We are quite sure that when the Romans invaded Greece they had their eating habits changed drastically. The Greeks were better bakers, for one thing, and the Greek slaves who were taken back to Rome taught the Romans to use several different flours in a single loaf instead of the one common flour that was used in Rome. I think this recipe is about as close as we can come to the flavors that were enjoyed during the early days. –Jeff Smith in The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines (1989)
This is one of the best breads I have ever made. Daughter C loved it! And it’s vegan! (Except, of course, if you object to letting yeast do the work of making delicious bread!)
ANCIENT ROMAN BREAD
makes 2-3 loaves
2 envelopes fast-rising yeast
2 1/2 cups tepid water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
unbleached white flour to make 2 pounds 3 ounces of total flour weight
1 tsp salt disolved in 1 Tbsp water
cornmeal for dusting baking sheet
Put the tepid water in your electric mixer bowl and dissolve the yeast.
Use a paper lunch sack [how quaint!] for weighing out the flour. Put the whole wheat and ry flours in the bag first, and then make up the weight with the white flour. Put 4 cups from the bag into the mixer and whip it for 10 minutes. Add the salted water. If you have a heavy mixing machine such as a KitchenAid, allow the dough hook to do the rest of the work. If not, you need to add the remaining flour by hand. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. [I do have a KitchenAid and it managed to work into all but about 1/2 cup of flour which I kneaded in by hand.]
Put the dough on a plastic counter [? tabletop worked just fine] and cover with an inverted stainless bowl. Allow it to rise once, punch it down, and allow to rise a second time. Punch down and form 2-3 loaves. I never use bread pans for this as they will ruin the crust. Place the loaves on baking sheets that have been dusted with cornmeal and allow to rise until double in bulk.
Bake in a 450° oven about 25 minutes or until the crust is golden and the loaf light to the touch. It should make a hollow sound when you thump your finger on the loaf.