Having our interest sparked by the recent BBC series Victorian Bakers, we decided to look into sourcing some historical Victorian flour, with the view to trying our own Victorian bread and comparing to modern loaves. The series explains that flour back then was more nutritious and flavoursome, and behaved in a slightly different way to modern flours. This was probably just as well since bread made up most of the diet of the working classes.
On hunting for Victorian flours, I stumbled across an amazing website that sells flours from all sorts of periods in history, going way back to Neolithic times. There was born our new Home Education project!
We have made a list of eras which we have found historical flours for, ordered some historical baking/dining books and signed up for a introductory course in Artisan bread baking (I am no bread baker, I have a bread maker, which is used from time to time, but for this activity hands, and some basic knowledge, will be required!).
The plan is to work our way through the eras, month by month, making a loaf as traditionally as we can in a modern kitchen. Exploring what factors influenced the flour, bread and diet of the time, and comparing to modern breads and other periods.
We have ten time periods, including modern, some of which have different varieties of flour, for instance a peasant and standard. I hazard it will take us about a year to get through it all.
There are lots of local Home Ed families that are keen to get involved too, so a monthly baking session at our house is on the cards. I have also contacted our local museum to see if they can run a monthly workshop for us, covering that month’s era before baking day.
Rest assured, each experiment in bread making will be blogged!
Much thanks to Annie Gray, co-presenter of the series, for her tips, pointers and suggestions of suitable books!
Neolithic bread making, coming to a blog near you soon 😉