The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Barley Honey Bread of Lesbos

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wholegrainOH's picture
wholegrainOH

Barley Honey Bread of Lesbos

Lesbos flatbread   Lesbos loaf

 Lesbos Barley flatbread                                               Lesbos Barley Loaf                                                          

Wanted to provide bread in ancient Greek style for a class I'm teaching on ancient theatre.  A fourth century BCE Sicilian-Greek gourmet, Archestratos of Gela, praised the honey-sweetened barley bread of Lesbos in his book, Hedypatheia (Life of Luxury). According to legend, the bread of Lesbos was so famed that Hermes regularly got bread there for the other gods. There are, of course, no recipes. Herewith a reconstruction, entirely guesswork, in the absence of anything like firm records:

Desi Indian Barley flour, in a three to one ratio with

King Arthur Traditional whole wheat flour

Wildflower honey, from a beekeeper in NE Franklin county, Ohio

Sea salt

Olive oil

Giza sourdough

 

There was no dry yeast in antiquity, of course; the sourdough used here was collected in the ancient Egyptian site of Giza and obtained from Sourdoughs International. Barley flour was used by the Greeks for everyday bread; Solon at one point says that leavened bread was only used on feast days; in Peace, Aristophanes has a character refer to eating only barley bread, with the sense being that of a diet of bread and water. Also obviously, no refined or enriched bleached (or unbleached, for that matter) white flour would have been available. I also added a bit of wheat gluten to help there be a rise, even for a flat bread—which, again, would have been pretty much the norm for everyday use. The Egyptians of the period (and much earlier) used conical earthenware pots to bake loaves of bread in; I’m not aware of any similar ware in classical Athens.

Project was fun, And students devoured the flat loaves while looking at images of ancient theatres.

Alan

Comments

Ramona's picture
Ramona

The opposite is true for biblical history.  Unleaven bread was used for feast days.  Barley bread was actually used to signify tough and courageous events, like Gideon with the barley loaf and Elijah and the widow with the barley cake.  In fact, I know people that use barley unleavened bread for their communion, instead of wheat.  Barley is so much healthier for you than wheat too.