Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Breaking bread



Romans were famous for their bread - I'm sure everyone has heard the phrase 'Bread and Circuses' Juvenal coined in the first century AD. And like today, they ate an enormous variety of breads, with recipes and styles borrowed from dozens of Mediterranean, North African and Western European cultures. Like any good bakery you'd shop in now, there were loafs, flat breads, sourdoughs, boiled breads...some were sweet, some were cheesy, spiced or herb. And fortunately for us, some original recipes have survived to the present. Here's one for a more traditional country bread written by Cato the Elder in 160BC. This is Libum...or sacred bread - a cheese bread frequently made for household altars - and hungry teenagers who didn't mind pinching it from the altar while mother wasn't watching. Fortunately for us he wrote his recipe in metric (rather surprising since it wasn't invented for another 2000-years).


INGREDIENTS
-120g of plain flour
-250g of ricotta cheese
-1 egg, beaten
-fresh bay leaves
-60g of honey
-A pinch of pepper

METHOD
Sift the flour into a bowl, then beat the cheese until it is soft, then stir into the flour. Add the egg and mix until the mixture forms a soft dough. Divide the dough into four portions before moulding into a rounded bun shape. Place four fresh bay leaves on a greased baking tray and cover with the dough. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 220°C for 40 minutes until golden brown.When the breads are done, warm the honey and drizzle over the breads. Allow them to stand in the honey for 30 minutes, then serve.

beatus esus

Find out if Calvus was any good in the kitchen