Jim Chevallier's Web Site



Eighteenth Century French Breads

Common breads

Pain du commun
  • Pains des Valets
  • Pain bourgeois or pain des maîtres
  • Pain bourgeois or pain des maîtres (II)
  • Early whole wheat bread?
  • Pain de Gonesse
  • Gros pain
  • Gros pain (II)
  • Pain de cuisson
  • Pain chaland
  • Pain à chanter
  • Pain bénit (and brioche)
  • Pain de seigle
  • Pain de brasse
  • Pain de munition
  • Pain à cacheter

  • “Common breads” here refers to the breads eaten by most people who were not actually rich and which were not, like the pains mollets and other pains de fantaisie, luxury items. Unlike the latter, whose names and composition were both subject to fashion, the meaning and making of these was relatively stable.

    In terms of class, most of these might be described as the breads eaten by households that did not have servants and those that, without being rich, did. Though the terms were fluid and (as will be seen) sometimes contradictory, the most likely breakdown of these breads seems to have been as follows:

    • Coarse but serviceable bread made for "commoners" - pain de commun or, as time went on, gros pain.
    • A slightly finer bread for those who could afford servants; that is, the middle-class burghers - pain des maîtres or pain bourgeois. This appears to have been the same as bread that could theoretically be made at home - pain de cuisson or pain de ménage - though in practice it seems to have been made by bakers as well (if nothing else, it seems unlikely that anyone too poor to have servants would have had an oven large enough to make bread).
    • Bread made specifically for the servants, which fulfilled the master's obligation to provide bread; since that obligation apparently did not specify the quality, unsurprisingly, this bread was at least partly made with rye, which was cheaper - pain des valets, which, given the quantity specified below, was probably the same as the very large pain de brasse (which was made entirely with rye).

    None of these are referred to as pain bis, that is, brown bread, but in 1611, Cotgrave defined gros pain as "Course browne bread", pain bourgeois as "Crible bread between white and browne; a bread (that somewhat resembles our wheaten, or cheat) a loafe whereof is to weigh, when tis baked, 32 ounces" and pain de mesnage as "Ordinarie houshold bread; (for the most part finer then browne, and browner then wheaten.)". It is not clear whether the same breads had gotten whiter a hundred years later or if an Englishman's estimation of what was white or brown bread was simply different from the French ideas. Malouin also explains that flour could be bis for a variety of reasons, including the presence of bran, or because some germ was included in the flour or simply because the inside of the type of wheat was dark. So except where a bread is specifically designated as "white" whether it was white or at least partially dark may have depended on these factors.

    With these were breads specifically made for use in church (pain à chanter and pain bénit) and for soldiers (pain de munition).

    Most of the instructions that follow come – directly or via others – from Bonnefons. The first is, as it happens, for a bread called “common bread” (or “commoner's bread) (pain du commun), though he also gives variations for Masters' and Valets' breads (the former was more frequently known as pain du bourgeois or even, if exceptionally, as gros pain). This appears to simply be the gros pain more frequently referred to in later years, which is usually contrasted with pain bourgeois, even if it sometimes is treated as synonymous with it.

    Rye was considered an inferior cereal and its use in the Valets' bread would have made it somewhat like the coarse ammunition bread made for soldiers. Strangely, Bonnefons gives a precise measure for this bread, but not for the principle (common) bread being made from wheat.

    Unlike most other writers, Bonnefons goes into details about using a period oven. Note too that he still favors hard dough, which became more less popular through the eighteenth century. His instructions and Liger's are both far longer than most found here, and may provide some guidance for the missing details in others.

    Pain du common

    (common bread or commoner's bread)


    pain des valets (valets' bread)


    pain bourgeois or pain des maîtres

    (townsfolk or burgher's bread or masters' bread)

    And for the Making we will first speak of common Bread, which will be that much better, the more flour there is; nonetheless, if you want to make a good sort of Bread for Valets, you will put in the Mill four minots of rye [or coarse] Wheat and a minot of Barley; (which is about enough for a Batch,) and have it sifted with the large Bolting Cloth.

    From this flour, you will take about a Minot at ten o'clock in the Evening, and will put it with leavening, which you will cover well with the same Flour.

    To soak it, in Winter, use Water as hot as you can bear on your hand; in Summer, it is enough that it be a little warm, and thus in proportion for the two other temperate seasons.

    The next day at the break of day, put the rest of your Flour with leavening, and knead all this, working your Dough for a long time, keeping it rather firm; because the softer it is, the more Bread you will have, but also it will last you less time, as more is eaten when it is light, than when it is firm.

    Your Dough being well-kneaded, put it back in the Bin, turning it over, and push your fist into the middle of the Dough, until the base of the Bin, in two or three places, and cover it well with bags and covers.

    When at the end of some time (more in Winter, and less in Summer) you look at your Dough, and you see your holes completely closed up; it is a sign that the Dough has risen enough, you can have the Oven warmed by a second person, (because it is almost impossible that one alone can be spread between the Oven and the Dough) you will divide it into pieces, and make them about sixteen pounds each, or a little more; then you will form this dough into loaves, and lay it on a Tablecloth, making some space between each loaf, lest they touch in swelling.

    Your Oven being hot... take out the Firebrands and Coals, lay some lit Coals on a side near the mouth of the Oven, and clean it with the maulkin which will be made of old linen, which you will moisten in clear water, and twist it before scrubbing, then you will block it up to let it bring its heat to bear which will blacken the bread and a little after you will open it, to fill the oven as neatly as you can, putting your largest Loaves at the rear and along the sides of the Oven finishing by filling it in the middle.

    ...The bread being put in close the Oven up well, and seal it all around with moistened cloths, to keep the heat in well: four hours later, which is about the time needed to cook large Loaves: take one out to see if it is cooked, and particularly on the underside, what is called “having some Star”, and tap it with the end of your fingers: if it resounds, and if it is firm enough, it will be time to take it out, if not leave it still some time, until you see it cooked, experience will soon teach you: because if you leave it in the Oven too long after it is just right, it will redden inside and will be disagreeable.

    When you have taken your Bread out, rest it on the side that is most cooked...

    Let your Bread cool, before enclosing it in the Bins, where you will always rest it on the side..

    To make Townsfolk's Bread or Master's Bread, measure from the Flour what you want to cook, take the sixth part to put with leavening and make a hole in the Dough with the Fist, as for the common Bread: when it has risen, you will exchange yet as much Flour as you soak with this leaven and let it rise again and prepare it as above; when ready, put in the rest of your Flour with water in proportion, and let it all rise again, then form the Loaf, and handle it like the preceding one.

    Pain bourgeois

    (townsfolk or burgher's bread)


    pain des maîtres

    (Masters' bread)

    This is a slightly compacted later version of Bonnefon's instructions:

    Measure out the flour which you would like to bake, take a sixth of it to put in leaven, and make a hole in the dough with your fist, as with common bread; when it has risen fill it again with as much flour as you have soaked with the leaven, and let it rise again, and prepare it as above: when it is ready put the rest of your flour with water in proportion, let all this then rise again, then shape the bread and handle it as the preceding.

    Note that the most beautiful wheat flour makes the best bread, that the newest made is the most agreeable, that more the flour is white, the sooner it loses its goodness; and that the more it is kneaded hard, the more it also keeps its goodness.

    Note that this dough, which it has been said must be reserved, must serve as leavening for the next batch; one must put a quantity in proportion to the mass being kneaded, so that this leaven can provoke fermentation in the dough without making it bitter. Instead of leaven, one can use yeast, which is more often used for rolls and particularly for the pain à la reine, which makes it bitter, when there is too much.


    Early whole wheat bread?

    In one sense, most Old Regime bread that was not made from the whitest flour was whole wheat, being often gray with (nutritious) impurities. But here Bonnefons describes a bread which included the bran and everything else in the wheat:

    In Rouen and nearby a very good-tasting bread is made with pure wheat ground without being sifted after; it seems crude at first to those unaccustomed to eating it, but one easily grows used to it, because it fortifies the body and satisfies the stomach.

    Pain de Gonesse

    (Gonesse bread)

    The bread from Gonesse, from outside Paris, was some of the most popular. It was a bit optimistic (and perhaps misleading?) of Bonnefons to provide instructions for making it, since many claimed that it was the local water which made the difference in its quality.

    Pain de Gonesse is made both brown and white, and in every size: take ten bushels of flour of which you will put one with leavening around eight o'clock at night, put in again as much flour (this is called refreshing the leaven) and the next day at dawn make the dough, putting in the rest of the flour which you will knead very soft, then you will shape the bread, and put it in wooden bowls, floured so that they do not stick, when the bread is repaired [sic] turn it into another bowl, so that in putting it on the shovel the risen part is on top.

    The smallest and the lightest are made by taking the sixth of the flour you want to bake, putting it in leavening with new yeast, and when the leavening is ready moisten it or work it in adding flour as for the bourgeois, and let it rise a second time: then you knead it all very soft, form the loaves and put them on the couche which you will fold between them, so that they do not touch.

    The Encyclopedie gives its own version:

    Wheat bread Gonesse style. Have large leavens and sweet water. Make firm and solid dough. Work it a lot; then put a little cold water on it, in order to clarify or blend the dough, and then work it. When your dough has been well worked, take it out of the bread trough and shape it right away. It must not begin to ferment at all. Distribute it in the weights the loaves must have. Shape the small loaves first, then shape the large ones. Let the pans or tubs always be cool. Let the covers be a little moist. The oven must be very hot. The oven must be hotter in the first quarter [of the oven[ than in the last. One checks the baking almost by hand.

    Pain bourgeois (Townsfolk's or burgher's bread)


    gros pain

    (big or coarse bread)


    pain de ménage

    (household bread)

    Liger's version of making two standard breads was printed a century or so after Bonnefons' (at several dates). He goes into more detail about using the leaven and estimating baking times, and like Bonnefons is specific about using the oven. (His mention of salt as a leaven is curious; it was generally said to slow the fermentation of yeast, for example.)

    Note that here he treats pain de ménage as synonymous with gros pain whereas in one summary (below) it is mentioned as synonymous with pain du maître.

    To make bread, you need a leaven weighing two or three pounds, more or less, according to the amount of bread one wants to make; this leaven is nothing else but raw dough that has been kept seven or eight days, and which sours; it is absolutely necessary to make bread, without which one cannot succeed. This leaven ordinarily is taken from the last batch of bread made, either of wheat, méteil, or whatever bread one makes: this leaven, which is only a piece of dough about the size of a head, in souring, ferments and makes the dough where one puts it ferment. Some put in salt, some vinegar, others verjuice of young grapes and wild apples, yeast or beer foam, which are all acids which provoke fermentation. However one makes the leaven, a lot of heat is always needed to preserve it: for that, it is covered with flour, and puts it at the foot of the bed between the straw and the feather bed, or another warm place.

    ...Put the amount of flour that you want, in a bin used to knead bread, put your flour in the two sides of the trough, leaving a space in the middle where you will put the leaven: then warm the amount of water needed in a cauldron: when it is warm and easily bears the hand [sic] pour it in the middle of the trough to soak the leaven; and when it is well blended, form bit by bit, with a third of the flour, a dough that is a little firm, which you will leave in the middle of the trough, being careful to cover it with a napkin; pour over the two remaining sides of flour, then cover the bin with its top.

    If it is winter, and very cold, cover the leaven with something warm and one even puts a heater under everything, so that the leaven has more heat to ferment: this is normally done in the evening, and the next day one makes the dough this way. Heat the water again as for the leaven; one puts the flour back up as it was at the start, and removes the napkin on it; pour the water in the middle on the leaven: blend it well again, so that there are no lumps. When everything is well-blended, make the dough from the rest of the flour; but above all be careful not to put in too much water, for fear of lacking flour, which is called drowning the Miller: it is even necessary to keep a little for shaping the bread. When all the dough is made, leave it in the bin and cover it with a cloth; in winter, one warms the cloth, and covers it with still other things. If it is too cold, one would put a flame heater under the bin: leave the dough in this state an hour or an hour and a half, then light the oven; and while it warms, shape the bread to the desired size, and put it on a table covered with a cloth, doing so in a way that the loaves do not touch each other at all. To avoid that one can use bowls, and cover the bread with a sheet.

    As in the country one bakes every eight days, one must always keep a little dough to make the leaven: cover the flour, as we have said, and always put it in a warm place: it only keeps for a good fifteen days: and when it is too sour, and one cannot have another, one can only put warmer water than usual to soak it, in order to stir the warmth that cause it to ferment. One must always work the flour well, in order to form the dough without lumps: the more the dough is kneaded quick and softly, the more the bread is light and agreeable to the taste: it is why one always makes that for pain bourgeois soft; while that for gros pain or pain de ménage is kneaded less and more slowly, which makes it harder.

    ...With experience in making bread, one knows by sight when the dough has risen enough: others in making this dough plunge their fist to the bottom, and they think it risen enough when the hole made with the fist fills up by itself.

    ...The oven must be precisely heated; when it is too much, the bottom of the bread burns, and the inside is not baked: and when it is not enough, the bread does not brown and does not bake. One knows if the oven is hot, when in rubbing a little with a stick against the tile or the dome, sparks fly: as soon as one stops heating it, take out the twigs and the coals, arranging a bit of brazier by the mouth of the oven, and one cleans it with the maulkin, which is a perch of five or six feet, at the end of which one attaches a few pieces of old linen, which one wets with clear water, and which one twists before using, after than one blocks the oven a little, to lower the heat, which blackens the bread if one puts it in right away; and when one judges that this heat has eased a little, one opens the oven to put the bread in more promptly and as neatly as possible. One always starts with the biggest loaves, with which one fills the back and the sides of the oven, keeping the middle to put the small bread (roll), which is that of the master, otherwise, it will burn, and it is by this middle that one finishes filling the oven.

    Finally be careful to well block the oven, for fear the heat will dissipate; two good hours after, which is about the time needed to cook the pain bourgeois, one will take one out to see if it is baked enough, and particularly underneath-, knocking it with the ends of the fingers, if it restores its shape, or if it is firm enough, it is a sing that it is time to take it out; otherwise leave it a little time until it is completely done.

    For the gros pain, you must only take it out of the oven four hours after t has been put in: one will then see if it is baked, as just said for the pain bourgeois; because without perfect baking, every sort of bread is always disagreeable and ill-doing: it is not cooked, it smells of dough and if it is too much, it becomes too dry, too hard and loses its taste.

    Gros pain de Paris

    (Coarse or great bread of Paris)

    This is the Encyclopedie's version of the very common gros pain:

    Make the dough a little bit softer that for Gonesse. There are those who substitute yeast for old dough. For the rest do as for the preceding bread.

    The “preceding bread” is the pain de Gonesse, but between the two is a note on the amount of dough needed for different sizes of bread:

    A four pound loaf requires four pounds eleven ounces of dough; a three pound loaf requires three and half pounds of dough; a six pound loaf, six and three-quarters of dough; that is roughly the rule in dough which determines the weight after baking.

    Pain de cuisson (cooked bread)


    pain de ménage (household bread)


    pain du maître

    (the master's bread)

    This is one summary Liger gives before expanding on breadmaking as quoted above.

    Its main interest lies in the note about salt:

    Cooked bread, otherwise household bread, which is the bread Townsfolk make at home for themselves, must be softly kneaded, made of good flour and well-formed. To make it light, make a leaven of about the sixth of the bread one wants to use. If one wants to salt this bread, put the salt in the water before warming it; it will be that much more flavorful and fine.

    Pain de chaland
    (barge or customer's bread)

    Some writers say pain chaland was any bread that came from outside Paris (often on types of barges called chalands), except the prized pain de Gonesse. But Richelet says it was:

    A particular bread, which is made with a strong dough that is kneaded with the feet, and which is white, which is high in crumb and large with crust... Only the poor of Paris and the suburbs eat pain chaland. Pain chaland is made at St. Denis, and it is, for the most part, the Swiss who make it, because normally they eat that bread.

    By this description, it would have been made with pâte briée (which was kneaded with the feet). This bread was said to be "very massive'.

    Arnoult says the word chaland began to be applied to the people who bought this bread, and so became a synonym for "customer". To complicate matters, the Dictionnaire de Trevoux says that this bread was in fact the gros pain made by bakers inside the city to sell to their chalands (customers), and that the term was meant to distinguish it from that made by bakers outside the city. Otherwise, the dictionary describes it as above.

    The Encyclopédie, on the other hand, says it was a very white bread made with pâte broyée (this is one of the rare cases where that dough is mentioned.) Though this would have been a hard bread, if it was "very white" and had the fine grain that probably resulted from being pounded, it does not seem like a bread for the poor.

    The term may then just be slang for the standard gros pain made in Paris or it may refer to a bread made outside Paris and sold to the poor. Or perhaps, yet another, finer bread? Clearly, it remains ambivalent.

    Pain à chanter
    (Communion wafer; literally, "bread for singing")

    Also called pain missal
    (missal bread)

    The Catholic communion wafer (which may have been somewhat bigger than what one sees in American churches today) was called the "bread for singing [Mass]" (pain à chanter [messe]). (Protestants used ordinary risen bread for their communion.)

    This is how Savary des Bruslons defined the bread in 1726:

    It is unleavened bread used for the Consecration in the Catholic Sacrifice. It is made of the purest wheat flour between two engraved iron plates in the form of a wafer-maker, which is rubbed with a little white wax to be sure that the dough does not stick. It is Pastry-Wafermakers who make them; several Masters live only from this trade.

    It was "round, light and transparent". (Guyot, Répertoire universel) It was marked with an image or symbol of Christ. (Guyot) Cotgrave says that a little salt was added as well.

    In the thirteenth century, the wafermakers were given first pick of the best flour in the market because, Charles IX said, "The best wheat is not too good to make bread for singing mass and communing." (L'Enseignement ménager) Guyot does not mention this privilege however in an eighteenth century book on jurisprudence. Ironically, the wafermakers (oublayeurs), whose religious association initially allowed them to, exceptionally, set up stands near churches, were long said to be dissolute and disreputable, often gambling with the wafers (almost like poker chips) and even coercing children into stealing from their parents. It didn't help that, after 1406, when laypeople were charged with making this wafer, people who had made it with their own hands sometimes found it hard to accept it as the Body of Christ (one woman burst into laughter when the priest offered her her own handiwork at Communion).

    These abuses seem to have preceded the establishment of the wafermakers as a corporation, though masters of that corporation were still complaining about fraudulant wafermakers and their crimes in 1702.

    For a long time, leftover wafers were blessed but not consecrated and distributed as eulogies (meaning blessings). This ultimately gave rise to the pain bénit, but in the late eighteenth century, some churches still distributed these blessed wafers, throwing them down from the vault on Pentecost, for instance, with flaming tow and sometimes oak leaves, or even attaching them to the legs of small birds.

    Furetière says this was used in the same way as pain à cacheter; that is, to seal letters. He also says it was used to wrap pills and (curiously) bowls of coffee.

    Pain bénit (consecrated bread or bread to be blessed)

    and brioche

    Pain bénit was bread brought – sometimes as a punishment, sometimes as a privilege - by a layperson to the church where it was blessed and distributed (during the Agape, not as part of Communion). It was also sometimes provided by the family at a funeral.

    In some cases, it was an occasion for ostentation by the giver – almost the Catholic equivalent of a potlach. This example is from the early days of Quebec (January 21, 1646):

    Sunday, day of the Septuagesima, Madame Marsolet, charged with making the Pain bénit, wanted to offer it as ornately as she could, a crown of gauze or linen puffs all around it. I had everything removed and blessed it with the same simplicity as I had with those before, and particularly that of Monsieur the governor, fearing that this change would only bring jealousy and vanity.

    The term also appears in a number of sayings, such as “It is pain benit”, that is, “He got what he deserved”.

    The piece that was distributed to each person after the blessing was called a chanteau. (Originally, this was a piece from the edge of a shield, but ultimately referred to any piece from the edge of something round and particularly to a piece of bread.) By one account, this distribution became a form of charity in Paris and was paid for by the city.

    La Varenne offers two (relatively rare) recipes for pain bénit. The first seems like a giant pain mollet, with butter and a glazed top:

    If you want to use a half bushel of the finest flour to make a pain benit, first take leaven about the size of two eggs, and put about a third of your flour on a very clean table.

    Make a fountain, that is a hole in the middle of the flour, put in the leaven and soak it carefully with warm water while working it with your hands, then mix your flour in with leaven dissolved in the water, put in the necessary water to well knead this dough until it is quite soft; it must be left rather soft.

    When the dough is kneaded enough, so that there are no lumps in it, cover it well and keep it warm in a place where there is no breeze, nor cold, all as if it was to make bread.

    Leave this dough in this state for about two or three hours, if it is Summer, so that this leaven or dough can get ready and rise enough: but if it is a cold season like Winter, five or six hours are needed for this leaven to be ready.

    From time to time, look at this dough, and when you see that it is swollen and cracked on top: put on the table the rest of your half bushel of flour: make a large enough hollow in the middle, and put in it a little warm water in which you will have melted an eighth of a pound of salt, then a quarter pound of fresh butter: put too in the same hole all your dough, and blend it all together and reduce it to a dough which must not be as soft as the first time.

    Crush and work well all this dough, then form it like a large round loaf, then you will cover it again at once, so that it does not lose its heat, and does not spoil

    Leave your dough in this state about half an hour, then you will trim its length, or else put it on a round of wood powdered with a little flour, so that the dough does not stick: then prepare your pain benit which must then be glazed inside and out: the pain benit must be pricked in spots inside and out with a piece of pointed wood, so that it does not swell up.

    When the pain benit has been shaped, put it on a large enough shovel, beware of breaking the pain bénit, and put in the oven.

    A short half hour is needed to bake a pain bénit of a half bushel of flour, and the oven must be a little less hot than to cook gros pain.

    You will know that a pain bénit is baked in the same way we will say that one tells that bread is baked.

    Note that many Pastrychefs use yeast or the foam of beer in the pains bénits that they make, instead of putting leaven, because yeast makes the dough get ready and rise more quickly, although less useful for health.

    Note too that when you make a large pain bénit, you must grind the dough with a large piece of wood which the Pastrychefs call a brayer

    The second recipe is unusually luxurious for any bread and in fact is closer to a pastry or brioche, including not only butter and milk, but soft cheese and eggs:

    A finer and tastier pain bénit, which is called cousin's in Paris and in other places chanteau.

    Make your levain as said in the preceding Chapter, with the third of your half bushel of fine flour, and when it will be risen or ready, put the rest of your half bushel of flour on the work-board or the table, make a fountain in the middle, warm in it a chopine of water or better of milk, so that this pain bénit or chanteau will be finer and tastier: melt in this milk two ounces of salt and a pound of butter, then pour it into the middle of the flour, add in a half pound of unskimmed soft cheese: and if you want too three or four eggs blended with a little milk, put in leaven too, and carefully knead everything together.

    When you have well worked and again kneaded all the dough, shape it as said in the previous Chapter: then cover it and let it rest about half an hour: then make of it a chanteau or a pain bénit; which must be glazed and pricked, and finally put in the oven.

    Note that it takes more time to cook this fine pain bénit, because the dough in it is more filled out.

    Under chanteau, Furetière mentions a pain bénit:

    That one makes to send to one's relations and friends, because that one has sent to the Church does not suffice: and because one makes it of finer dough, it is also called cousin, because it is sent to those who touch one more closely, or whom one loves the best.

    Legrand d'Aussy wrote in 1782 that in fact brioche was now being used for the pain bénit. Brioche had been made in France for some time and was considered more of a pastry than a bread; here is one recipe from 1783 meant for making a number of brioches:

    Take a bushel of flour, separate a third of it, put in a quarter pound of brewer's yeast, mix with water that is more than warm, and knead it more than soft; let it rise a half hour in winter and not at all in summer. In the other two thirds of flour, make a hollow in the center, put in a quarter pound of well crushed salt, fifty eggs, five pounds of fine butter, spread in a little water; beat all this together, blend in the flour with this mixture; knead it three times, spread out the dough, pour the other risen dough over it, reknead it all together, wrap it in a cloth and let it rise seven or eight hours before using it. Then take from this mass pieces of the size of the brioches you wish to make; moisten them to shape them; gild [typically with milk]; bake in the oven.
    (Encyclopédie méthodique)

    Pain de seigle

    (rye bread)

    Rye bread, while common in Germanic countries, was considered a poorer bread in France. Overall, it was probably made like the major breads above, with the nuances that follow:

    You must use a great deal of leaven, half the dough; take cool water and make firm dough: leave it for a long time, because rye is always sweet. Work it a great deal. Use a very hot oven; leave the bread in a long time, but according to its size.

    Furetière said rye bread "loosened the stomach" and was known in Paris as pain d'esprit fort ("strong spirited bread").

    Pain de brasse

    This was a very large (twenty or twenty-five pound) loaf:

    The loaves made for servants are called Pain de brasse; these are large round loaves made of méteil flour or of pure rye. This sort of bread is nourishing and filling, it is suited to working people who are robust and need strength.

    Bonnefons' Valets' bread might have been a pain de brasse.

    Pain de munition

    (ammunition bread)

    This was the bread given to soldiers (if they were lucky – biscuits were another option). Malouin said it was made of two thirds wheat and one third rye (méteil). But the flour was not sifted and so also contained bran (which, he says, is not so bad in bread as people think; bread for dogs was made with bran, so this might have been a hard sell).

    Furetière called the eighteenth century variety a kind of bis-blanc bread; that is, dark-light, in this case, part wheat, part rye. The composition varied, however, within the eighteenth century and later, notably the amount of bran in it.

    As for the shape:

    The loaves are made round and flat; they used to be made eight inches in diameter: today they are ten inches, which makes them flatter and gives them more crust than if they were raised; they succeed better too being more spread out; they are better being more baked, and they keep longer.

    Legrand D'Aussy said in 1782 that the ration had been a pound and a half by day at the start of the century and had returned to that allowance after twice being raised by a quarter pound. He also says that the flour was not sifted at all and that the bran was added in. In 1788, each loaf weighed three pounds; that is, two rations' worth. (Encyclopédie méthodique)

    Pain à cacheter

    (wafer; literally "sealing bread")

    This was not meant to be eaten, but was a wafer used to seal letters and even, sometimes, as a kind of period paper clip. (Clément de Boissy) It was made of unleavened flour and may in fact simply have been pain à chanter, repurposed, at least to start with.

    Like sealing wax, pains à cacheter came in different colors. (Toustain) A late nineteenth century dictionary of chemistry said that the colors, notably two types of green, had at that point proved toxic (by then these wafers were little used). (Villon)

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