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Old 05-05-2011, 06:29 PM posted to alt.bread.recipes,rec.food.historic
Tim W[_3_] Tim W[_3_] is offline
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Default THE MAKING OF FINE MANCHET


"graham" wrote in message
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"Tim W" wrote in message
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"Jeff Berry" wrote in message
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In article , Tim W
wrote:
Said to be the first ever printed recipe for bread from the anonymous

'The Good Huswife's Haindmaide for the Kitchen' of 1594.
.... I can't believe an hour in the oven is the baking time, maybe an
hour
rising in the warm oven before the fire is lit. ....



I don't believe that's quite how the ovens of the time worked. The
bread
ovens would be of the domed sort, and the method of use was to jam the
burning material in there until it was up to temperature, then pull all
the
embers out, give it a quick mopping, and then do the baking with the
residual heat.

Given that, there really isn't a warm oven for the bread to rise in, nor
a
way to simply light the fire. I suspect that the instructions are
correct,
given the technology and ingredients of the day.



If a wood fired oven is used daily I thougth it might be a warm place for
proving the loaves before it was lit, but I can't be right because the
timing would still be all wrong, you would have to remove them and wait
at least another hour while you fired the oven with faggots.

Anyway those timings can't be too accurate or critical in a world without
clocks. They must equate almost to "prove for a short while then bake
slow and long"


I doubt that a wood fired oven was used every day. For example, in rural
England in C19 and in France, firing up the oven was a weekly affair.
Graham


That may well have been the case where they had a big enough oven but there
is an old oven been uncovered in the fireplace in my cottage which had a
floor measuring about 2' x 3'. I don't suppose you could get enough of a
fire going in anything much smaller. The floor space is about the same as
you would have in a modern household double oven with shelves. It could only
have served the house and must have been fired as required - daily if there
were enough mouths to feed.

That recipe for Manchet though - I don't have the full context I just found
it quoted as is: it's titled The Good Houswife's Handmaid but the quantities
are for making about 90 x 1lb Manchets. Not at all household quantities and
it would need a very big oven to bake them even in two batches. So that just
doesn't make sense.

Tim w