Fifth Century–The Clay Pot

One loaf of clay pot sausage bread–with added Telegraph Starter

Mix and Mold: 2:30 pm

Baked 4:45 pm

Ate–most of it here at home

I’m so glad we didn’t give this bread to anyone. It was an experiment and though the bread dough itself was delicious, the inclusion of the sausage made it just plain weird… My kids were a little grossed out, which is why you find my daughter, above, taking a photo of her own. Probably to bribe me with in the future!

Often clay pots have been mentioned as baking vessels for ancient civilizations, including the world of the ancient Celts. They would bury the pots in the ashes of their fires and let the heat of the coals cook the food within. Since clay pots need to be gradually heated (otherwise they crack), I imagine that if St. Brigid were cooking with one, she would have had to tend the pot diligently for the first few minutes, nudging the pot closer and closer to the more intense heat as it warmed.

We already had a clay pot, and have baked many wonderful meals in it, as well as one attempt at bread–a chocolate honey loaf that I baked with a bunch of kids from school many years ago. Could anything be better than chocolate bread? I was a real hit with the students…

The clay pot is a lot like the ceramic pots and dutch ovens I bake in often. They retain moisture, increasing flavor, but also allow for a nice crust to develop… If you don’t have a clay pot–it’s a fun wish list item, and any clay pot you buy will come with a whole assortment of recipes to try. We love making shepherd’s pie in ours…

The sausage bread recipe I used came from The Complete Guide to Claypot Cooking by Bridget Jones. I thought that if the Celts were going to add anything savory to their bread, it might be a type of sausage or herbed meat… Who knows if I’m right? ( I do know that they didn’t have chocolate, poor Ancient Celts–the chocolate honey loaf is really the bread that I wanted to bake…) The sausage bread was fun to try–and easy to do, it’s just that the aesthetic appeal of the bread was lacking–and then, when we didn’t eat it all, I wasn’t sure how to store it. Normally I just leave my uneaten breads cut side down on the cutting board until they’re nothing but crumbs, but I wasn’t about to leave the sausage out over night. The bread went into the fridge, not a very fifth century thing to do, and then everyone was over the novelty. We ended up cutting out the sausage to eat on its own, and toasting the remaining bits of bread for breakfast.

I’ll be trying another clay pot bread soon. One of the great bonuses of baking in clay is that you don’t have to remember to pre-heat the oven–and the recipe I tried only required one rise, which cuts down on time and remembering as well. Here are some photos from my clay pot experiment…

Okay, we’ve been hanging out in the fifth century for a couple of weeks now. Today I’m baking some really bizarre roasted barley bread. It’s rising as I write. And hopefully this weekend, with the help of my family, I’ll try my hand at wheat weaving. That should be a crack up!

Only ten days until St. Brigid’s feast day. Cheers!

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