Pilgrim Seasonings

Plymouth Colony Foodways: Notes and Recipes from a 17th Century Kitchen

Pilgrim Pioneer Lady Bakes

July 20th, 2013 by KM Wall

If a picture is worth a thousand words…….photo tribute to bread

Of baking cheat bread

“To bake the best cheat bread, which is also simply of wheat only,

wheat

wheat

you shall, after your meal is dressed and bolted through a more coarse bolter than was used for your manchets, and put also into a clean tub, trough, or kimmel,

Flour in a kimmel - OK, it's a stainless  bowl in the modern kitchen, but I like saying kimmel

Flour in a kimmel – OK, it’s a stainless bowl in the modern kitchen, but I like saying kimmel

 

take a sour leaven,

A piece of sour leaven

A piece of sour leaven

that is piece of such leaven saved from a former batch, and well filled with salt, and so laid up to sour,

A piece of sour leaven laid up in salt. It really is as easy as it looks.

A piece of sour leaven laid up in salt. It really is as easy as it looks.

and this sour leaven you shall break into small pieces into warm water, and then strain it;

Piece of leaven broken up

Piece of leaven broken up

Water to mix with the leaven

Water to mix with the leaven

Mixing the leaven and water

Mixing the leaven and water – straining in this case means mixing

 

which done, make a deep hollow hole, as was before said, in the midst of your flour,

A deep hole in the midst of the flour...this part always feels like making pasta.....

A deep hole in the midst of the flour…this part always feels like making pasta…..

and therein pour your strained liquor; then with your hand mix some part of the flour therewith, till the liquor be as thick as pancake batter,

Mixed as thick as pancake batter. Markham says pancake batter should be thick like cream.

Mixed as thick as pancake batter. Markham says pancake batter should be thick like cream.

Using a whisk instead of my hands. Although I'll be using my hands to knead it....

Using a whisk instead of my hands. Although I’ll be using my hands to knead it….

then cover it all over with meal, and so let all that lie that night;

Covered with flour

Covered with flour

the next morning stir it,

The next morning (it's a different batch....but this is what the top looks like. It's also taller then it was last night.

The next morning (it’s a different batch….but this is what the top looks like. It’s also taller then it was last night.)

and all the rest of the meal well together, and with a little more warm water, barm, and salt to season it with,

Adding salt

Adding salt

Adding meal (flour) and barm (in this case yeast)

Adding meal (flour) and barm (in this case yeast)

 

bring it to a perfect leaven, stiff and firm; then knead it,

Not so perfect leaven - needs more kneading

Not so perfect leaven – needs more kneading

break it, and tread it,

breaking and treading are other ways to say knead well - this is looking better

breaking and treading are other ways to say knead well – this is looking better

as was before said in the manchets, and so mould it up in reasonable big loaves,

Molded loaf - 2 pounds for cheate bread, according to the Assizes

Molded loaf – 2 pounds for cheate bread, according to the Assizes

and then bake it with and indifferent good heat:

Baked wicked good

Baked wicked good

and thus according to these two examples before showed, you may bake any bread leavened or unleavened whatsoever, whether it be simple corn, as wheat or rye of itself, or compound grain as wheat and rye, or wheat, rye, and barley, or rye and barley, or any other mixed white corn; only, because rye is a little stronger grain than wheat, it shall be good for you to put to your water a little hotter than you did to your wheat.”

- Gervase Markham, The English Housewife, (1617). Best ed. p. 210.

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2 Responses to “Pilgrim Pioneer Lady Bakes”

  1. Vickie says:

    I don’t mind a stainless steel bowl standing in for the kimmel, but you didn’t name the old word for the lime green stirrer thingy which is so wicked cool!

    • KM Wall says:

      Spatula is a thingy in the 17th century…but this isn’t one of them. It’s supposed to be mixed by hand, but that made it too hard to photograph….The lime green is color-coordinated with the trim in BTS kitchen, though.

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