Artos Katharos


Spiced White Bread

Many of the staple foods are often not discussed in medieval treatises on cuisine, or given no more than a cursory glance. The follow recipe, I found in Flavours of Byzantium by Andrew Dalby, is for a Spiced White Bread. As with many other aspects of medeival cuisine, here the whitest white flour is sought for the recipe.

It is hard to determine the exact time frame of this recipe as noted in being found in De Cibis as known to modern scholars. However, Dalby notes that the information in his book are all from sources that date to the middle ages.

Original Recipe (from Anecdota Medica Graeca):

in Greek
Artos Katharos in Greek
in Latin
Artos Katharos in Latin

Translation: by Andrew Dalby
White Bread made from wheat is the best and most nutritious of all foods. Particularly if white, with a moderate use of yeast and salt, the dough kneaded midway between dryness and rawness, and with a little anise, fennel seed and mastic, it is very fine indeed. One with a hot constitution should include sesame in the dough. If wishing to add more moistness to the bread, knead in some almond oil.

My Interpretation:

6 cups white bread flour 1 Tbsp. Caraway Seeds
2 packages active dry yeast 1 Tbsp. Grains of Paradise, ground
1 ½ tsp. salt 2 cups of water

Combine two cups of flour with yeast, salt, caraway seeds and ground grains of paradise. Heat water to 120°-130°F. Beat flour mixture with water for about 5 minutes. Slowly add remaining flour and knead until bread dough feels elastic. Rest in bowl, covered, for about 1 hour until dough doubles in size. Punch down dough and reshape. Rest again in bowl for another hour until dough doubles in size. Punch down and split. Cut into two equal parts and form round balls. Place balls of dough, seam side down on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 400°F for about 30 minutes or until loaves sound when lightly tapped.

Notes:

  • Although the original (translated) recipe calls for anise, fennel and mastic, I found I did not have these handy in my spice cabinet when I chose to make this recipe. So I picked a couple of spices I did have handy and were available to the people in the same time frame as the orignal recipe.
  • The original recipe doesn't give quantities for the ingredients, I chose the quantities listed based on a modern recipe for rye bread.
  • The caraway over powered the taste of the grains of paradise in this recipe. It is my intent to retry this recipe with anise, fennel and mastic.

Works Referenced:

Dalby, Andrew, Flavours of Byzantium, Great Britain: Prospect Books, 2003

Scully, Terence, The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, Great Britain: The Boydell Press, 1995

Laiou, Angeliki E., Ed., The Economic History of Byzantium: From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century, Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2002

Ermerins, Franciscus Z., ed. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Anecdota Medica Graeca. Google Books, 3 Oct. 2006. Web. 24 July 2012. <http://books.google.com/books?id=sucDAAAAQAA>. A Greek text with the title "Peri trophon"/"De cibis" (on food) with a latin translation by Ermerins

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe: 16
Amount Per Serving
Calories:  192
Calories from fat: 9 (5% of tot cal)

% Daily Value*

Total Fat   1g 1%
     Saturated Fat  0g 1%
Cholesterol   0mg 0%
Sodium   224mg 9%
Total Carbo    40g 13%
     Dietary Fiber   2g 7%
     Sugars    0g  
Protein   7g  
Vitamin A       0% Vitamin C     0%
Calcium         2% Iron      27%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.  Your daily values may be higher or lower depending upon your caloric intake.

Note:  The numbers in this chart are derived directly from data entered by you, the user.  Their accuracy critically depends upon proper linking of ingredient items to USDA ingredient elements.  Use at your own risk; we take no responsibility for their accuracy.  Consumers with medical issues should always consult a licensed nutritionist.