Ancient Egyptian bread was made of barley, millet, and once available, wheat. Though not always combined, sometimes two or all three of these were used in a single recipe. Bread was a very simplistic form. Yeast did not exist in Egypt until well into the Middle Kingdom and was not particularly popular until the New Kingdom era, so loaves were what we would consider today “flat” breads.
Bread consisted of only three simple ingredients:
- Flour made from barley, millet or wheat.
- Leavening: leavening nowadays means yeast, but Egypt used sourdough starters or spent brewery grains which, unknown to them, had yeast in it.
To this basic recipe, flavorings were often added prior to baking: sesame seeds, honey, herbs, oil, egg washes, fruits and even sometimes bits of leftover chopped meat were added to help spice up these supplementary loaves.
Ancient Egyptian Bread Recipe:
- Mix three parts flour to one part water. Mix with your hands until it forms a sticky dough. If needed, add more water. You’re looking for the dough to pull away from the side of the bowl, as in normal bread.
- Use a sourdough starter or ground brewery grain if available. You can grind brewery grain in a food processor.
- Let rise for thirty minutes, separate into rounds, place on a baking sheet and insert into a 300 degree oven. If you have an outdoor fireplace that is food safe or barbecue grill these work wonderfully to recreate the same sorts of cooking environments these recipes originally came from.
- Cook for around 45 minutes. Check halfway through with a knife, when it comes out clean, pull your bread from the oven and let it cool.
- Slice like a pizza and serve with the accompaniments of your choice.