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Historic Mixed Grain Bread

Historic Mixed Grain Bread

Bread was an important food source in the 18th century. Not only was it a staple, in and of itself, but it was also an important ingredient in many other foods. It was known to many as a staff of life. Bread played such an important role in the nutritional needs of society that, when there were shortages in the supply of wheat, other grains had to be used to avoid mass starvation.

Mixed Grain Breads (Time 0_01_05;18)

During the latter half of the 18th century, western European countries saw a massive increase in population. England itself saw a 70% increase in its population during that same period. This expansion had a dramatic effect on the demand and availability of food. Wheat, for instance, doubled in price in this time period. The result was an important trade link between the American colonies and England.

Mixed Grain Breads (Time 0_01_21;10)

Wheat became the largest export crop for the Mid-Atlantic colonies in the 1700s. When George Washington decided to diversify away from tobacco, he chose to cultivate wheat. Consumer goods that were imported into the colonies were often paid for in wheat flour.

Mixed Grain Breads (Time 0_01_50;27)

Back in England, wheat was so important in feeding the populous that the British government enacted laws regulating the production of bread. These ordinances fixed the price of the bread while controlling the weight of each loaf according to the price of wheat flour. Commercial baking became highly regulated. The types of bread that bakers could bake, the grains to be used, and even their salaries were decreed by law.

Mixed Grain Breads (Time 0_02_31;00)

For centuries, white bread was revered by the public as the best bread to eat. The white bread flour came from regular flour that was bolted or sifted many times through cloth to get the finest flour available. Originally this flour was separated out and used only for sacramental bread or for the gentry, but over time, the regular public started to demand to have this white bread, too. Members of the medical community and government did their best to encourage the consumption of whole wheat or brown bread as it was thought that it was much healthier than the white bread that the common people demanded, but these claims were met with general resistance.

Mixed Grain Breads (Time 0_03_10;03)

Mixed grain breads were made with a combination of grains, wheat, barley, oats, and rye. At other times, other things were included such as potatoes, rice, beans, or even peas. Mixed breads were generally considered far inferior in taste and texture to wheat breads.

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Today we are going to be making a mixed grain bread made from wheat flour, rye flour, and barley flour. It would have been a much less expensive loaf to produce intended mostly for commoners. It would have been found in England and the American colonies.

 

  • 12 oz. Ale (home brew or good imported)
  • ½ cup Wheat Flour
  • 1 ½ tsps. Dry Active Yeast
  • 8 oz. Wheat Flour ( about 1 ½ cups)
  • 8 oz. Rye Flour (about 1 ¾ cups)
  • 8 oz. Barley Flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp. Salt
  • 4-6 oz. Water
  • Cornmeal

Let’s start by talking about yeast. Bakers in the 18th century got their yeast from the brewer. The brewer collected the yeast by skimming the croizen or the foam that is on the top of a fermenting batch of ale. Bakers would then cultivate this yeast. It was called barm and it was in a liquid form.

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To make your own barm you need some ale, either a home brew or a good imported ale. You could use water, but ale makes a better product with a more authentic flavored bread when you’re finished. In a clean bottle place about a half a cup of wheat flour and add 1 ½ teaspoons of dry active yeast.

Mixed Grain Breads (Time 0_04_32;23)

Add a 12 ounce bottle of ale and give it a really good shake to get all the dry ingredients mixed up. Once you’ve got it all good and mixed up you can set it aside to give it 15 or 20 minutes to activate.

Our dough is fairly simple. We’ve got three kinds of flour, wheat, rye, barley. Since the flours have different densities, it’s best to weigh them, but in this case it turns out to be about a 1 ½ cups of wheat flour, a 1 ¾ cups of rye, and 2 cups of barley flour. That’s about 8 ounces of each one of these flours. Because we’re using both wheat flour and rye flour, this is sometimes called maslin bread. All these flours are usually available at your local grocery store in the specialty baking section. To this we’re going to add about a tablespoon of salt, and mix it up.

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Now let’s add our barm with about 4-6 ounces of water and mix it until it makes a nice sticky, but firm dough. We’re going to knead this quite a while until the dough becomes very elastic, and then form it up into a loaf.

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Sprinkle your pie pan with a little bit of flour, put the loaf in there, and cover it with natural linen. This is a whole grain dough, so it’s going to take quite a while to rise, even overnight. We want it to rise until it’s about twice as big as when it started.

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When your bread is ready to bake, make sure to preheat your oven. If you’re using an earthen oven, you want to get that up to full temperature and then let it cool down to bread temperatures. If you don’t have your wood fired oven yet, you can use a standard home oven. You want to make sure to preheat it to about 400 degrees.

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Once your dough has risen properly, sprinkle some cornmeal onto your peel and turn out the dough onto your peel, then transfer into the oven.

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Your bread’s going to take 30-45 minutes to bake depending on the temperature of your oven. When it’s done, it should sound hollow when tapped and you should let it cool at least an hour before slicing.

Mixed Grain Breads (Time 0_08_49;29)

You know, the crust might be tough, but for all their complaints about this not being white bread, this mixed grain bread is very good.

Transcription of Video:

Bread was an important food source in the 18th century. Not only was it a staple, in and of itself but it was also an important ingredient in many other foods. It was known to many as a staff of life. Bread played such an important role in the nutritional needs of society that when there were shortages in the supply of wheat, other grains had to be used to avoid mass starvation.

Today we’re going to be making a multigrain loaf. It’ll be very similar to the kind of bread used to feed common people in the 18th century.

During the latter half of the 18th century, western European countries saw a massive increase in population. England itself saw a 70% increase in its population during that same period. This expansion had a dramatic effect on the demand and availability of food. Wheat for instance doubled in price in this time period. The result was an important trade link between the American colonies and England.

Wheat became the largest export crop for the Mid-Atlantic colonies in the 1700s. When George Washington decided to diversify away from tobacco, he chose to cultivate wheat and consumer goods that were imported into the colonies were often paid for in wheat flour. Back in England, wheat was so important in feeding the populous that the British government enacted laws regulating the production of bread. These ordinances fixed the price of the bread while controlling the weight of each loaf all according to the price of wheat flour. Commercial baking became highly regulated. The types of bread that bakers could bake, the grains to be used and even their salaries were decreed by law.

For centuries, white bread was revered by the public as the best bread to eat. The white bread flour came from regular flour that was bolted or sifted many times through cloth to get the finest flour available. Originally this flour was separated out and used only for sacramental bread or for bread for the gentry, but over time, the regular public started to demand to have this white bread too. Members of the medical community and government did their best to encourage the consumption of whole wheat or brown bread as it was thought that it was much more healthy than the white bread that the common people demanded, but these claims were met with general resistance.

These mixed grain breads were made with a combination of grains, wheat, barley, oats, and rye, and at other times other things were included, potatoes, rice, beans, even peas. Mixed breads were generally considered far inferior in taste and in texture to wheat breads. This is a loaf that’s made from a regulated ratio of two parts green pea flour to one part wheat flour. This is not the bread we are going to make today. Instead we’re going to be making this mixed bread. It’s made from wheat flour, rye flour and barley flour. It would have been a much less expensive loaf to produce intended mostly for commoners. It would have been found in England and the American colonies. Let’s get started.

Let’s start by talking about yeast. Bakers in the 18th century got their yeast from the brewer. The brewer collected the yeast by skimming the croizen or the foam that is on the top of a fermenting batch of ale. Bakers would then cultivate this yeast. It was called barm and it was in a liquid form. Here’s how to make your own barm. You need some ale, either a home brew or a good imported ale. You could use water, but ale makes a better product, a more authentic flavored bread when you’re finished. We’ve got a bottle here with about a half a cup of wheat flour in it and to that I’m going to add 1 ½ teaspoons of dry active yeast and to that I’m going to add this 12 ounce bottle of imported ale, and we need to give this a really good shake and get all the dry ingredients mixed up. Once you’ve got it all good and mixed up you can set this aside, give it 15 or 20 minutes to activate. Our dough is fairly simple. We’ve got three kinds of flour. I’ve got a wheat flour, a rye flour and a barley flour. Because the flours have different densities, it’s best to weigh them, but in this case it turns out to be about a cup and a half of wheat flour, a cup and three quarters of rye and two cups of barley flour. That’s about 8 ounces of each one of these flours. Because we’re using both wheat flour and rye flour, this is sometimes called maslin bread. All these flours are usually available at your local grocery store in the specialty baking section. To this we’re going to add about a tablespoon of salt, and now we can mix it up.

Now let’s add our barm. We’re going to add that with about 4-6 ounces of water and we’re going to mix this and it should make a nice sticky, but firm dough.

We’re going to knead this quite a while until the dough becomes very elastic. Now I’m going to form this up into a loaf. We’re going to take our red ware pie pan and sprinkle it with a little bit of flour and we can put our loaf in there and cover it with natural linen. Natural linen is something that we offer on our website and in our print catalog. This is a whole grain dough. It’s going to take quite a while to rise, several hours, even overnight. We want it to rise until it’s about twice as big as when it started.

We want to make sure to preheat our oven. If you’re using an earthen oven, you want to get that up to full temperature and then let it cool down to bread temperatures. If you haven’t got your wood fired oven yet, you can use a standard home oven. You want to make sure to preheat it to about 400 degrees.

For more information about baking in an earthen oven like this, you want to make sure to check out our video Baking Bread in an Earthen Oven Part 2. We’re going to transfer our dough onto our peel. First we sprinkle a little corn meal and now we can turn our dough out onto the peel.

Your bread’s going to take 30-45 minutes to bake depending on the temperature of your oven.

Well, this looks done. It should sound hollow when tapped and you should let this cool at least an hour before slicing.

You know, the crust might be tough, but for all their complaints about this not being white bread, this mixed grain bread is very good.Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you can get notifications of new videos when they come out and check out our Facebook page so you can get all the latest news from Jas. Townsend and Son. All the items you’ve seen here today, all the cooking utensils, all the clothing, these things are available on our website or in our print catalog. I want to thank you for joining us today and I want to invite you to come along to enjoy the flavors and the aromas of the 18th century.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Could you please make a printer friendly version of the recipes please. While I enjoy the background info immensely, using the recipe(s) it would be easier to have just the ingredients and basic instruction available. Thank you for the series.

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