nce, long ago (or so I have read), medieval monks ate simply, dining on porridge, fish, fruit and ale. At some monasteries, a small loaf of bread, the “size of a scone,” was placed by each plate. I read this in “In a Monastery Garden” by Elizabeth & Reginald Peplow, a favorite book of mine. Its depiction of monastery life and gardens appeal to my yearning for a more peaceful, ordered life.
I wondered what such a bread might be like, and have come up with the following, based on a recipe for Jerome’s Millet Bread, from a previous post. It’s a simple whole wheat bread crunchy with either millet or quinoa–your choice. The sage leaf is a nice touch, or you could use a parsley leaf.
In the spirit of that past age, this could be served with a vegetable soup, a piece of cheese, and a glass of wine. Fruit would be the dessert. Before they ate, the monks recited the 51st psalm—Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of they tender mercies blot out my transgressions . . . Then, they would eat.
1/3 cup honey
2 packages yeast
3 cups warm water
1/4 cup oil
4-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup millet or quinoa
2 cups white flour
1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon milk
optional: twelve fresh sage leaves
In a large bowl, mix the honey, yeast and warm water. Allow it to foam up–about 20 minutes. Stir in oil, whole wheat flour and salt. Let rise for about one hour.
Stir in millet or quinoa and white flour. Knead for about five minutes and let rise for one hour. Punch down, and let rise again.
Have ready two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Upend the risen dough onto a floury surface and divide into two with a large knife. Roll one of the lumps of dough into a rough cylinder, and cut into six pieces. Roll each piece into a round ball, and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with other lump of dough–you will have twelve balls of dough. Press each one down lightly. Brush each little loaf with the beaten egg mixture. If using, dip sage leaves into the egg white and press one onto each loaf.
Allow the shaped loaves to sit until puffy–about 20 minutes. Have the racks in the oven evenly spaced. Place the baking sheets into the oven, and bake until loaves are brown, about 22 minutes. Makes twelve small loaves.