Thursday, May 28, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly 26: Working-Class Dinner

The Challenge:26. Working-Class Dinner May 15 - May 28
We all like making beautifully molded aspics, delicate cakes and pastries, and airy creams, but the vast majority of the world has dined on much simpler fare throughout history. For this challenge, give your best interpretation of the food eaten by the nameless rabble. Be sure to document what makes it “working-class”!

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible) I've used this recipe several times and variations of it. Specifically, for this bread, I used the following:

1 cup starter
2 cups rye flour
1 tablespoon olive oil from Spanish olives
2 teaspoons raw honey
1 teaspoon salt
~1/3 cup water

I made the starter (50/50 rye flour and water) last week. It started to bubble by the third day and is currently very bubbly and happy.

There are several articles on bread making in the middle ages. Rye, by all accounts, was among one of the "poorer" grains. This is why I choose it for the flour. Since the average person would have access to honey but not sugar, I used the raw sugar. Olive oil was everywhere - even in countries like England that imported it.

As for why I choose bread, it's because of several saints who are said to have - at least for a period of time- eaten nothing but bread with some herbs and drank water. Bread was the very basic stuffs for any dinner and was sometimes the only thing many people - both sinners and saints- got to eat.

The Date/Year and Region: Roughly the 15th/16th century and Continental Europe

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation)
After waiting a week for that starter, I used half of it for the bread. I combined all the ingredients, kneaded the dough, and waited for the slightest hint that the bread rose. It did very slightly five hours later. So, I kneaded it again and took a total of 12 hours just waiting for this thing to rise even slightly twice! I then cooked it for 45 minutes at 400F in my modern oven.

Time to Complete: FOR.EV.ER. It was a week for the starter and all day for the bread to rise.

Total Cost: The rye flour was about $3.50 for the bag. I had everything else on hand.

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?) I would have liked to let it sit for longer but I had to get the bread done today. However, the bread itself is quite yummy. It's a bit different from whole wheat but quite good.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here) I tried to be as accurate as possible with the ingredients. Honey can taste different depending on the regions so that's going to be a bit off. I used sea salt and tap water. The olive oil is probably very close to what my ancestors would have used. The rye flour was organic rye so I'm pretty sure it's close to what would have been used. However, modern oven and modern bread pan.


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