The following recipe comes from the unpublished eighteenth-century Reading manuscript.
‘Beat 2 eggs with a little salt lay to them half a pint of ale barme or more then put to it three pounds of fine flower and pit it in as much bloodwarm milke as will make it soft and light then make it into loaves or Rowles. When they be baked and cold rasp or grate all the outside.’
Translated, it works out as follows and makes perfect loaves and rolls. I do not know why the outside of the rolls should be rasped, or grated. This is suggested in various early recipes and one can only assume that people disliked the crisp crust.
Make up the yeast with the sugar. Sieve the flour and salt into a basin. Melt the butter, add the milk and make it tepid. Pour the tepid milk over the prepared egg, add to the yeast and pour into the flour and make a soft, smooth dough. Beat well. Cover with a cloth and put to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. Form into loaves, place on a greased baking sheet and prove for about 15 minutes.
Bake in a quick over, 425° F., gas mark 7, for about 40 minutes.
©1975 The Estate of Elizabeth Ayrton