Pottage and bread formed the core of the Tudor diet for all classes of society. Many printed menus include dishes of buttered loaves, while pottage recipes call for bread as a thickener and as an accompaniment. Bread flours milled from wheat, rye, or barley were baked into loaves whose weight and appearance were regulated by the Assise of Bread .
The type of bread consumed reflected the social position of the consumer. At the main midday meal, pottage might be flavored with bacon, thickened with jelly or eggs, and served with buttered loaves. Many pottage recipes used peas, spinach, and sorrel to give green color and nutritive value to the soup.
Many flours were known to Shakespeare's contemporaries. In lean times, flours of beans, peas, oats, and even acorns and lentils were used. The Assise specified the weights and types of bread that could be made: simnel (a bread first boiled then baked), white, wheaten, household (brown), and horsebread (from bean and bran flour and fed to horses). It also required each baker to mark his loaves with a seal. Spice breads and other special breads could be made only for funerals, on Good Friday, and at Christmas.