Saturday, November 7, 2009

Medieval Feast ~ Recipe for Rose Petal Bread


I think this is the first time I have shared a recipe on my blog. I usually try to stick with fiber art and artists, but my family and I had such a good time with dinner tonight that I am compelled to share.

My youngest son is in the fourth grade and right now he is studying the middle ages. We decided that this weekend we should have a medieval feast! I love some of the stories and sayings that have come from this time period, so we tried to incorporate those into our experience.

For example, dishes like our roast chicken were often served on a mess. Mess was the bread under a meal that would absorb the meat juices and keep them from running out on the table. The mess was not eaten, so at the end of the meal, you had to clean up the mess!

Tonight we ate our meals out of trenchers which is the hollowed out bread loaf you see in the picture. No forks and knives. They were not commonly used. Tonight we ate with our fingers. The kids loved it! In medieval times the trencher would have probably sat on a mess, but I decided to only make one mess (I used pizza dough) and use it as a platter for our roast chicken.

The goblet is filled with mead. When I lived in Virginia, I used to do a lot of craft shows. I became friends with a potter and had her make these goblets for me. My husband is a mazer. All I can say to that is YUM! It's so awesome to be able to say, "Hey Honey, let's have a glass of mead tonight!" With our medieval feast we enjoyed a 2 year old Blueberry Melomel.

To the right of my goblet is our Rose Petal Bread made by my husband and my son. (I helped a little.) Today we often use the words "upper crust" to refer to socially important people. This saying actually came from medieval times. The first course in a feast was a loaf of artfully decorated bread. The decorated top crust of the bread was carved off first and served to the most important noble at the high table. My son, Sir Westen, received the upper crust this evening.

Candle light, Celtic music and a vase of roses rounded out our experience. It was the most fun we've had at a family dinner in a long time. I think it was even more special because we all chipped in and helped to make the feast. At the end of the meal, each of the kids shared three facts about the middle ages. We toasted their knowledge and off they went!

I know, I know. What about the recipe? Here it is! It's called Rose Petal Bread and the recipe comes from the book Knights and Castles by Avery Hart and Paul Mantell.

Rose Petal Bread

You will need:
1 package of active dry yeast
1.5 cups lukewarm rose water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3-4 cups flour
Cornmeal and butter
Food Dye
1 egg white

To begin, make the rose water by simmering rose petals in a small amount of water. Remove the petals.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the rose water. Stir sugar, salt and some flour into the yeast. With clean hands, knead the dough. Add more and more flour until it won't take anymore.

Push the dough around on a floured board. When the dough becomes smooth and elastic, cover the bowl with a clean cloth and go play for an hour!

When you return, the dough will be bigger. Punch down the dough, and divide in half. (we made ours into one larger loaf) Form each half into a circle, oval, heart or long loaf. Place the loaves on separate buttered baking sheets that are sprinkled with cornmeal. (We just placed ours on a silicone baking mat on top of a cookie sheet.)

Next comes the art part. Mix a food color with a little bit of egg white to make "paint." Paint vines, leaves, flowers or any other art on the top of the loaves. (my son chose blue food coloring. We painted the whole top of the loaf and then decorated with rosemary and chives.)

Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes at 400ºF. Delicious!

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