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Making 2,000-year-old bread

In 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. Try it for yourself using Giorgio's recipe.
 

Carbonised loaf of bread from Pompeii

Ingredients

400g biga acida (sourdough)
12g yeast
18g gluten
24g salt
532g water
405g spelt flour
405g wholemeal flour


Carbonised loaf of bread, AD 79, Roman, Herculaneum. 
© Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei

Method

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.