Makes 2 trenchers
3 cup unbleached flour
⅓ cup whole wheat flour
1 packet yeast
½ cup water
¾ cup milk
- a bread knife (don’t try splitting such a large loaf with any other knife)
- Heat milk and water in a small bowl (1 minute in the microwave on high is perfect). Dissolve in the yeast. Measure the flour into a large bowl. Add salt. Slowly stir in the yeast mixture; knead in the egg white (it adds elasticity to the dough). Let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Punch down and form into one large plate-sized disc. Let it rise again, about 30 minutes. Bake in preheated 450° oven for 30 minutes.
Cool, slice in half horizontally to yield two trenchers. Like any bread, trenchers freeze well, however, freeze before slicing.
- This recipe yields trenchers slightly larger than life. True medieval trenchers were small affairs, perhaps only 5 inches across, sometimes round but more often square. If smaller still, 2 or 4 were abutted against one another and an additional trencher on top covered the seams. Here's a 15th century woodcut depicting both single-serving round and overlapping square trenchers. The advantage of our design is not only that everyone gets the ‘upper crust’ but our trenchers can indeed be used in the place of plates without worrying about gravies soaking through to the tablecloth. Makes cleanup a breeze: no plates to wash!
Trenchers can be coloured green by parsley, yellow by saffron, or rose by saunders, i.e. sandalwood. The lord's panter was in charge of the ceremonial slicing of the trenchers with his four special knifes: chaffer, parer, trencher and mensal knives. See Cosman.
- This is really just our basic
French Breadreshaped into a trencher loaf. Some households used wholewheat loaves, others whiter bread. Use your favorite bread recipe. Color the traditional way, or cheat with food colouring.