The 18th Century Art of Breadmaking

| June 21, 2020

These are two of Townsends’ videos on how 18th century people prepared food that we take for granted – get it at the grocery store, for example – are really interesting. I think he makes it clear, without saying anything specific, that we are over dependent on “other” to fill our needs for food and shelter.

For anyone looking for a way to make sourdough bread, pay attention to what Townsends says: the “leaven” is not the same as the packaged leavening (yeast cake) that is available at the grocery store today.  This is about making bread with no yeast, on Townsend’s videos.  He defines “leaven” as opposed to “leavening”. He also tells you how to make your own dough starter, which can become sourdough starter.

The the crust is so hard it will nearly break your teeth. The crust itself was not eaten, but was crumbled and used in other recipes. This bread is not the soft-crusted stuff that is available at the grocery store. In some cases, it might be called artisan bread. The trencher bread used as a food bowl in history is made in essentially the same way: hard crust, softer, absorbent interior that did not leak when filled with a thick liquid such as stew. Gives new meaning to the term “trencherman”.


Look at the size of this house’s fireplace!  This is how people could cook food in a fireplace back then. Townsends goes into good detail about how leavened bread is made.

Category: Economy

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Green Thumb

That seems like a lot of work.

The False Commander “Phony” Phil Monkress (CEO of All-Points Logistics) simply makes up lies based upon his false Native American, Navy SEAL and Law Enforcement claims to not only make the bread, but bring home the bacon!

Green Thumb

Or steal it.

All-Points Logistics Style!

5th/77th FA

Lubs me some fresh baked breads. I could be the Bubba (Gump) Blue of breads. Cool linkys M’lady. Have baked my share the old school way, but got lazy and started using a machine. Two of my nieces (adopted) are docents (interpreters/tour guides) at The Cannon Ball House in Macon. The original brick kitchen is in the rear and both of the girls and their Mama do a boat load of 18th & 19th century cooking, including breads, on a wood stove and a fireplace. When we did the Bizarre Foods gig with Andrew Zimmern, we included breads with the hardtack segment, but the breads didn’t make the editorial cut. Linky attached.

Thanks EX!


I just started banking my own bread and i was shocked at how easy it is.

Some floor, salt, yeast, water and a Dutch oven and voila!

Not into the sour dough. Don’t like the taste and it seems hardly worth the trouble. But hey, different strokes for different folks.

But there is nothing like a slab of bread fresh from the oven and slathered with butter. Mmmm, mmm, MMM!


“Look at the size of this house’s fireplace! This is how people could cook food in a fireplace back then.”

My uncle in Ireland had a hearth just like that…in 1976! Heck, he didn’t have electricity until 1970. Anyway, my grandmother refused to let him get rid of the hearth. “Sure, what will i have to look at at night without it?”

And they weren’t the only ones with hearths like that.

When my aunt came to visit us in America, we brought her to visit a local museum home built in the 17th century. We walked into the kitchen where a docent dressed in period clothes waited for us. Upon entering, my aunt started naming off everything in the kitchen.

The astonished docent asked how she knew that.

“Ah, now. I was just using most of them last week!”


My pleasure!


A quick tidbit about my uncle and no lights in the house. He could run full speed through his two story house in the dark, no problem. And I’ve never been in a place as pitch black at night as the Irish countryside. No wonder we have so many ghost stories!

Jeff LPH 3, 63-66

I watched the video and didn’t see him doing anything but loafing, and at yeast rises to the occasion by making these videos and gets dough for doing it. Must be the family bread winner.

Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH B Woodman

Make that “hot cross puns”.

Jeff LPH 3, 63-66

I’ll be butter off by not getting into a jam Ex, If I slow up on the puns and just loaf around.


Look at the size of this house’s fireplace!

For the record, this is not the fireplace in a home. This is a set. In at least one video he has turned the camera around and you see a modern out building with heat, A/C and everything. The set was built supposedly as a “representation” of 18th Century German cooking, but it has been criticized for being too big for the average home of the period.

Still, it is an interesting look at the food, and cooking methods of the past.

It is amazing how many times he pulls out a cookbook from “back in the day” and says “we aren’t sure what this measurement is” because most cooking was not done via cookbooks or sharing recipes, but by passing recipes and cooking skills down from one generation to the next.

PS For obvious reasons we are partial to this video where Townsends returns to Mount Vernon and learns how to cook what is reputed to be George Washington’s favorite meal: hoecakes.