The background calculations for this post comes from The Rhythms of Bread.
In my New Kingdom Egyptian village kitchen, for a family compound of around 75 people, this is how I envision the work done in the kitchen each day. Sunrise and sunset are correct for April. They would not have used clocks; the timing is for my internal use only.
Through-out the day:
- De-hull grain (with some water) and put in baskets to take out for drying. (2 hours working time).
- Grind dry grain and put in containers to use later. (20 hours working time, using multiple people and several grinding stations).
- Haul water from well.
- Remove dirty water to water garden or give to livestock (along with vegetable scraps).
- Beermaking (have not yet researched the various steps).
- Make cheeses, kefir/fermented drinks, put up pickles, and work on other long range cooking projects.
Early morning (before breakfast, about 5-6am, sunrise is 5:30):
- Lay out damp de-hulled grain from previous day on clean cloths in the sun to dry (as the sun becomes strong).
- Mix the bread dough levain (aka leaven)(flour, water, sourdough starter) and set aside (as early as possible, it sits for 5 hours).
- Feed the sourdough starter (flour and water), put away for next day.
- Drain porridge grain, cook (about 45 minutes).
- Wash any dishes from previous night.
Breakfast (about 6am):
- Leftover bread.
- Leftover food from previous day.
Late morning (between breakfast and lunch, about 6am-noon):
- Immediately after breakfast, pack workers’ lunches (basket with bread covered in leftovers).
- Mix additional dough, set aside for an autolyse (about 9am, let sit for 1 hour).
- Mix levain with autolyse, add leftover porridge, salt, other ingredients (around 10am).
- Ferment dough, begin 3 sets of stretches and folds (10am-2pm).
- Take some dough for quick lunch bread, cook on pans or rocks.
- Drain beans from last night’s soak.
- Cook beans.
- Prepare stews, vegetables, any meat or fish, cheese, etc., for dinner, as well as some for lunch.
- Lay out grain de-hulled that morning for drying.
- Wash dishes.
Lunch (about noon):
- Workers in brickyards and fields eat their packaged lunches. Lunch is served at the family compound for kitchen workers, young children, and others not working elsewhere.
- Any leftovers.
- Fresh quick bread.
- Beans/stews, salads, and other dishes that are ready to serve.
Afternoon (between lunch and dinner, about noon to 6pm, sunset at 6:22):
- Winnow dried grain and collect into baskets for grinding (after a couple hours in strong sun).
- Lay out any additional de-hulled grain, collect and winnow up to just before dinner.
- Finish cooking dishes for dinner and complete other dinner prep.
- Continue to ferment dough, finish 3 sets of stretches and folds (10am-2pm).
- Cut and pre-shape the dough on a floured work surface (2-2:30pm, let sit for 25 minutes).
- Shape dough, let rest, place in proofing baskets (optional: top with seeds) (2:30-3pm).
- Proof dough (3-5pm).
- Bring oven to temp, prep molds (3-5pm).
- Put bread in molds, bake (5-6pm).
Dinner (about 6pm):
- Fresh baked bread.
- Beans/stews, salads, and a variety of vegetable, meat, cheese, and fish dishes as available.
- Beer, tea, water, and kefir or other fermented dairy drinks.
Evening (after dinner, about 7pm on):
- Bank ovens/stoves.
- Put de-hulled grain in water to soak for porridge.
- Soak beans for next day’s meal.
- Clean up.
- Do dishes if there is time, otherwise scrape and soak them to wash the next morning.