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Roman-Bread-art - 9/11/17


"Roman Bread" by Mistress Drea di' Pellegrini.


NOTE: See also these files: Ancent-Grains-art, Bread-Hist-art, bread-msg, breadmaking-msg, flour-msg, yeasts-msg, Romn-Sod-Diet-art, Roman-Cuisine-art.





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Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Roman Bread

by Mistress Drea di' Pellegrini


I've spent the last few days testing out a variety of "Roman" bread recipes. Basically, ancient grains (spelt, kamut, einkorn, etc) combined with a sourdough starter from the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples. My goal was to make the simplest bread possible, in shape and size similar to the Pompeii loaves, that was still palatable.


There were several flops and failures, a few very gooey lumps that baked into nummy focaccia-like flatbread, and a couple of real dynamite results. The spelt sourdough is by far my favorite--it's a flat loaf, but surprisingly yummy and not too heavy.


I've gone through several loaves, successes and failures this week. Here's what I found worked best. I baked it with a La Cloche pottery bread oven, which is identical to an Etruscan portable oven/"clibanus".




5 cups (more or less) of ancient flour of choice: spelt, einkorn, emmer

1.5 cups water (more or less)

3 tbsp honey

1.5 tsp salt

1/4 c active sourdough starter




Mix 1/4 cup sourdough starter, 3 tbsp honey and 1.5 c warm water. Best to do this, 2/3 hours after feeding the starter when it's nice and bubbly.


Add 5 c flour of choice and 1.5 tsp salt. Mix until the dough is shaggy rather than dry, but not too wet or sticky. Wait 5-10 minutes and see how sticky it is and add flour/water as needed to get the right consistency. Einkorn will be stickier and moister and require less water than spelt, for example.


(optional: instead of adding the flour & salt all at once, add 2 c of the flour to the water mixture and let it sit for an hour or so before adding the remaining flour & salt. This helps gluten & sourdough yeast development for low gluten/heavy flours. Like every Roman-contemporary flour ever.)


Once the dough is incorporated into a ball, cover it with plastic in a bowl in a warm place. (In our central-air-enhanced townhouse, a heating pad under the bowl works wonders).


At 30, 60 and 90 minutes, flour your hands and the top of the dough. Take the dough, stretch it out, fold it in half and press it together. Then stretch it out in the opposite direction. Put it back in the bowl. This is it: no kneading needed.


Let the dough sit and sit and sit. Until it about doubles in size. 12-18 hours on average. Make the dough in the evening and let it sit overnight to bake it the next morning.


Flour your hands and gently turn the dough out for its final 1-2 hour proofing rise. Some people use proofing bowls/bannetons for a round shape. You can also very gently shape it into a round and let it rise on a flat surface. I use a bread cloche, and use a round piece of parchment paper for the final rise that can be slipped into the bottom of the cloche when the time comes to bake without disturbing the loaf.


If you want pompeii style bread, now's the time to press lines into the top for the 8 pie slice look. Tie a string around the outside as well, with a loop.


Let it proof for an hour or two.


Heat the oven to 450. Put the bread in the cloche, and put it in for 10 mins. Lower the temperature to 400. cook for 30 more minutes until the bread sounds hollow when tapped.



Copyright 2017 by Drea Leed. <drealeed2 at yahoo.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org