Did you know that bakers in Byzantium were never called to public service? Their animals could not be taken into service either. Bread was, and still is, a staple food in the Greek world. Here's a recipe for a crusty country bread that would be very similar to the round loaves served during the Empire.
1 ounce of fresh yeast or 2 tablespoons of dry yeast
1/2 cup of lukewarm water
1/2 cup of corn flour (not corn meal)
In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. Slowly add the 1/2 cup of flour and mix until all lumps of flour have dissolved, to form a thick liquid. Allow to rise about 15-20 minutes.
8 cups of unbleached bread flour
1 tablespoon of salt
2 1/2 cups of lukewarm water (1/2 c. is extra if you need it.)
2 tablespoons of whole milk
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of olive oil (to coat the bowls and loaves)
Sift the remaining flour with the salt, put in a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the center. Add oil, honey, milk, yeast mixture, and 2 cups of the water in the well. Pulling in the flour slowly, mix with hands until it's a cohesive mass. (If more water is needed, add in small amounts from the remaining 1/2 cup.) Turn out onto a floured surface and continue kneading until the dough is nice and smooth and no longer sticks to the hands.
Note: You could cheat and use a stand mixer with a bread hook!
Place the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl and roll until all sides of the dough are lightly oiled. Cover the bowl with 3 dish towels: 1st one dry, 2nd one dampened with warm water (wet towel and wring out), and the third dry. Place in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch it down and knead for 5-6 minutes on a floured surface. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 equal portions, and form them into round loaves. Place them several inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets or a stone and cover with 3 clean dishtowels (the middle one damp). In a warm place, allow the loaves to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 450F.
For a thicker crust, score the tops of the loaves in a cross shape. Otherwise, bake as it is on the rack just below the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes until browned. When tapped on the bottom, bread will sound hollow.
When the loaves are done, remove from oven and cool on racks.