Baking Bread in Tudor Times

Flour for baking was always milled as wholemeal flour – on millstones turned by water power or wind power.  The yearly harvest needed to be sufficient for all local needs for the whole year as imported flour was very expensive and difficult to obtain.

Grains used – Common Wheat, Clubwheat, Emmer Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, Pea seeds.

Flour types – Wholewheat, Maslin (wheat and rye mix), Barleyflour, Peaflour.

Ovens were either large stone or brick bakery ovens fit for baking up to 20 loaves at a time, or small cloame ovens which were able to bake one loaf at a time.  Most small houses were made of wood and plaster and had a single fire with no oven.  In many areas there would have been communal ovens serving several streets where people could go to bake their own bread and take it home.

For the wealthy, hand sifted flour was used to produce a fine white bread called Paynemaine. The poor had meslin bread made from maslin flour, a more solid textured wholemeal bread.  Less well-off people would also make barley bread or oatmeal bread which was much cheaper than the wheat bread.  There were few master bakers in Tudor times and most households would bake their own bread on a daily basis.

Meslin trenchers – Plates made of the bottom part of a meslin loaf, used by the upper classes to eat from.  After a meal, the bread trenchers would be given to the poor.

Pease Bread – Wheat flour and pea flour, baked when the wheat flour was running short before the next harvest.

Pobs – Stale bread soaked in milk or ale, nothing must be wasted when food is in short supply.

Clapbread – The bakers last bake of the day.  Bran and left over flour baked in a cool oven and sold to the poor.