Lab Reflection: Week 7 Grain II

In this lab, we made it back to Mai Fete Island for one last hurrah making bread! This lab was the Grain II section of Experimental Archaeology where we were tasked with making bread in three different forms. The first form was the one most akin to ancient breads called Savillum, a variation of Libum. The second was a standard simple bread loaf made with bread flour and water. Lastly, the third bread was a sourdough bread loaf that Morgan lovingly helped make. 

The first bread Savillum was made combining broken up feta chunks, bread flour, one egg and honey. This bread was the most unconventional of the three, with the feta and honey. Once we mixed up our feta and bread flour, we were left with this very disparate mixture that I did not think would end up mixing together. Surprisingly, however, this mixture combined to create a more compact dough that was able to form into a ball. However, whether it was because the coals were not hot enough or the process itself was wrong, our bread, as most peoples, did not come out properly cooked. Our dough lost its structure and did not look edible in the slightest. 

This second bread, the simple bread loaf, was something I was a lot more familiar with; that process being water, bread flour and salt to then be kneaded for a number of minutes. This bread had the easiest process to it, with the cook being more successful than the last, while still not achieving the status of a ‘tasty bread.’ After the cook, we noticed that our bread was incredibly dense and chewy, with a crust at the bottom that was blackened beyond belief. The taste of the bread was fine, but did not offer anything lasting or impactful; however, the whole process did only take about 40 minutes which is impressive and resourceful. 

The third bread, the sourdough bread loaf, was by far the tastiest and maintained the loose structure of what I assume bread to be. While we did not actually assemble this bread, the fact that it had been a 24 hour process for Morgan is why I think the bread tasted the best. I usually enjoy sourdough bread, and this lab made me reflect on what the actual taste of sourdough is… it is confusing to try and comment on it! It is tangy but not in a way that would make your lips pucker as if it were something like a sour candy. It is deeply complex, almost like vinegar, but a little hint of sweetness. Overall, while this lab may have been the simplest, the knowledge that we garnered from Morgan this past Monday was ever so fruitful.

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