The term aleuromancy refers to any type of divination and sorting of fortunes through the use of unsifted wheat flour. Derived from the Greek words aleuron (flour) and manteia (divination), it is considered a precedent to the modern day fortune cookie. This form of divination may also explain the origins of Ash Wednesday pancakes.
Like in a fortune cookie, this practice involved rolling small slips of paper with messages into flour balls and then baking them. More often than not there would be a curious crowd waiting and watching the proceedings, many of whom would be wishing to know what the future held for them. These baked balls were randomly given to those who wanted their fortunes to be told.
Historically, pieces of paper with philosophical writings would be baked in these flour balls or cakes/cookies which would be mixed nine times before distribution.
Aleuromancy was popular among the Greeks. This form of divination was said to be presided over by the sun god Apollo who was also known by the name of Aleuromantis. Aleuromancy is said to have prevailed in the rural parts of Greece until as late as the second half of the nineteenth century.
There are quite a few other versions of this practice, including the study of flour patterns in a bowl left over when a mixture of flour and water slurry was poured out.