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Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada
Bread is the most common and universal food and is necessary for the nourishment of man, so states La Nouvelle Maison Rustique and Le Menage des Champs et de la Ville.
Bread was a basic food staple in the 18th century diet. It was made with four main ingredients: flour, water, salt and a leavening agent. The most common types of flour were wheat and rye; however, these were often combined with other flours including barley, oats, peas, and vetch. The lighter, whiter flour produced by the extensive milling process, was usually reserved for the master and those of elite status, and the heavier, darker flours, which had less processing and therefore were less expensive, were used by the common populace.
All flour used in 18th century Louisbourg was imported and was stone-ground.
The leavening was made from various substances such as hops, grapes and beer, with water and sugar added, which was allowed to ferment, causing the natural yeast to act. When this occurred, flour was added to complete the preparation of the leavening.
When bread was made it was necessary to prepare a sponge first, which was allowed to rise overnight, since this was a slower acting type of leavening. Even with today's fast rising yeast, the sponge method produces lighter and better textured bread.
In the 18th century, bread was baked in brick ovens; however, the instructions given here are adjusted for 20th century convenience.
Step 1: - Sponge
In a large bowl mix together:
Beat down and fold in 2 Tbsp. salt. Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out on floured surface and knead until smooth, at least 15 minutes. Use additional flour if necessary.
Place in a greased bowl. Turn dough so that the entire surface is oiled. Cover and place in a draft-free area. Allow to rise until double in bulk.
Punch down and allow rise again in the same manner.
Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead 4-5 minutes. Divide into four equal portions. Shape in rounds and place on greased cookie sheets, 3-4 inches apart. Allow to rise 20-30 minutes.
Bake in pre-heated 400o F oven for 20 minutes; reduce heat to 350o F oven and continue to bake for 45 minutes, or until done.