First therefore you shall understand that the principal food
whereupon a running horse is to be fed most; as the very
strength and chief substance of his life must be bread, for
it is of all other foods most strong, clean, healthful, of best
digesting, and breed the best blood.
Gervase Markham, Cavelarice or the English Horseman,16071
In the summer of 1415, the Aragonese ambassadors on
their way to the court of Henry vpurchased horse-bread
every day, spending more on horse-bread than on practically
anything else. Don Quixote bragged to an innkeeper that
his horse was the ﬁnest that ever ate bread. Thomas Nugent,
writing about pumpernickel in 1 7 6 8, re lied upon his readers’
association of horse-bread with travel to introduce the still-
repeated absurdity that the name was coined by a Fr e n c h m a n
at an inn who complained that Westphalian black bread was
unsuitable for himself, though “qu’il étoit bon pour Nicole,”
his horse; and the writers of the Oxford English Dictionary,
when they published the letter h in the closing years of the
nineteenth century, appended to their deﬁnition of “horse-
bread” the factual statement, “Horse-bread is still in use in
many parts of Europe.”2
More reﬁned than hay or raw grains, and thus a denser
source of calories and protein, horse-breads enabled tired
h o r s e s t o r e b o u n d f r o m t h e i r e x e r t i o n s . A s a n e a r l y ei g h t e e n t h -
century writer put it, horses “cannot so soon recover with
H a y o r G r a s s , a s w i t h H o r s e - b r e a d s .”3Fo r c e n t u r i e s , i n a d di t i o n
to being a feed supplement for tired horses, these breads
helped feed the countryside during famines and were eaten
by the poor, even in times of plenty. They therefore provide
a rare glimpse into the cuisine of English poverty.
I n t h e l a t e s i x t e e n t h c e n t u r y G e r v a s e M a r k h a m (1 5 6 8 –1 6 3 7)
i n itiated reforms in the training of hunting and racing horses
t h a tm a deh i mf a m o u s d u r i n g h i s l i f e t i m e a n d l o n g a f t e r w a r d s .
He was most noted for the reﬁned leavened breads that
formed a key part of his training regimen. Markham’s elite
horse-breads were based on the breads of the afﬂuent; and
so, in a sense, separate from their nutritional role in a traini n g
program for equine athletes, his leavened horse-breads can
be understood as elite breads for elite animals. Markham’s
era was a period when the English were taking a renewed
interest in the bloodlines of their elite horses. The lithe
Arabian began entering English bloodlines around this time,
and so these more reﬁned breads were matched with horses
whose proﬁles were becoming increasingly aristocratic.
In our own day Markham is well known among culinary
historians for the bread recipes he published in The English
Housewife (1615).4These recipes stand out in the early
E n g l i s h b r e a d l i t e r a t u r e f o r t h e ir u n u s u a l c l a r i t y a n d s p e c i ﬁ c i t y.
The explanation for Markham’s evident expertise as an
author of bread recipes is simple: by the time he wrote The
English Housewife he had had twenty-two years’ experience
w r i t i n g b r e a d r e ci p e s f o r a n u n u s u a l l y d e m a n d i n g a u d i e n c e —
the owners and trainers of expensive horses.
The recipes for elite horse-breads developed by Markham
and his followers between 1593 and 1800 provide insights
into the birth of modern ideas about nutrition and veterinary
medicine.5They also provide insights into aspects of the
breads served to the English elite that are not found in the
regular cookbook literature. For example, the elite horse-
bread literature suggests that people who could afford a
choice in breads viewed bread as both a food and a medi-
cine and decided what bread should be put on the table,
at least in part, by considering the consistency of their
stool.6During the early modern period the bread literature
devoted to horses far exceeded in quantity and nuanced
detail the literature devoted to breads for English bipeds.
It is a literature with a wealth of information for artisan
bakers, culinary historians, historians of material culture,
and students of manners.
The best general introduction to “common baker’s
h o r s e - b r e a d ” 7—the breads fed to horses involved in
transportation—is found in material Markham contributed
to the 1616 edition of Maison Rustique, a general work
on country life.
English Horse-bread, 1 5 9 0 –1 8 0 0
i n v e s t i g a t i o n s |wi l li a m ru b el
gas tro nom ica: th e j our nal of fo od and cul tur e, vol. 6 , n o. 3, pp. 4 0–5 1, issn 1 529- 326 2. ©2006 by th e rege nts of th e u nive rsi ty of cal ifo rnia . a ll righ ts res erv ed. pl ease di rec t a ll req uest s f or
per mis sion t o p hot ocop y o r r epr oduc e a rti cle co nten t thro ugh th e u nive rsi ty of cal ifo rnia pr ess ’s ri ght s a nd per miss ion s w eb sit e, at www. u c p r e s s . e d u / j o u r n a l s /r i g h t s . h t m .
3b. GFC 6-3 6/30/06 7:18 AM Page 40
In England and other places they make a great and proﬁtable use of
this meal [bran], as namely, a certain bread which they call horse-
bread, and is so general among them, that you shall not ﬁnd an inn,
ale-house or common Harbor, which doth want the same.8
Horse-breads were so important to the smooth functioning
of the English system of horse transport9that for hundreds
of years English law recognized two broad classes of b r e a d —
m a n ’s bread and horse-bread—and regulated the commerci a l
production of each. Commercial horse-breads were regulated
as to size, retail price, wholesale price, authorized producer,
and, sometimes, composition.10
Common baker’s horse-breads were of three types: a
b r e a d m a d e o f b e a n o r p e a ﬂ o u r;o n e o f w h e a t b r a n o r c h i s e l —
what are now called “middlings”—separate or combined,
with the addition of ﬂour to bind the dough; and a bread of
mixed pulse and grain ﬂour.
Sieges produce famines in miniature and at an acceler-
ated rate. In 1549 the English city of Exeter was besieged by
rebels from Devonshire and Cornwall in rebellion against
King Henry vi. Raphael Holinshed reports that as the siege
tightened the governors commanded that bread be baked
for general distribution—a bread that his readers would have
recognized as an exceedingly crude bran-based horse-bread.
And in the mean while, when their corn and meale was consumed, the
governors of the cities caused bran and meale to be molded up in
cloth, for otherwise it would not stick together.11
Describing a famine that had occurred in 1317, Holinshed
addresses the consequences to the poor of high grain prices:
In this season vittles were so scant and dear, and wheat and other grain
brought so high a price, that the poor people were constrained through
famine to eat the ﬂesh of horses, dogs, and other vile beasts….12
While, in the case of this famine, Holinshed does not men-
tion the type of breads people ate as they descended into
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starvation, we can assume a progression from wheat to
less expensive grains, then to horse-breads in their various
forms, and then ﬁnally to horse-breads extended by wild
foods such as acorns and ferns, before they ﬁnally resorted
to “breads” made from whatever edible plant product they
could scrounge. Seventeenth-century writers suggest that
for the rural poor even times of plenty could be times of
scarcity, forcing the indigent to rely on breads their more
fortunate neighbors recognized as horse-breads.13
The link between poverty and famine is well established
and continues to this day, as does the link between poverty
and foods of lesser social status. Literary references right up
to the seventeenth century reﬂect the common knowledge
that horse-breads were a food of the rural poor and that any-
one falling into abject poverty would turn to horse-bread as
a food of last resort.14
I n W i l l i a m L a n g l a n d ’ sp o e m “ P i e r s P l o w m a n ” (1 3 7 7 –1 3 7 9) ,
Hunger suggests that recalcitrant workers could be made to
work if threatened with a diet “of hounds-bread and horse-
bread” accompanied with beans to “boil their womb.”15
While it is impossible to know which style of horse-bread
Langland had in mind, in 1378, when the poem was being
written, the City of London issued an edict to bakers man-
dating that no “horse-bread be made except of pure beans
and peas, without mixture of other grains or bran”—a
clear indication that Langland could have had any type of
horse-bread in mind. One of the two horse-bread recipes
Markham published in Maison Rustique was one of these
formerly prescribed breads:
[T]ake two bushels of Bran or Chissell, and add unto it one bushel of
bean or pease meal, and so knead it up with water scalding hot, and
after the loaves are molded, to roll them in spelted beans crushed and
bruised in a mill, and so bake it well.16
Restoration comedies played with the idea that when
the going got rough, horse-bread was the last food grasped as
one descended into hunger and the ﬁrst food grasped as one
escaped its clutches. From the comedy Gammer Gurtons
Needle (1550–1553), we see the former:
Save this piece of dry horsebread,
Cha’ bit no bit this livelong day; no crumb come in my head;
My guts they yawl, crawl, and all my belly rumbleth;
The puddings [intestines] cannot lie still; each one over
And in Jacob and Esau (1568), we see the latter:
In what grievous pain they die, that die for hunger.
O my greedy stomach, how it doth bite and gnaw?
If I were at a rack, I could eat hay or straw.
Mine empty guts do fret, my maw doth even tear,
Would God I had a piece of some horsebread here.18
Ben Johnson’sEvery Man out of His Humor associates
horse-bread with a certain strata of vagrant with the insult,
“You thread-bare horse-bread eating rascals.” In Christopher
Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, Ralph promises his friend Robin,
if he really can procure the kitchen maid for him, to “feed
thy devil with horsebread as long as he lives, of free cost.”
A period audience, understanding horse-bread as a bread
associated with famines, beggars, and ﬁeld hands, would
have seen Ralph’s offer as both insanely contemptuous of
the devil’s status and as a marker of his own.
The relationship between poverty, horse-bread made
from bean ﬂour, and social status is explicitly addressed by
Thomas Cogan, an inﬂuential author of the late sixteenth
century. In The Haven of Health (1584), writing about the
eating habits of workers at the bottom of the Leicestershire
s o c ial ladder, he notes that fava beans “are meat for Mow e r s ,
as the Proverb is, and for ploughman, but not for students.”1 9
When he mentions that in Leicestershire these people baked
bean-ﬂour breads, a method of preparation that further low-
ered the already low social status of beans, he feels the need
to clarify that “I mean not horse-bread (which is commonly
done throughout England) but for their family….” Perhaps,
he had tasted the bread himself and found it pleasant, for
he acknowledges that people who were used to eating this
type of bread liked it. While Cogan took bean-bread in stride,
he could not abide pea-bread. He notes that this bread, too,
is “much used in Leicestershire” but adds that “I leave it
to rustics, who have stomachs like Ostriches, that can digest
hard iron, and for students I allow no bread but that which
is made of wheat….” It is perhaps inevitable that people
who eat foods identiﬁed with animals will themselves be
seen as part animal.
Writing one hundred years later in his weekly newsletter,
A Collection of Letters for the Improvement of Husbandry and
Trade (1681–1683), John Houghton, one of his era’s most
inquisitive observers of rural life, notes that when sifting
ﬂour the next coarsest product after bran is chisel and that it
“makes dry short bread or horse-bread, but is usually mixed
with rye…and if leavened, makes good bread for the poorer
sort.”20 Houghton’s bread is described by multiple authors in
texts about horses. The following description by Thomas de
Grey was published in 1684 and is thus contemporaneous
with Houghton’s own writing:
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Horse-bread…being made of bran and chisel for the most part with a
little coarse Rye-meal, to make it stick together, and so made up and
kneaded with cold water and after the outside of the Loaves or Rolls are
rolled in ground or rather bruised peas.21
In essence, what Houghton suggests in his remark about a
bread made of middlings and rye is that when baking this
horse-bread for people, to be sure to let it ferment. In my
own experiments with this recipe, I ﬁnd it makes delicious
bread when allowed to sour (hot water speeds up the
process), and rolled thinly, it produces crisp crackers.22
The indigent and the working poor had long eaten
breads whose association with animal feed marked their
low social status. With Markham’s innovation of reﬁned
leavened breads for elite horses, a hierarchy of breads was
established within the horse world that more or less repli-
cated the social stratiﬁcation found in the human bread
world—coarse meal-based unleavened ﬂat breads at the
bottom and reﬁned yeast-leavened breads at the top. The
leavened horse-breads elevated the status of the horses to
which they were fed, both in regard to other horses and
also, subtly, in regard to people as well.
In The English Housewife Markham provides a recipe
for a bread intended for ﬁeld workers. It is a brown bread
that he describes as “the coarsest bread for man’s use.”2 3
His readers understood that this identiﬁed the bread as
being in the horse-bread family, just as they understood that
Markham’s fancy horse-breads were in the family of breads
for the more socially privileged, referred to in the period
literature as “French bread,” “manchet,” and “ﬁne cheat.”
In modern terms these breads are a lightly enriched white
bread like challah, white bread, and a bread that is slightly
brown and for which there is no modern equivalent,
although the more rustic versions of pain de compagne ﬁll
the same social niche. Markham’s brown bread for ﬁeld
workers had the look, texture, and taste of social debase-
ment. His readers would also have been aware of how ideas
of breeding—notions of coarseness and reﬁnement in both
people and horses—were reﬂected in the breads placed on
one’s table. Only by comparing Markham’s brown bread
with his elite horse-breads can we fully appreciate what his
readers understood the bread’s cultural meaning to be.
Markham’s brown bread was a huge loaf—crusty, dark,
dense, and sour—a mixture of unkneaded, lightly sieved pea
and grain ﬂour that was leavened the lazy way, by just letting
t h e d o u g h s i t u n t i l i t s o u r e d . A t e v e r y p o i n t o f c o m p a r i s o n w i t h
h i s e l i t e h o r s e - b r e a d s , h i s b r o w n b r e a d i s c h e a p e r , c o a r s e r , a n d
more carelessly worked. The ﬂour was sieved only to remove
the coarsest bran, while for his best horse-bread the grain was
mi l l e d o n t h e h i g h e s t - qu a l i t y b l a c k mi l l s t o n e s 2 4 a n d s i f t e d t h r o u g h
a ﬁne bolting cloth to produce a ﬂour that was either white or
n e a r l y s o . M a r k h a m s h a r e d C o g a n ’ s di s t a s t e f o r p e aﬂ o u r , c o n -
s i d e r i n g i t t o o c r u d e af e e d f o r h i g h - s t a t u s h o r s e s , 2 5 t h o u g h i t w a s
used in common baker’s horse-bread, a fact that Markham’s
readers, and the ﬁeld workers who ate it, would have know n .
But it is in the reci p e ’s handling of ingredients, more than
in the ingredients themselves, that its association with ani m a l
feed is made explicit. The bread isn’t kneaded. It is really
n o t h i n gm o r e t h a n ab a k e d s o u r m a s h . I n c o n t r a s t , M a r k h a m ’ s
elite horse-breads shared with the elite breads of his era the
use of the best ale yeast as leavening, and even when they
included substantial amounts of bean ﬂour, his elite horse-
breads were carefully kneaded to develop dough structure.
Markham’s ﬁrst work on horses, Discourse on
Horsemanship (1593), was a manifesto that established him
as the intellectual force in the world of English hunting and
running horses. While Markham acknowledged having read
foreign authors, unlike those of Thomas Blundeville and
other sixteenth-century writers his works were explicitly
informed by experience and driven by personal opinion.26
Markham is Markham’s authority.
Until Markham trainers had fed elite horses common
baker’s horse-bread as part of their regular feed and specially
formulated spiced ﬂat breads as part of a horse’s special
training for the hunt or course.27 These spiced breads were
part of an oral tradition shared by farriers, the men who cared
for and trained horses, and the trainers of ﬁghting cocks.28
I n 1 6 8 4 T h o m a s d e G r e y , a h o l d o v e r f r o m t h i s e a r l i e r t r a d i t i o n ,
claimed that his spice-ﬁlled bread would “give [the horse]
strength of body, be very helpful to his wind, keep him from
fainting in his labor and exercise, be it never so sore.”
Take Wheat meal, Oat meal, and Beans all ground very small, of each
one peck, Aniseeds four ounces, Gentian, and Fenugreek, of each one
ounce, Licorice two ounces, let all these be ﬁnely powdered, and
searced, and add the whites and yolks of twenty new laid Eggs, well
beaten together, and put to the other ingredients, and so much strong
Ale as will knead it up, then make your Loaves like to Horse bread, but
not too thick, and let them be well baked, but not burned….29
Markham categorically rejected the concept that either
physical stamina or intangible qualities like courage could
be imbibed through drugs. He insisted that the only
efﬁcacious preparation for the hunt or the course was disci-
plined physical training paired with a diet to match the
horse’s evolving physical condition. Markham placed formu-
lated leavened breads at the center of that diet.30 Drugs such
as aniseed, gentian, and fenugreek were for sick animals,
3b. GFC 6-3 6/30/06 7:18 AM Page 43
not healthy ones. As the horse became more ﬁt through
exercise, Markham and his followers advised feeding them
breads of increasing reﬁnement. Near race day, the bread
had minimal ﬁber content and increased fat content in the
form of egg whites, butter, and sometimes milk. In modern
terms, as the horses became more ﬁt, the feed supplement
became denser with what we think of as “energy” and what
Markham thought of as “spirit.”31 As yeast-leavened breads
become more reﬁned and lighter and increase in fat con-
tent, they also increase in social status within a hierarchy
that places brioche at the top and unleavened whole grain
horse-breads at the bottom.
What makes the elite horse-bread recipes found in the
early modern English horse literature so unusual, and so
uniquely useful, is that the recipes were presented in the
dynamic context of the horse’s life as it was being physically
prepared for a high-stakes athletic contest. It was assumed
that the breads offered were for the purposes of general
example and that they would be modiﬁed, as needed, to
take into account the nature of the actual horse being
trained and its progress through the program. The authors
of these recipes provided ancillary information so that own-
ers and trainers of expensive animals could make informed
decisions as they brought their horses to peak condition.
Markham and his followers drew upon nutritional ideas
found in the medical literature and then explained to their
readers how to apply these ideas so that they could formu-
late bread recipes and modify bread service to maintain
their horses’ health and, speciﬁcally, good digestion.
Horses are animals with which many people had close
physical and emotional relationships. In pre-Darwinian
England one could believe that horses were the smartest of
the animals and in many senses, including medically, the
most closely related to people.32 The medical remedies for
horse and human diseases were often interchangeable. When
Markham, in Discourse on Horsemanship (1593), prepares
the horse to run a match, he gives the horse as its last meal
a piece of toast dipped in muscadine wine. The passage call-
ing for this food demonstrates affection and empathy for the
horse, feelings that permeate the horse literature. These
horsemen thought of their horses as biologically and socially
very much like themselves. Nobody who is close to a pet will
fail to understand the emotional context in which Markham
and his followers developed breads for their horses.
Take a big penny white loaf, and cut the same all into toasts, and toast
them against the ﬁre, then steep them in Muscadine, and lay them
between hot cloths, and being laid before the ﬁre, dry them again, and
so give them to your horse.
These be so pleasant and comfort able, that your horse’s emptiness
(for he must be wonderful empty when he goeth to the course) shall
little aggrieve him.
This toast is a medicine intended for humans. Cogan
prescribes it to “cleeneth the teeth, sharpeneth the ﬁght,
digesteth that which is undigested, and reduceth superﬂuous
digestion to a mean.”3 3 With the exception of teeth cleani n g ,
these were the medical purposes for which Markham rec-
ommended the toast.
As elite horse-breads were modeled on elite human
breads and as, in many ways, these horses were thought of
as similar to humans, the feeding of horses can shed light
on customs surrounding bread in the early modern period.
Until recent times the practice of removing the bread’s crust
by chipping it away with a knife or scraping it off with a rasp
was one of the purest class markers.34 Miss Tox, in Charles
Dickens’s novel Dombey and Son, signiﬁes that she is associ-
ated with the upper crust—or at least wants you to think
she is—by eating breakfast rolls from which the crust had
been removed. For students of manners, the most direct, if
poignant, explanation of chipped bread is the one published
in the ﬁrst English edition of Maison Rustique (1600).
The crust of bread notwithstanding it be of better taste and relish than
the crumbs, and that the common people do think that it maketh a
stronger body, yet it engendereth a colerick, adust and melancholic
juice, and this be the cause why in houses of great personages they
use to chip their bread.35
When cookbook authors mention chipping, as Robert
May does in his recipe for French bread (1654), all he says is
“being baked in a quick oven, chip it hot.36” But how deeply
should one chip it? What, exactly, does chipping entail?
How is one to think of chipping: might it be decorative?
Here is the guidance Markham offers to his farrier readers
in Cavelarice (1607):
Lastly, you shall observe after your Horse begins to eat bread, whether
upon that food he be quick or slow of digestion, as before in the ﬁrst
fortnight; and if you ﬁnd that he be quick of digestion, that is, that he
keeps his bread but a little while in his body (as for the most part your
ﬁery and free Horses do) then you shall but only lightly chip your
bread, and give unto your horse crust and crumb together: but if he
be slow of digestion, which is, that he keeps his meat long in his belly,
then you shall clean your loaves in the middle, and give unto your
Horse nothing but the crumb only; for the crumb is quick of diges-
tion….And the crust is slow of digestion, and asks (by means of his
hardness and dryness) a double time before it be concocted.37
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3b. GFC 6-3 6/30/06 7:18 AM Page 45
A chipped roll served a medical function: to enable the elite
di n e r t o di g e s t t h a t p a r t o f t h e b r e a d b e l i e v e d t o b e m o s t e a s i l y
digested by a person of his or her social class. The crust
may taste better—may even be the best part of the bread—
but for the better sort of diner, not having the stomach of
an ostrich like a common laborer, it had to be forgone. The
treatment of chipping in elite horse-breads suggests that
when setting the period table, servants might have ta k e n
into account what they knew of the intimate health of the
family’s guests—or at least of their master’s family—and thus
modulated their chipping to cater to the diner’s digestion.
The belief that the best-tasting bread, and the bread that
is best for you, is found in breads that include at least some
bran is not new.38 One should not assume that the English
elite ate only white bread. It is evident from Markham’sThe
English Housewife bread recipes that while he assumed that
his readers’ “principal bread” was manchet, he also assumed
that at least sometimes they would eat bread that included
at least some wheat bran and also bread that included rye or
barley ﬂour. While Americans have become trained to see
ﬂour as either completely reﬁned or completely unreﬁned,
Markham stocks his English housewife’s bake house with
“bolters, searces, ranges, and meal sieves of all sorts both ﬁne
and coarse.”39 Between the choice of sifters and the choice
of grains, Markham offers his English housewife a nearly
inﬁnite variety of possible breads. How might she have
made her choices?
In his horse books Markham instructed farriers to think
of every grain in terms of its medical or biological function.4 0
I n M a r k h a m ’ sﬁ r s t h o r s e - b r e a d , i n D i s c o u r s e o n H o r s e m a n s h i p
(1593), he explains that he included some rye ﬂour because
it “is altogether loosening and scowering, [and] that being
joined to the former [wheat], it keepeth the horse cool and
in good temper in his body.” Markham and his followers
created recipes in which the type of ﬂour and its ﬁber content
is purposely manipulated to match both the horse’s health
and its level of training. Taken as a group, the horse-bread
r e c ipes and supporting texts published between 1 5 9 3 and 1 8 0 0
are alive with nuance—and argument—with respect both
to grain choice and the degree of appropriate reﬁnement.
It is clear that bakers had a range of sifting options. They
must have been connoisseurs of sifted ﬂour and fully engaged
with horse owners and farriers in the formulation of the
perfect bread for a given horse on a given day.
The consistency of excrement as it related to bread was a
common subject in dietary texts for both people and horses.
C o g a n , f o r e x a m p l e , r e c o m m e n d s e a t i n g ab r e a d t h a t i n c l u d e s
at least some bran if one becomes costive. It was thought that
both the bran and the butter would lubricate one’s system.
I have known this experience of it, that such as have been used to ﬁne
bread, when they have been costive, by eating brown bread and butter
have been made soluble.41
The current American discussion of the importance of
whole grain breads is the continuation of a centuries-old
discussion in which bread is viewed as both a food and a
medicine.42 The horse training books of the early modern
period provide a link between the cookery books and
medical literature to suggest more precisely how and why
a mother might have chosen the bread she did for the
family meal; they also offer principles that might have
been used by bakers for recipe improvisation.
Bread styles change over time. The American culinary
elite currently favors breads with an open crumb and irregu-
lar holes, which are achieved by making breads with a
relatively high water content. Markham and his followers
usually speciﬁed a stiff dough, one that produces bread with
a regular crumb and small evenly-sized eyes, or no eyes at
all. This style of bread was favored by the English elite.
Before the advent of mechanized baking equipment, the
ﬁnish kneading for stiff dough was accomplished with a
brake—a stick attached to a wall that could be worked over
the dough—or with one’s feet.
In Cavelarice (1607) Markham recorded the basic struc-
ture for handling a bread dough that begins stiff and then
stiffens further as it is worked. He instructed one to “work
[the dough] together exceedingly, ﬁrst with hands, after with
feet by treading, and lastly with the brake….”43 These
instructions were elaborated in a different recipe where he
advised that cloth be placed over the dough prior to tread-
ing. A cloth was used only when working with stiff dough.
For softer dough that is too sticky to go through the brake,
Markham instructs in Cavelarice that
After the dough hath been well knodden with hands, you shall then
cause the Baker, having his feet clean scowered and washed, to go into
the trough and tread it exceedingly.
Dough hydration and the amount of kneading are central to
a bread’s character. The elite horse-bread recipes demon-
strate that between kneading with feet and working dough
with a brake the preindustrial baker had the technical
vocabulary to effect subtle manipulations of dough struc-
ture, regardless of dough stiffness.
John Halfpenny, whose three bread recipes from The
Gentleman’s Jockey and Approved Farrier (1674) were widely
referenced (if without attribution) for the hundred years fol-
lowing its publication, adds his own color and focus to his
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description of kneading stiff dough.44 Halfpenny helpfully
speciﬁes that the dough be mixed “with as little water as
may be” and then instructs that we “labor it in the Trough
with all painfulness, tread, break it, and after cover it warm.”
The call for minimal water to create a dough that is hard to
knead by hand recalls the instruction to “temper all these
together, without any more liquor, as hard as ye can handle
it” from the anonymously written The Good Housewifes
Handmaide for the Kitchen (1594). While “painfulness” can
be interpreted as “with all care,” the author who penned
The Complete Jockey (1681), a work attributed to Gervase
Markham but apparently a reworking of Halfpenny’s book,
took “painfulness” literally.45 In an indication of how impor-
tant these elite horse-breads were thought to be, the author
of The Complete Jockey put effort into reexplaining, in his
own language, Halfpenny’s bread recipes. Among other
changes, The Complete Jockey’s author does not seem to be
addressing the horse owner or farrier who will in turn tell a
baker what to do. Instead, he seems to write the recipes for a
person who will actually be doing the baking, someone he
imagines might not be strong enough to knead the bread.
Thus, refreshingly, he introduces into the early English bread
literature the idea of human frailty. He says to add “as much
water as will just make the Meal up into Dough, which mu s t
be kneaded with all your strength in a Trow, or some such
like thing for that purpose. If you are not strong enough to
knead it with your hands, you may tread it with your feet,
being sure to leave no nobs in it.” It was probably obvious to
the reader of the Handmaide for the Kitchen that she could
scrub her feet and jump right into the tub, with or without a
cloth placed over the dough. This step is no longer obvious
to artisan bakers. I have spoken with an American baker
who does all his mixing by hand. He has injured his hands
from kneading. We are at a disadvantage as we take up the
ways of the past, whether as bakers or historians, because
the details of those ways were often either not written down
or not written down in the most obvious places.
Ih a v e f o c u s e d o n t h e l i n k b e t w e e n c o m m o n b a k e r ’ sh o r s e -
b r e a d s a n d t h eb r e a d o f t h e p o o r a n d e l i t e h o r s e - b r e a d s a n d t h e
breads of the afﬂuent. But the horse-bread literature, taken
in its entirety, also helps us better understand breads baked
by households that were neither rich nor exceedingly poor,
households that may have used ingredients associated with
low-status breads, such as pea ﬂour, but employed baking
m e t h o d s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h h i g h e r s ta t u s b r e a d s , s u c h a s l e a v e n i n g
the dough with yeast. Working between our libraries and our
kitchens, and keeping the horse-bread literature in mind, we
should be able to reconstruct a substantial piece of the English
b r e a d c u l t u r e i n t h e c e n t u r i e s p r i o r t o t h e i n d u s t r i a l r e v o l u t i o n .
Here follow six bread recipes, three by Gervase Markham
(1594 and 1607) and three by John Halfpenny (1671). These
breads were intended for speciﬁc stages in the training of
the hunting or running horse. The stages were typically
divided into fortnights, with each fortnight having its own
training and feeding program. John Halfpenny’s recipes are
interesting for their use of “lightning,” leaven, in addition to
yeast. They are stylistically interesting because they are
nested. The ﬁrst recipe serves as the master recipe, so steps
that have been described in the ﬁrst recipe are not repeated
in the subsequent two. This is the style of the recipes pub-
lished by Nicolas Bonnefons in Les Délices de la Campagne
(1 6 5 4). It is curious that Halfpenny uses Bonnefons’s unu s u a l
recipe style, that he includes leaven, which is not common
in English bread making, and that, of all English bread
recipe authors of his period, he is the only one to mention
that the bread should be cooled “bottom upward,” an
instruction found in Bonnefons and that is essential if one is
to preserve the crust’s crispness, even if only to chip it off.
Three Breads by Gervase Markham
Gervase Markham’s First Horse-bread Recipe
From Discourse on Horsemanship (1593)
Take a strike of beans, two pecks of wheat, and one peck of rye, grind
these together, sift them and knead them, with water and Barm, and so
bake them thoroughly in great loaves, as a peck in a loaf: and after they
are a day old at the least, your horse may feed on them, but not before.
From Cavelarice (1607, Book 3, p.35)
Take a strike of clean beans, two pecks of wheat, and a peck of Rye,
grind these together, and then sift them through a tempse, then knead
it with good store of barm and water, but let your water be scalding hot,
that it may take away the strong savor of the Beans, when you have
knodden it well, then lay a cloth over it, and let it be also well trodden,
then mold it up into great loaves like Household loaves, having as near
as you can guess, about a peck in a loaf; then bake as you bake good
household bread, and no otherwise, and let it be at least two days old
before your horse taste any of it. But if your horse for whom you make
this bread, be exceedingly soluble and much subject to looseness in his
body, then you shall put in no Rye at all: but if he be of a hot body,
and subject to more than ordinary dryness, then you shall over and
besides the Rye, put to the former proportion of corn, about two
pounds of sweet butter.
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The Last Bread (fed to the horse during the last fortnight training
before the race)
From Cavelarice (1607)
Take three Pecks of ﬁne Wheat, and put one Peck of clean Beans,
grind them to powder on the black stones, and bolt them though the
ﬁnest Bolter you can get; then knead it up with very sweet Ale Barm,
and new strong Ale, and the Barm beaten together, and also the Whites
of at least twenty Eggs, in any wise no water at all, but instead thereof
some small quantity of new milk. Then work it up, and labor it with all
painfulness that may be, tread it, break it, and after cover it warm, and
let it lye a pretty space in the Trough to swell: then after knead it over
again, and mold it up into big Loaves, and so bake them well, and
them soak soundly; after they are drawn from the Oven, turn the bot-
toms upward and let them cool.
Three Breads by John Halfpenny
The First Bread
Take three Pecks of clean Beans, and one Peck of ﬁne Wheat, and mix
them together, and grind it to pure meal.
Then searce and bolt it through a reasonable ﬁne range, and
knead it up with great store of barm and lightning, but with as little
water as may be; labour it in the Trough with all painfulness, tread it,
break it, and after cover it warm, and let it lye a pretty space in the
Trough to swell: then after knead it over again, and molt it up into big
Loaves, and so bake them well, and let them soak soundly; after they
are drawn from the Oven, turn the bottoms upward and let them cool.
At three days old you may adventure to give this bread, but hardly
sooner, for nothing doth occasion surfeit, or is more dangerous than
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The Second Bread
You shall take two Pecks of clean Beans, and two Pecks of ﬁne Wheat,
grind them on the Black stones, searce them through a ﬁne range, and
knead it up with a ﬁne store of Barm, and great store of Lightning [sic];
working it in all points, and baking it in the same sorts as was shewed
you in the former Bread.
With this Bread, having the Crust cut clean away, and being old
(as was before shewed) with clean sifted Oats, and with clean drest
spelt beans, you shall feed your Horse this Fortnight….
The Last Bread
Take three Pecks of ﬁne46 Wheat, and put one Peck of clean Beans,
grind them to powder47 on the black stones, and bolt them through the
ﬁnest Bolter you can get; then knead it up with very sweet48 Ale Barm,
and new strong Ale, and the Barm beaten together, and also the Whites
of at least twenty Eggs, in any wise no water at all, but instead thereof
some small quantity of new milk. Then work it up, and labour it, with
all painfulness that may be, as was shewed, in the ﬁrst Bread; then
make it and order it, as was declared, in the other.
barm: the sediment left over after ale is brewed; the source of yeast in
bolt: a verb that applies to the action of sifting out the ﬁner grades of
ﬂour from a coarser meal
b o l t e r : ac l o t h o r c l o t h b agu s e d t o s i f t o u t t h e ﬁ n e r g r a d e s o f ﬂ o u r ; ﬁ n e n e s s
ranges from white ﬂour for manchet to a ﬁne whole wheat for ﬁne cheat.
beans: the bean referred to in these recipes is the “horse bean” or fava,
brake: a devise used to knead a stiff bread dough
bran: the outermost husk of wheat
lightening: a term for sourdough or leaven, the modern French levain
chisel: an older term for middlings
middlings: after the bran the next set of impurities removed from ﬂour;
usually includes small pieces of bran and some ﬂour, but in a well-
cleaned form they are sold as a breakfast cereal in the United States
and Canada under the name Cream of Wheat.
peck: there are four pecks in a bushel; a bushel of the best unmilled
wheat weighs sixty pounds, so a peck weighs ﬁfteen pounds. Beans also
weigh sixty pounds per bushel. After sifting and bolting to remove bran
and other impurities, the weight of the beans and ﬂour used in these
recipes would have been signiﬁcantly reduced.
searce: a hair sieve that could be as ﬁne as a bolter but could also be
coarser; ﬂour bolted through a searce ranged from white to a medium
whole wheat, appropriate for breads ranging from white to “coarse
cheat.” “Searce” is also a verb meaning “to sift.”
tempse and range: types of sifters and probably synonymous; at their
ﬁnest they are appropriate for making coarse cheat.
strike: unit of measure often used for beans that varied in size from half
a bushel to four bushels; in Markham’s recipes it was probably equal to
n o t e s
I would like to thank Ken Albala, Ivan Day, Rachel Laudan, and Barbara
Wheaton for reading this article in manuscript form and for their valuable com-
ments and suggestions.
1. Gervase Markham, Cavelarice, or the English Horseman (London: Printed for
Edward White, 1607), 6:14.
2. Geoffrey Chaucer, Frederick James, Kirk Furnivall, and Richard E.G. Kirk,
Analogues of Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrimage (London: Chaucer’s Society,1903);
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha
(http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext99/2donq10h.htm). Dijo luego al huésped que
le tuviese mucho cuidado de su caballo, porque era la mejor pieza que comía
pan en el mundo; Thomas L.L.D. Nugent, Travels through Germany: In a Series
of Letters to a Friend, Etc (London: 1768), 2:361; The letter hwas completed in
the years 1897–1899. Henry Bradley James, A.H. Murray, W.A. Craigie, C.T.
Onions, ed., Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), 1:xvii.
The passage implies that horse-bread was no longer common in England.
3. As a rule, as ﬁber content decreases, calorie content increases. William
Gibson, The Farriers Dispensatory,2nd, corrected ed. (London: Printed for J.
Osborn and T. Longman, 1726), 194.
4. Gervase Markham, Country Contentments: Or, the Husbandsmans Recreations.
The Fi rst Edition. (the English Housewife.), 1st ed. (London: I.B., 1 6 1 5), 1 2 5–1 2 8 . All
other references to Markham’s English Housewife bread recipes refer to these pages.
5. The way in which Markham explains his leavened breads in his ﬁrst horse
t r a i ni n g b o o k s u g g e s t s t h ath e i s ei t h e r t h e i n v e n t o r o r a n e a r l y a d o p t e r o f an e w f e e d
for high-performance horses. Gervase Markham, A Discource of Horsmanshippe
(London: for Richard Smith, 1593), chap. 3. Horse-bread recipes for race horses
were published throughout the eighteenth century, but the innovative period was
over by the close of the seventeenth century. After this date the recipes are repeti-
tive. The best of the eighteenth-century recipe collections is found in Gibson,
The Farriers Dispensatory,194–199.
6. Everyone who considers the “roughage” in whole wheat bread to be good is
doing the same thing—looking at bread as both food and medicine.
7. Markham, A Discource of Horsmanshippe, chap. 3.
8. In England, under the assize laws of Markham’s time and for hundreds of years
previous to his era, the baker was given the bran “to his advantage.” Bran was
not deﬁned and seems to have been anything not considered ﬂour by the baker,
including the middlings. John Penkethman, A Collection of Several Authentick
Accounts of the History and Price of Wheat, Bread, Malt, &C., from the Coming
in of William the Conquerour to Michaelmas 1745 (London: W. Warden, 1748),
52–53; Charles Estienne et al., Maison Rustique, or, the Countrey Farme (London:
Printed by Adam Islip for John Bill, 1616), 581.
9. As an example of horse-bread used by carters, Edwin Miller writes, “[T]he
Willingborough (Northants.) carters, taking grain the twenty-three miles to Yaxley
in 1322, were allowed 4d [4pence] to buy horsebread,” and in another example
mentions carters hauling stones spending 3S92d for horse-bread, more than three
times what they spent on hay. See F.M. Page, ed., “Willingborough Manorial
Accounts,” in Edwin Miller, The Agrarian History of England and Wales,
(1348–1500) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 3:350–351.
10. For example, in the assize of January 1604, as recorded by John Powell, several
regulations were promulgated regarding horse-breads, including this item: “[Bakers]
shall sell and deliver unto Inholders and Victualers in horse bread, but only three
3b. GFC 6-3 6/30/06 7:18 AM Page 49
loaves for a penny, and 13d. most for 12d. (as aforesaid) every one of same three
Loaves weighing the full weight of a penny white Loaf, whether Wheat be good,
cheap, or dear: In which Assize of horse-bread, the Inholder gaineth 6d. ob. In
every 12d.” Powell does not record regulations concerning the composition of
horse-breads, but its composition may have been regulated by custom. John
Powell, The Assize of Bread, Etc. (London: J. Walthoe, 1714), n.p.
11. Raphael Holinshed, The Third Volume of Chronicles, Beginning at Duke
William the Norman. Continued to the Yeare 1586 (London: J. Harrison, 1587),
1002–1003. Holinshed explicitly identiﬁes as horse-bread a famine bread made of
“pufﬁns and bran” and “moulded up in clothes” when describing a siege-induced
famine under Edward vi. Holinshed, The Third Volume of Chronicles,1022.
12. Ibid., 323.
13. Holinshed refers to the poor making bread from “fern root” in times of
famine, as well as from other substances. See Holinshed, The Third Volume of
Chronicles,616. William Harrison addresses the everyday conditions of want in
the English countryside. Raphael Holinshed et al., The First and Second Volumes
of Chronicles, Comprising the Description and Historie of England, the Descriptoin
and Historie of Ireland, the Description and Historie of Sclotland. (London: I.
Lelando, 1586), 168. Andrew Boorde, an inﬂuential author of a dietary book,
provides an inadvertent record of horse-bread as human food when he writes that
a certain bread “shall never do good to man, no more than horse bread or bread
made of beans and peas shall do, though this matter doth go much by the educa-
tion or the bringing up of the people, the which have been nourished or nutriﬁed
with such bread.” Andrew Boorde, Hereafter Foloweth a Compendyous Regyment
or a Dyetary of Helth, Made in Mountpyllier.(London: Robert Wyer, for John
Gowghe, 1542), bread chapter.
14. If a penny white loaf weighed seven pounds, a penny household loaf would
weigh fourteen, and a penny’s worth of horse-breads, twenty-one pounds. Thus, in
the seventeenth century for the price of the coarsest bread sold in bakeries, one
got 33 percent more horse-bread by weight. Powell, The Assize of Bread, Etc., n.p.
15. William Langland, Pierse Plowman (Cambridge ms b.15.17 [w])
(Piers Plowman Electronic Archive, 1377–1379); available at
16. Estienne et al., Maison Rustique, 1616,582. The instruction to scald the
water is found whenever pease meal is used. See the “Ordinarie horse-bread,” in
Markham, Cavelarice,3:35; and Markham, The English Housewife (1615), 127.
17. William Stevenson, A Ryght Pithy, Pleasant, and Merry Comedy (London: T.
Johnson, 1661), scene 1, act 1.
18. A Newe Mery. Comedie or Enterlude [in Five Acts and in Verse]. Treating
Upon the Historie of Jacob and Esau, Taken out of the
. Chap. Of. Genesis.
B.L (H. Bynneman: London, 1568).
19. Thomas Cogan, The Hauen of Health (London: Henry Middleton for W.
Norton, 1584), 24–25.
20. John F.R.S. Houghton and Richard F.R.S. Bradley,A Collection for
Improvement of Husbandry and Trade,2nd ed. (London: Printed for Woodman
and Lyon in Russel-street, 1728), 1:238–239. “Chisel” is synonymous with the
modern term “middlings.”
21. Thomas De Grey,The Compleat Horse-Man, and Expert Ferrier,5th ed.,
corrected with some additions (London: J.R. and R.H., 1684), 187.
22. Sift whole wheat ﬂour through one or more graduated sieves to separate the
bran and middlings from the ﬂour. Mix the bran and middlings in a bowl with
an equal weight of hot water. Let this mixture hydrate, and then knead for a few
minutes. Cover and let the dough ferment, which can t ake as long as twelve
hours. The addition of even a small amount of rye ﬂour speeds up fermentation.
Salt is optional. Form into a ﬂat loaf, and let it rise for a couple hours before
baking or roll thinly to make crackers.
23. The English Housewife (1615), 127. I think it is worth noting, given the status
of whole grain bread in our culture, that the meal was put through a “meal
sieve,” and so even this low-status bread was not made with whole grain ﬂour.
24. Markham, C a v e l a r i c e, 6:1 5 . The use of these black stones to produce ﬂour that
is “white as snow” is explained in Markham’s contribution to Maison Rustique,
Estienne et al., Maison Rustique, 1616, 573. Markham explains that the best ﬂour
is produced from stones that minimize bruising and are set to produce the coars-
est bran. We can infer from this explanation that the “great black Cullen stones”
were made of an unusually hard rock, one that held its edge better than other
milling stones and could thus be relied upon to cut the wheat, sloughing off the
brain in large pieces and exploding the endosperm. These hard stones were far
more desirable than softer millstones, which quickly became dull and thus
tended to bruise the grain, fracturing the bran into many small pieces and thus
irreparably contaminating the meal with impurities.
25. Markham, A Discource of Horsmanshippe, chap. 3.
26. Thomas Blundeville, The Foure Chiefest Ofﬁces Belonging to Horsemanship,
Etc (London: Printed by Henrie Denham, being the assigne of William Seres,
1580). Markham felt emancipated from the force of tradition. He explains that
while he had read the ancient writers, he “did ever read more for knowledge than
practice.” Markham, Cavelarice, 5:7.
27. While Blundeville speaks against horse-bread because, he says, bakers were
making it badly, it is clear that it was fed to the high-status horses he is writing
about. Thomas Blundeville, “Dieting of Horses,” in The Foure Chiefest Ofﬁces
Belonging to Horsemanship, Etc., 10. Markham’s own attacks on the practice of
feeding bran bread to high-performance horses imply that its use was a common
practice. See, for example, Markham, A Discource of Horsmanshippe, chap. 3.
28. Markham, Cavelarice,3:37. See also Robert Howlett, The Royal Pastime of
Cock-Fighting (London: printed for D. Brown and T. Ballard, 1709), 57–58.
Similarities between cock-breads and the horse-bread of de Grey quoted in this
text as well as the horse-breads and cock-breads by other authors suggest a shared
tradition. I did not, however, ﬁnd published cock-bread recipes in books prior to
1593, so I don’t have texts to fully support this speculation.
29. De Grey, The Compleat Hors e - M a n, 2:1 8 8. If you want to make this bread, then
reduce the recipe as follows: use 11⁄2cups each ﬁnely ground whole grain ﬂour
made of wheat, oat, and beans. Use a total of 1⁄3ounce spices and two large eggs.
While de Grey doesn’t mention it, when ale was intended for use in bread dough,
it was usually speciﬁed as stale ale, and that is what I had to use in this recipe.
30. Markham could not have been clearer. His horses win. Drugged horses lose.
Referring to breads spiked with licorice and aniseeds he wrote, “nor have I seen
any horse win, but I have seen many Horses loose [sic], which have been kept
with such dyett.” Markham, Cavelarice,6:15.
31. See the discussion of bran and wheat in Markham, A Discource of
Horsmanshippe, chap. 3. Markham’s nutritional concept was that the “nutriment”
and “spirit” of the wheat was in the ﬂour, not in the bran and chisel. It was his
belief, and that of his peers, that what remains after the ﬂour is extracted is a
“dry huske thing” that is “bereft” of “virtue.” Thus, in a sentence that reveals the
emotion that underpins Markham’s diet, he challenges his reader: “And what
[how—WR] can that [spiritless bran—WR] I pray you prevail with a horse that
must endure extreme labor.” In fact, Markham was wrong. Bran is low in calories,
but it is high in protein and is, in fact, very good for high-performance horses.
Fat-enriched breads were also fed to ﬁghting cocks near the day of the ﬁght.
These more enriched breads given to racehorses close to race day may have
derived from the cock breads, the primary difference being that the breads for
the elite horses were leavened.
32. A. Gent S, introduction to The Gentleman’s Compleat Jockey: With the Perfect
Horseman, and Experienc’d Farrier, vol., London (London: Printed for Henry
Nelme, 1696), 1–2.
33. Cogan, The Hauen of Health,219.
34. A recipe for rasped rolls is included in the popular American cookbook by
Fannie Farmer. Fannie Merritt Farmer, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book
(Boston: Little, Brown, and Company,1924), 56.
35. I am citing the ﬁrst English edition of Maison Rustique rather than the 1616
edition Markham worked on, to emphasize the currency of this idea at the time
Markham was writing his most import ant works on horses. Charles Estienne,
Maison Rustique, or the Countrie Farme, Richard Surﬂet, trans. (London, 1600),
720. “Adust,” like choleric and melancholic juice, has negative associations in
the humoral medical system.
36. Robert May,The Accomplisht Cook, or, the Art and Mystery of Cookery
(Totnes: Prospect Books, 1994), 239.
37. Markham, Cavelarice,3:32.
38. For a medical source, see Thomas Tryon, The Way to Health, Long Life and
Happiness (London: Andrew Sowle, 1683), 197. For a nonmedical source,
Houghton lends his enthusiastic voice in praise of country-style bread. Houghton
and Bradley,A Collection for Improvement of Husbandry and Trade,242.
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39. Markham lists sifters in descending order of ﬁneness: the coarsest bolter was
ﬁner than the coarsest searce, while the coarsest searce was ﬁner than the coarsest
range, etc. Each type of sifter had its own range from ﬁne to coarse, and the sifters
were calibrated to create a single integrated sifting system. In their ﬁnest iterations
the bolter and the searce were probably equivalent; both were capable of reﬁning
meal into white ﬂour (see Estienne et al., Maison Rustique , 577). The
coarsest searce was equal to the ﬁnest range or tempse (ibid.); by extension, the
coarsest range or tempse was probably functionally equivalent to the ﬁnest meal
sieve, which Markham speciﬁes for the coarsest brown broad (The English
Housewife,127). In Maison Rustique Markham lists the sifters that could be used
to produce ﬂour for three breads—white (manchet) and two grades of brown bread
(ﬁne cheat and coarse cheat). Markham further speciﬁes the following range for
each type of sifter: the bolter reﬁned ﬂour from white to ﬁne cheat; the searce,
from white to coarse cheat; and the range or tempse was used for coarse cheat.
The sifting terminology itself is confusing. Finer ﬂours were produced by
“bolting,” while coarser ﬂours were produced by “sifting” or “searcing.” The verb
chosen by period authors to describe the processing of the meal suggests the
quality of the ﬁnal product. Finer grades of ﬂour were produced in a two-stage
process. The ﬂour was ﬁrst sifted or searced and then sifted again more ﬁnely in a
process referred to as “bolting.” Modern bakers speak of the ﬂour’s “extraction
rate.” Whole wheat ﬂour has an extraction rate of 100 percent, meaning that no
grain is lost in processing. White ﬂour produced by sifting can have an extraction
rate as low as 50 percent, meaning half the grain is lost through processing. It is
my sense that period texts refer to “sifting” at extraction rates of less than 75 per-
cent and to “bolting” at rates in excess of 75 percent. Thus, a meal might be sifted
or “searced” to remove the ﬁrst 25 percent of bran and impurities and then, to
create white ﬂour for manchet or a manchet-quality horse-bread, bolted to
remove the next 25 percent.
40. Markham, Cavelarice,5:7–11.
41. Cogan, The Hauen of Health,25.
42. Everyone who considers the “roughage” in whole wheat bread to be a good
thing is viewing bread as both food and medicine, continuing the old European
43. Cavelarice,6:6,15. The brake is a piece of industrial baking equipment that
would also have been found in well-equipped private bakeries. In the horse-bread
recipes Markham assumes the baker has one. In the manchet recipe written
for his English housewife, Markham offers an optional method if she doesn’t:
“fold [the dough] in a cloth, and with your feet tread it a good space together.”
Markham calls for a brake in the cheat bread recipe, but in his instruction to
“knead it, break it, and tread it” probably offers it in incorrect order, as treading
seems never to follow working the dough with the brake. Markham, The English
Housewife (1615), 126–127.
44. John Halfpenny,The Gentleman’s Jockey, and Approved Farrier, 3rd ed.
(London: Printed for Hen. Twyford and Nath. Brook, 1674), 17–18,27–28,29.
45. The bread recipes in this work appear on these pages, The Complete Jockey; or
the Most Exact Rules and Methods to Be Observed for the Traning up of Race-
Horses, attributed to Gervase Markham (London: 1695), 13,20–21. It is unlikely
that The Complete Jockey is really by Markham. It was ﬁrst published as part of
the 1681 edition of Markham’s Masterpiece. Frederick Poynter attributes the text
to the fourth chapter of Markham’sDiscourse of Horsmanshippe (1593). See A
Bibliography of Gervase Markham, 1568–1637 [Oxford Bibliographical Society
Publications. New Series. Vol. 11.] (Oxford: Oxford Bibliographical Society, 1962),
86,109,14. Not only are the texts not the same but there are fundamental differ-
ences in literary style and in the two horse-training systems. Tellingly, the breads
in Complete Jockey are based on wheat as the sole grain, which is not a character-
istic of Markham’s early breads. Markham introduced breads made of wheat and
bean ﬂour in the two recipes published in Gervase Markham, Cheape and Good
Husbandry (London: Printed for Roger Jackson, 1616), 53,57. The wheat bread
recipes are part of material added to the 1616 edition and do not appear in the
1614 edition. Much of the Complete Jockey text exactly mirrors the text of
Halfpenny’s work, either verbatim or as a simple rewording. The Complete Jockey
bread recipes, though slightly different from those of Halfpenny, closely follow
Halfpenny’s structure and language and copy its most unique features. In terms
of literary style, The Complete Jockey uses words and phrases never found in
Markham, for example, “Tow” for trough, which is either an obscure regional
term or an unusual spelling. By tracing published horse-bread recipes subsequent
to the publication of The Complete Jockey, it is clear that this work was ignored.
It is Halfpenny’s recipe, with its “lightning” and its breads drying bottom-side up,
that found favor with authors of horse books well into the eighteenth century,
suggesting that Halfpenny’s contemporaries viewed his text as the original one
and the Jockey text as suspect.
46. Grain was, and is, sold in different grades. The wheat purchased by commer-
cial bakers was not necessarily the best wheat. John Penketman, in his work on
the English assize laws, stipulates second-grade wheat for bakers. See John
Penkethman, Artachthos; or, a New Booke Declaring the Assise or Weight of Bread
Not Onely by Troy Weight. But by Avoirdupois Weight, and Containing Divers
Orders and Articles Made and Set Forth by the Lords and Others of His Majesties.
Privie Councill (London: E.G. for R.B., 1638), 21. By specifying “ﬁne” wheat,
Halfpenny signals, as Markham had done before him, that this last bread is made
of the best ingredients.
47. The emphasis here on grinding to a powder coupled with the speciﬁcation
to use a mill with black stones reinforces the message that he wants the best
48. Barm, which is the sediment thrown off when beer and ale is brewed, was
used as yeast prior to the development of factory-produced yeast in the nineteenth
century. Ale was top fermenting; it was made without hops, or at least with fewer
hops than beer, so ale barm was less bitter and thus preferred by bakers. By
emphasizing that the ale be “sweet” Halfpenny is, again, emphasizing the use of
the best ingredients. The fresher the barm, the more cert ain one could be of the
strength of the yeast culture, and thus conﬁdent of predictable results. Halfpenny
is also telling the baker not to use funky yeast just because he is baking for a horse.
This, and other details, are signs of the horse’s high status.
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