We’ll be using bread in this Thursday’s session (July 9) of my Fireside Feasts
series out at Wyckoff. So, rather than getting up really early to hit the local
market where fresh baked bread is sold daily, I figured I’d make my own.
Besides, a couple of months ago, I paid good money to attend an intensive
five-day (modern) bread baking class, so I might as well make use of all that
knowledge. If I can remember any of it! Ha Ha! No, just kidding. I do. In fact,
the instructor, Faith Drobbin, kindly helped me with deciphering the specifics
of several historic receipts.
So, armed with those helpful hints from Chef Faith, I used the receipt
“To Make White Bread” from Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery,
transcribed by Karen Hess. I mixed it all together and set it to rise
overnight. Tomorrow will be the second rising and then the baking.
Here’s the original receipt:
To Make White Bread
Take 3 quarters of a peck of fine flower, & strow salt
in as much as will season it. Then heat as much milke
as will season it luke warme, & hould it high when you
poure it on to make it light. & mingle with your milke
4 or 5 spoonfulls of good yeast. worke your paste well,
& then let it ly a rising by the fire. Your oven will be
hoted in an houre & halfe; then shut [it] up a quarter
of an houre, in which space make up your loaves &
then set them in the oven. an houre & halfe will
Based on Hess’ transcription, here is what Chef Faith and I developed,
including cutting back on the proportions:
4 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups liquid
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
In an effort to better approximate an 18th Century (or earlier) bread, I used
half white and half wheat flour; for the liquid, I used half water and half ale;
and lastly, the small amount of yeast (that’s largely Hess’ doing, as she thinks
people use way too much) makes it a slow-rising bread, so it’ll set overnight.
This “formula” worked before. However, this time I used half water and half
ale, instead of milk, so…. We’ll see how it goes! Stay tuned.