American Soda Bread

It was in the 1830s that leavening bread with an alkaline salt first became an important leavening. There was substantive uptake of this modern leavening — calcium carbonate mixed with muriatic acid was the first popular alkaline leavening for bread — in both Ireland and in United States. Less so elsewhere in the Anglophone world….

Hannah Glasse French Bread

Hannah Glasse wrote her brilliant The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy in the 1740s. She is the first author to make the promise we know so well—I will show you how easy it is to make good food! Her 1740s work remained in print well into the following century. Through multiple editions, and…

Eliza Acton Household Bread, 1857, a bread of today

HOUSEHOLD BREAD By the time Eliza Acton began writing bread recipes, there was a very established bread recipe tradition. The tradition was to write the bread recipe out as a narrative. Basically, bread recipes were texts answering the question, how do you make bread? While this recipe is primarily a narrative, the ingredients are pulled…

A Recipe from Cato that Requires Common Sense

A Very Basic Early Bread Recipe Recipe for kneaded bread: wash both your hands and a bowl thoroughly.  Pour flour into the bowl, add water gradually, and knead well.  When it is well kneaded, roll it out and bake it under an earthenware lid. -Cato, On Agriculture, 74 [check] De Agri Cultura (On Farming or On Agriculture[1]),…

An Early White Roll Recipe: 1594

I think it fair to say that the two recipes in The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin (1594) are the first fully fleshed out English language cookbook bread recipes intended for humans. In the 1570s, William Harrison, in the spirit of the Roman author Cato, included bread recipes in the history of England volume…

Rubel Spring 2022 Bread History Seminar Series

This Spring 2022 seminar series taking us from Seminar #29 through #34 starts with an in depth look at the history of written bread recipes starting with Ancient Egypt and ending in the late 19th century. There are three talks in my “close reading” series where I read from historic texts and then talk about…

Seminar #28 The Fabulous Breads of John Cochrane, 1797

John Cochrane’s portrait dating to the 1780s doesn’t suggest suggest someone who was passionate about bread. He kind of looks like a stuffed shirt sitting there with his wig and frilly collar and cuffs. He is a good one to apply the adage, Don’t judge a book by its over. Cochrane’s Seaman’s Guide was published…

Gluten!

Gluten! Gluten, the protein structure in wheat flour that makes it possible for a pizzaiolo to toss pizza dough into the air in order to stretch it; the fine balloon-like network of bubbles that makes white wheat bread the bread with the biggest potential air bubbles baked into a finished loaf. Gluten can be developed…