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Norman Flatbread

Recipe and Documentation

Submitted: Estrella War V, Arts Point competition (2/18/89)
By: Lynnette de Sandoval del Valle de los Unicornios


The recipe for this bread came from Breads in the Time-Life Good Cook series. The Time-Life editors credit the recipe to Marie Bisson's La Cuisine Normande. The Time-Life introduction states: "This traditional flat bread from Normandy is nearly identical to that eaten in Scandinavia, and can thus almost certainly be traced back to the Norman's Viking ancestors."

The recipe called for an unspecified type of flour. I used whole wheat flour because that was available in medieval Europe, as were the rest of the bread's ingredients.

The bread recipe makes a rather plain bread and I am sure it was not unusual for the medieval baker to spice up the recipe to vary the taste, so I added a spice combination I lifted from a bread recipe from How to Cook Forsoothly. The nutmeg and sage were available in period, I can not find much information on celery seed, but celery was grown in medieval Europe and I find it hard to believe the excess seeds were not used for cooking.

In Old World Breads! by Charel Scheele, I found information on 'creating a brick oven effect in your kitchen'.Mr. Scheele suggests seasoning a red clay flower pot saucer and using that to recreate the effect of bread baking on the hot bricks. What I had not expected was the amount of butter that would cook out of the bread, so the saucer has the effect of surrounding the sides of the load with hot butter. I'm not sure how authentic this is, but something must have been used to container the melted butter -- otherwise the mess would have been incredible.

The recipe as I used it is:

    2 cups whole wheat flour
    2 eggs, beaten
    pinch salt
    16 tbsp. butter, softened and cut into pieces
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/4 ts. nutmeg
    1/2 ts. sage
    1 ts. celery seed
    1 egg yolk, beaten

Put the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs. Add spices, butter, and cream. Knead well to form a smooth dough. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough and fold it into quarters. Roll out the dough again and repeat the folding. Then shape the dough into a ball, cover, and let it rest for 15 minutes before rolling it into a round about 8 1/2 inches in diameter and the thickness of 2 fingers. Lay this on a clay saucer that has been heated to 425°, Score a cross lightly with the point of a sharp knife to divide the round into quarters. Brush top with the egg yolk. Decorate with fresh sage leaves. Bake in a preheated 425° oven for about 30 minutes, or until brown.


Bibliography

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