Two years ago, I told myself (and the rest of the world in a previous blog post) that I was going to try to make girdle bread soon. Today, I finally got down to doing it.
The tradition of making girdle bread goes all the way back to the medieval times (between the 5th to 15th century). Back then, it served as a staple food for many who lived in the old kingdoms of the British empire – Ireland, Scotland and England. ‘Girdle’, or ‘griddle‘ – as the English called it, was a rounded piece of sandstone that served as a cooking platform for the bread, hence the name ‘girdle’ or ‘griddle’ bread. This stone was placed right above a fire to cook the bread till it was crispy and airy. Today, girdle breads are not commonly served anymore, due to the existence of modern baking technologies. Making girdle bread the traditional way is therefore one pleasant peasantry way of reminiscing the past while savouring the utmost basic taste of food long gone.
- Dried saffron strands: 1/4 tsp
- Boiling water: 2 tbsp
- Plain flour: 225g
- Salt: a pinch
- Shortening: 2 tbsp + extra for frying
- Egg: 2
- Dried herbs: 2 tsp
- Spring onion: 1 stalk, chopped
- Steep saffron strands in boiling water for 30 min till water is golden in colour. Cool and set aside.
- Sift flour and salt into mixing bowl.
- Rub shortening into the flour till fine crumbs form.
- Beat eggs into saffron water. Add this mixture, the herbs and the spring onion into flour mixture.
- Bind everything to form a firm dough. Add more cold water if necessary.
- Divide into 6 small portions. Roll each portion out thinly into the size of a small plate.
- Thinly grease frying pan with extra shortening. Fry on high heat on both sides till browned.
- Serve with jam or butter.
- The original recipe did not include herbs and spring onion. Nevertheless, adding these in has helped to enhance the fragrance of the bread manifolds!
- This recipe was adapted from ‘The Medieval Cookbook’ by Maggie Black.
- The original recipe uses either lard or butter for the rubbing in method; I used shortening here which serves as an equally good substitute.
- Check out this video on how girdle bread for the peasants used to be cooked during the medieval times. It’s classic! Take note though that the colour of the bread in this video is paler in comparison due to the absence of saffron.
Makes 6 small slices