Wheat Bread

Wheat Bread

Every Tudor in The Altarpiece would have eaten this!

About this recipe:
Difficulty: 4
Bread was a vital part of the Tudor diet and was eaten with most meals. White bread was eaten by the rich and brown bread by the poor. Making the bread took a great deal of time.

The kitchen in Tudor England had an oven for baking, which was heated with a burning bundle of twigs called faggots. The fire was raked out onto the floor and then pushed into a space under the oven before the food was put inside.

The rest of the cooking took place directly using a fire burning in the hearth. Tudor kitchens could be noisy places, especially when working near the crackling fire. There is no chimney in this kitchen and the smoke fills the roof space (and sometimes the kitchen!). The kitchen is lit by the fires and the little window, so it can be quite dark too.
Ingredients
• flour
• butter – if making white bread
• ale barm
• ale
• warm water
• salt – optional (this will be required if the bread is not to be eaten straight away to help preserve it)

Making and cooking it
• Warm the flour by the fire
• For white bread, bolt the flour (that is sieve it though a fine cloth). Then add a little butter to the flour and rub this in
• Add a little warm water and mix with the flour
• Add the ale barm and ale and work the ingredients with your hands until you have a sticky dough
• Place the dough by the fire and cover with a cloth and allow to rise until it is roughly twice the size
• Place the first of the faggots in the bread oven and allow them to burn down (repeat until all 6 have been used)
• Soak the wooden door of the oven
• Remove the dough from near the fire and knead for a second time. This removes the air and gives a lighter texture to the loaf
• Add a little salt (if the loaf is not to eaten the same day)
• Leave to rise for a second time near the fire
• Prepared a loose dough from flour and water
• Rake out the bread oven
• Shape the dough and place on the bread-pail
• Using the bread-pail place the dough into the oven
• Seal the oven by placing the loose dough you have made around the edges of the soaked wooden door
• After about 40 minutes the bread should be cooked. Remove the bread from the oven using the bread-pail
• Tap the bottom of the loaf, and if it sounds hollow the bread is cooked

With thanks to CookIt

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