Bread History Seminar/Baking Workshop #13: Assize for Bread

October 8, 2020. 9am Pacific Time. You can register through EventBrite for this Zoom event.

I have been working on the Assize laws off and on for the last twenty years. I look forward to sharing my research with you. I will be talking about the Assize in its original Late Medieval structure, and in its more modern 18th-century revision. The Medieval law, which lasted for hundreds of years into the Early Modern period, can be confusing at first glance. I hope to explain it in a way that makes sense to all of you — those of you who are already familiar with the Assize laws, and those of you who are not.

The Assize laws offer us insights into how society was organized, ideas about poverty and government, ideas about social structure, and about food and class. They also offer insights into how people experienced bread as there seems to have been a clear difference, especially in the realm of white breads, between commercial offerings and what were made by bakes for the affluent.

As some of you know, I believe that one can derive bread recipes from the Assize laws. I will share my methodology for you, introducing you to a set of recipes that exist outside of the cookbook literature. A few days before the Seminar/Baking Workshop I will provide recipes for the core Assize breads, the white bread, the whole meal bread, and the bread that was in between the two.

Depending on time period, Assize breads could be very large — like even fifty pounds! If you have the facility to bake a huge loaf, and a way to dispose of it once baked, then this will be your opportunity to experiment with breads of unreasonable size.

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