Eighteenth Century French Breads
“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
This appears to simply be the gros
more frequently referred to in later years, which is usually
contrasted with pain
even if it sometimes is treated as synonymous with it.
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
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.
or commoner's bread)
valets (valets' bread)
bourgeois or pain des maîtres
burgher's bread or masters' bread)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
you have taken your Bread out, rest it on the side that is most
your Bread cool, before enclosing it in the Bins, where you will
always rest it on the side..
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 des maîtres
This is a slightly
compacted later version of Bonnefon's instructions:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
gives its own version:
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)
(big or coarse bread)
pain de ménage
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
soft; while that for gros
is kneaded less and more slowly, which makes it harder.
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.
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.
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.
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
great bread of Paris)
This is the
Encyclopedie's version of the very common gros pain:
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
bread” is the pain de Gonesse, but between the two is
a note on the amount of dough needed for different sizes of bread:
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.
cuisson (cooked bread)
This is one summary
Liger gives before expanding on breadmaking as quoted above.
Its main interest lies
in the note about salt:
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.
(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
|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)
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.
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):
day of the Septuagesima,
Madame Marsolet, charged with making the Pain
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.
term also appears in a number of sayings, such as “It is
pain benit”, that
is, “He got
what he deserved”.
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.
Varenne offers two (relatively rare) recipes for pain
bénit. The first
seems like a giant pain mollet,
with butter and a glazed top:
you want to use a half bushel of the finest flour to make a pain
first take leaven about the size of two eggs, and put about a
third of your flour on a very clean table.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
must be pricked in spots inside
and out with a piece of pointed wood, so that it does not swell
has been shaped, put it on a large enough shovel, beware of
breaking the pain bénit, and put in the oven.
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
will know that a pain
is baked in the same way we will say that one tells that bread is
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.
too that when you make a large pain
you must grind the dough with a large piece of wood which the
Pastrychefs call a brayer
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:
finer and tastier pain bénit, which is called cousin's in Paris
and in other places chanteau.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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").
This was a very
large (twenty or twenty-five pound) loaf:
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.
Valets' bread might have been a pain de brasse.
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
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
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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