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Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
by Countess Bethony Gaitskell
Pulled sugar confections were consumed both as medicine and for enjoyment from as early as the 8th century (Nasrallah, 2007; Isin 2013). Originating in the Middle East, these confections were referred to as panid or fanid (فانيد), which translates as 'twist' or 'thread' in reference to how it looks as the sugar is pulled, or natif 'asal 'ala al-mismar, which translates as "nail candy", in reference to how the sugar is pulled repeatedly over a hook or nail fastened to the wall (Nasrallah, 2007; Isin 2013). In much the same way as today we use generic terms like lozenges or boiled sweets, panid appears to be a term that encompasses many varieties of pulled sugar confections used for a variety of purposes (Schwarz, 1920). Alternative spellings of panid throughout Middle Eastern and European texts appear variously as fanid, phanid, fenides, fanidh, peynir, penydes, penites, penidia, penid, penydes, penidion, pennets, pan sugar, penidias, succre panis, or saccharum penidium (Vigier, 1657; Redwood, 1848; Smith & Hawthorne, 1974; Day 1997; Isin, 2013, Nasrallah, 2007, Jones 1937; Matthews, 1961; Kleineke, 2015).
The emergence of cane sugar production from the 8th century onwards produced one of the most significant changes to mediaeval pharmacy, as evidenced by the large quantities of sugar, syrups and other preparations that use sugar, made by spicers and apothecaries from that time (Barcelo et al. 1988; Rodrigues & Sa, 2015; Trease, 1959). Panids in particular were a staple in medicine, and were also used as a base ingredient for many other medicines (Barcelo et al. 1988). The earliest references to panids are from the 8th Century Byzantine physician, Ibn Masawayh (Nasrallah, 2007; Sato 2015). However, from as early as the 10th century, they also served a central role in festive celebrations (Mason 2004) with many varieties of panids being served to children, both rich and poor alike, for enjoyment during Ramadan celebrations (Goldstein et al. 2015; Sato 2015). The 13th century Egyptian historian, Al-Maqrīzī, describes the sugar markets set up during Ramadan, selling beautifully crafted boiled sweets in many shapes, colours and flavours (Sato 2015). In Europe, panids were used exclusively by royal apothecaries up until the 14th century (Trease, 1959), from which time panids were increasingly available as sweet treats particularly during religious festivities (Cohen 2007; Day, 1997; Isin, 2013). This coincides with the increasing availability of high quality sugarcane products in Europe, sourced from Levantine and Mediterranean sugar refineries, from the 13th-14th Centuries onwards (Isin 2013; Galloway 2005; Galloway 1977; von Wartburg 2001; Moore 2009; Kleineke 2015).
Panids could be made from a variety of sugars, e.g. honey or sugarcane, or sugarcane at various stages of refinement (Nasrallah, 2007). Two Egyptian Court Physicians - Ibn Sina (1025), and later, Abu al-Bayan ibn al-Mudawwar (1101–1184) - describe panids made from different grades of sugar: fanidh ahmar (فانيذ أحمر ) or sukkar ahmar refers to red pulled sugar made from molasses or dark unrefined brown sugar, while fanidh khazanini (فانيذ خزائني) is made from white, highly refined sugar, "fit for the King's coffers" (Nasrallah, 2007). Panids could be flavoured with essences, herbs and spices at the time of preparation (Perry, 1965; Smith & Hawthorne, 1974) and consumed as small lozenges or candies (Vigier, 1657; Smith & Hawthorne, 1974; Day 1997; Isin, 2013). Alternatively, panids were used as a base ingredient in other preparations, such as being crushed in a mortar along with other herbs and spices to make new preparations, or dissolved in drinks as a sweetener (Jones 1937; Nasrallah, 2007).
Panids had a variety of medicinal uses, from easing bladder pain and constipation, to treatment of sore throats (Jones, 1937; Mason, 2004; Nasrallah, 2007). 11th Century Baghdadi physician, Ibn Jazla, who wrote Al-Minhaj fi Al-Adwiah Al-Murakkabah (Methodology of Compound Drugs; Latin translation is the Cibis et medicines simplicibus. Ibn Jazla), describes the benefits of consuming panids as such: "Fanidh is hot. It soothes sore throats and softens the bowels and the bladder. It heats up the kidneys and benefits the chest. All sweets increase the blood and sperm and nourish the body. However, they are bad for the liver and spleen. They are good for the throat and lungs and help build up marrow and the brain." (Nasrallah, 2007). Eating panids made from unrefined sugar cane juice was also reported to help with digestion (Nasrallah, 2007).
The most commonly mentioned medicinal usage for panids is for treatment of sore throats (Mason, 2004; Öhrnberg & Saḥbān, 2007). The Egyptian Court Physician, Ibn Sina (1025), and the later Egyptian Court Physician, Abu al-Bayan ibn al-Mudawwar (1101–1184), both refer to panids mixed with different herbs and spices, or opium, to help ease coughs and throat-related ailments. In Jean Vigier's (1657) "La grande chirurgie des tumeurs, en laquelle, selon les anciens Grecs, Latins, Arabes & modernes approuuez" p.174, it describes how panids were used to treat patients with throat inflammation and tumours of the throat. According to Vigier (1657), patients with throat tumours should be "fed sparingly, and, following guidance of Hippocrates, should be fed some almond barley water or broth and should hold in his mouth succre panis". The 8th century physician Yuhanna ibn Masawayh describes a cough medicine made with fanidh shajari (fanidh made from Persian sugar), frankincense and opium, with each ingredient crushed separately then kneaded together into a paste with some water, and formed into ball which is to be placed under the tongue (Nasrallah 2007).
From the 12th century onwards, we start to see numerous references to panids beyond the Middle East, mostly in orders and invoices between apothecaries and French and English royal courts. The listed wares of Robert Montpellier, one of the spicers to the court of Henry III of England (1207-1272), are the earliest reference of the supply of penidium to a royal court outside of the Middle East (Trease 1959). The accounts for King John II of France (1359-1360) show purchases of 1¾ lbs of penites (Matthews, 1961), while in 1390, the Earl of Derby, England, paid "two shillings for two pounds of penydes." (Day 1997; Camden New Series, 1894). Penites are listed as one of the medicines supplied to King Rene of Anjou, Naples (1451-1481; Pierre 1972). Legal records show Katherine Neville, Duchess of Norfolk (1463-71) had outstanding debts to John Clerk, king's apothecary to Edward IV, which included the purchase of ten ounces of penedir pectoralium (penids for treating chest problems; Kleineke 2015).
Included here are five different example recipes from Middle Eastern and European sources, spanning the 10th-18th centuries. The common themes across each of these recipes involve dissolving the sugar in a similar quantity of water, removing any impurities, boiling the syrup in a copper pot to soft-hard crack stage, pouring the syrup onto an oiled marble slab, working the sugar mass over a nail/hook until it becomes white and glossy and finally shaping and cutting the sugar using scissors/shears.
Method for the fanid: Al-Zahrawi (1000 AD) Kitab al-Tasrif
The 10th century Physician, Ibn Sina, author of The al-Qānūn fī aṭ-Ṭibb (Canon of Medicine; Nasrallah, 2007) was the first to document how to make panids. Translated in Barcelo (1988)
Cane honey is used, the sugar powder (Duqaq al-sukkar) and abarzad, but the best is made with a "Pear" sugar (dry and white).
Take one or two pounds, at most three, because it is not advisable to do much every time. We put it in a copper or in a terracotta pot glazed inside and with an opening, but it is preferable that the pot is made of copper. Fresh water is added until covered, to soften (the sugar) and allow it takes the appearance of honey. If sugar is hard, it moistens in an ounce or less in a pot, according to the capacity thereof, and one puts some oil drops almonds - if any - or any other oil. The pot is put on a charcoal fire that should not smoke and keep it there while stirring slowly until the water has almost evaporated; then you can do a test with your finger: if you see that son form between your fingers and if you stirred without it sticking to your fingers, hurry to place it on a marble coated with sesame seed oil. Then, with the hand tighten the sugar mass all sides while it's hot as you can stand the heat. With your hands, stretch the halwa, or plant a nail in the wall, hang (the halwa over the nail) and let it extend the halwa, kneading regularly, until it becomes white. Take it and put it on the fire to soften a bit. Then attach it to the protruding part of the nail and cut it into elongated pieces as a spindle.
If you want to form a gazelle heel (crescent-shape), take the white starch, cut it, put it on the marble and dust sugar over it. Cut it with scissors as you like, but do quickly so that it does not cool in your hands or become hard. Put it on a sieve wheat and put it on the new charcoal fire for an hour and let him. Keep him in there and then withdraw it.
If you want to make fanid with powdered sugar, put water in it as I said and clean it of any impurities or other things that would be mixed with the sugar. Then, do as what has been described.
If you want to do it with cane honey, well-observed and if the honey is thick and fort, about food a little over a third of white sugar in the water, doing as already said. If honey is fluid, and put in it the sugar by half. You can put a third of honey and two of sugar if the honey is bad. Do as already said.
A variety of fanid be prepared by bringing water with roses and a little there camphor during cooking, and his strength is moderate.
The 12th century version of the Mappae Clavicula (Phillips-Corning Manuscript), a collection of metallurgical, glass making and dying/tinting technologies from Greek, Arabic and European sources, includes a method for making penidias, which was not included in earlier versions of the manucript (Smith & Hawthorne., 1974).
285. The recipe for sesame candy
The recipe for sesame candy. Put white pure honey near a moderate fire in a tinned [pan] and stir it unceasingly with a spatula. Place it alternately near the fire and away from the fire, and while it is being stirred more extensively, repeatedly put it near and away from the fire, stirring it without interruption until it becomes thick and viscous. When it is sufficiently thickened, pour it out on a [slab of] marble and let it cool for a little. Afterwards, hang it on an iron bolt and pull it out very thinly and fold it back, doing this frequently until it turns white as it should. Then twist and shape on the marble, gather it up and serve it properly.
286. Sugar candy
Now by a similar cooking process, put some sugar soaked in a little water in a tinned pan, and defroth it when it boils and strain it well in a colander. In this way, after adding in the ingredients that you know, stir it unceasingly until it reaches the correct consistency. Pour it out in separate pieces on a marble slab that has been lightly oiled. Carefully cool the pieces on the marble, separate them from it by hand and keep them properly.
287. Penidias candy
Now penidias candy is made like sesame candy after the sugar has been de-frothed and strained, but without stirring it. When it has been fully cooked, work it on the bolt as described, then shape it by cutting with shears.
"Take white sugar and dilute it with a moderate amount of water, neither too much nor too little. Put it on a gentle fire. Remove the scum and clean it. Continue cooking until it binds moderately. Then take it from the fire and when it has cooled a little, take it with your hand and pull it as you do with pulled honey sweet, until it whitens and you like the whiteness. If you see that it is drying out between your hands and isn't yet as white as you would like, put it near the fire until it softens and continue doing it (the pulling) and putting it near the fire until you are pleased with its whiteness. He who wants it musky, dissolve some musk and camphor in good rose water and sprinkle the sugar with it and lubricate your hands in this rose and musk water while you pull it little by little, until the musk and camphor penetrate it. It will turn out excellently... [p. 74, recto] Then make ka'ks and qursas (flat loaves) and shapes similar to maftû na and fists (ma'asim) and whatever shape you want. Set it on a slat in the air to cool and dry and set it aside".
To mak penydes (1390), "Goud Kokery", section V in Curye on Inglysch. from BL MS Harl. 2378
"To make penydes. Take a pound of suger that is noght clarefyed but euen colde with water wythowten the whyte of a egge for if it were clarefyed wyth white of a egg it would be clammy. And than put it in a panne and sette it on the fyre and gar it boyle, and whan it is sothen inow asay betwyx thi fyngers and thi thombe and if it wax styfe and perte lightly fro thi fynger than it is enow: but loke thou stere it but lityl wyth thi spatur in hys decoccioun, for it will benyme hys drawyng. And whan it is so sothen loke thou haue redy a marbyll stone. Anoynte it wyth swetemete oyle as thyne as it may be anoynted and than pour thi suger theron euen as it comes fro the fyre sethyng. Cast it on the stone wythouten any sterynge, and whan it is a litel colde medel hem togedyr wyth bothe youre handes and draw it on a hoke of eren til it be faire and white. And than haue redy a faire clothe on a borde, and cast on the clothe a litell floure of ryse, and than throw owte thi penydes in the thyknes of a thombe with thi handes as longe as thei will reche, and than kut them wyth a pere scherys on the clothe, ilk a pese as mychell as a smale ynche, and than put them in a cofyn and put them in a warme place, and than the warmnesse schall put away away the towghnesse: but loke ye mak them noyt in no moyste weder nor in no reyne."
Saccharum Penidium (1720)
In Redwood (1848), Gray's supplement to the pharmacopoeia: Being a concise but comprehensive dispensatory and manual of facts and formulae, for the chemist and druggist and medical practitioner. Longman and Company.
Saccharum Penidium: Dissolve sugar in a decoction of barley. Briskly beat it up with white of egg and boil it over a slow fire frequently skimming it then strain it through flannel and again set it over the fire to boil slowly until large bubbles are formed during the ebullition and on taking some of it out of the pan it is found not to stick to the teeth. Remove it from the fire and when the bubbles have subsided pour it on to a marble slab previously rubbed over with oil of almonds and as it tends to spread out turn the extremities back towards the centre until it acquires the consistence of thick turpentine. It is now to be suspended by a hook attached to some convenient place and with hands covered with starch it is to be dexterously pulled out into thin, thick, short or long pieces at pleasure and laid on a plate to harden.
In my recipe, I used glucose, but honey, a small amount of lemon juice and/or or cream of tartar can be used instead. The purpose of adding glucose, honey or a weak acid is to prevent the syrup from crystalizing (graining), which is a problem that arises when using highly refined cane sugar. Sugar cane is high in sucrose; invert sugar (mixture of glucose and fructose) it is obtained by splitting the disaccharide sucrose into its two components – glucose and fructose - using a weak acid, such as citric acid (lemon juice) or tartaric acid. Molasses and honey are both naturally high in invert sugars. Sugar particularly in earlier period was less refined i.e. carried more impurities such as molasses, and was therefore higher in invert sugars, and therefore the need to add in additional invert sugars would have been unnecessary. We only see references to adding acids, like lemon juice, to the sugar syrup in descriptions of the preparation of pulled sugar from the 18th century onwards (Isin, 2013; Weatherley 1865). For example, in 1830, Friedrich Unger, Court Confectioner to King Otto I of Greece, describes seeing confectioners in Istanbul adding lemon juice during the preparation of pulled taffy (Isin 2013), while English confectioner, Henry Weatherley (1830) describes in great detail the importance of preventing sugar from graining by adding acid. Using a copper pot also helps to prevent crystallization of the sugar syrup, but a modern stainless steel pot will also work fine.
· 1000g sugar
· 450 ml water
· 200g glucose (can be substituted with 200g honey, or 4 tsp cream of tartar or citric acid - or 2 tsp of each)
In a small, copper sugar pot heat the sugar and water to boiling, then add glucose. Using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature, continue to heat the sugar to hard crack (150°C). You should periodically wash down the sides of the pot with water, using a pastry brush, to prevent any sugar crystals from forming on the sides which would cause caramelization of your sugar mixture. This is one of the reasons why period (and modern) recipes state not to stir the pot when preparing panid: stirring the pot can push or splash sugar up the sides of the pot, causing crystallization.
Plunge the base of the saucepan into cold water to rapidly stop the temperature rising, take it out then leave on for 1-2 minutes. Stir through any colours or flavours at this time. Pour the cooled sugar mixture onto a silpat (silicone baking mat). As outlined in the period recipes, this would have been a large marble slab oiled in almond oil or other oil. In the pictures below, I use two different colours, red and white (uncoloured), where I poured out half the mixture onto the silpat (for the white), added red food dye to the remaining mixture, and then poured the red dyed sugar onto another mat.
Once the sugar mass becomes just cool enough to handle (it sticks to itself rather than you!), work quickly to fold in the edges of the sugar, until you have a solid ball of sugar. Form the ball of sugar into a log, then repeatedly pull/stretch the log and fold it back on itself until it becomes very shiny. The need for a sugar hook only comes when making large (2kg+) quantities of pulled sugar, where the sugar mass is heavy and remains hotter for longer. For 0.5-2kg quantities of sugar, using only your hands to pull the sugar is suitable. Pull the sugar mass to the desired thickness, then twist it or shape it into circles or whatever desired shape. For the red/white twisted design like I have done here, once you have your two shiny logs of pulled sugar, push them side by side, stretch them out together, fold in half, and stretch it out again 2-3 times to create the stripes. Use scissors to cut to an appropriate length. Leave the candies on the silpat to harden/cool completely.
The small quantities I use here mean that I can pull and fold the sugar back on itself using only my hands, without the need of a hook on the wall.
Sugar poured onto the silpat, waiting for the edges to cool…
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of me folding the sugar in, because I have to work quickly and concentrate
A pulled sugar log
The final product.
Each of documented recipes involve dissolving the sugar in a similar quantity of water, removing any impurities, boiling the syrup in a copper pot to soft-hard crack stage, pouring the syrup onto an oiled marble slab, working the sugar mass over a nail/hook until it becomes white and glossy and finally shaping and cutting the sugar using scissors/shears. The main points of difference between the methods I use here and methods used in the extant recipes are the quality of refined sugar, use of a thermometer and the use of a silicone mat rather than an oiled slab.
I used commercially available finely ground sugar granules, whereas the sugar available in period would have been from crystal sugar or sugar cones, which would have included more impurities. Therefore I have been able to omit the steps for adding egg whites to clarify the sugar, and skimming/de-frothing the sugar, because they are unnecessary with most modern, commercially available sugar. The rationale behind adding glucose to prevent crystallization has already been discussed above.
With respect to the use of thermometers, when I first started working with sugar, I was perplexed at how period confectioners could accurately judge the temperature of the sugar without a thermometer. Hard crack stage can also be determined by dropping the syrup into cold water, and it has reached hard crack stage when the sugar separates into hard, brittle threads that break when bent, and makes a cracking sound when the syrup touches the water. However, having now spent a considerable amount of time boiling and pulling sugar, I can now judge by the look (thickness of the bubbles) and sound (how "snappy" the sugar bubbles are when they pop) to correctly gauge the temperature. I can imagine that this would be even easier for a confectioner or their apprentice working with sugar every day.
The use of a silpat instead of an oiled slab here was primarily to demonstrate the ease and accessibility of making small candies for beginners in the SCA. A silpat can be sourced quickly and cheaply, and makes it easy to work your sugar without fear of it sticking to your work surface. Although I own a couple of marble slabs, they are only 12mm thick and heat up and cool down very quickly, which makes it difficult to regulate the temperature of the sugar mass. My experience has been that to successfully use marble or granite slab, it needs to be thick so that the temperature of the slab stays relatively stable. I have had the opportunity to use a solid granite kitchen bench, and kept it oiled with almond or sugar oil, and with the assistance of a paint scraper, and working with the sugar mass was very easy, however this is not something I have available in my personal kitchen.
I have also had many thoughts around how panids would have been successfully stored. Boiled sugar sweets are highly susceptible to humidity, which causes sugar bloom in which the surface of the candies becomes sticky, dull and discoloured, and the texture becomes chewy. Although it is known that panids were made in batches and stored for long periods (Isin 2013), only in the recipe from Curye on Inglysch (1390) is there mention of storage. Here it recommends that the candies be dusted in rice flour, and stored in a box in warm, dry place. It also cautions against making panids on damp or rainy days, which I can personally attest to. Making pulled sugar on a rainy day quickly (within half an hour) makes the surface of the panid sticky and dull.
It is well established that panids served as a staple ingredient pharmacological preparations, and as a sweetener in drinks or dishes. I have come to the view that the versatility of panids stemmed from them being conveniently sized lumps of highly refined and clarified sugar, which are relatively resistant to humidity, and can be stored for a long time. They could then be crushed in small quantities to make pharmacological preparations, or used in much the same way as modern sugar cubes: to sweeten drinks, or crushed to add a small amount of sweetness to other dishes.
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Copyright 2016 by Beth Johnson. <beth.patricia.johnson at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.