Roman bread varied in quality depending on the quality of the flour used which varied greatly depending on the kind of grain used, on the way the millstones of the Roman mills were set and on the fineness of the sieves. Flour could contain lots of dust and bits thereby making the bread rather coarse. Over time, Roman bread often wore down people's teeth as Romans had to chew the bits of grains contained in it! Wealthy Romans usually ate bread made of the best quality wheat flour (fine flour) whereas poorer Romans ate bread made of bran only (bran is the hard outer layers of grain). There was also bread made from groat grain, rye, acorn and millet.
Romans enjoyed several kinds of bread and bread recipes were just as diverse as they are today. Lentaculum was made of emmer and a little bit of salt, and had flat and round loaves. Artolaganus was a kind of fatty cake bread that was made of meal which was like a coarse unsifted powder ground from the seeds of wheat grain. Speusticus (from the Greek word: σπευστικός) was a hastily made bread. The Parthian bread was kneaded and soaked in water before being baked giving it a light soft texture. There were also honey and wine soaked breads such as picennum which was a sweet bread baked with nuts and honey in clay molds. The molds had to be craked before the bread could be eaten. There were many other kinds of breads such as bread eaten only with oysters or "water bread" which was light and full of holes, just like a sponge according to Pliny.
Bread was baked at home or purchased at the bakery. There were many bakers throughout the city of Rome. There were also expert bakers specialized in local and foreign versions of bread. In Pompeii, over 30 bakeries and a large number of rotary mills to grind grains were found thereby proving that Romans consumed a lot of bread!
"Recipe for kneaded bread: wash both your hands and a bowl thoroughly. Pour flour into the bowl, add water gradually and knead well. When it is well kneaded, roll it out and bake it under an earthenware lid." Cato, De Agri Cultura, 74.
Cato recommended baking the bread under an earthenware lid. We believe that it made the bread softer and gave it a better taste. It is worth noting that spelt bread is increasingly being sold in health shops and some bakeries.
Preheat an oven to 180o C (350 F).
In a large bowl, add the spelt flour along with a little salt.
Our bread actually looks similar to the one found in Pompei:
found at Pompei CC BY-SA 2.0 it
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