Medieval Bread


The historic record of Medieval baking is very sparse.  The first recipe book of this period, "The Forme of Cury" was written in the 1390s by royal appointment of Richard II.  Other sources are archaeological evidence, recorded accounts and texts on etiquette.

Bread was made from many types of grain, but wheat bread was the most favoured type.  The quality of bread varied enormously in these times.  Often the bread would be adulterated with cheaper ingredients to increase the bulk, or occasionally underweight to improve profit.  Town folk would mostly buy bread and country folk would make their own bread from the flour that they could afford.


Donnington-le-Heath Manor

Brick Ovens

Paynemaine was a bread made from finely ground sifted white flour from premium wheat grown on well matured land.  The flour was expensive to produce and only the wealthiest could afford to make or purchase this type of bread.

Wastel was a white bread which was made from first quality sifted flour, still expensive, but more easily affordable by the landed gentry.

Manchets were small white hand rolls of good quality white flour.  This bread was introduced around 1500.

Cockets were small white loaves made from the cheapest sifted white flour.

Mescalin was a whole wheat and rye mix.  This bread was more affordable by the masses.

Whole Wheat bread (Cheat) was whole wheat bread with the course husk and bran removed.  This gave a good quality brown bread.

Treet was whole wheat bread with all of the bran and husk still in it.  This was the cheapest whole wheat bread.

Clapbread was made from mostly wheat bran and siftings from other grain flours.  This was the cheapest and least nutritious bread.

Horse bread was a generic term for any bread that was made from grain other than wheat.  This would include breads made from milled dry peas, vetch, beans, rye or barley.

Bake houses would be kept separate from other buildings as the ovens were considered a fire hazard.  Brick ovens would be fired up with sticks and straw for hours to heat up thoroughly.  The fire would be scraped out of the ovens and the base scraped clean.  Bread, pies and other dishes would be baked in the oven whilst it was still hot and removed with a long flat wooden bakers shovel.

The Gule of August (August Feast) was held on the first day of August to celebrate the new grain harvest.  Celebration loaves would be baked using the new grain and shared throughout the community.

Download the following .pdf recipes


Paynemaine
Manchets and Wastel
Mascalin Bread
Clapbread

 

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This part of the Bread Pages looks at the key recipes that were used in different periods of history.

The Earliest Bread
Egyptian Bread
Roman Bread
Saxon/Norse Bread
Medieval Bread
Monastic Bread
Tudor Bread
17th Century
18th Century
19th Century
The Great War
World War 2

Different Flours