Bake Roman bread with this 2,000-year-old historical recipe

Bake Roman bread with this 2,000-year-old historical recipe

Thanks to archaeology and chemistry analysis, you can also make sourdough bread similar to the Romans did. Here’s what you might want to know.

In AD 79, a baker ready a loaf within the Roman metropolis of Pompeii. He stamped it together with his identify — ‘Property of Celer, Slave of Q. Granius Verus’, the loaf reads — and break up it into eight items. Sadly for him, each he and the bread have been subjected to a a lot increased temperature than anticipated when Mount Vesuvius violently erupted, burying the town of Pompeii with nearly all its inhabitants.

However, the bread was excellently preserved. Some 2,000 years later, archaeologists discovered it and put it in a museum in Napoli, from the place it was borrowed by the British Museum for a short lived exhibition. There, researchers worked with Giorgio Locatelli, an Italian chef working within the United Kingdom, to backtrace the recipe. As it seems, there’s nothing significantly unique about it and you possibly can recreate the recipe at present with out that a lot problem.

Here’s the recipe of the Roman bread:


  • 400g biga acida (sourdough)
  • 12g yeast
  • 18g gluten
  • 24g salt
  • 532g water
  • 405g spelt flour
  • 405g wholemeal flour


Sourdough bread includes a fermented batter-like dough starter to make them rise extra and improve its flavour. The dough is fermented utilizing naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast and it has a mildly bitter style as a result of fermentation. The benefit of it’s that it naturally retains longer (and a few folks favor the style). 

Of course, it’s exhausting to say that that is precisely the Roman recipe or precisely the Roman technique, however it’s fairly rattling shut, and the outcomes received’t be that totally different from what the Romans did. There are two methods you may go about making the bread.

Method #1 — straightforward mode

Basically, you soften the yeast within the water as you’d in any bread and also you add it to the biga. Mix and sieve the flours along with the gluten and add the combination to the water, persevering with to combine till homogenous. After this, add the salt and hold mixing for 3 minutes. By now, it is best to have a reasonably good combine — make a spherical form like this one and go away it to relaxation for an hour.

Similar incised bread, and two figs, as portrayed in a wall portray from Herculaneum.

After an hour, it ought to begin taking form — there’s just a few issues you possibly can do to enhance the aesthetics of the upcoming bread (although this isn’t necessary). Put some string round it to provide it a particular spherical form and make the cuts on high. We don’t know why the cuts have been there, however maybe it was simpler to separate or promote by the slice. Then, put it within the oven at 200 levels for 30–45 minutes and voila!

Thankfully, bread-making strategies have developed considerably since Roman occasions and modern breadmakers allow anybody, with little or no effort, to benefit from the odor and style of freshly baked bread from the consolation of their very own residence.

This is the easy approach of baking the Roman bread — however if you wish to go the additional mile, there’s one other approach you may go about it.

Method #2 — the actual artisanal bread

As the writers at The Fresh Loaf level out, this doesn’t actually really feel like artisanal bread. It options fashionable gluten and yeast, which the Romans, in fact, wouldn’t have used. So they took out the trendy flour, yeast, and gluten additive and changed them with a sourdough preferment, historical flours, and artisanal strategies to develop gluten. They used Kamut, rye, and spelt flour, which have been frequent within the Roman world. The method they used will get fairly complicated (and a bit costlier), so I like to recommend checking it out on their page — on the very least, it ought to make for fascinating studying.

I’d solely suggest it when you have lots of baking expertise and wish to take issues to the subsequent stage. Be positive to have a stamp to mark your bread!

If this looks like too massive a process, then the primary technique ought to make for a wonderful (and scrumptious) experiment. It’s undoubtedly one thing to get the dinner conversations rolling.

Roman baking

If you discover this fascinating and wish to discover the topic even additional, analysis has revealed fairly a bit about Roman baking. If you wish to bake much more Roman goodies, there’s just a few recipes you may check out.

Baking flourished within the Roman Empire from as early as 300BC. In 168 BC, the primary Bakers Guild was fashioned as bread turned from a luxurious to a typical good. Within 150 years there have been greater than 300 specialist pastry cooks in Rome.

The finest bakers have been educated on the Collegium Pistorum, and didn’t enable the bakers or their youngsters to withdraw from it and take up different trades.

In the ruins of Pompeii, archaeologists have discovered dozens of bakeries, in addition to communal ovens to which you possibly can convey your dough (bread-stamped, in fact) to be baked in a single day. Rather paradoxically, most of the ovens have been made out of volcanic rock. Eighty charred loaves alone have been recovered from the ovens of 1 baker, Modestus. Sometimes, the Romans would add milk, eggs and butter to their bread — however this was a privilege solely the wealthy may afford.

There was additionally oyster bread (to be eaten with oysters); ‘artolaganus’ or cakebread; ‘speusticus’ or ‘hurry bread’, tin bread, Parthian bread and the Roman Style Slipper Loaf. All in all, the Romans had fairly a wealthy custom, and a big a part of that may be recreated with fashionable strategies.



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