Mixed grain breads were made with a combination of grains, wheat, barley, oats, and rye. At other times, other things were included such as potatoes, rice, beans, or even peas. Mixed breads were generally considered far inferior in taste and texture to wheat breads.
Today we are going to be making a mixed grain bread made from wheat flour, rye flour, and barley flour. It would have been a much less expensive loaf to produce intended mostly for commoners. It would have been found in England and the American colonies.
Recipe source: “Savouring The Past” by Jas Townsend and Son
Let’s start by talking about yeast. Bakers in the 18th century got their yeast from the brewer. The brewer collected the yeast by skimming the croizen or the foam that is on the top of a fermenting batch of ale. Bakers would then cultivate this yeast. It was called barm and it was in a liquid form.
To make your own barm you need some ale, either a home brew or a good imported ale. You could use water, but ale makes a better product with a more authentic flavored bread when you’re finished. In a clean bottle place about a half a cup of wheat flour and add 1 ½ teaspoons of dry active yeast.
Add a 12 ounce bottle of ale and give it a really good shake to get all the dry ingredients mixed up. Once you’ve got it all good and mixed up you can set it aside to give it 15 or 20 minutes to activate.