Prep 2 hrs
Cook 30 mins
A recipe for an almost-white bread, attempting to approximate the bread eaten by the well-to-do commoner in the High Middle Ages. The very well-off and royalty would have eaten manchet bread, which was very similar to white breads of today. The malt syrup helps mimic the flavor of ale barm, which was the commonest form of yeast. The wheat germ and whole wheat flour mimic the not-quite-fine texture of the less-expensive flours. (The ice cube treatment is definitely not period, but helps ensure a shatteringly crisp crust.)
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons lard
- 1 (7 g) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
- 1⁄4 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon malt syrup
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1⁄4-1⁄3 cup flaked wheat germ
- 3⁄4 cup stone ground whole wheat flour
- 5 -6 cups bread flour
- 1⁄2 cup ice cube
- Put 2 tbsp butter into 2 c water. Microwave until butter melts. Set aside until it cools to lukewarm.
- Combine yeast, 1/4 c warm water and malt syrup. Set aside until bubbly, 5-10 minutes.
- Add yeast to water and butter. Stir in salt, wheat germ and whole wheat flour. Add bread flour until you have a soft, cohesive dough. Knead thoroughly (at least 300 strokes), until springy and satiny. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth, and set in a moderately warm place until doubled in size, 60-90 minutes.
- Punch dough down, turn out of bowl, and knead 10-15 times. Shape into 20 rolls, 8 small loaves or 4 large loaves. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover with towels and let rise again, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F with an empty baking sheet or roasting pan in the bottom of the oven.
- When risen, place breads in oven, pour ice cubes into hot pan, and quickly close the door. Bake rolls 12-15 minutes, loaves 20-30 minutes -- until crusty, brown, and hollow-sounding when the underside is thumped. If you have a small instant read thermometer, the interior temperature should be 205-210°F when done.