A Taste of Insights from the 1616 Edition of Maison Rustique

This is is an exact transliteration of the text for the 1616 edition of Maison Rustique, which was revised and edited by Gervase Markham. As a exact transliteration, some words like wet are written vvet. In this period, if the typesetter ran out of the w letters, they could improvise by using vv instead.

All published bread recipes during the Early Modern period—I will stand by this—were derived from commercial recipes. As such, they all use a stiff dough—probably around what for us, using our flour, is a 60% hydration—60g water to 100g flour.

This text describes a woman wetting her ARMS and then working the dough—with her arms! A few months ago, on my Facebook group, Bread History and Practice, someone posted a YouTube video that showed just exactly this way of kneading a wet dough. It is major we here see that a home baker—it is a woman not a man who is working the dough—worked with the kind of dough that requires a stretch and fold method. Note, too, the last sentence, which says that after the initial working, she goes back and from time to time “turn[s] her paste oftentimes, so that it becomes not leuen (leaven)” but a well structured bread.

… she shall vvet her armes, and knead her paste throughly, turning it ouer and ouer, hither and thither, on euerie side, for a long space and many times, that so all the parts thereof may shew that she hath been there, and that all the clamminesse and cleauing qualitie of the same may be throughly broken and dried vp, that so the bread may be the more short and finer in chawing, and not eating like paste in the teeth, mouth, and stomach. After such handling of it, she shall take the pains to turne her paste oftentimes, that so it become not leuen, for otherwise it would not eate so well.

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