Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Baker's Coat of Arms.

I will enjoy one more little dalliance with our source for the last few days - The academy of armory, … (1588)  by Randle Holme. It would be unfair to the author of this marvelous book to completely ignore one of his major themes – that of heraldry.

For all of you who ‘desire any knowledge in arts and sciences’, and most especially for those of you who practice the noble Art and Mystery of baking, I give you a description of the ancient coat of arms of the baker, as described by Mr. Holme.

“He beareth Sable, a Baker, with a Peel in his both hands Bendways, with a Loaf of Bread upon it, Or. Others who give a fuller description of it Blazon it thus, a Baker with his Peel in his hands bendwise, with a Loaf thereon, Or, a Cap on his head, his Waistcoat stripped above his Elbows, Argent, Breeches and Hose, Grey, Shooes, Sable; having an Oven fixed to the dexter side, Gules. This was the ancient Crest of the Bread Bakers of Chester, which now they have relinquished.”

I had to look up the heraldic terms used in this description, the better to visualize this ancient crest: they are:

Sable: black
Or: gold
Argent: silver
Dexter: the right hand side of the shield (i.e, to the left of the spectator)
Gules: red

I thought you might also like the glossary of baking terms from 1588, as described in the book:

Terms used by Bakers.
Grind the Corn, to put it through the Mill to crush and bruse it.
Dress the Meal, is to sift it through a Sive, to take the fine from the course.
Fine Flower, the Dant of Heart of the Corn.
Bran or Scufting, the Husk of the Corn.
Bolt the Meal, is to turn it through a courser cloth, the make a courser Flower. This is called a Bolter.
A Batch is as much Flower made into dough, as is baked at a time.
Season the Liquor, is to put Salt or Spices in the hot Water, that is to Kn[e]ad the Meal.
Leaven, is Dough kept unbaked till it be Sower.
Leaven the Batch, is to put the Leaven broken in Water, and hide it into the middle of the Meal to sower the whole Batch.
Blend it up, is to mixt the Flower and Liquor to make it into a Paste.
Knead it, working the Flower and Liquor together.
Dough or Paste, is the Batch unbaked.
Break it, is to beat it with a long round thick Beater.
Couch the Dough, is the taking of it up as the Breaking puts it abroad.
Weight the Dough, is to weigh it so and to according to the Prices of the Loaves.
Mould it, make it into Loaves, or Rouls.
Cut it, is the running the Knife round the Loafe or Roul.
Prick the Loafe, is to make little holes on the top of the Loafe with a Bodkin.
Seal or Marke the Loafe, is to set the Bakers name or mark on it, that it may be known whose Bread is faulty, or not well made.
Set in, the putting of the Loafe into the Oven.
Draw the Bread, when it is well Baken, then it is taken out of the Oven.
Fire the Oven, to put Fire and Fuel into it, to heat.
Sweep the Oven, is to make it clean from Ashes.
Ashes, is the out-cast of the Firing.
Close the Oven, is to draw the stock before the Oven Mouth.
Stop the Oven, is to Lute about the Oven stock with Clay or Dirt out of the Street, to keep the heat in.

Mr. Randle lists the Several Sorts of Bread generally made in his day, and perhaps this will be fodder for another post in the future. Not surprisingly however, he does not give any bread recipes in his book. It is, after all, a book primarily about Armory and Blazon – and in any case, recipes for bread did not appear in cookery books of the time, the method being well known and understood by all bakers and good housewives, who therefore had no need of written instructions.

I have in the past shared with you recipes for some of the sorts of bread mentioned by Mr Holme, but taken from cookery books a century later, including Lady Arundel’s Manchet (1676) and  Turnip Bread(1695.)  He also mentions ‘Cracknel Bread, Kneaden with Saffron & Currans’, which is interesting, because this is quite a different concept from the ‘modern’ Cracknel bread from the American South, which contains small bits of fried pork fat.

So, for the recipe for the day, I give you something to use up your leftover manchet – a nice early seventeenth century bread pudding . It is from the personal, hand-written recipe collection, dated 1604, of Lady Elinor Fettiplace of Appleton Manor in Berkshire.

To Make a Pudding.
Take the top of the morning milk, and a good deal of grated manchet and some flower, but not so much flower as bread, then put in three egg yolks and whites, some cloves and mace, and a little salt, some great Reasins [raisins], a good piece of butter melted, so temper all this well together, let it bee somewhat thicker than batter, so bake it, and serve it.

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