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Bakng-w-Sugar-art – 10/21/06


ÒBaking with Sugar in Renaissance GermanyÓ by Lord Giano Balestriere.


NOTE: See also the files: sugar-msg, fd-Germany-msg, pastries-msg, marzipan-msg, medvl-sweets-lnks, Sgr-a-Cnftns-art, Sugar-Icing-art, Sugar-Paste-art, Sugarplums-art, frittours-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Baking with Sugar in Renaissance Germany

by Lord Giano Balestriere


When modern cooks or housewives say 'baking', they usually mean cookies,

cakes, and other sugary delights. This field of cookery is relatively fast-

changing and modern, as anyone who has ever compared cake or cookie recipes

as young as the 1930s with modern ones can attest to, and there is little

in period that compares to it until the 16th century. It is then we can

trace in our sources (at least, if we are prepared to throw caution to the

wind) the birth of home baking as we know it. All it takes is adding a

little sugar to the mix...


Honey from a Reed


The origin of sugar must most likely be sought in New Guinea or Indonesia, probably long before historical times. Sugarcane in its wild form comes from these parts and its cultivation was limited to India and Indonesia for much of its early history. Exactly what sugarcane (probably cultivated as long ago as 8,000 BCE) was used for initially is unclear, but it is still chewed raw in some parts of India as a sweet and there may have been nothing more than that to it for millennia. Syrup or sugar - extracted from it by crushing the cane, filtering the juice and boiling it down - can be traced back with any certainty to the 5th/4th century BCE when it is mentioned in a linguistic work in Sanskrit (1). Whether the ingredient in question is crystallized sugar or a form of syrup is unclear, but its wide use is attested by it appearing in a work that has nothing to do with the art of cookery.


The Western world's first contact with sugar probably came about through Persia, though the first surviving mention in literature is connected with the Indian expedition of Alexander's admiral Nearchus who described a 'reed that brings forth honey' growing in India (though, true to soldierly form, he only notes further that the sap can be used to make an alcoholic drink). Medical writers of Roman antiquity mention 'sakkharon' or 'saccharum', a solid, crumbly, sweet substance made from a reed in India and Arabia Felix, and though it is not quite clear whether this might not be a kind of resin, it is very likely sugar. There is, however, no evidence that it was used in cooking in Antiquity as our main sources Archestratus, Apicius, Vinidarius and Anthimus mention only honey and must as sweeteners (2).


We know tantalizingly little of the culinary traditions of Sassanid Persia and early India and can only guess that sugar must have been in use to some degree or other (3). Given the degree to which the cookery of the Islamic world took its cues from Persia, it is probably not too far-fetched to assume that the fondness for sugar evidenced in the earliest surviving Arabic cookery books comes from here, at least in part. Arab agricultural science, responsible for the dissemination of so many of our favorite food plants, took sugarcane from the Euphrates delta and India to Egypt, the Levant, Sicily, North Africa and even Spain (4). Sugar, as it were, followed the Qu'ran and stayed even after Christian rulers re-conquered the land (5).


From the 14th century onwards, sugar became more and more common in the diet of medieval Europe, first in the south and west, then increasingly in the north and east. Italy, Portugal and Spain, sugar-producing areas in their own right, were most likely at the forefront, though English sources also indicate a relatively high sugar consumption among the upper classes. Indeed, as early as the mid-fifteenth century, Platina, an Italian clergyman and author of the cookery and dietetics book 'de honesta voluptate', mentioned with mild disapproval that contemporary people used sugar with almost everything (III.7). However, his medical comment on the properties of sugar are very favorable.


Increased demand made sugar interesting as a commodity, which in turn led to a development that was, in time, to create some of the greatest fortunes ever made in commerce and one of the blackest chapters in European history. Portuguese settlers on the Canary and Cape Verde Islands imported first sugarcane, then the labor to work the fields for large-scale production, in the course of the 15th century. This endeavor became so profitable that 'Canary sugar' became a byword to European cooks for a century. Work in the sugar fields was not a prospect many European workers relished, though, and the required number of field hands had to be made up from slaves. Slavery had long been an accepted fact of life throughout the Mediterranean, but the pattern of the Portuguese sugar plantations was new. They purposely imported (mostly, but not exclusively, African) slaves for agricultural labor and processing on an industrial scale, as investment goods. As early as the 1500s, the system was expanded to Brazil and the West Indies, where it soon took root. As early as 1516, sugar from Santo Domingo was shipped to Europe and by 1560, plantations with 500 or more slaves had been established. By the late 16th century, American sugar, grown by African slaves, flowed into Europe to grace the tables of the wealthy and increasingly the middle classes. This is the situation our Renaissance cookery books reflect.



Behind Oven Doors


We know very little of the baking traditions in Europe before the 16th and

17th centuries, and even much later baking recipes are far rarer than those

of other foods. Baking, it appears, took longer to move into the realm of

literary acceptance - whereas a cook, attached to the court of a royal

master, could be a person of consequence and often some education,

especially if he was also versed in the complex science of dietetics, the

baker long remained a craftsman whose skills (though probably considerable)

did not need to be committed to paper. Moreover, cooks of noble households (often the only ones who recorded recipes) frequently led a peripatetic existence, following their lord from place to place, which militated for the development of recipes suited for portable equipment whereas bakers, tied to their ovens, would have to be more stationary.


It is quite likely that sweetened baked goods were made from Roman times into the Renaissance. For the Roman Empire we can reconstruct an impressive array of different breads and sweet cakes, recipes for a few of which survive (6). Very little is known from this time onwards until well into the Renaissance but it is at least very unlikely that urban bakers - skilled craftsmen with a lot of capital invested into their equipment and fuel - made their living selling nothing but plain bread. If nothing else, limiting the use of the oven to bread baking would be wasting a lot of heat during the latter half of the cooling phase when the temperature was too low for bread loaves, but high enough for cakes or puddings. What they baked, though, is lost to us except for fragmentary accounts (7). That problem will continue to bedevil research simply because it is often impossible to tell whether a recipe for pastry crust, pie, or cake is new or simply moved from the realm of the (non-recording) baker to that of the (note-taking) cook.



The Tradition


Sources for medieval cookery before the 14th century are few and far between, but they make it clear that sugar took its time coming into use in Europe. The manuscripts of the so-called Harpestreng tradition mention sugar in only one recipe (it may have been intended in a second where the text is damaged) (8). The increasing use of sugar and sweeteners in general can be traced through recipe collections from the 13th century onwards, an effort I can not make in detail here. The 'Buoch von Guoter Spise', the earliest surviving German language recipe collection dating to the mid-14th century, specifies sugar in recipes 1 (a cherry rice porridge), 3 (chicken blancmange), 4 ('Greek' chicken), 5 (fried rice), 24 (bread and almond milk porridge), 62 (fish blancmange), 68 (quince puree), 71 (almond cheese), 72 (almond cheese), 73 (almond bun), 74 (almond fritters), 75 (rice in almond milk), 76 (chicken blancmange), and 83 (cherry-rice flour porridge), a total of 14 out of 96. Several other recipes explicitly specify honey and only one says 'sugar or honey', which may mean the two were considered different flavors. The 15th century dietetics book of Meister Eberhard does not mention sugar in any of its recipes and only once in the remaining text (recommending its use with almonds). The 'Kochbuch aus dem Archiv des Deutschen Ordens' (Teutonic Order cookbook), dated tentatively to the later 15th century, mentions sugar in recipes 4 (apple fritters), 5 (fish jelly), 7 (almond jelly), 18 (pear puree), 22 (fig fritters) and 29 (gingerbread sauce), which makes 6 out of 33.  Perhaps the greater proximity to the (already sugar-hungry) Italy accounts for the great number of recipes using sugar in the cookbook of Meister Hans (1460) (9). Here, sugar is used in recipes 1 (almond mousse), 3 and 4 (almond 'cheese'), 5, 7 and 8 (hedgehog-shaped sotelties made from almonds and figs, respectively), 11 (raisin jelly), 24 (bread pudding), 38 (filled wafers), 84 (fritters), 104 (egg pudding), 105 (sweet rice), 127 (ditto), 129 ('pear' from raisins), 139 (fritters), 165 (almond 'cheese') and 166 (almond hedgehog) (both repetitions in intent, but not in text), 199 and 201 (hemp 'cheeses'), 200 (nut 'cheese'), 207 (white nut pudding), 213 (fritters), 243 (almond pudding), 246 (ditto, with fish), 249 (egg pudding), 154 (green fritters), 261 and 262 (layered jelly), 263 (apples in pastry) and 186 (fritters). That makes a total of 35 out of 289. The roughly contemporary Rheinfränkisches Kochbuch (10) has sugar in recipes 16 (fig shishkebab), 21 (fritter pudding), 42, 43 and 46 (fritters), 58 ('stick' fritters) and 69 (coloured egg whites) (7 out of 75). On the whole, then, sugar was already quite well established in German cookery by the 14th century and common by the 15th.


Another thing that becomes evident rather quickly is that the recipes listing sugar are an eclectic mix and do not have much to do with baking. We find marzipan and a variety of soft spoon dishes ('Mus') with nuts, flour or fruit as well as firmer masses to shape into sotelties, a sauce, and occasional meat or fish dishes. A very evident connection is the use of sugar with almonds (recommended, we remember, by Meister Eberhard). Whether this reflects direct Arab influence or indirect transfer of this very successful flavor (11) through Italy, France or the Balkans must be left open here. Cakes are mentioned only once, fritters (a particular favorite of medieval German cuisine) more often. Whether this proves that sweet cakes were unknown or that they were prepared by bakers and purchased for the kitchen from the outside can not be answered, but the frequent use of prepared bread and baked goods (breadcrumbs, bread cubes, spiced 'Pfefferkuchen') makes the latter more likely. What these sweet confections were remains for other sources to disclose. Household accounts or guild regulations may be worth studying.


A strong influence on German Renaissance cuisine from Italy is evident when we look at the recipes that are added in the course of the 16th century. In some cases (such as 'Pinucade' or 'Bolognese Tart'), the etymology is a clear pointer while in others a look at Italian cookbooks shows recipes of the type occurring earlier (12). Indeed, there is good evidence for the claim that German culinary manners were civilized directly from Italy in the 1500s, not through the intermediary of France a century later. Other influences are possible (for example in the 'Hungarian Tart', an early form of puff pastry which may or may not be of Hungarian origin), and with a few recipes we can assume that they are direct descendants (indeed, in some cases direct copies) of earlier German dishes.


The Recipes


Fritters and Krapfen


Fritters are a perennial favorite of medieval German cooking, both sweets and savories. In fact, the German word 'backen' or 'gebacken(es)' in period sources can mean both 'bake(d)' and 'deep-fry/ied'. In some recipes that can become confusing, though in most cases it is fairly clear what is intended (recipes usually specify either 'in butter/oil/lard' or 'in an oven'). The role of fritters in medieval cuisine is varied and often unclear as some are to be served crumbled into bowls with sauce while others are clearly snack food or even make up an entire meal. By the Renaissance, fritters ('Gebackenes') are usually intended as a sweet snack or entremet/dessert food that, by the evidence of surviving menu plans, was served on platters with other confections. In many cases there are express instructions to serve them warm, fresh from the pan. Only very few fritters are sweetened themselves, though many are either sprinkled with sugar when served or have a sweet filling.



Mach ein Teig von lauter Dottern / geuß ein wenig suessen Rahm darunter

/ und mach den Teig darmit an / und mach Struetzel darauß / ettwan eines

Fingers lang / und eines Fingers dick / und schaw / daß du es nicht

versaltzest / wirffs in Butter / die nicht gar heiß ist / backs fein kuel

auß / unnd gibs warm oder kalt auff ein Tisch / bestraew es mit Zucker / so

ist es gut und wolgeschmack

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens 7)


Make a dough out of egg yolks, add a little sweet cream and stir the cough with that. Make strips of it, about a finger's length and thickness, and take care not to over salt them. Throw them into butter, not too hot, bake it nicely and serve it warm or cold, sprinkled with sugar. This will be good and delicious.




2 eggs (or 6 yolks)

1/2 cup whipping cream

approx. 1 1/2 cups flour

oil or butter



In a bowl, combine the eggs and cream. Add flour until the dough becomes thick enough that it can be shaped and pulled into strings. Cut out tablespoonfuls, pull then into strips with wet fingers and fry them in plenty of oil or butter from all sides until golden brown. Sprinkle with sugar and serve.



Mach ein Teig an mit Milch / Eyern / und schoenem weissen Mehl / thu

ein wenig Bierhefen darein / un mach einen guten Teig / der nicht gar

steiff ist / unnd versaltz jn nicht / setz jn zu der waerm / daß er fein

auffgehet / stuertz jn auff ein saubers Bret / un thu kleine schwartze

Rosein darunter / mach Struetzel daraus / wirff sie in heisse Butter / und

backs / so wirt es fein aufflauffen / gibs kalt oder warm auff ein Tisch /

bestraew es mit Zucker / so ist es ein gut Gebackens.

(Rumpoldt, Gebacken 41)


Make dough with milk, eggs, and good white flour, and add a little brewing

yeast. Do not make it too stiff and do not over salt it. Leave it to rise in

a warm place, then turn it out onto a clean board and knead small raisins

into it. Make strips of it and fry them in hot butter so they rise well.

Serve it warm or cold, sprinkled with sugar. This is a good baked food.


2 eggs

1 cup milk

2-3 cups flour

1 sachet dry yeast

1/2 cup raisins

oil or butter



Sieve the flour into a bowl and combine with the yeast. Add eggs and milk at room temperature and stir until a thick, sticky dough results (add flour or milk as required). Mix in the raisins, cover, and leave to rise for 1-2 hours. Pull the risen dough into strings with moistened fingers and fry in plenty of fat from all sides until golden brown (make sure that they do not burn - if too brown, the similarity in appearance to human excrement is such that even the best-mannered diner will find it hard not to comment). Serve warm or cold, dusted with sugar. Fritters made from soft dough, with or without leavening, are found mostly in relatively late sources.



Honnig Deig

Man stoßt Anis klein / vermischet ihn mit Mehl / Eyerrn und Buttern / macht dar einen Deig von / dreibt ihn auß und nimbt ihn wider zusamen / macht da Deckel von als Tartendeckel / beckt sie in Buttern / wenn man sie will zu tisch geben gibt man heiß Honig darüber und besprengts mit Zucker.


Honey Dough

Grind aniseed small, mix it with flour, eggs and butter and make a dough of it. Roll it out and put it together again. Make lids of it like pie crust lids, fry them in butter, and when you want to serve them, sprinkle them with hot honey and sugar.

(de Rontzier)




2-3 cups flour


2 eggs

2 tsp aniseed

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup oil or butter


In a bowl, combine the ground aniseed and 2 cups flour. Add the eggs and mix until a stiff dough results, adding flour as required. Roll out on a floured surface, fold over and roll out again several times. Cut out round pieces with a cup or small bowl (a 'pie crust lid' could be anywhere between 5" and 12" across). Fry the pieces of dough in oil or butter at moderate heat. Once they begin bubbling, they should be turned over. Drizzle with liquid honey while still hot and serve. These fritters are more typical of the medieval style, made from thin, relatively stiff dough and served with a sauce.


An artful conceit of the time were fritters whose doughs were squeezed into the hot oil in various shapes. A simple icing bag works fine for making rings, letters, numbers and even simple heraldic shapes. With more, smaller holes the dough can be squeezed into the pan in thin strings curled around and across each other, creating a solid 'plate-of-spaghetti-shaped' fritter. Such 'Spritzgebäck' is still popular in Germany as a Christmas fair treat and the basic doughs have not changed much. This is a simple but very tasty recipe:



Mach ein Teig mit guter Milch / schlag drei oder vier Eyer darein / und

ruer jn wol glat an / mach Loecher durch ein Hafen / der nicht groß ist /

geuß den Teig darein / und halt ein Teller unten auff den Boden / daß der

Teig nicht heraus rinnet / daß du es kanst kreutzweiß in heisse Butter

eynziehen / zeuchs nicht zu dick eyn / daß es kann außbacken / bestraew es

mit Zucker / unnd gibs kalt oder warm auff ein Tisch / so ist es ein gut

Strauben Gebackens.


Make a batter of good milk, break three or four eggs into it and stir it until it is nice and smooth. Make holes into a pot that is not too large, pour the batter into it and hold a plate against the bottom so it does not run out. You can pour it crosswise into hot butter. Do not pour it on too thick so that it can bake. Sprinkle it with sugar and serve it warm or cold. These are good fritters.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)



1 1/2 cups milk

3 eggs

1-2 cups flour



Beat the eggs with the milk and a pinch of salt until combined. Stir in flour by the tablespoonful until a thick batter results. Another type of batter is made with curds or cream cheese - richer, with a dairy tang and deliciously soft at the center....



Mann zerstost frische Kese dar Floten in gethan ist und ein wenig trucken geworden sein mit Mehl / Eyerdottern unnd ein wenig Saltz in einem Moersel/ beckts in einer Spritz mit Buttern und bestrewet sie mit Zucker wenn man sie will zum tisch geben.


You grind up fresh cheese that is mixed with cream and slightly dried in a mortar with flour, egg yolks and a little salt and bake it in a /Spritze/ (icing tube, or any instrument for squeezing liquids). Sprinkle it with sugar when you wish to serve it.

(de Rontzier)



250g soft cream cheese or curds and cream

5 egg yolks

1-2 cups flour



Beat the cream cheese and egg yolks with a little salt until smooth, then add flour by the tablespoonful until a thick batter results.


Spoon either batter into an icing bag or icing tube and squeeze into the pan in whatever shape you like (if you want to use the period method, the batter should be a bit thinner than for an icing bag). Fry at medium temperature, turning over once or twice. Serve hot, dusted with sugar.



Krapfen are a kind of fritter that is filled. The word is still in use in modern German, where it denotes a spongy, deep-fried confection with a sugar coating a small jam center. In period Krapfen, there was more filling for the dough and the variety of both sweet and savory fillings was greater. The great age of the medieval Krapfen was probably over by 1580 as far as court cooks were concerned, but we still find recipes for filled fritters that are clearly lineal descendants. There seems to have been a wide variety of doughs for various fillings, both leavened and unleavened, including one of the rare sweetened doughs we know from medieval sources:


Czu machen ein krapffen teig. Item seud honig in wein alß vil du wilt und

nym auch ein weitte schussel und zwir den wein mit weissem melbe als ein

muslein. Schlach ein ayer tottern der rot sey in ein ander schussel und

auch ein wenig saffran das treib gar wol mit dem gemachten honig wein und

tu es in den gezwerten teig temperir es auch wol. Und wurff ye ein

steublein melbs dar zu in die schusseln als lang biß du ein litigen teig

gemachst. Den so bereit ein sauber tuch auf und zeug den teig darauf mit

einem welgerholtz zu massen duen. Un schneid den form groß od klein allß du

die krapffen haben wilt nach yeder ful da richt dich nach. Od was teig man

mit hefel od bier od hopf wasser macht dy muß man lassen auf gen und

darnach aber ein knetten mit loem wasser od mit einem gesotten honig wein

da wiß dich nach zu richten.

(Küchenmaisterey, 1490)


To make dough for Krapfen. Boil honey in wine, as much as you need, take a

wide bowl and stir the wine with white flour until it is the consistency of

porridge. Break an egg yolk that is red with saffron into another bowl and

stir it with the honey wine. Add that to the other bowl and mix it well.

Add flour, little by little, until you geta stiff (?) dough. Turn that out

on a clean cloth and roll it out to the proper thickness. Cut out the

shapes you want the Krapfen in, large or small, depending on the filling

you want to use. But the doughs that are made with yeast or beer or hop

water need to rise first and then be kneaded with lukewarm water or honey

wine. Heed this advice.


Now, this is not very clear, but it shows the major components of one dough

while pointing at a number of other possibilities. My reading of this would



1/2 cup white wine

3-4 tblsp honey

2 eggs

2-3 cups flour



Heat the wine and dissolve the honey in it. Beat the eggs with a pinch of

saffron. In a large mixing bowl, combine honey-wine, egg, and flour until a

stiff dough results. Cool and rest, then roll out to use. This dough does not have any leavening agents in it (unless unboiled wine is added, which might introduce a minimal quantity of yeast), but it deep-fries well and the honey flavour harmonises with sweet fillings.


A more yeasty dough for filled fritters that comes closer to what modern Germans think of as a Krapfen is described by Rumpoldt:



Mach ein Teig an mit Milch / Eyern / und schoenem weissen Mehl / thu

ein wenig Bierhefen darein / un mach einen guten Teig / der nicht gar

steiff ist / unnd versalötz jn nicht / setz jn zu der waerm / daß er fein

auffgehet / ...

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens 41)


Make a dough of milk, eggs and good white flour, add some brewer's yeast to

it and make a good dough, not too stiff. Do not oversalt it. Leave it in a

warm place to rise... (there follows a raisin fritter recipe)


Nimm ein solchen Teig / und treib jn auß / schlag Weichselsalsen darein

/ schneidts mit dem Redtlein ab / wirffs in Butter / und backs / gibs warm

auff ein Tisch / und bestraew es mit weissem Zucker / so seind es gute

Krapffen von Weichselsalsen. Du magst solche Krapffen machen von allerley


(Rumpoldt, Gebackens 42)


Take such a dough and roll it out, wrap cherry sauce in it, cut it up with

a pastry wheel, deep-fry it in butter and serve it warm, sprinkled with

sugar. These are good 'Krapfen' of cherry sauce. You can make them with all

kinds of sauces.


This rich, neutral yeast dough works beautifully for all kinds of sweet

Krapfen and will probably also go with savory ones. I read this as:


3 cups flour

2 eggs

1-2 cups milk

1 sachet dry yeast


Stir the yeast into the flour. Add the eggs and milk at room temperature

and mix until a thick dough results. Knead, continually adding flour, until

it has the consistency of soft pizza dough. Leave to rise till doubled,

then punch down and roll out. Use.


The shape of the Krapfen itself is left open in the sources. Krapfen were probably made in all kinds of shapes, from the simple folded-over circle (easy to mass-produce with the aid of a pastry folder) through ravioli-like pockets to more complex shapes. Almost everything works, as long as it does not get too large. Especially when using a wet filling, the edges have to be closed thoroughly to prevent leaks (beaten egg has worked well for me). Also, the dough should not be rolled out too thin to stop it from tearing in the pan. Krapfen are generally fried at a moderate heat until golden brown and heated through, and served warm.


Fillings for Krapfen are described more rarely in the sources than one may think. It seems as though the exact combination was more often than not up to the cook, as in the case of the cherry sauce 'or any other sauce' stipulated by Rumpoldt. We do not have his recipe for cherry sauce, but one from a somewhat earlier source, the mid-15th century cookbook of Meister Eberhard, survives:++


Zum ein salsenn von weichselnn zu machen.

Item wiltu machen ein gutte salsenn von weichselnn,

so thue die weichsell in einen hafen vnd

secz die auff ein glut vnd laß sie siedenn vnd

laß dann wider erkaltenn vnd streich sie durch ein

tuch vnd thue sie dann wider in den hafenn vnd

secz sie auff ein glut vnd laß sie wol sieden

vnd rurr sie, piß sie dick wirt, vnd thue dann

honig dar an vnd geribens prot vnd negellein vnd

gut gestu:ep vnd thue sie in ein feßlein. Sie

pleibt dir gut drew oder vier iar.


To make a sauce of tart cherries.

If you wish to make a good sauce of tart cherries, put the cherries into a pot and place it on the embers and let them boil. Then cool down again and pass them through a cloth, put it back into the pot, place it on the embers and let it boil well until it thickens. Then add honey and grated bread and cloves and good spice powder and put it into a small cask. It will stay good three or four years.

(Meister Eberhard, Recipe #1)



250 grams of tart cherries (from a jar) or

350 grams of fresh tart cherries

50 grams of honey

fine fresh breadcrumbs from two slices of wheat bread

ground cloves

ground cinnamon

ground ginger


Clean and stone the fresh cherries or strain the jarred ones (in that case, keep the juice). Place in a pot with some water (as little as you can get away with) and boil until soft, then pulp (in a mortar, blender, food processing mill or through a coarse cloth). Return to the boil (add liquid if necessary - you want a fluid consistency at this point) and add honey (more with fresh cherries, less with jarred ones which are usually sweetened already) and spices to taste. Then add breadcrumbs, stir and remove from the fire once it thickens. Pour into a storage container or serving dish and let cool. The sauce will set into a semi-jelly.



Rumpoldt does, however, give us two other fillings for Krapfen that are quite delicious:


Nimm Epffel / unnd hack sie mit klein schwartzen Rosein / thu es in ein

Pfannen / unnd ein wenig Butter darein / roeßts wol darinnen mit Zimmet und

Zucker / laß kalt werden / unnd schlags in ein Teig / der mit Wasser unnd

butter angemacht ist / backs fein kuel auß / bestraew es nit weissem Zucker

/ und gibs warm auff ein Tisch.


Take apples and chop them with small raisins, then fry them well in a pan with a little butter and sugar and cinnamon. Cool, wrap it in a dough made with water and butter and fry it at a low temperature. Sprinkle with white sugar and serve warm

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




2 apples

1/2 cup raisins

1 tblsp butter




Peel, core and dice the apples. Fry them in the butter with the raisins and add sugar and cinnamon to taste. Cool, and fill into Krapfen. The Krapfen dough described here, made like a modern shortcrust pastry, works very nicely, though the other varieties serve as well.



Nimm gerunnen Milch / die mit Eyern angemacht / unnd wol feißt ist /

ruers mit Zucker ab / thu kleine schwartze Rosein / die sauber ausgewaschen

seyn / darunter / schlags in einen Teig eyn / wie vorhin vermeldet ist /

wie man einen Teig machen sol / bestraew es mit Zucker / und gibs war auff

ein Tisch.


Take curdled milk mixed with eggs, nicely fat, and stir in sugar. Mix it with cleaned black raisins and wrap it in dough made by the process described above. Sprinkle it with sugar and serve it warm.



250g curds or cream cheese

3 eggs

1/2 cup raisins



Beat the curds with the eggs until smooth, then add sugar to taste and stir in the raisins. Wrap in dough and deep-fry as krapfen.





Marzipan was a favorite sweet of the Middle Ages throughout Europe, and its popularity did not wane with the advent of the Renaissance. Sotelties were commonly made from it in the shape of fruit, animals, or heraldic designs, but the more sober cookbooks of Rumpoldt and de Rontzier only list simple forms. A German favorite of the era were small marzipan cakes baked on wafers and glazed with sugar, a method already found in medieval Italy (13). Rumpoldtis particularly interesting in that he goves two different methods of preparing marzipan, one involving cooking the sugar and the other by grinding it with the almonds. The cooking method has survived to this day in the preparation of the popular Lübeck marzipan and the frosting prefigures cake coverings of later eras:  



Nimm Zucker / der fein gelaeutert ist mit Rosenwasser / unnd setz ihn

mit dem Rundel auff Kolen / und laß ihn also sieden / unnd wenn er wol dick

ist / so ruer Mandeln darunter / unnd ruers wol durcheinander / daß es

nicht anbrennet. Setz es vom Feuwer hinweg  / nimm gestossenen Zucker / un

ruer jn darunter / un versuchs wie es so wolgeschmack ist. Und aus diesem

Mandelteig magstu ein Marcipan machen / truckne jn im Ofen oder

Pastetenpfann / laß wider kalt werden / und nimm das weiß vom Ey / unnd

Rosenwasser / ruers unter lautern Zucker / und je lenger du es ruerst / je

weisser es wirdt / laß es ein weil stehen / so gewinnt es ein schoen

weissen Faum / nimm jn herab / un bestreich den Marcipan damit / nimm

alsdenn die Deck von einer Turtenpfann / unnd thu Kolen darauff / so wirt

der Faum fein aufflauffen / und weiß. Unnd also macht man die guten

Marcipan / sampt dem weissen Eyß. Du kanst auch wol weiß von Eyern unter

den marcipan nemmen / und Rosenwasser / wenn du die Mandelm gar hast

abgetrucknet / so nim erst das weiß von Eyern darunter / und ruers wol

darunter / so wirt es gut und wolgeschmack.


Take sugar which has been clarified with rosewater and set it on the coals

in a small pot to boil. When it has thickened nicely, mix almonds into it

and stir vigorously so that it does not burn. Take it off the fire and stir

in ground sugar, trying the mix until it is good-tasting. From this almond

dough you can make a marzipan which you can dry in the oven or a pastry

pan. When they are cool, take egg whites and rosewater and stir it with

pure sugar. The longer you stir, the whiter it becomes. Let it stand a

while and it will gain white foam. Take that down and spread it on the

marzipan. Than take the top of a tart pan (cover it with that) and heap

coals on it, so the foam hardens nicely and becomes white. That is how the

good marzipans are made with their ice(-ing). You can also use egg whites

and rosewater in the marzipan. When the almonds are dried well, stir in the

egg whites well. That way it turns out good and tasty.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




200g sugar

150g ground almonds

3-4 tblsp rosewater

12-16 1-inch round wafers

1 egg white

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp rosewater


In a small cookpot, mix the sugar and rosewater and bring to a boil. Once

it begins to thicken, throw in the almonds and stir vigorously (i found it unnecessary to add more sugar). Turn out onto a board, roll out to 1/2 inch thick, and cut out round shapes. Stick to wafers with a dab of rosewater. Place on cookie sheets and dry at 100°C for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Meanwhile, beat the egg white until stiff, them fold in the powdered sugar

and 1 tsp rosewater. Continue beating into a thick paste. Spread on the

marzipans with a butter-knife and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. Serve cold.


While marzipan is traditionally made from almonds, Rumpoldt gives us two alternatives that are tasty, if somewhat more expensive. Hazelnuts and walnuts work well, and for the ultimate in luxury pine nut marzipan offers that decadent frisson:



Nimm Nueß / die sauber geschelet seyn / auch so viel Zucker / unnd stoß

mit Rosenwasser / biß zu einem Teig wirt / thu es auff ein Oblat / und

treibs fein rundt auß / scheubs in Ofen / und backs geschwindt hinweg / daß

fein weiß bleibt / so werden sie schoen aufflauffen / laß kalt werden /

unnd gibs frisch auff ein Tisch. Du magst auch wol ein Marzipan darauß

machen / wie von Mandeln / die gerieben unnd wol getrucknet seyn mit einem

Sirup unnd Rosenwasser.


Take thoroughly shelled nuts and an equal amount of sugar and grind it with

rosewater until it becomes a dough. Place it on wafers and pat it flat and

round, then bake it quickly in the oven so that it stays white and bakes

nicely. Let it cool and serve fresh. You can also make a marzipan of them

as of ground and dried almonds, with syrup and rosewater.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




250g shelled walnuts

250g sugar

3-4 tblsp rosewater

12-16 1-inch round wafers


Grind the nuts in a blender, adding sugar and rosewater until a thick paste

results. Knead this and pat or cut into 1-inch round shapes. Place these on

wafers and dry in a 100°C oven for 30 minutes. Serve fresh.




Place sugar and rosewater in a pot and bring to the boil. Pour in the

ground nuts and stir vigorously until the whole lumps together and detaches

itself from the sides of the pot. Turn out on a board and form into small

patties, working very quickly. Stick those onto wafers and dry them in a

100° oven for 30-40 minutes. Serve cold. This will keep for a few days.



Von Zirbelnuessen ein Marzipan / wie vorhin vermeldet ist.


You can also make a marzipan from pine nuts as described above.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




250g pine nuts

250g sugar

2 tblsp rosewater

12-16 1-inch round wafers


In a blender, grind the pine nuts and sugar, adding rosewater until a thick

paste results. Shape this paste into patties, place each on a wafer and dry

them in a 100°C oven for 20-30 minutes (they will leak oil). Serve cold and enjoy - and try not to think of the cost.


The final recipe in the chapter is not strictly speaking a marzipan but seems to belong to the 'Turkish Delight' family, though the name proclaims it Italian. It's very sweet and sticky (not to mention quite expensive), but as a crowning touch to a rich dessert course not many things beat Pinucade for sheer decadent flair:



Nimm gelaeuterten Zucker / der schoen weiß ist / und laß jn widerumb

wol sieden / daß dick wirt / ruer jn mit einer Reibkeul / biß weiß wirt /

nimm weiß von Eyern / und Rosenwasser / schlags durcheinander / so wird es

ein Faum gewinnen / ruer jn unter den Zucker / so wirt es noch weisser /

thu die Zirbelnuesskern also gantz darunter / thu es mit einem hoeltzern

Schaeufflein zusammen / nimm ein saubers bret / und netz ein wenig / thu es

stueckweiß herauß / un laß kalt werden / setz in ein warme Stuben / so wirt

es trucken und weiß. Und man nennet es Pinucade / ist zierlich und schoen

zum Confect oder Marcipan auff ein Tisch zu geben / ic.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)


Take clarified sugar that is very white and boil it again until it thickens. Stir it with a pestle until it becomes white. Take egg whites and rosewater and beat it together until it becomes foamy. Stir the foam into the sugar so that it becomes even whiter, then add pine nuts whole. Push it together with a wooden spatula, then take a clean board, moisten it slightly, take it out in pieces and cool it. Place it in a warm room and it will become dry and white. This is called /Pinucade/ and is pretty and lovely to serve with confits and marzipans.




1 cup sugar

1 cup pine nuts

4 beaten egg whites



Place the sugar in a pot and moisten it sparingly with rosewater. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Beat with a whisk till foamy, then add the beaten egg whites and continue stirring briskly until a white, foamy mass results. Stir in the pine nuts. Turn out onto a moistened board or stone slab in bits and leave to cool and dry.



Cakes, Cookies and Rusks


Cakes (in the modern sense) are not very common in Renaissance recipe books, and the wide variety of flavors we find later does not yet exist. More interestingly, most cakes are not sweetened themselves, though they are usually either sugared or frosted after baking. That does not mean sweet cakes did not exist, but they do not figure in our sources. It is possible that bakers produced sugared or honeyed cakes for sale, but the idea that traditional cake doughs - already somewhat sweet from containing milk, raisins and white flour - were considered good enough looks convincing to me. Sweetened cakes, the use of beaten egg rather than yeast as a leavening, and the addition of almonds, nuts, spices and other flavorants, would then represent a true departure from period usage, the birth, as it were, of modern cake baking. Interestingly, while I have not been able to find a period cake recipe of that kind, the rusk recipes have many characteristics of later cake doughs. This is an example of the kind of cake we find, together with a nice conceit for serving it:


Mach ein Teig an mit Milch / Eyern / und schoenem weissen Mehl / thu

ein wenig Bierhefen darein / un mach einen guten Teig / der nicht gar

steiff ist / unnd versaltz jn nicht / setz jn zu der waerm / daß er fein

auffgehet / ...


Make dough with milk, eggs, and good white flour, and add a little brewing

yeast. Do not make it too stiff and do not oversalt it. Leave it to rise in

a warm place ...


Nimm ein newen Krug / schmier jn innwendig wol mit zerlassener Butter /

thu einen solchen Teig darein / daß der Krug halb davon voll wirt / und

wenn er auffgelauffen / daß er voll ist / so scheubs in heissen Ofen / und

laß backen / thu jn herauß /  und laß jn kalt werden / zerschlag den Krug /

unnd thu die Schifer davon hinweg / unnd gibs fein ganz auff Tisch / so

sihet es wie ein Krug.


Take a new pot, grease its insides with melted butter, then take of such a

dough (as described in a previous recipe) and fill it half full. When it

has risen to fill the pot entirely, place it in a hot oven and bake it.

Then take it out, cool it, and break the pot. Remove the shards and serve,

and it will look like a pot.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)





2 eggs

1 cup milk

2 1/2 - 3 cups flour

1/2 cup raisins

1 sachet dry yeast


Break the eggs into a bowl and beat. Dissolve the dry yeast in the milk and

slowly add to the eggs. Add flour by the spoonful until a thick paste

results. Stir in the raisins. Leave to rise in a warm spot until roughly

doubled in size. If you're feeling generous, by all means use the crockpot method, but the dough can equally well be baked in a simple buttered cake pan.


An interesting and very appealing flavour is added by the cheesecake (or cheese buns) that Rumpoldt describes:



Nimm ein frischen Kaeß / der uber Nacht gemacht ist / thu schoen weiß

Mehl unnd Eyerdotter darunter / rueres wol durcheinander / mach Küchel

darauß / nimm Papier / und bestreichs mit Butter / und leg die Küchel

darauff nebeneinander / scheubs in einen warmen Ofen / so wirt es fein

aufflauffen / wirt innwendig fein hol wie ein Schwam / richt es in ein

Schuessel an / begeuß mit frischer Butter / unnd bestraew es mit weissem

Zucker / gibs warm oder kalt auff ein Tisch / beschneidts fein rundt un

duenn / legs auff eine Schuessel / bespreng es mit Rosenwasser / und

bestraew es mit weissem Zucker / so ists gut und wolgeschmack.


Take fresh cheese that was made overnight and add fine white flour and egg yolks and stir it well. Make small cakes, place them on buttered paper, and place it in a warm oven. Thus they will rise and become as hollow as sponges inside. Serve them warm or cold in a bowl drizzled with melted butter and sprinkled with sugar or slice them thin and round, place them in a bowl, drizzle with rosewater and sprinkle with white sugar. This will be good and delicious.


Du kanst auch wol ein Turten machen von einem solchen Teig / un kanst

es kalt lassen werden / die nennet man Kaese turten / und wenn du es wilt

auff ein Tisch geben / so besprengs mit Rosenwasser / unnd gibs kalt /

bestraew es mit weissem Zucker. Du magsts gantz geben oder zerschneiden.


You can also make a tart of this dough that is served cold and called 'Cheese Tart'. If you want to serve it, drizzle it with rosewater and sprinkle it with white sugar. You can serve it whole or cut it up.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




500g cream cheese or quark

4 eggs

2-3 cups flour


Mix the egg and cream cheese or quark, then add flour until a thick dough results. Either shape generous tablespoonfuls into small cakes and place in a muffin tin or pour the whole into a shallow buttered and floured pan. Bake at 175°C until done (cakelets 20-30 minutes, cake 50-60 minutes). Drizzle with rosewater and sprinkle with sugar while still hot. The cake is better when served warm, and the suggested buttering of the muffins is distinctly too rich for most modern palates.


Both Rumpoldt and de Rontzier give recipes for what they call biscuits (Buschquit / Piscoten), cake rusks that can not deny their close relation to modern Italian biscotti. Interestingly, the mixtures given for them are close to the dough modern cakes would later develop from. You can definitely serve them as 'monocotti', baked just once, but the rusks are both tasty and attractive to look at and can be made days or weeks in advance of a feast (I forgot some in a tin for half a year and served them together with three-day-old ones at a party - nobody noticed). Rumpoldt's basic biscuits are leavened with yeast:



Nimm ein schoen weiss Mehl / thu etliche Eyer darunter / Aniß /

Coriander / unnd ein wenig Saltz / wenn der Teig gemacht ist / so mach ihn

fein länglicht / und thu ihn auff ein langes Bret / setz zum Fewer / daß

die Hitz daran gehet / decks mit einem warmen Tischtuch zu / un laß fein

aufflauffen / scheub es in einen heissen Ofen / und laß backen / zeuchs auß

/ unnd laß kalt werden / schneidt die Rinden darvon / und schneidts fein

breit / und eins Fingers dick / reibs zu beyden seiten mit schoenem weissen

gestossen Zucker / legs auf ein saubers Papier / und scheubs in Ofen / der

nicht heiß ist / kehrs offt umb / so wirt es desto ehe trucken / hebs auff

/ und magst kalt oder warm geben. Und man nennet es gebraten Piscoten.


Take good white flour, add several eggs, anise, coriander, and a little

salt. When the dough is made, work it into a long shape, place it on a

board, place it by the fire so that the heat touches it, cover it with a

warm tablecloth, and allow it to rise. Then put it into a hot oven and bake

it. Remove it, allow the cake to cool, cut off the rinds and cut it into

broad slices, about a finger thick. Rub these with fine ground white sugar

on both sides, place them on clean paper and put them into a cool oven,

turning over frequently so that it dries quickly. Keep it and serve it warm

or cold. This is called fried rusks.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




3 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 packet dry yeast



1 cup sugar


In a bowl, beat the eggs with the yeast and spices to taste. Add flour by

the spoonful until a thick dough results. Shape into a loaf and place in a

loaf pan. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, then bake for 45 minutes at

175°C. Cool, remove any browned surface parts, then cut into thin slices

and rub generously with sugar. Place on a tray and dry in a cool oven for

3-4 hours until bone dry, turning and sprinkling with sugar frequently.

Cool and box.


However, he gives another recipe for rusks made with just beaten egg:



Nimm weiß von Eyern / und nim eyn schoenen neuwen Hafen darzu / und

schoen weiß Mehl / mach ein Teig in denm Hafen ab / und schlag jn wol mit

einem hoelzern Loeffel / nimm Aniß und Coriander darunter / machs mit

weissem Zucker wol sueß / geuß ein wenig Rosenwasser darunter / unnd ein

wenig Saltz / du kanst auch wol ein Eydotter oder zween / die frisch seyn /

darunter nemmen. Nimm ein Oblat / der fein breit und laenglicht ist / thu

den Teig aus dem Hafen darauff mit einem hoeltzern Loeffel / scheubs

geschwindt in einen Ofen / daß der Teig nich voneinander fleußt / so wird

er fein in die hoeh aufflauffen / wenns gebacken ist / so thu es herauß /

und laß ein weil uberschlagen / schneidts nach der laeng etwan eins halben

Fingers dick / legs widerumb auff ein saubers Papier / oder auff ein Oblat

/ und scheubs wider in Ofen / der uberschlagen ist / kehrs offt umb auff

beyden seiten / daß fein außtrucknet / so werden sie gut unnd muerb. Unnd

man nennets Piscoten von lauter Eyerweiß.


Take the whites of eggs into a nice new pot, add good white flour and make

a dough in the pot. Beat it vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add anise and

coriander, sweeten it well with ground sugar, and add a little rosewater

and salt. You can also add an egg yolk or two if they are fresh. Take a

long and wide wafer and put the dough from the pot onto it with a wooden

spoon. Put it into the oven quickly so that it does not flow off the wafer,

then it will rise up nicely. When it is baked, take it out and let it

/uberschlagen/ (?) a while, then cut it lengthwise, about half a finger

thick, place it on clean paper or a wafer again and put it into an oven

that is /uberschlagen/ (?) and turn them over often. Thus they will become

good and crumbly. These are called rusks of pure egg whites.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




4 egg whites

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour






Beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the sugar, flour, and spices by the

spoonful while still beating. Bake the dough in a buttered loaf tin (or on

a folded paper, Renaissance-style) for c. 45 minutes at 175°C. Cool and

slice thinly, then return the slices to a cool oven to dry for 3-4 hours,

turning regularly. Box and serve.


De Rontzier adds a somewhat more exotic note with a recipe for rice flour rusks (I personally find the flavor curiously unappealing and prefer to add wheat flour, but the original went down well at events):



Rißmehl unnd zerstossen Kanarienzucker vermischt man mit Rosenwasser und Eyerdottern / schlegts zwey stundt zusamen so wirdt es gelb / darnach weiß / böget einen bogen Papir ein / gibts darauff un machts im Ofen gahr / wenn es beginnt trucken zu werden sol mans in kleine stücke schneiden unnd leggens auff Papir eine ganze nacht in den Ofen und lests langsamb trucken das es nicht braun werde /so kan mans wol ein halb Jahr wahren / wenn mans thun wil mag mans mit Zucker bestrewen wen mans zerschneidet


Rice flour and canary sugar are mixed with rosewater and egg yolks and beaten for two hours. First, the mixture turns yellow, then white. Bend a sheet of paper, pour it into there and bake it in the oven. Once it starts to become dry, cut it up into small pieces and slowly dry them in the oven on paper for an entire night at a low temperature, so they do not turn brown. You can keep these half a year, and if you want you can sprinkle them with sugar when you cut them up.

(de Rontzier)


5 eggs

1-11/2 cups powdered sugar

11/2-2 cups rice flour

2 tblsp rosewater


Beat the eggs with the rosewater. Mix in the sugar. Stir in enough rice flour to make a thick batter. Bake in a buttered and floured loaf pan at 175° for 40-50 minutes (test for doneness by inserting a toothpick). Remove from pan immediately, cool slightly, then cut into thin slices and return them to the oven on a cookie sheet. Dry at 50°-75° for 3-5 hours, turning over periodically.


The heading 'biscuits' held surprises, though. To my delight, Rumpoldt lists a recipe under the name of 'sugar biscuits' that is clearly a meringue, and a delicious one at that. Carefully dried to perfection and served on its wafer base, this is a wonderful addition to the relatively heavy sweets of a German Renaissance table:



59. Nimm Zucker der gestossen und fein weiß ist / auch das weiß von einem

frischen Ey / stoß in einem Moersel / nimm einen tropffen oder vier

Rosenwasser darunter / und Coriander / und wenn du es hast darunter

gerueret / so nimm ein Oblat / und legs auff ein saubers Papier / thu den

Teig herauß mit einem hoeltzern Loeffel auff das Oblat / und machs eins

Fingers lang / scheub es flugs in einen warmen Ofen / so wirt es fein

aufflauffen / und wenns kalt wirt / so ist es also muerb / daß einem im

Maul zergehet. Und man nennet es von lauter Zucker Piscoten. Und wenn du

sie wilt braun haben / so nimm gestossenen Zimmet darunter. Du kanst auch

wol solche Piscoten machen von lauter Eyerdottern / so seind sie auch gut

und muerb. Und wenn du es wilt viel braun machen / so weich es in das weiß

von Eyern / sonderlich wenn du es stoessest mit schoenem weissen Zucker.


Take sugar that is ground finely and white and the white of a fresh egg. Pound that in a mortar with a drop or four of rosewater and coriander, if you have any. When you have stirred it, take a weafer, place it onm clean paper, and drop the dough on it with a wooden spoon, about the lenth of one finger. Put it into a cool oven quickly, so that it does not flow off the wafer, and it will riase nicely. When it is cold, it becomes so crumbly that it melts in your mouth. This is called rusks of pure sugar. If you want them brown, you can mix ground cinnamon among them. You can also make them with egg yolks, and those also will be good and crumbly. If you want to make them very brown, soak them in the whites of eggs, especially that which you pound with much good white sugar.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




4 egg whites (or 8 egg yolks)

200 g powdered sugar

1/4 tsp rosewater




Beat the egg whites till stiff (or the yolks till foamy and white) with the rosewater and a pinch of coriander. Add the powdered sugar by the spoonful, beating after each addition, until a thick paste results. Arrange wafers on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with baking paper) and pour a tablespoonful on each. Quickly transfer to a preheated oven and dry at 125°C for 30 minutes, then at 75°C until completely dried out.



Cookies and other small tidbits were also part of the well-stocked table. A particular favorite were egg-based sweet rings or pretzels, very similar to those still served in Italy and Spain:



Man macht einen Deig von Eyerdotter / Mehl und Zucker / arbeitet es wol zusamen / macht Krengel darvon und macht sie auff Papir im Ofen gahr


Make a dough from egg yolks, sugar and flour, work it well, then form small circles and bake them in the oven on paper.

(de Rontzier)


Nimm ein schoenes Mehl / lauter Eyerdotter / unnd ein wenig Wein /

Zucker und Aniß / mach ein Teig damit an / walg jn fein laenglicht und rund

mit saubern Haenden / unnd mach kleine Bretzel darauß / scheubs in ein

warmen Ofen / und backs / daß du es nit verbrennest / sondern fein

austrucknet / so werden sie auch muerb und gut. Du magst auch Zimmet

darunter nemmen oder nicht. Und man nennet es Precedella.


Take good flour, pure egg yolks, and a little wine, sugar, and anise and

make a dough of it. Knead it long and round with clean hands and make

little pretzel shapes. Bake them in a warm oven, taking care not to burn it

but dry it nicely, thus they will be crumbly and good. You can also add

cinnamon, or not. These are called /precedella/.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




4 egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup white wine

21/2 - 3 cups flour




Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them with the wine and sugar. Add anise

and cinnamon to taste. Stir in flour until a thick dough develops, then

knead, adding flour until no longer sticky. Shape into 15-20 pretzels and bake at 150°C for 20-30 minutes.


Another kind of cookie is made from the egg-flour pastry that was used for fritters earlier in period. These 'goosefeet' (perhaps so called because of their flat, slightly puffy appearance) are glazed with sugar and rosewater.



Mach eyn Teig von lauter Eyern / doch nicht gar zu dick / spreng Saltz

darein / und treibs fein rundt auß / bestreichs mit einem Eydotter / und

scheubs in ein heissen Ofen / so wird es fein ubersich gehen. Das heißt man

ein Eyerkuchen.


Make a dough of egg, not too thick, salt it, roll it out round and brush it with an egg yolk. Place it in a hot oven and it will rise nicely. That is called an egg cake.


Mach widerum ein solchen Teig / thu Aniß / Coriander un Saltz /

darunter / treibs fein voneinander / unnd schneidts vierecket oder rundt /

bestreich es mit Rosenwasser / und bestraew es mit weissem Zucker / der

klein gestossen ist / scheubs damit in heissen Ofen / so wirt es fein

ubersich lauffen / un wirt fein muerb. Und man nennet es Gaenßfueß.


Make the same dough again, add anise, coriander and salt, roll it out and cut it round or square. Brush it with rosewater and sprinkle it with white sugar ground fine, then place it in a hot oven and it will rise nicely and turn out nice and crumbly. That is called goosefeet.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




4 eggs

2 1/2 - 3 cups flour


anise (optional)

coriander (optional)

1/4 cup rosewater

1/2 cup sugar


Add a pinch of salt and coriander and anise to the flour. Beat the eggs and add the flour mixture by the spoonful, first stirring and then kneading until a form, not very sticky mass results. Roll out, and cut into small cookies (given the name it is probably a good idea to have them look like goosefeet). Brush the cookies with rosewater and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake at 200°C for 15-20 minutes, taking care not to burn them. They rise nicely, some blowing up to almost balloon-shapes.


Finally, there is a variety of sweet almond pretzel that is simply too good to be true:


Nimm Zucker und Rosenwasser / laß wol auffsieden / daß nicht zu dick

wirt / ruer geriebene Mandeln unter den gesotten Zucker / und machs wol

trucken vom Feuwer / und wenn du es wol weg nimpst / so nimm schoenen

weissen gestossenen Zucker ein Loeffel voll oder drey / ruers wider unter

die Mandeln / treib sie mit der Handt fein laenglicht auß / unnd bestraew

sie mit weissem Zucker unten und oben / daß nicht bleibt an Händen kleben /

unnd wenn du es lang hast außgetrieben / so mach kleine Bretzel darauß /

scheub sie in ein warmen Ofen / und back sie fein langsam auß / so werden

sie schoen weiß. Un man nennet es Precedella von Mandeln gemacht.


Take sugar and rosewater and bring it to a boil, but do not let it become

too thick. Stir ground almonds into the boiling sugar and let it become dry

on the fire. When you take it off the heat, stir a spoonful or three of

ground white sugar into the almonds and roll it out with your hands,

coating with sugar above and below so that it doesn't stick to the hands.

When you have rolled it out long and flat, make small pretzels and bake

them slowly in a warm oven. Thus they will turn out nicely white. This is

called /precedella/ made from almonds.

(Rumpoldt, Gebackens)




200g sugar

150g ground almonds

3-4 tblsp rosewater

2-3 tblsp powdered sugar

almond extract


Place the sugar in a small cooking pot and moisten it with the rosewater.

Bring to the boil. Once it boils vigorously and the solution becomes clear,

add the almonds and almond extract and stir until the whole becomes a lump

and sticks to the spoon, detaching itself from the sides of the pot.

Transfer to a board and work into thin sausage shapes, dusting with

powdered sugar all the while. Shape these into pretzels if you can. (you

need to work quickly as the sugar dries and the mixture becomes flaky. I

can't stand heat well, so I just made circles and didn't bother with the pretzel shape. You can moisten the dough with extra rosewater to work it, but it will change the consistency of the resulting cookies). Bake at 175°C for 20-30 minutes. The result are hard sugar cookies with a delightful 'roast almond' taste.




Tarts and Pies


Tarts and pies are not an invention of the Renaissance - one of the recipes in the Harpestreng tradition is of a pie and the idea of baking foods inside a dough crust is fare older than that - but it is at this time that the modern tradition of sweet fruit and custard pies can first be traced. Again, this may be due more to the absence of surviving recipe sources than the actual thing, but where recipes for pastries and pies are found in medieval cookbooks, they are often mixtures of meat or fish and fruit or straightforward meat pastries. Even among the Renaissance cookbook sources, many still mix the sweet and savory readily. Marx Rumpoldt, however, distinguishes chapters for savory pastries and for sweet pies, which may mark an epochal shift or simply be the result of his generally very systematic approach.


Much has been made of the inedibility of medieval pastry crusts (14), but the surviving instructions do not bear out any such conclusions to my mind. It is hard to reconstruct the actual intent behind statements like 'make a crust with eggs' - does this mean flour and egg alone (which would be inedible, though very strong and fire-resistant), flour, butter and egg (which makes a wonderful crumbly crust) or flour and water, brushed with egg (which is edible only fresh, or if some leavening is introduced), or is some other unmentioned ingredient involved? Few cookbooks give all the details, especially on such workaday issues as pastry crust. Thus, we should not assume that the fine crust recipes given by Renaissance cookbooks are necessarily innovations of the age. What they are is delicious.


I can not do more here than present a few of the manifold pie recipes found in German Renaissance cookbooks. There are simply so many - and often not easy to interpret, either - that they would merit a class of their own. Thus, take these as nothing more than a number of recipes to round out the party table with no claim to completeness or scientific classification.





We have seen in the chapter on Krapfen that various forms of crust were used. I usually use a flour-butter-water or flour-butter-egg crust, though the wine-honey dough from the Küchenmaisterey works very well. Sabrina Welserin has the following instructions:


Ain pastetentaig zú machen zú allen auffgesetzten pasteten

Nempt ain mell, das pest, so jr bekomen múgen, vngefarlich

2 gút gaúffen oder darnach jr die grosß oder klain haben

welt, thiets auff den disch vnnd riert 2 air mit ainem messer

daran vnnd saltzt ain wenig, macht jn ainem pfenndlin ain

wasser vnnd wie 2 gúte air grosß schmaltz, last es als anainander

ergan vnnd sieden/ darnach schit es an das obgemelt

mell ob dem disch vnnd mach ain starcken taig vnnd

arbait jn woll, wie dich gút dúnckt, wan es jm somer jst,

músß man an des wasser stat ain fleschbrie nemen vnnd an

des schmaltz stat ain abscheffet von der súpen nemen, wan

der taig gearbait jst, so machent jn zú ainer rúnden kúgel

vnnd thenet jn fein mit den fingern vornen aus oder mit ainem

walgelholtz/ das jn der mit ain hechin beleib, darnach

lands erstaren an der keltin,


To make a pastry dough for all shaped pies


Take flour, the best that you can get, about two handfuls, depending on how

large or small you would have the pie. Put it on the table and with a knife stir

in two eggs and a little salt. Put water in a small pan and a piece of fat the

size of two good eggs, let it all dissolve together and boil. Afterwards pour it

on the flour on the table and make a strong dough and work it well, however you

feel is right. If it is summer, one must take meat broth instead of water and in

the place of the fat the skimmings from the broth. When the dough is kneaded,

then make of it a round ball and draw it out well on the sides with the fingers

or with a rolling pin, so that in the middle a raised area remains, then let it

chill in the cold.

(Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, translation by Valoise Armstrong)




The basic mix is straightforward - flour, egg, water and fat. I tried the method once, but found it unnecessary to boil the fat and mater together. Simply work some butter or lard into the flour, then add egg and water and knead till stiff.





English Tart


Ain englische torta zú machen

Nempt ain seidlin ram bey der erst, beý .3. fierdúng

schmaltz vnnd ain fierdúng zúcker, das músß man mit der

milch vnnd schmaltz lassen sieden/ darnach nempt 6 air,

wie sý send, vnnd aúch 6 tottern/ thiet es mit 2 oren vnnd

ain leffele mel woll geklofft vnnd abtriben/ vnnd wan es

woll geklopfft jst, so klopfft die air alle anainander/ thiets

als jn ain pfannen vnd last es als mitainander sieden/ bis es

aúch fein dick wirt, vnnd secht woll zú/ das er nit anbrinn/

vnnd wen es gesotten jst/ so saltzt es ain wenig/ vnnd giest

ain wenig rossenwasser darain/ weil er noch warm jst, vnnd

darnach last es bachen.


To make an English tart

First take one third of a quart of cream, some three quarters of a pound of fat

and a quarter pound of sugar, which must be allowed to cook with the milk and

the fat. After that take six eggs, according to how [large] they are, and, also

six egg yolks, beat two eggs with a small spoonful of flour and stir it until

smooth, and when it is well-beaten, then beat into it all the eggs, put it all

in a pan and let it simmer together until it becomes fairly thick, and watch out

that it does not burn, and when it is cooked then salt it a little and pour in a

little rose water on it while it is still warm, and let it bake.

(Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, Translation by Valoise Armstrong)




We called this one 'the reason for Henry VIII'. The filling is actually quite good - in small quantities - but the sheer richness is enough to take your breath away.


1 1/2 cups whipping cream

250g butter

1 cup sugar

6-8 eggs




1 single-crust pie crust of choice


Melt the butter in a pot with the cream, sugar, and a pinch of salt and mix well. Briefly bring to a boil, then cool slightly. Strain and beat the eggs and add to the liquid with a few tablespoons of fine flour. Slowly return it to a gentle simmer and stir until it thickens to a custard consistency. Pour into the pie shell, drizzle with rosewater and bake for 45-60 minutes at moderate heat until set. Take care the top does not burn.



Prune Pie


Ain torten von pflamen, sý seýen dir oder gren

Last sý vor sieden jn ainem wein vnd treibs dúrch vnnd

nim air, zimerrerlach, zúcker


A tart of plums, be they fresh or dried

Boil them beforehand in wine, then pass them through with eggs, cinnamon and sugar

(Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin)




This is better than the name suggests though, like all prune recipes, it is not recommended for camping events where toilets are in limited supply.


250g prunes

1-2 cups red wine

4 eggs



1 double-crust pie crust of choice


Boil the prunes in wine until they fall apart and turn into mush (they soak up a surprising amount of liquid). Pass the result through a foodmill or puree in a blender, then stir in the eggs and add sugar and cinnamon to taste. Bake in a double-crust pie for 45-60 minutes until set. This recipe has a very wintery flavor.



Baked Pear Tart


Ain welschen torten zú machen

Nim 12 regelbiren vnnd brats gar behendt aúff ainer gar

reschen glút, bis die schelff verprent wirt vnnd das ander

lind wirt, darnach treibs dúrch vnnd thú zúcker, zimerrerlach

darein vnnd 12 air/ mach ain tinn taiglin an mit airen

vnnd geúsß jn die haisß torttenpfannen vnnd lasß bachen,

bis es hert wirt, vnnd geús den zwer darein vnnd lasß bachen.


To make an Italian tart

Take twelve pears and roast them quickly over a lively fire, until the peel is

charred and the rest becomes soft, afterwards put them through a strainer and

put sugar, cinnamon and twelve eggs therein. Make a thin batter with eggs and

pour it into a hot tart pan and let it bake until it becomes hard and pour the

mixture onto it and let it bake.

(Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, Translation by Valoise Armstrong)





This one is supposed to be baked in a pancake-like batter crust, but I find it quite good in a normal pie crust as well.


6 pears

4 eggs




1 single-crust pie crust of choice


Bake the bears in a closed container at high temperature for 60-90 minutes until soft. Pass them through a strainer. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste and a pinch of salt to the mix, then stir in the eggs. Pour into the pie crust and bake for 45-60 minutes at medium heat until set.



Almond-Cinnamon Tart


Ain rerlentorten

Nim ain halb pfúnd mandel, mer oder minder, gestosen,

darnach man sý will grosß machen, nim púterschmaltz, siben

air, das weisß darúon, solchs dúrchainandergemischt, nachmals

ain lot rerlen darúnder, doch der merer tail daraúfgestret

vnnd die torten mit rossenwasser besprengt, aúch soll

man darzú nemen vngeferlich ain 1/2 pfúnd zúcker, daranthon/

jst aúch gút/ nemlich ain eitterlin vom kalb gesotten

vnnd klaingehackt.


A cinnamon tart

Take a half pound of ground almonds, more or less, according to how large a tart

one will make. Take butter and the whites from seven eggs. Mix everything

together, afterwards put a half ounce of cinnamon into it, the largest part,

however, sprinkled on top, and sprinkle the tart with rose water. Also take

about a half pound of sugar and put it in. The white fat from a leg of veal,

cooked and finely chopped, is also especially good.

(Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, Translation by Valoise Armstrong)




2 cups ground blanched almonds

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

5-6 egg whites



1 single-crust pie crust of choice


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Add cinnamon to taste, generously. Pour the mixture into a pie crust, sprinkle with rosewater and cinnamon and bake at medium heat for 45-60 minutes till set. This tart is on the heavy side with a definite marzipan-y taste. It can be made a little lighter by beating the egg whites before stirring them in, but it is probably intended to be quite substantial. Take care not to burn the top as the filling is beautifully white.





If any. I'm afraid this, for all its recipes, remains a progress report. I will stick my head out and say the following, though: The Renaissance cookbooks first show the modern habit of oven-baking many sweet dishes. The recipes for goosefeet and cheese cake appear as fritters over a hundred years before Rumpoldt has us bake them, and the same may be true for other preparations (the doughs for a 'great brown cake' and the artfully contrived pot-shaped cake are introduced as fritter doughs with baking being a secondary application). My knowledge of seventeenth-century cuisine is woefully limited, but by the eighteenth century, baking has become the dominant form of preparation and fritters are pushed ever further back (though sweet dough fritters almost identical to those described in Renaissance cookbooks are served as funfair treats in Germany to this day).


The use of sugar is also interesting. On the one hand there is an increasingly clear distinction between 'sweet' and 'savory' dishes that medieval cookbooks usually lack - Rumpoldt even has different chapters on pastries and pies, one for sweet fruit ones and one for savory meat and fish ones. The distinction is not complete (and will never be - to this day German cuisine includes berry jelly served with venison and applesauce for pork). Many dishes we would today serve salty are sugared heavily, including a lemon-sugar barbecue sauce described in de Rontzier. Yet the grouping of the recipes gives us a sense that a difference is felt between these and the sweet confections. That, I think, is new. Equally surprising to modern cooks is the fact that sugar hardly ever figures in the dough. There are few modern cakes and cookies that are made without it, yet hardly any of the doughs in these recipes are sweetened (though for completeness' sake it should be pointed out that gingerbread and lebkuchen are also listed, and these were sweetened, albeit with honey). Rather, it is sprinkled, brushed or spread on the finished product, reminiscent of its past as a spice rather its future as a basic baking ingredient. That, too, is not a tradition to die soon - a cookbook from 1805 Berlin still lists many cake and cookie recipes without sugar, sweetened only by dried fruit or the application of icings.


The leavening of choice - if any - is yeast, probably obtained from brewers or vintners. The rusk recipes show that beaten egg was also used to raise dough, but recipes for cakes rather than rusks using this method are conspicuously absent. I have found no recipes for sourdough cakes, and baking soda belongs to a later era. As an aside, the remarkable 'raising' of the goosefeet is achieved by rolling them out into thin layers and becomes even more dramatic if they are folded several times. The principle can not have been lost on Renaissance cooks as a recipe in Rumpoldt - Hungarian Tart - describes what looks like puff pastry (water-based crust folded over on itself and rolled out several times while butter is worked in). Unfortunately I have not yet been able to do a proper redaction of this.


It should also be said that few if any of these developments are in any way 'German'. The great fondness for fritters may be, but much of the Renaissance innovation in cookery was imported from Italy or France. De Rontzier and Rumpoldt use many loan words from French and Italian, and some of the ingredients are obviously Mediterranean (pine nuts are not common in Germany to say the least). Sabina Welserin's geographic position in the German-speaking Alps puts her so close to Italy that it would be surprising not to find cross-fertilization. Italian cookery enjoyed a good reputation in 16th century Germany, as evidenced by the success of Platina's de honesta voluptate. This book was not only translated into German in 1542 but the name of its author pirated to dignify an otherwise very much medieval-holdover recipe collection belonging to the Küchenmaisterey tradition.


As I concentrated on novelties in this presentation, a large number of recipes familiar from medieval cookbooks that continued to be popular have fallen by the wayside. In fact, if we discount the magisterial compilations of Rumpoldt and de Rontzier (who were both court cooks), other German cookbooks of the time retain a lot more medieval flavor, abounding in multicolored jellies and marzipan hedgehogs. One day I hope to cover these in more depth, but for now this look at the courtly, so to speak progressive cookery of the German Renaissance must do.





The cookbooks of Marx Rumpoldt (New Kochbuch, 1581) and Franz de Rontier (Kunstbuch von mancherley Essen, 1598) are wonderful examples of the Renaissance's compulsion to order the world. They marshal literally thousands of recipes into neat categories, being both user-friendly and comprehensive. Unfortunately, while both were published in facsimile editions relatively recently, I know of no complete translation of either. I have depended almost entirely on the two for this work, choosing their recipes over others where multiple sources were available. Platina (not a German cookbook, but a strong influence on upper-class cookery in Germany) is available in an English translation (Elizabeth B. Andrews (trsl): On honest indulgence and good health, St Louis 1967), though I relied on a facsimile of the 1542 German translation for my research. The cookbook of Sabina Welserin has been translated by Valoise Armstrong and is available online. There are a number of other cookbooks from 16th century Germany - those of Anna Weckerin and Balthasdar Staindl, to name but two - that I did not have access to in their entirety and thus do not quote. Parts of them and others are available on Thomas Gloning's excellent website staff-www .uni-marburg.de/~gloning/kobu.htm which I can not recommend highly enough.


As to secondary sources, the best introduction to Renaissance cuisine I have found so far is Karen Hess: Matha Washington's Booke of Cookery, New York 1995. The kitchen techniques she describes date to a slightly later period, but her commentary on the manuscript cookbooks that passed down through the Custis family from the early 17th century is enlightening and comprehensive. Those who read German may be interested in Hans-Peter von Peschke/Werner Feldmann: Das Kochbuch der Renaissance Düsseldorf 1997. The book contains often delicious redacted recipes, mostly from de Rontzier, Platina, Rumpoldt and Scappi, but the authors' grasp of historical fact is not as solid as it should be.





1) The 'Mahabhashya' by Patanjali, a commentary on Panini's 'Grammar'. For more details see Mintz, S.W.: Sweetness and Power, New York 1985, Chapter 2, where the early history of sugar is traced in much greater detail though unfortunately without identifying the sources in greater detail.


2) For details see Junkelmann, M.: Panis Militaris, Mainz 1997, p. 149 and Mintz, pp. 48-53


3) Mintz, p. 52, speculates that sugarcane may have been grown in Byzantine Egypt prior to 633 CE


4) Mintz, pp. 52 ff. For the indebtedness of Arab cooking to Sassanid Persia see Rodinson, M.: Studies in Arabic Manuscripts Relating to Cookery in: Rodinson, M., Arberry, A.J. and Perry, C.: Medieval Arab Cookery, Totnes 2001, pp. 91-164. Yahya ib al-Awam descries the process of producing sugar on a large scale in his Kitab al-Felaha written in 12th century Spain (A Moorish Calendar from the Book of Agriculture of Ibn al-Awam translated by Philip Lord, Wantage 1979, p. 16).


5) Nicolle, D.: Knight of Outremer, London 1996, p. 58


6) Junkelmann, p 132 f. Recipes are found e.g. in Apicius 5.1.3., 7.9.2., 10.3.8., Cato, on agriculture 75, 121


7) More details on the use of wood-fired baking ovens can be found eg in Junkelmann, pp. 34 ff. However, the paucity of evidence for sweet baking can be deduced from the fact that in the entirety of P.W. Hammond's Food and Feast in Medieval England (Stroud 1995) there is but one reference to cake (p. 37), and that refers to sixteenth-century practice.


8) Collected and edited in: Grewe, R. and Hieatt, C.B. (eds.): Libellus de arte coquinaria: An Early Modern Cookery Book, Tempe 2001. The recipe in question is one for chicken in almond milk, numbered Q28. See p. 22 for a general overview of sweeteners in the recipes.


9) Ehlert, T. (ed. & trsl.): Kochbuch des Meister Hans, Frankfurt 1996


10) Gloning, T. (ed. & trsl.): Rheinfränkisches Kochbuch um 1445, Frankfurt 1998


11) Anthimus mentions a combination of honey and ground almonds in a dietetic text several centuries before the Islamic sources, but this appears to be a medicinal preparation (Anthimus 90). Grant, M (ed. & trsl.): Anthimus, de observatione ciborum, Totnes 1996


12) This is particularly evident when it comes to sweet tarts. They are rarely found in German recipe collections prior to 1500, but already an old favorite with Platina (VIII passim). Sabrina Welserin (c. 1550) gives a large number of more or less clear fruit and custard tart recipes and by the end of the century, both Rumpoldt and de Rontzier devote entire chapters to them.


13) Redon, O., Sabban, F, and Serventi, S.: The Medieval Kitchen, Chicago 1998, recipe 136 (based on Maestro Martino).


14) op.cit.p. 133/4 and Mosey, H: Fresh Summer Fruit Pies from the Libro Nuovo in: Tournaments Illuminated 147 (Summer 2003) pp. 22ff.



Copyright 2006 by Volker Bach, Gerichtstrasse 6, D-22765 Hamburg, Germany. <carlton_bach at yahoo.de>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.


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