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History Cookbook: Girdle Bread

This recipe is in categories Baking, Normans / Medieval
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  • Girdle Bread
    Girdle Bread
About this recipe
Healthiness : (85 votes)
View a modern version of this recipe

Bread was part of the staple diet in Medieval times.
This is a simple risen bread which uses ale (the yeast in the ale) to make the bread rise. The ale is warmed to activate the yeast.
Many early breads and biscuits were baked on flat metal pans, much as earlier peoples had cooked on bake stones. The heat from the griddle cooks the food.

The recipe given here explains the methods used in the podcast and is not meant to be cooked in a modern kitchen. See our modern recipe if you want to try and cook this yourself.

For pictures of the cooking process see our Girdle Bread Pictures.

With thanks to Cathy Flower-Bond (Tudor Tales) and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for their help with making this podcast.
  • a cup of warmed ale
  • wholemeal flour
  • an egg
  • Weighing scales
  • Sieve
  • Whisk
  • Tablespoon
  • Spoon
  • Griddle pan or frying pan
  • Greaseproof paper
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Bolt the flour through a cloth, to make the flour white (this makes manchet (white) bread)
  2. Add the warmed ale - the yeast in this will make the bread rise. Mix to make a dough
  3. Into the centre of the dough, add the egg and fold this into the dough
  4. On a floured board, knead half of the dough into a flat circle
  5. Repeat with the rest of the dough
  6. Set a griddle pan on the fire to heat. When it is hot put a piece of fat in and coat the pan
  7. Place one bread in at a time a cook. The bread will need to be turned from time to time to stop it burning
  8. Wrap the cooked breads in a clean cloth to keep warm while the rest cook
  9. When they are all cooked, serve hot
Girdle Bread - print view  Girdle Bread - print view

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There are 4 comments for this recipe.
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Name: Gib;b 27th June 2018
Name: David Friedman 16th December 2017
Do you have a period source this is based on? I would be a little surprised to see egg in this sort of early bread.

There are actually bread recipes in al-Warraq (10th century middle eastern), including one that is intended to be cooked stuck to the inside of a tannur and works on a hot frying pan over the fire.
Name: Aoibhe Flynn 30th January 2013
This cook website is the best cook website for history!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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