The term appears repeatedly in old cookbooks, including the Austin Manuscripts of 1440 and The Forme of Cury is found in Chaucer, Langland 1390 and dozens of other works up to the beginning of the 19th Century. It seems from the context to indicate some superior type of bread, but, so far, no receipt or description can be found.
Our German correspondent 'WK' tells us that (Oct 2019)
"The Wastel-Bread has its verbal roots guastel from old French which is now gateau meaning cake (as opposing pain meaning coarse bread) and seems to have been a cake-like bread made from fine white flour. German Jacob Grimm of the Brothers Grimm still knew the word Gastel for "... a finer kind of bread ..." which he also knew as Wastel in Upper Germany i.e. Bavaria and Austria. In older literature, we find a "... Robert Wastelmonger (wastel < OF wastel, northeastern var. of guastel, gastel) 'Bread made of the finest flour; a cake or loaf of this bread ..." And in Italy, the guastella (guastedda in Sicily) has survived the times in different shapes, mostly flat, always white, and often sweet. Southern German master baker Schmitt served wastel-bread (Wastel-Brot) made after a medieval recipe at a public testing in Karlstadt where medieval specialties were served in 2009 This could eventually solve the English wastelbread riddle."
For other traditional bread types, see:
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