I love vintage things – even ancient recipes. The site Dusty Old Thing, is a favorite for antique enthusiasts. Among other things, they posted a link to a video about an ancient Roman recipe. On the 24th of August AD 79, a baker put his loaf of bread into the oven. Nearly 2,000 years later it was found during excavations in Herculaneum. The British Museum asked Giorgio Locatelli to recreate the recipe as part of his culinary investigations for ‘Pompeii Live from the British Museum‘.
Herculaneum was a wealthy town neighboring Pompeii, both of which were devastated by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Unlike Pompeii, Herculaneum was affected by pyroclastic flows that preserved the wooden objects such as roof tops, building beams, beds, doors, and even food. The ancient city can be seen in almost its original splendor. Although Pompeii is more well known in present day, Herculaneum was a wealthier town than Pompeii, possessing an extraordinary density of fine houses, and far more lavish use of colored marble cladding. If you manage to make this recipe, you can say that you have dined as the Romans did.
- 400g biga acida (sourdough)
- 12g yeast
- 18g gluten
- 24g salt
- 532g water
- 405g spelt flour
- 405g wholemeal flour
- Melt the yeast into the water and add it into the biga.
- Mix and sieve the flours together with the gluten and add to the water mix. Mix for two minutes, add the salt and keep mixing for another three minutes.
- Make a round shape with it and leave to rest for one hour. Put some string around it to keep its shape during cooking.
- Make some cuts on top before cooking to help the bread rise in the oven and cook for 30–45 minutes at 200 degrees.