael Sanson, Restaurant Hospitality, April 2011 (p. 6)
Related service? Free lunch in old west saloon.
Commercial sliced white bread was made possible by 20th century improvements in wrapping and slicing technology. The year? 1930. The brand? Wonder. Most folks are surprised to learn Wonder didn't start out as sliced bread. Like many coommon foods we enjoy today, it evolved. In the 1960s round slices were offered as novelty alternative to traditional square/block shape.
According to the records of the US Patent & Trademark Office Taggart Baking Company's (soon to be acquired by Continental Baking Company) Wonder Bread commercial product was introduced in May 1, 1921. Illustrated newspaper ads confirm the early loaves were not sliced. Homemakers were urged to slice as they needed. Wonder's new wrapping meant the product would last two days. The original "convenience factor" had nothing to do with sliced bread. It eliminated the daily trip to the bakery. Wonder-Cut (sliced) bread debuted in April 23, 1930. Thin sliced bread was introduced in the mid-1930s for a variety of interesting reasons.
About Wonder brand bread
"The Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis had bread success just after World War I with a one-pound wrapped loaf called Mary Maid...In 1921, Taggart Vice-President Elmer Cline was given the task of coming up with a theme for the new loaf. While watching a balloon race over the Indianapolis Speedway, Cline was inspired with the name 'Wonder.' The bright colored balloons in the sky became the polka-dots that graced the new loaf's packaging..."
---"Wonder Bread," Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands, Volume 1: Consumable Products, Janice Jorgensen editor [St. James Press:Detroit] 1994 (p. 644-645) [NOTE: Taggart was purchased by Continental Baking Company.]
"Wonder Cut Bread, The New Ready-to-Use form of slo-baked Wonder Bread is now on sale at our Grocer's. Today you can get the regular slo-baked Wonder bread in a new, ready-to-use and convenient form. Manu women who prefer bread that is already cut never bought it regularly because until now no sliced bread has been slo-baked. now you can have it if you want. Nothing is missing. You get the same fine texture, the same tender, golden-brown crust, the same long-lasting freshness that you know in regular Wonder Bread. We make both kinds of Wonder Bread from the same dough. The both have the same fine ingredients that cost more than ,000,000 extra each year. The same 'short patent' flour, milled from the nutritious heart of the wheat berry. The same famous slo-baking process that promotes freshness and greater digestibility. All we do is slice it for you, and by entirely new methods, Keen, steady knives cut each slice evenly, without breaking the tender crust. Each loaf is placed in specially designed ventilated trays. Then wrapped in special airtight wax wrappers that preserve the full nut-like Wonder Bread flavor. You get the finest bread that baking skill and money can provide... when you get Wonder-Cut Bread. We slice the regular loaf only for those women who prefer ready-to-use bread. Wonder-Cut is at your grocer's today. He gets regular Wonder and Wonder-Cut fresh twice a day, every day. Continental Baking Company."
---display ad, Los Angeles Times, April 22, 1930 (p. A7)
Before long? Thin sliced bread was introduced. This related product was promoted from four angles: daintiness (thinner for lady-like tea sandwiches), economy (more slices per loaf), improved product (crisper toast), and health (fewer calories per slice).
"Berg's Bread, Sliced Thin. Now the popular Berg's Bread is sliced thin--for your convenience. You get more slices per loaf--the same size loaf, but now it will go further. We have added a new frame to our slicer, and beginning tomorrow the new sized slice bread will be on sale in local stores. We believe it will make better toasts or sandwiches, and will be economical."
---The Burlington Daily Times-News [NC], November 5, 1936 (p. 9)
"Merita Thin Sliced bread loaf,"
---The Bee [Danville VA], November 12, 1937 (p. 13)
"Purity Thin Sliced Bread,"
---Denton Record-Chronicle [TX], July 17, 1938 (p. 2)
"Test Campaign on New Bread. The Ward Baking Company is using local newspapers, a shopping publication and local radio stations in Springfield and Holyoke, Mass., for a test campaign on its new home-style, thin-sliced bread, 'Homespun,' it was announced yesterday. Three main ingredients eggs, milk and honey, are played up with balloon quotes 'spoken' by a hen, a cow and a bee. The J. Walter Thompson Company is the agency."---New York Times, August 14, 1948 (p. 20) "Arnold Fine White Bread is First Choice in N.Y. Times Survey (an inpartial survey made among 3,775 of its readers by the New York Times. It's a real compliment the way those thousands of Times families have taken to our thin-sliced bread! It's a real compliment to the delightful flavor--the rich, wholesome ingredients--the kind of exacting, painstaking, fussy care we put into it. The proof's in the eating--in the delicious, truly different taste. The first time you try it you'll discover how really mouth-watering bread can be. If you haven't already tried our bread we'd sure like you to. We think you'll take to it the way so many other folks have...Made with Cuban bee honey, table butter, egg yolks, and other fine ingredients such as unbleached flour."
---New York Times, November 3, 1948 (p. 32)
"Reducing? Do it now with new Tip-Top high Protein Bread. Now--you can take off weight without going hungry! Each slice of new Tip-Top Protein Bread contains fewer calories than half a grapefruit! So satisfying, you'll prefer this thin-sliced bread to rich, fattening foods. Made with gluten and unbleached wheat flours. Extra good toasted!"
---New York Times, January 16, 1953 (p. 20)
"Very thin sliced bread, Pepperidge Farm,"
---Los Angeles Times, September 20, 1984 (p. L52)
About bakery mechanization
"The mechanization of bakery production did not end at the baking stage. It embraced the cooling, slicing, and wrapping of bread, all of which were extremely important to a successful bakery operation. Wrapped bread was essential for two reasons. First, its use as an advertising medium could not be overlooked. Second, consumer concern about sanitation demanded it. But until 1911, bread was either wrapped by hand with paper and string or merely put into paper sacks. At that time, the first wrapping machine in the industry appeared. Unlike the modern machines, it merely applied a wax seal to the ends of a paper wrapper, eliminating the need for string. But within three years, the forerunner of the modern wrapping machine was put into operation. Using fully waxed paper, it automatically folded the paper around the loaf and sealed the wrapper by means of a heating plate. These early machines were crude affairs, hard to operate, and subject to frequent breakdown, but they were far more satisfactory and economical than hand wrapping. By 1930, with improved engineering and design, specifically better heat controls and variable speed, automatic wrapping was in full used except in the retail bakeshops"
---Baking in America: Economic Development, William G. Panschar, Volume One [Northwestern Illinois Press:Evanston IL] 1956 (p. 120-121)
"...in 1914, a bread-wrapping machine was invented by Henri Sevigne. With this machine, bread could be wrapped and sealed in waxed paper soon after baking, and the product would keep fresh for 48 hours."
---"Wonder Bread," Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands, Volume 1: Consumable Products, Janice Jorgensen editor [St. James Press:Detroit] 1994 (p. 645)
"Slicing machines were a later development. The first slicer was invented in 1917, but it was destroyed, plans and all, in a fire before it was generally made available. It was not until 1928 that another machine was invented which did an efficient job. The mechanized problem of the slicing machine was a difficult one, for the sliced had to be held together until they moved into the automatic wrapper. many devices were tried including rubber bands, string, and wire pins. These were finally abandoned in favor of a collapsible cardboard bread tray, patented earlier by a St. Louis baker, G.C. Papendick. With Papendick's device, the loaf was fitted into a tray and held firmly while being sliced, and the entire unit, slices and tray, was then wrapped. Even then, many bakers hesitated to add such equipment to their plant until they were sure the housewife was willing to pay the cost of having her bread sliced."
---Baking in America, Volume One (p. 121)
"Slicing machines...which had been introduced in the late 'twenties, were by 1939 commonplace throughout the industry; moreover, the need for collapsible bread trays to hold the sliced bread as it was being sliced was eliminated with the development of an automatic slicer wrapper."
---Baking in America, Volume One (p. 208)
"Otto Frederick Rohwedder, a jeweler in St. Joseph, Mo., began tinkering with the idea of a machine to slice whole loaves of bread in 1912. An early model held the loaf together with sterilized hairpins, but the pins fell out. Finally, in 1928, he coupled slicing and automatic wrapping, and two years later the Continental Baking Company bought his machine to produce Wonder Bread."
---"Slices of History," New York Times, April 28, 1989 (p. A38)
Round sliced bread?
Our survey of historic newspapers confirms Rainbo brand [owned by Taggart] introduced round-shaped sliced sandwich bread in 1963. This novelty shape was promoted as perfect for round-shaped fillings. Think: balogna & tomatoes. Full-page ads published in the middle of the country (Kansas, Texas, New Mexico), but not on the coasts, suggests this product might not have enjoyed national distribution. It is certainly possible competing companies introduced similar products under different names. If you recall additional brands/companies please let us know.
"New in Hutchinson: Put Rainbo Round [in] Your Meals! New Shape, Exciting Taste, Fresh Flavor, Real Bread. Spark up every meal at your house with these New Rainbo Round Slices of Bread--Same Good Flavor of Real Bread--but an added delight to serve. Everyone likes Rainbo Round Bread!"
---1/2 page display ad, Hutchinson News [KS], October 24, 1963 (p. 11)
"Put Rainbo Round 'round your meals! Perfect for Hamburgers! Rainbo Round slices are perfect for Rainbo Round sandwiches. Just right for all kinds of soft meat fillings, such as barbecue, canned sandwich meats, etc. Ideal for Cold Cuts! Add two slices of Rainbo Round bread to your favorite cold cuts, baloney, spiced luncheon loaf, tomatoes, onion, cheese, or goose liver, etc. and you will have the finest new taste sandwich treat anywhere."
---1/2 page display ad, Hobbs News Sun [NM], December 10, 1963 (p. 10)
Heel of the loaf
According to The Oxford English Dictionary (accessed online June 3, 2014) the word "heel," as it applies to bread, has been used from Medieval times forward. Curiously? The definition is different from what we Americans think of today:
"8. The crust at the bottom (also, sometimes, the top) of a loaf; the rind of a cheese. 1362 Langland Piers Plowman A. viii. 181, I nolde ?eue for юi pardoun one pye hele. 1611 R. Cotgrave Dict. French & Eng. Tongues, Esquignonner, to cut, or breake off a lumpe, cantle, crustie heele, or peece from a loafe of bread. a1774 R. Fergusson Poems (1785) 151, I wat weel They'll stoo the kebbuck to the heel. 1814 Scott Waverley III. xvi. 240 The heel o' the white loaf that came from the bailie's. 1849 Dickens David Copperfield (1850) xi. 117 The heel of a Dutch cheese. 1879 G. F. Jackson Shropshire Word-bk., Heel, the top crust of a loaf cut off, or the bottom crust remaining."
Why call it "heel?"
Food historians are silent on this topic. Common wisdom assumes it is because the placement of the "heel" on a loaf of sandwich bread corresponds somewhat to the human foot. The Oxford English Dictionary also offers a definition of "heel" as something resembling the physical heel of a human foot. American definitions reflect that lineage, using bread as an example:
“Something resembling the back part of the human food in position, shape, etc. ‘a heel of bread’”
---Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd edition, Newly Revised and Updated [Random House:New York] 1987 (p. 886)
In the case of modern standard commercial sandwich loaves, we wonder which end would be considered the heel? The 1943 quote below suggests it's the one closest to the package opening. Of course, the "heel" at the other end would be an identical twin. Thrifty American cooks repurposed the heels instead of throwing them out. Julia Child suggested using the heel to cover the stuffed cavity when roasting a turkey (insulator to lock in moisture). Genius!
"What do you do with the heel of the loaf? Here is an excellent idea for a dish that children will love. Dip half slices of bread in golden corn syrup, drain off all surplus sirup and saute in shortening."
---"The Heel of the Loaf," Washington Post, February 22, 1936 (p. X10)
"At this school approximately 5,000 lunches are served each day. About 250 of these are Emergency Relief lunches for which the school receives a rebate. Boys eat more than girls and like the 'heel' of the bread better, says the school dietitian."
---"Autumn Brings Back the School-Day Lunches," Edda Morgan, New York Times, October 3, 1937 (p. G16)
“Open the new Roman Meal Bread Wrapper at this end. Open the wide end of wax paper to keep cellophane from breaking. Slide loaf out and turn on its side to Slice. Slice enough for next morning’s toast and the children’s lunch. Always replace heel of bread on unused portion, slip back loaf, and pull the wrapper tightly. This protects freshness, texture and flavor."
---display ad, Roman Meal brand bread, Los Angeles Times, March 3, 1943 (p. 7)
"Start stuffing [turkey] at the neck end by placing the bird upright in a large bowl and filling the cavity. Skewer the skin flap to the bird and turn the bird upside down and fill with remaining stuffing...Remove from the bowl, and place a heel of bread or a piece of foil over the exposed cavity."
---"Watching Julia Child Talk Turkey for the Holiday," Washington Post, November 20, 1985 (p. E1)
Medieval bread trenchers
Food historians tell us bread has been used to hold other foods for thousands of years. Pizza, wraps, and bruchetta were all enjoyed by ancient people. Bread bowls (as in, holding soup or other thick liquid foods) were well documented as far back as Medieval Europe. They were called "trenchers" back then. These crusty, edible, hollowed out pieces of bread were used to serve soup on the finest Kingly tables and poorest peasant groaning boards. They were econmical (good way to use up stale bread) & efficient (did an excellent job holding the food). Today, we eat the bread bowl. 500 years ago you didn't.
"If we are to believe fifteenth-century books of etiquette and manuals of instruction addressed to young men in the household service of personages of rank, the manner of cutting and presenting table bread was as important as the composition of the bread itself. John Russell, who had been Usher and Marshal to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, younger brother of Henry V, wrote or compiled a Boke of Nurture in which he describes how a servitor, having first cut square trenchers from large, four-day-old coarse loaves--wooden and pewter trenchers were still uncommon--was then to prepare the table bread: 'furst pare the quarters of the looff round all about, then kutt the upper crust for your sovarayne', i.e. lord."
---English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, American Edition with notes by Karen Hess [Penguin Books:New York] 1980 (p. 331-2)
"The [Medieval] table setting for each diner normally consisted of a napkin, a spoon, and a trencher. The latter was a thick slice of four-day-old bread that served as an edible or otherwise disposable plate. Soaked with gravy it could be eaten by a hungry diner, but more often it was given to the dog, donated to the poor as alms. In the early modern period bread trenchers were gradually replaced by wooden or metal ones. According to the Menagier de Paris (Householder of Paris), the trencher, derived from the French verb for cutting, trancher, was to be "half a foot wide and four inches height." Ordinary diners sometimes cut their own trenchers, but those of high station were always served their trenchers by the carver, who cut them in the desired square shape seen in many medieval illustrations. The function of the trencher was temporarily to hold the food taken from the shared bowl and to soak up the juice that would otherwise have soiled the tablecloth."
---Food in Medieval Times, Melitta Weiss Adamason [Greenwood Press:Westport CT] 2004 (p. 158)
"Laying the table could thus be done after the guests were seated if they were a great many of them. Sometimes a cup and a loaf were given to each person. John Russell (in the early fifteenth century) noted that the lord had new bread (the upper crust was particularly reserved for the lord) and the others had one-day-old bread. The household staff had three-day-old bread and the trenchers were made from that which was four days old. Trenchers of bread were superceded by those of wood or metal in the course of the sixteenth century...It was important that bread was cut squarely and tidily. The loaf was round when made, but a square shape was regarded as much more elegant. The Goodman of Paris wrote that trench bread should be of brown bread 6 inches wide and 4 inches high, but it is not clear if this was before or after cutting. The carver was in charge of cutting the trenchers for the lord. With his knife he cut off pieces from the bread, as well as the trencher for another member of the staff, to 'assay', that is to test for poison. He touched another piece of bread on it for assay as well...After this the carver cut four trenchers and laid them before his lord in a quadrant on top of which he laid three small pieces of bread. He was enjoined to use his broad knife to move the bread and to hold it on a napkin, thus avoiding any touch. These trenchers were cut carefully and presented to the lord on the point of the knife."
---Food and Feast in Medieval England, P.W. Hammond [Wren's Park Publishing:Phoenix Mill UK] 1993 (p. 109)
"The meal would usually start with the Tudor mainstay, pottage. This would be eaten from a communal bowl...a trencher was a special dish rather like a modern plate. During the Middle Ages these had been made of four-day-old bread and for much of the sixteenth century bread trenchers were still used...You would take meat from the communal dish, dip it into one of the sauces provided...and then put the piece of meat into your mouth. The trencher could be used as a halfway stage between the two, although it was very bad mannered to pile it high with food..."
---Food and Feast in Tudor England, Alison Sim [Sutton Publishing:Phoenix Mill UK] 1997 (p. 108)
Modern bread bowls, used for soup or dips, are a rediscovery of Medieval trenchers. American cookbooks confirm hollowed out bread loaves, filled with dips, were popular party fare in the mid-20th century. Our survey of magazine & newspaper articles reveals modern bread bowls (for holding soup, chowder & chili) became popular in the United States in the late 1980s. Unlike their Medieval counterparts, today's fresh bread bowls are meant to be consumed.
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15 January 2015