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comfits-msg - 2/28/12

 

Period candied spices and seeds.

 

NOTE: See also the files: candy-msg, suckets-msg, Candying-art, sugar-msg, honey-msg, spices-msg, Sugarplums-art, Roses-a-Sugar-art, sugar-paste-msg, sotelties-msg, candied-peels-msg.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.

 

Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is unclear  at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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Date: Sun, 2 Nov 1997 07:51:11 -0600 (CST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming )

Subject: SC - Re: Candied Ginger

 

Stefan li Rous asked:

>So, how was candied ginger used in the Middle Ages? As a candy? In

>particular foods? I'm not sure how to categorize candied ginger as a

>food item. I have used it in mead, but I don't know that it was used

>that way then.

 

Thomas Dawson (1596) has it as part of the banquet (dessert) course. My

assumption is that the candied version was used as a confection just as

candied cubebs, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise and coriander seeds, etc. were

used.  Petits Propos Culinaires, a number of years ago, had an article

that included some information on the amount of sweets that were taken

on campaign by various warriors (dukes, counts, bishops).  The figure

is quite high.  A number of specific confections were mentioned; ginger

was not one, but neither were a number of other confections.

 

Comfits (comfets) were also used as garnishes to several dishes besides

being eaten by themselves as a candy.  One might suspect that candied

ginger was used that way in very late period.

 

All this got me to wanting some candied ginger... Just bought three

races of it.  Now I have to stay off the computer and make it into a

confection!

 

Alys Katharine

 

 

Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 19:06:23 -0600 (CST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming )

Subject: SC - Re: Candied Ginger

 

I wrote:

> Thomas Dawson (1596) has it as part of the banquet (dessert) course.

>My  assumption is that the candied version was used as a confection

>just as  candied cubebs, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise and coriander seeds,

>etc. were  used.

 

Stefan li Rous responded:

>I can see candied ginger. I've had that. A bit sharp but reasonable.

>Cinnamon, I can also see. Cinnamon and sugar go together. Are we

>talking about the powder scraped off the bark or the bark itself?

 

>I'm not sure what anise tastes like.

 

>But coriander seeds??? And cubebs???? I thought someone here had

>described cubebs as tasting similar to pepper. Blech.

 

>But perhaps you end up with something closer to modern rock candy

>with a slight tinge of color and flavor from the spices.

 

>Anybody here ever candied any of these spices?

 

The cinnamon should be the cinnamon sticks. There are, I believe,

paintings of them (longish, knobby, white things) in some of Clara

Peeters paintings in the early 1600s.

 

One source I've read indicates that the larger spices (like cubebs)

should be soaked in vinegar (or wine), presumably to soften them.  

Anise seeds Stefan, are usually in the middle of those modern candies

(comfits) that come at the end of an Indian (India, not American)

dinner.  Cloves were also chewed upon to "sweeten" the breath.

 

I've candied caraway seeds and have a stock of other seeds I keep

meaning to candy, but the process is long and tedious.  I always seem

to find "something else to do" with my free days!

 

Alys K.

 

 

Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 11:58:49 -0500 (EST)

From: DianaFiona at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Candied Ginger

 

<<

One source I've read indicates that the larger spices (like cubebs)

should be soaked in vinegar (or wine), presumably to soften them.  

Anise seeds Stefan, are usually in the middle of those modern candies

(comfits) that come at the end of an Indian (India, not American)

dinner.  Cloves were also chewed upon to "sweeten" the breath.

  >>

     Actually, the ones I've had (comfits) were made with fennel seeds, not

anise, which are a bit larger, and would I think, be a triffle easier to

handle. I keep meaning to make some........... Be a great tidbit to end a

feast with if you could take the time to make enough.

 

Ldy Diana

 

 

Date: Tue, 4 Nov 1997 13:27:08 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: Candied Ginger

 

>  Actually, the ones I've had (comfits) were made with fennel seeds, not

>anise, which are a bit larger, and would I think, be a triffle easier to

>handle. I keep meaning to make some........... Be a great tidbit to end a

>feast with if you could take the time to make enough.

> Ldy Diana

 

Coriander seed is also used in comfits.

 

Bear

 

 

Date: Thu, 06 Nov 1997 12:08:54 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: Candied Ginger

 

DianaFiona at aol.com wrote:

>      Separately. At the local Indian restaurant they have a bowl of

> candied--and colored! ;-)--fennel seeds by the cash register. They look to me

> like the sugar coating was mixed with egg white or something else frothy

> (Perhaps one of the gums, disolved and beaten?) and they were rolled in that.

 

Probably one of the gums, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to find

carnauba wax in them, these days. Textural differences notwithstanding,

they look and, to some extent, taste, like tiny Good-n-Plenty candy...

 

> My problem is figuring out how to separate the tiny things afterwards without

> dislodging the coating............

>      I'm pretty sure I've seen similar references in late period, but haven't

> had time to check. Anyone know where to look off the top of their heads?

 

Harleian MS 2378, which can be found in the "Goud Kokery" volume of

"Curye on Inglysche", has a recipe for anneys in counfyte. It's kind of

long; I may have time to post it later.

 

Adamantius

 

 

Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 15:08:08 -0600 (CST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming )

Subject: SC - Re: Comfits

 

Greetings!  A recipe for comfits was asked for. Dawson (I believe it

is) has one which I tried, and made comments on, but it is terribly

long.  I can post it if people don't mind the length, or I can send it

privately if you send me your address.

 

Regarding the comment about making them:  It is a lengthy process,

time-consuming and tedious.  No, it isn't as simple as making a sugar

syrup and dropping them in.  (Rumor has it that the modern comfits made

commercially take more than a day to make, but I can't verify that.)  

Basically, one makes a sugar syrup to a specific "density" and then

ladles small amounts onto small amounts of the seeds.  You then use

your hand (!  Yes, you really can!) to move the seeds around in the pan

which "sets" the sugar.  You continue to add small amounts of syrup,

drying the seeds in between.  Small comfits take some 12 or more coats.

The problem I've found is that not all the syrup goes onto the seeds.  

You end up with some coated seeds and a bunch of sugar globs which

continue to grow and attract more syrup!  The idea is to coat the

seeds, not the globs!  The small batch that I did, less than a cup,

took over three hours for some twelve coats.  If you can buy some from

Indian stores, they are really cheaper!  :-)

 

Alys K.

 

 

Date: Sat, 8 Nov 1997 11:41:44 -0600 (CST)

From: alysk at ix.netcom.com (Elise Fleming )

Subject: SC - Re: Candied Cinnamon

 

Stefan li Rous wrote:

>Can someone quote me the period recipe and perhaps a redaction for

>doing candied cinnamon? While a referance to a period recipe would

>be good, I don't have many of the books often quoted here, yet. Has

>anyone tried this?

 

I haven't seen any recipes for it.  That may be due to the fact that

most cooks didn't prepare any comfits.  The confectioners did.  They

were a different group of people.  There is a French confectionary book

somewhere but to my knowledge it is in French.  I would guess that if

you could find instructions on doing the "harder" (in the sense of not

being soft) seeds you might be able to "fake" it.  As I mentioned

earlier, I read a reference to soaking the cubebs in vinegar and then

another time saw a reference to soaking them in wine.  My impression

was that this was a several-day process.  The paintings that I have

seen show a white, bumpy coating on the comfit which would be the sugar

coating the outside.

 

Wouldn't you guess that somehow the stick or piece of bark needed to be

softened for eventual chewing???

 

Alys K.

 

 

Date: Sun, 9 Nov 1997 12:38:56 SAST-2

From: "Ian van Tets" <ivantets at botzoo.uct.ac.za>

Subject: SC - Comfits, recipe diagrams and foiles

 

Hi, Cairistiona here.

 

1.  Comfits:  here is a recipe from T.  Newton. Lennie's Touchstone,

1581.  (A leechbook, not a cookery book, hence the health note)

 

A few graynes of Coriander first stieped in veneiger wherin Maioram

hath bin decocted, & then thinly crusted or couered ouer with Sugar.  

It is scarrce credible what a special commoditye this bringeth to the

memory.

 

<snip of pasta dish>

 

Thanks

Cairistiona

 

 

Date: Sun, 9 Nov 1997 20:46:45 -0400

From: renfrow at skylands.net (Cindy Renfrow)

Subject: Re: SC - Re: comfits

 

Hello!  There are several illustrations of a confectioner's shop in

Diderot's Encyclopedia (ISBN 0-486-27429-2). They apply a coating of gum

arabic & then successive coats of sugar syrup & gum arabic.  The coating is

done on a large flat pan hung by chains from the ceiling so it can be moved

back & forth freely (over a pot of coals).  A cone/funnel full of sugar

syrup hangs above the pan & drips into the pan.  Each coating is allowed to

harden before the next is applied.

 

Yours in haste

Cindy/Sincgiefu

 

 

Date: Sun, 09 Nov 1997 22:51:21 -0500

From: Woeller D <alaric05 at erols.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: comfits

 

Just a quick note on an earlier strand of this thread- the sugar/candy

coated seeds that are offered at Indian Restaurants are fennel. You can

get them (should you want them) for about $3 per pound at the

ever-present middle-eastern store.

 

Angelique

 

 

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 14:56:20 -0500 (EST)

From: DianaFiona at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - re:  candied cinnamon

 

     Both ideas sound great to me, but I actually ran across a reference to

candied cinnamon sticks in Culpeper's Herbal while looking for something

else. It's brief, and none too clear, but says:

     "Lastly, amongst the Barks, Cinnamon, amongst the Flowers, Roses, and

Marigolds, amongst the fruits, Almonds, Cloves, Pinenuts, and Fistick-nuts,

are said to be preserved but with this difference, they are encrusted with

dry sugar, and are more called confects than preserves."

     This is written at the end of a short chapter on "Preserved Roots,

Stalks, Barks, Flowers, Fruits." However, most other items in the chapter

*are* boiled in a sugar syrup, sometimes after being steeped in several

changes of water. (Roots--including ginger, which started the thread, and

citrus peels) So I don't think it would be unreasonable to conclude that the

cinnamon sticks were boiled in syrup before coating with sugar, as we've all

asumed would be best! Of course, the other items listed with the cinnamon,

either *could* or, in the case of the flowers, probably *should* only be

coated with the sugar, so who knows? Oh, well, at least we have a reference

to go by now.................... ;-)

 

Ldy Diana

 

 

Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 20:51:48 -0500

From: renfrow at skylands.net (Cindy Renfrow)

Subject: Re: SC - Candied Spices???

 

Jennifer Conrad wrote:

> I am doing an Italian theamed feast in April and I was wondering, would

> anyone out there know of a source of candied spices?  Or are these

> relatively easy to make?  Also, what types of spices would be candied,

> besides coriander. (The only one I've come across so far)

 

Hello!  There are detailed directions for candying comfits in Sir Hugh

Plat's Delights for Ladies, pp 32-39.  He recommends small bits of cinnamon

sticks, aniseed, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, orange

rinds, ginger, cloves, almonds, and balls of flavored breadcrumbs

 

I've seen boxes of candied aniseeds at a local Dutch bakery.  The seeds

were coated in white or purple sugar.

 

Mistress Alys has posted an article about her comfit-making exploits.

 

Cindy Renfrow/Sincgiefu

renfrow at skylands.net

 

 

Date: Tue, 05 Oct 1999 11:26:31 CEST

From: "Christina van Tets" <cjvt at hotmail.com>

Subject: SC - mustard

 

<snip of mustard info>

 

Cairistiona

 

P.S.  There is a French company which still makes comfits - I think it's

based in an abbey somewhere - apparently the anise comfits are the most

well-known, but they have about fourteen different flavours, including

lavender and cinnamon (though not mustard), and they are the size of peas.

 

 

Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2000 09:27:35 EDT

From: Seton1355 at aol.com

Subject: SC - Kissing Comfits or Muscadines.

 

This comes from my Tudor list

Phillipa

 

<<  This recipe comes from "Dining with William Shakespeare" by Madge Lorwin.   The author has adapted Tudor recipes to modern measurements.  The original  was published in 1621 by John Murrell in "Delightfull daily exercise for  Ladies and Gentlewomen."

 

3 tablespoons rose water

1 teaspoon gum arabic powder

3 eyedropper drops essence of ambergris

2 eyedropper drops essence of musk

4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon powered orris root

2 drops yellow food color (optional)

2 drops blue food color (optional)

 

      Pour rose water into a saucer, add gum arabic and stir until the gum is  dissolved.  Add the ambergris and musk, set aside until needed.  Sift two  cups of the sugar and the orris root into a bowl,  Add the gum arabic  mixture, a tablespoonful at a time and work into the sugar until the paste  is smooth.

     For white pastilles, sprinkle the third cup of sugar on a large plate  and, with your fingers, work the paste into the sugar until it is smooth.   For colored pastilles, divide the white paste into two equal parts, add a  drop of food color to each part.  Blend in each of the colors and set one  aside covered (they dry out very quickly) while you work with the other.

     Sprinkle half the remanning sugar on a clean plate and work in until  smooth. Pat the paste into a square and cover it with a piece of wax paper.   Roll it out gently to a sheet about 3/8 inch thick. Mark and cut off small  squares, triangles and rectangles with a knife. Sprinkle a cookie sheet with  the remanning sugar and place the pastilles on it about an inch apart.

     When the pastilles have hardened, loosen them gently with a spatula (they  break easily) and store them in an airtight container.  You should be able to  get about four dozen pastilles from this recipe.  They will keep for six to  eight weeks.  >>

 

 

Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2000 13:34:47 -0400

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Making  Comfits

 

Bethany Public Library wrote:

> I recall someone else making comfits and sharing their process (involved a

> marble slab), and I think it was the hugh plat recipe. Adamantius, maybe?

> Anybody remember?

 

I don't remember a marble slab being involved. I worked with a sort of

synthesis of the MS Royal (I think; the book is not handy just now)

found in the Goud Kokery volume of Curye On Ingslysche, with the Hugh

Plat recipe to fill in the gaps in detail.

> At any rate, I found that I *could* mingle them with my hand quite

> successfully, if the syrup cooled a slight bit, the ladle was small-ish, the

> syrup was poured sparingly, and was poured from a great height as the recipe

> advises. But my comfits are fairly "rough" and uneven in size. I'm going to

> make more tonight or tomorrow, and try the colored varieties.

 

Kewl! As I recall, I also could mingle them with my hands (kinda like

handling warm gravel), and used a small ladle the mountaynence of an

unce, as the recipe specifies. In other words, I happened to have a

one-fluid-ounce sauce ladle on hand. I also experienced rough and ragged

comfits, and after a certain size was achieved after multiple coatings,

I had the experience of forming sugar lumps without seeds in the middle;

essentially the comfits refused to grow larger (the recipe says they

should be the size of peas) after a certain point, no matter how much

sugar I added.

 

Also worthy of noting is the fact that I never actually had a real

syrup, so to speak. The fifteenth-century recipe never actually mentions

water in any way, and what I had done was melt the dry sugar, slowly and

gently, so what I had was essentially a hard-crack syrup from the very

start. This may have been the source of my problem.

 

So mine ended up looking a bit like ground-up concrete pellets, a bit

like Post Grape-Nuts cereal. They tasted like Good-N-Plenty candies.

People enjoyed them; I'm just not sure how close to the genuine article

they were.

 

Adamantius

 

 

Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 13:55:30 -0400

From: "Gaylin J. Walli" <gwalli at ptc.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Making  Comfits

 

Mas'A wrote:

>Kewl! As I recall, I also could mingle them with my hands (kinda like

>handling warm gravel), and used a small ladle the mountaynence of an

>unce, as the recipe specifies.

 

If I recall correctly how we did it, we used about a half cup of

seeds and used small amounts of cooling syrup. Small amounts

were roughly what could be dribbled into the bowls and mixed

with a soup spoon. Hauviette, I'm sure, can clarify here.

 

>after a certain size was achieved after multiple coatings,

>I had the experience of forming sugar lumps without seeds in the middle;

>essentially the comfits refused to grow larger (the recipe says they

>should be the size of peas) after a certain point, no matter how much

>sugar I added.

 

We never got them to the size of what I would call a pea. Maybe

more the size of a lentil. But we too hit the refusal point and

just ended up making sugar balls. That was the point at which

we stopped.

 

>so what I had was essentially a hard-crack syrup from the very

>start. This may have been the source of my problem.

 

This is what we did too. No water, just a dry pan.

 

>So mine ended up looking a bit like ground-up concrete pellets, a bit

>like Post Grape-Nuts cereal. They tasted like Good-N-Plenty candies.

 

And that was essentially what we had too, except for the Good-N-Plenty

part. Can't stand the things. We used coriander.

 

Iasmin de Cordoba, gwalli at ptc.com or iasmin at home.com

 

 

Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2000 12:23:37 -0600

From: Serian <serian at uswest.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Making  Comfits

 

Interestingly enough, I was just looking at a recipe for

candied anise seeds in Pleyn Delit Second Edition.  I've

never made it before.  

#135 in Pleyn Delit

1 c sugar

1/2 c water

6 oz anise seeds (bits of ginger or other spices would also

work)

 

Boil water and sugar in heavy fry pan 5 mins. add seeds and

continue to cook until syrup begins to look white.  Set

aside 10 mins. Put back over very low (pref diffused) heat &

stir until sugar softens enough to be poured. Pour onto

cookie sheet.  Spread with paring knife to separate.  As

they harden you can separate but work fast.  Each seed

should ideally be separate.

 

 

Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2000 10:24:52 -0400

From: "Bethany Public Library" <betpulib at ptdprolog.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Making  Comfits

 

Adamantius wrote:

*Kewl! As I recall, I also could mingle them with my hands (kinda like

*handling warm gravel), and used a small ladle the mountaynence of *an unce,

as the recipe specifies. In other words, I happened to have *a

one-fluid-ounce sauce ladle on hand. I also experienced rough and *ragged

comfits, and after a certain size was achieved after multiple *coatings, I

had the experience of forming sugar lumps without seeds *in the middle;

essentially the comfits refused to grow larger (the *recipe says they should

be the size of peas) after a certain point, no *matter how much sugar I

added.

 

Well, I found that I could get "very large" comfits, because if I let the

syrup "soak in" a second or two, that's what I got. "Very Large" comfits are

not good, however, due to the flavor intensity. It might be like eating a

tic-tac the size of one of those "dinosaur egg bubble gum" balls. So three

coats was about it for me. After that, we dried the mass in a slightly warm

oven, and then sifted out the gold from the silt, packaging them for later

serving.

 

We experienced  the phenomenon that a light hand makes better comfits by

this method. You don't have to mash the sugar in, you simply lightly toss

the mixture repeatedly, and break up any enormous bits.

 

*Also worthy of noting is the fact that I never actually had a real

*syrup, so to speak. The fifteenth-century recipe never actually

*mentions water in any way, and what I had done was melt the dry

*sugar, slowly and gently, so what I had was essentially a hard-crack

*syrup from the very start. This may have been the source of my problem.

 

Possibly. Elise Flemming reccomended that the syrup never get to soft-ball

stage. I used mostly sugar, and enough water to barely moisten it. This made

it easier to form the comfits, but they took a tiny bit longer to dry (they

dried better in a regular oven than  in a convection oven, BTW, though I am

boggled). After the syrup had heated sufficiently to be clear, there was

almost no water left in it. I still got gravel-like lumps (the colored ones

did look a bit like fish-tank gravel ;). I colored the syrup. Next time I

may flavor the syrup with cinnamon or such, and do a "no seeds" batch.  I

found that the colored syrup also colored the loose sugar.

 

*So mine ended up looking a bit like ground-up concrete pellets, a bit

*like Post Grape-Nuts cereal. They tasted like Good-N-Plenty *candies.

*People enjoyed them; I'm just not sure how close to the genuine *article

they were.

 

Well, Hugh Plat's recipe as quoted in the new C.A. mentions rough comfits,

and that is, apparently, what we both made. The anise version does indeed

taste like good-n-plenty candies. I also made fennel and caraway. I found

that two .9 ounce jars of the seeds made enough for eveyone to have several

at the 120 person feast. We made three such batches, to offer some sort of

visual substance to the offering (and to flaunt our purported wealth) but a

lot were left over. Just one flavor served in small bowls would have been

OK, but we didn't have small enough vessels and didn't want to look

parsimonious. Various folks seemed to take a liking to one or other variety

but I couldn't get a general concensus as to one favored flavor. So I think

that making a variety of flavors is a good thing, and coloring them to

differentiate between the falvors is also a good thing. The orange and lemon

peel ones sounded good, as well. That's an experiment for another day,

though.

 

I also experienced a recyclable aspect to the whole process. Some of the

seeds that did not adhere could be recycled along with the leftover sugar.

In fact my apprentice Ragnar Ketilsson took three such batches home with

them to do precisely that, and I think we will have found that with the

recycled batches, the seeds will have flavored the sugar, and so it won't be

so crucial that a seed appear in every comfit (like we flavor sugar with

vanilla beans, fer instance).

 

Thanks for your commentary. It was a very cool experiment. I'm definately

doing that one again, but now i need to study how to make smoother ones.

 

*Adamantius

 

Aoife----and I hope that some of you that attended got a good look at the

soteltie----a "scroll" cake by another apprentice, lady Rowan of Ashebrook,

made from a period fruitcake recipe and decorated in squashed

bug-illumination style, with gold-leaf backround, the scroll part (in praise

of the crown tourney winners) in edible scarlet ink on sugarpaste, and the

borders of bugs and flowers cast in sugar paste and then painted to be

life-like. It was incredible. I am a lucky a woman, at risk of looking

stoopid in front of her apprentices, and not caring one whit.

 

 

Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 12:47:09 EDT

From: ChannonM at aol.com

Subject: SC - Re: Comfits

 

>and I do want to pick your brain about the sugar comfits - how do you do them

>so they stay separate and white (since mine tent to want to turn light golden

>and glob into bunches...

 

This came with practice in my case. Getting the sugar to a high enough temp

and for long enough to accomplish the coatings is the difficult part. What I

found was that the sugar had to be at hard candy stage. I did not use a

thermometer, but a glass of cold water. When the syrup went to the stage

where it threads, I found it was best. I held the bowl of spices in my left

hand and poured in about 1/2 Tablespoon of the hot syrup into about 1/8th cup

of spices. I then used a fork to turn them around in the bowl.I know it says

use your hand, but hygeine took over.  This stage took longer than expected,

but eventually you can feel them begin to separate and break apart, and then

they begin to roll on their own. When the weather was warm, I actually put

them in the fridge to cool off and would go back to them in a few minutes.

You have to be carefull not to add too much syrup at the beginning of this

stage, that is where the patience comes in. After about 6 rounds of the

process, I could begin to add more syrup. This was usually good because the

syrup would be beginning to crystalize. I had to turn down the heat

repeatedly to keep a constant temp, but eventually the sugar would begin to

boil and then would crystalize upon which I would add a dash of water and

begin again. Very time consuming, but as you saw at the Confections class at

the symposium, the comfits I made recently  were about a quarter inch in

diameter and where white and ragged. I was amazed at how they matched the

picture of them in period. That was very rewarding.

 

I hope this has been of some help.

 

Hauviette

 

 

Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 20:45:07 -0400

From: johnna holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] comfits? (long)

 

jenne at fiedlerfamily.net wrote: snipped.....

> I'm experimenting with making comfits...starting from the

> instructions Gwen Cat put up for her feast, at:

> http://clem.mscd.edu/~grasse/GK_ASnovfeast.htm )

> But instead of being white, the sugar is sort of off-grey. Is this a

> sign of crystallizing? Did I cook the sugar too long? When you heat the

> syrup, is the idea to increase the temperature gradually or just get to

> the soft-ball stage as soon as possible? I used both enamel and stainless

> steel pots, it didn't seem to make a difference.> -- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa

 

Johnnae llyn Lewis sends greetings and observations.

 

Near as I can remember comfit making was a pain

in the you know where... But I have done it upon

occasion. Anyway I note that the feast that you

cite says that the comfits were adapted from the

recipe by Dame Hauviette d'Anjou. I went back and

looked at her original recipe.

 

A Recreated Recipe  by Dame Hauviette d'Anjou

( from her article Sweets and Treats of the 14C

found in the Florilegium or at

http://www.netcolony.com/arts/mkcooks/14sweets.html)

     1 cup/6 ounces granulated white sugar (very

     finely ground in a food processor or

     mortar) or fruit sugar or castor sugar (10X

     sugar)

     1/2 cup/ 3/4 ounce (approx.) coriander seeds (or

     any other suitable seed or nut

     i.e. anise, caraway, fennel, pine nuts, almonds

     are the most commonly

     mentioned in period)

     food colouring (optional)

     1/2 cup hot water

 

The recipe you cite gives a recipe as follows:

1 C sugar

1/2 C (approx.) coriander seeds (or any other

suitable seed or nut i.e. anise, caraway, fennel,

pine nuts, almonds are commonly mentioned in period)

1/3 C hot water.

 

These are not the same proportions.

 

So, I checked Peter Brears

who gives a recipe of:

10 ml (2 tsp) seeds

450 g (1 lb) cane sugar

275 ml (1/2 pt) water.

 

He says gently heat. Stir until dissolved. Quit stirring and

raise heat. Cook until it reaches 110 degrees C (225 degrees F).

Brears says remove the syrup from the heat and dip the bottom

of the pan in cold water to stop it cooking.

He then instructs you to use a small omelette pan over low heat

to warm the seeds up in. You then add the syrup a teaspoon at a time

to the seeds in the omelette pan while keeping it over very low heat.

You then candy the seeds and stir and seperate and dry them over the

low heat, adding more syrup to build up the layers. Repeat until

they are the size desired and then dry them in the same pan over

low heat. See All The King's Cooks for recipe and picture.

 

Laura Mason in Sugar-Plums and Sherbet discusses Hugh Plat's

recipe for comfits and notes that it came to be the practice

that "pearl" or irregular comfits had sugar cooked to 103-107

degrees C with smooth comfits boiled to 102 degrees C. She

describes the use of the brazier skillet that Brears uses. The

important part was the keeping the seeds in motion over low heat

while the syrup was added. They whitened, she says, as they dry,

so they should be stirred until dry and cool in the pan.

 

I would suggest trying to get the proportions more in line with

Brears' suggestions. Use a candy thermometer and cook to 225 degrees F.

Then try candying them in a second small skillet, letting them coat and

dry while keeping them stirred.

 

(I can remember coating whole cloves on racks and pouring syrup over them,

and turning them. It was a pain for the amount of candied cloves we

ended up with. I am wondering if an electric skillet might

not be the way to go for the actual coating of the seeds, a la Brears.)

 

Hope this helps.

Johnna Holloway

 

 

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 17:54:04 -0500

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: Comfits

 

Johnna responded to why the comfits were grey:

>Laura Mason in Sugar-Plums and Sherbet discusses Hugh Plat's

>recipe for comfits and notes that it came to be the practice

>that "pearl" or irregular comfits had sugar cooked to 103-107

>degrees C with smooth comfits boiled to 102 degrees C. She

>describes the use of the brazier skillet that Brears uses. The

>important part was the keeping the seeds in motion over low heat

>while the syrup was added. They whitened, she says, as they dry,

>so they should be stirred until dry and cool in the pan.

 

Continuing to stir them in the pan until they were thoroughly dry

made my gray (grey) comfits whiter.  That may be the secret.

Regarding keeping them on the fire, the period practice was to have

them in a hanging basin which could be swung away from the heat

source.  We (myself included) have tended to put our pan directly on

the heat source.  I don't think most of us actually re-create what

was done in period because we modify the methods.

 

Alys Katharine

 

 

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 19:55:38 -0600

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: Candied Almonds

 

Greetings.  I recall seeing pictures of candied almonds (at least

they appear candied) in some of the Dutch still lifes.  They are

almonds, and they are white and smooth. However, I still haven't

seen a recipe.  IIRC, there are references in some of the material

about what certain important folk took with them to various wars.

I'm wondering if there are any recipes in untranslated French

literature???  That confectioners' book, for example??

 

Alys Katharine

 

 

Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 18:17:47 -0700

From: grasse <grasse at mscd.edu>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: [Sca-cooks] RE: Sca-cooks digest, Vol 1 #1340 - 14. candied almonds

 

Greetings Stefan and the list,

 

Actually, yes, sugar coated almonds, filberts, walnuts and pinon nuts, as

well as seeds and spices are listed in Rumpolt.  (For those who don't know him

yet, it is 1581 German that I am still working on transcribing and translating.

and yes, I take requests.)

 

A translation of that chapter is webbed here:

http://clem.mscd.edu/~grasse/GK_zucker1.htm

 

and instructions that I have found WORK for making them are here (thanks

Dame Hauviette):

http://clem.mscd.edu/~grasse/GK_ASnovfeast.htm

 

This does NOT document sugared almonds in the Catalan area, but does let you

have nice sugared almonds if you are doing a late period German feast.

 

Gwen Cat

 

 

From: "Robin Carroll-Mann" <rcmann4 at earthlink.net>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 20:38:42 -0500

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] candied almonds

 

The _Libre de totes maneres de confits_ has a recipe for preserved

almonds.  They are soaked (with periodic boilings) in a honey

syrup for 8 days.  This would make them very sweet, but not sugar-

coated.

 

Master Thomas, I assume that you have a copy of this work, but if

not, it's webbed at:

http://staff-www.uni-marburg.de/~gloning/confits.htm

 

The recipe I refer to is "Per Confegir Ametlles".  It's the third

chapter.

 

(Note to the rest of the list: the _Libre_ is in Catalan, and there is

no English translation.)

 

Vincente, you've been working with these recipes.  You have

anything to add?

 

Brighid ni Chiarain *** mka Robin Carroll-Mann

Barony of Settmour Swamp, East Kingdom

 

 

From: Devra at aol.com

Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 10:54:40 EST

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Cleansing and sterlization

 

Laura Mason's(now out-of-print) book from Prospect called "Sherbets and Sugar Plums" has an entire chapter on making confits.  The ragged coating vs smooth coating is caused by a difference in the syrup temperature.

 

Devra the Baker

 

 

From: jenne at fiedlerfamily.net

Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 16:00:38 -0500 (EST)

To: SCA-Cooks maillist <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Banquet dels Quatre Barres - service, length, menu

 

> Wow. It sounds wonderful. Do you have recipes or other documentation

> for these almond confits? I thought confits were just from spices. I'd

> love to see more information about any candied nuts.

 

Well, Gwencat translates the list of comfits from Rumpolt here:

http://clem.mscd.edu/~grasse/GK_zucker1.htm

I'm not entirely comfortable with some of the translations but almonds

seems pretty straightforward.

 

-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa

 

 

From: "Vincent Cuenca" <bootkiller at hotmail.com>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 16:55:33 +0000

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: candied almonds

 

>The _Libre de totes maneres de confits_ has a recipe for preserved

>almonds.  They are soaked (with periodic boilings) in a honey

>syrup for 8 days.  This would make them very sweet, but not sugar-

>coated.

 

There are similar instructions for almonds candied in sugar syrup, but

nothing approximating Jordan almonds.  The turrons are excellent, though,

and dead easy to make.  As our good Master Thomas has said, though, not all

the information is in yet. :-)  The techniques used in _Libre de Totes

Maneres de Confits_ produce either items preserved in syrup or made into

nougats.  There's nothing about candied spices, though there are recipes for

medicinal pastilles, marzipans, fritters, and incense.

 

>(Note to the rest of the list: the _Libre_ is in Catalan, and there is

>no English translation.)

 

Not yet, anyway.  I will be remedying that sooner or later. *smirk*  I

already have a draft translation into English, from Faraudo de St. Germain's

transcription. Master Thomas (que en buen ora naci=F3) has just FedExed me

photocopies of the original MS.   Hooboy this is gonna be good fun.

*smirksmirk*

 

Vicente

(in food geek heaven)

 

 

From: jenne at fiedlerfamily.net

Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 16:45:36 -0500 (EST)

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Re: candied almonds

 

> There is a big difference between a candied in colourless sugar syrup almond

> and a Jordan almond that is coated in a hard candy shell of white or pink.

 

Ok. I've been making comfits of aniseed and caraway using Gwencat's method

involving dumping colorless sugar syrup on the seeds and stirring until

they dry separately, then adding more syrup, repeat. The difference

between these comfits (which are covered in a ragged sugar coating, sort

of offwhite) and commercial seed comfits is the smoothness of the coating

and that mine are rather grey, probably from seed dust, I'd always

thought.

 

So, what am I doing wrong?

 

-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa

 

 

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 17:56:13 -0600

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: Candied Almonds

 

Jadwiga wrote:

>So, what am I doing wrong?

 

Not drying them in the pan over low heat longer?? When I kept

moving mine in the pan for a longer time they turned whiter.

 

Alys Katharine

 

 

Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 06:48:16 -0400

Subject: Re: Comfits Re: [Sca-cooks] grains of paradise

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius at verizon.net>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

 

On Monday, June 16, 2003, at 11:32  PM, <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net> wrote:

>> However, comfits made with grains of paradise seeds might be

>> interesting.

> Hm... at the Kings and Queens A&S Champions competition, Prudence the

> curious entered a selection of comfits, among them coriander comfits.

> They were MAHRVELOUS! I have GOT to candy some coriander, now that the

> weather is starting to dry out at last.

> I'm thinking of bringing comfits as part of my Pennsic A&S entry. Any

> suggestions on how to keep 'em relatively cool and dry?

 

How big did Prudence get her coriander comfits? Plat says they should

be as big as peas, but I've never been able to get them that large

before they became "rough and ragged", and began forming sugar balls of

their own, independent of the seeds.

 

On keeping them dry. It may sound crazy, but have you considered a

cloth-lined, air-tight container, with a packet or two of silica gel

tucked under the cloth? You might also pack them in powdered sugar, and

brush it off before presentation. But for Pennsic, I would definitely

consider the silica gel packets.

 

Hey, comfits _are_ pills, after all.

 

Adamantius

 

 

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2003 07:50:23 -0500

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Miscellaneous Sugar Stuff

 

Greetings.  Comfits should keep quite well if put into (for example)

a Tupperware container.  Or, even better, into a Ziploc bag inside a

tightly sealed plastic container.  I've kept the dreaded moisture

away from sugar paste by having it in a plastic bag inside a large

plastic tote, and sugar paste is more hygroscopic (correct word??)

than comfits are.

 

Stefan's comment about drinking from a sugar paste goblet before it

disintegrates brings up an experiment on the dissolvablility of

sugar paste.  I dropped a piece of well-dried, broken sugar paste

(about 1/8 inch thick) into a glass of water.  Hours later it was

still there, inviolate.  I might hypothesize that if the sugar paste

were very thin and not terribly dry, it might dissolve with a hot

liquid, but cold liquids can probably be used with impunity.  If

it's dry enough to hold its shape, you could use it during a banquet

and not have to hasten your drinking. Period sources warn to keep

hot things away from the sugar paste.

 

Alys Katharine

 

 

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 09:49:10 -0700

From: Susan Fox-Davis <selene at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Candied ginger?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

I use the recipe in THE JOY OF COOKING actually.  It's at home and I'm

at work <sigh> but as I recally, you peel and slice the ginger and cook

it in simple 1:1 sugar syrup for a long long time until transparent.

  Remove from the syrup and dry on racks. I like to make more sugar

syrup than the ginger needs to cover, resulting in a lot of extra yummy

ginger syrup.

 

Susan/Mistress Selene

 

jah at twcny.rr.com wrote:

> I would appreciate getting nice info as to how to candy ginger!

> PLEASE!!!!!!

> Jules/Mistress Catalina

 

 

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 10:53:20 -0600

From: "Kathleen A. Roberts" <karobert at unm.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Candied ginger?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

--On Thursday, April 15, 2004 9:49 AM -0700 Susan Fox-Davis

<selene at earthlink.net> wrote:

> I use the recipe in THE JOY OF COOKING actually.  >

 

I use the one in the Settlement Cookbook (same here... me at work, it at

home) but it instructs you to blanche the ginger first (1 - 3 times) to

get the bitterness out before you simmer in simple syrup.

 

cailte

 

 

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 15:14:13 -0400

From: <kingstaste at mindspring.com>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Re: candied ginger

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-ooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Oh, heck, I'm avoiding other things I really should be doing, I can type in

the one from Joy of Cooking.

Christianna

 

Candied Ginger

From "Joy of Cooking", Rombauer and Rambauer Becker, 1975 edition.

5 1/2 pints preserved

(...) This is either a single long-day or an intermittent four-day

procedure.  If you settle for one day, allow several hours between each of

the for cookings. (...)

Scrape and cut into 1/4 inch slices enough fresh fibrous young:

 

Gingerroot

 

to make 1 quart.  Put the slices into a large stainless steel pan and cover

generously with:

 

Water

 

Bring water slowly to a boil and simmer covered until tendr, about 20

minutes.  Add:

 

1 cup sugar

 

and stir until mixture boils.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let stand

overnight at room temperature.  Recook, simmering gently for about 15

mintues after the ginger has again come to a boil.  Add:

 

1 seeded sliced lemon

1 cup light corn syrup

 

Uncover and simmer 15 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.  Remove from

heat and let stand covered overnight. During the third cooking, the ginger

must be stirred often to avoid scorching. Birng the syruped ginger to a

boil.  Stir in:

 

1 cup sugar

 

Simmer 30 minutes.  Stir in:

 

1 cup sugar

 

and bring mixture again to a boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand overnight.

In the fourth cooking, bring the mixture to a boil once more. When the syrup

drops heavily from te side of a spoon, 833*, and the ginger is translucent,

pour the mixture into sterile wide-mouthed jars.  Seal, 805*.  You should

now have about 5 cups of Canton Ginger. Should you want Candied Ginger,

drain the ginger after the last cooking. Reserve he syrup for flavoring

sauces.  Dry the ginger slices on a rack over a tray, uncovered, overnight.

When well dried, roll the slices in:

 

Granulated sugar

 

Store in tightly covered glass jars.

 

*Refers to pages in the book where these topics are discussed.

 

 

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 20:07:00 +0000

From: "Olwen the Odd" <olwentheodd at hotmail.com>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Candied ginger?

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

 

> I would appreciate getting nice info as to how to candy ginger!

> PLEASE!!!!!!

> Jules/Mistress Catalina

 

I know others have responded, but no one seems to do it the same.  If   you want candied ginger that really gets your attention then try doing it   the way I do.

 

Peel and slice at an angle across the grain as many pounds of good fresh

ginger as you care to deal with (right now I have about 4 pounds going).

 

Make your simple syrup and get it warm enough to dissolve the sugar.    Add ginger.  Make sure there is always plenty of syrup to more than cover   the ginger.  Let simmer till the ginger finally gives up and gets soft (or   your eyes sting so much you can't stand it any longer).  Remove from heat   and let sit in syrup overnight.  Next day add some more sugar, heat to a simmer again for another hour or so.  Remove from heat. Let sit in syrup overnight.  Continue this for a week or so, adding a bit more sugar and simmering for an hour or more each day.

 

After your entire kitchen is completely permiated with the smell of   ginger, strain it, reserving the syrup.

 

Spread out ginger pieces on a rack over a cookie sheet or somesuch to   let them completely drain, turning occasionally. Don't let them get all   dried out!  After they are not soaking wet any longer, toss in sugar, set on deydrator with some venting.  You do not want these to dry too quickly. Rotate shelves each morning and evening till they are pretty well dried   out.    You may want/need to toss the pieces in sugar once or twice more.

 

Seal in airtight containers or freezer ziplocks and keep in fridge for

longer life.  When you put them out, stand back or you will get run  

down by the feinds.

 

Olwen

 

 

Date: Fri, 16 Apr 204 15:58:54 +0000

From: "Olwen the Odd" <olwentheodd at hotmail.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Candied ginger?

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

 

I think I already posted he answer to this, but, again, I will.

Heat the syrup up, then strain through a cloth to get any bits left (or you

could leave them in if you want), then heat back up, add corn syrup and make

hard succet candy.  Sometimes I add pine nuts to some of it.

 

Olwen

 

> Hmmm....soo....what does one use the syrup for? I'd imagine it might be

> tasty in tea, or perhaps on the right kind of pancake.  Would it work for

> liqueur?

> --maire

> Olwen the Odd wrote:

> <snipped>

>> After your entire kitchen is completely permiated with the smell of

>> ginger, strain it, reserving the syrup.

 

 

Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 19:51:04 -0400

From: Alex Clark <alexbclark at pennswoods.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Candied ginger?

To: jah at twcny.rr.com, Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

At 12:01 PM 4/15/2004 -0400, Jules/Mistress Catalina wrote:

> I would appreciate getting nice info

> as to how to candy ginger!

 

Candy ginger the same way you make anise in comfit, but the ginger should

be cut like a dice in small pieces, four square, and give thy ginger a

little higher decoction than thou givest the other seeds.

 

At least that's what _Curye on Inglysch_ V 12 says.

--

Henry of Maldon/Alex Clark

 

 

Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2004 09:10:44 -0700

From: Susan Fox-Davis <selene at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Candied ginger?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

> Also sprach Sue Clemenger:

>> Hmmm....soo....what does one use the syrup for? I'd imagine it might

>> be tasty in tea, or perhaps on the right kind of pancake. Would it

>> work for liqueur?

>> --maire

 

I mix it with vokda and make a liqueur of it.  Start with 1:1

proportions and adjust to taste.

 

My infamous "Nasty Old Feast Leftover" started this way, with excess

ginger and orange peel syrups left over from candying.

 

Selene Colfox

 

 

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 14:04:51 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Comfits and stuffe

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

>>> 

I've just sent my comfits stuff to my local HerbGuild newsletter, and

might as well break down and put it on my website. But I'm too lazy to

do all the background research right now, does anyone have a website

with all the comfit background I can link to?

 

-- Jadwiga

<<< 

 

Link to Ivan Day's at

http://www.historicfood.com/Comfits.htm

 

Johnnae

 

 

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2005 14:35:10 -0500

From: "Denise Wolff" <scadian at hotmail.com>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] good website on comfits?

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

 

>>> 

I've just sent my comfits stuff to my local HerbGuild newsetter, and

might as well break down and put it on my website. But I'm too lazy to

do all the background research right now, does anyone have a website

with all the comfit background I can link to?

 

-- Jadwiga

<<< 

 

Here are two I found:  I know Iasmin is on this list.

 

http://www.historicfood.com/Comfits.htm

 

http://home.comcast.net/~iasmin/mkcc/MKCCfiles/SweetTreats.html

 

Andrea

 

 

Date: Tue, 15 Mar 2005 16:06:01 -0800

From: lilinah at earthlink.net

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Raggedy Comfits

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

 

I haven't tried making comfits myself, although i'm thinking about it

- i just have a mental block about all that sugar... anyway, some

folks who *have* worried that their comfits were not smooth.

 

Here's a detail from a late 16th or early 17th century paintings,

showing comfits... they're pretty raggedy...

http://www.historicfood.com/Comfits.htm

 

I'm really enjoying this website, which is Ivan Day's. Mr. Day

teaches classes in historic cooking, primarily in England, besides

being involved with some museum exhibitions and books...

 

Here's the complete picture by Georg Flegel of which i posted only a  detail

http://cgfa.sunsite.dk/f/p-flegel2.htm

 

Here's a different painting with more comfits...

http://cgfa.sunsite.dk/f/p-flegel1.htm

 

This one has comfits, quinces and cotignac, maybe jumbals, several of

what look to me to be biscotti beneath two figs...

http://cgfa.sunsite.dk/f/p-flegel3.htm

 

Flegel's paintings are undated, but his dates are: 1566-1638, so

they're period or 1/3 of a century OOP...

--

Urtatim, formerly Anahita

 

 

Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005 16:08:53 EST

From: Devra at aol.com

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: rough comfits

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

 

I believe that the difference between smooth and rough comfits is

caused by a fairly small difference in the temperature of the sugar  

syrup being dropped on the seeds.

 

      Devra

 

Devra Langsam

www.poisonpenpress.com

 

 

Date: Sat, 15 Oct 2005 21:06:00 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Middle-Eastern 'Nibbles'?

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

So the "bellaria" mentioned by Platina don't count as

spiced nuts? Even with sugar?

 

"There is an order to be observed in taking food, since everything that

moves the bowels and whatever is of light and slight nourishment, like

apples and pears is more safely and pleasantly eaten in the first

course. I even add lettuce and whatever is served with vinegar and oil,

raw or cooked. Then there are eggs, especially the soft-cooked kind, and

certain sweets which we call bellaria, seasoned with spices and pine

nuts, or honey, or sugar. These are served very appropriately to

guests." Platina I.16

 

On Sugar

 

"By melting it, we make almonds (softened and cleaned in water), pine

nuts, hazelnuts, coriander, anise, cinnamon, and many other things into

sweets. Platina II.15

 

Milham, M. trans. Platina. On Right Pleasure and Good Health. MRTS, 1998

 

Johnnae

 

lilinah at earthlink.net wrote:

 

>> Now here's the second question-what would a Middle Eastern

>> Savoury/nibble be like? Cheese? Spiced roasted almonds?

> I've never seen spiced almonds in a period cookbook, but there are

> smoked and spice olives, which i have made for several feasts. (recipe

> below)

> Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)

> the persona formerly known as Anahita

 

 

Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2006 22:11:12 -0500

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] New Books

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>,

        "mk-cooks at midrealm.org" <mk-cooks at midrealm.org>

 

These volumes are now listed on Amazon.co.uk

Apicius: A Critical Edition with an Introduction and English Translation

# Hardcover 448 pages (September 7, 2006)

# Publisher: Prospect Books

# Language: English

# ISBN: 1903018137

 

and

Spices and Comfits: Collected Papers on Medieval Food

# by Johanna Maria van Winter Hardcover 400 pages (September 7, 2006)

# Publisher: Prospect Books

# Language: English

# ISBN: 1903018455

 

See http://www.kal69.dial.pipex.com/shop/pages/newtitle.htm   for more

information.

 

Johnnae

 

 

Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 19:29:46 -0500

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Oh, My Aching Comfits!

To: "sca-cooks at ansteorra.org" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>,

        "mk-cooks at midrealm.org" <mk-cooks at midrealm.org>

 

Greetings... creak, groan, sighhhh... An SCA friend (Jehenne) and I spent

close to 5 hours today wrestling with a number of different seeds to make

them into comfits.  Yesterday we coated coriander and anise seeds with some

4-6 charges (aka "coats") of a gum Arabic solution which Ivan Day

recommends to hold in the essential oils. We used a wok on an electric

stove.  Today, for adding the sugar syrup, we used my wok which has a

rounder bottom and a ring to keep it off the direct heat.  The hardest part

today was getting the solution of sugar to the right consistency and I'm

not convinced that I have it just where it should be.  The syrup kept

"graining" and I didn't want to add any crystals to the seeds in the wok.

 

The first batch of syrup, following some instructions we took off the web,

was too hot.  Ivan wanted a thin stream, not to the thread stage, but

that's where it ended up and the seeds clumped badly although Jehenne was

finally able to get them to separate.  I watered down the sugar solution

and got it to "uncrystallize" for the most part.  I think we've figured out

that we need to get the sugar to about 200 degrees F., then back it off and

keep it around 175.  The coriander seeds were done in three batches so that

we didn't work too many at a time.  They are lovely and round!  Tomorrow

we're going to give them another 10 charges, probably aiming for a total of

30-40 which would be 10 charges per day.

 

The anise seeds are also amazing.  They clumped when the syrup was first

added and then as Jehenne moved them in the pan they separated into

individual seeds as they dried.  We became so thrilled with the results

that we ended up coating cumin, fennel and caraway seeds with the gum

Arabic in preparation for starting the sugar coating tomorrow.  I think,

seeing how tired and sleepy I am, that we are nuts to try so many at one

time, but they sure did turn out well for the first day's work!

 

I found the tin with my comfits that I'd made back in 1990 - they still

taste fine but are filled with many sugar "gobbets" due to my inexperience.

You think you're biting on a "seedy" comfit and it's just a blob of sugar.

 

One thing that helped us today was to frequently wash off our hands when

they became too sugary, and to wash out the pan when sugar began to

accumulate on the bottom.  The sugar temperature is the real question.

I've seen references to soft ball stage, to pulling one's fingers apart for

a thread stage, and then an early source where the sugar is supposed to

stream off a spoon like turpentine.  The latter seemed to work best and

seems to be around 200 or so.

 

Tedious and time-consuming is right for making comfits.  Let's see what

tomorrow's continuation brings!

 

Alys Katharine

 

 

Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 21:23:34 -0500

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Oh, My Aching Comfits!

To: "Heleen Greenwald" <heleen at ptd.net>,  "Cooks within the SCA"

        <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

<<< When I was reading about your work with making confits, I was  

wondering about gum arabic so I looked it up. OK, so now I am  

convinced that you can eat the stuff.....but I have a bottle of gum  

arabic that I use in calligraphy.... and I would never eat THAT  

stuff... Is it the same thing??

 

Phillipa

 

 

gum arabic

 

NOUN:

A gum exuded by various African trees of the genus Acacia, especially  

A. senegal, used in the preparation of pills and emulsions and the  

manufacture of mucilage and candies and in general as a thickener and  

colloidal stabilizer. Also called acacia.   >>>

 

The gum Arabic that I use is food grade and in a powder, not the  

liquid stuff that is prepared for calligraphers.  I don't know what  

kind of solution the calligraphy Arabic is in but the powdered kind  

is available from "Sweet Celebrations" and other cake decorating  

supply stores.

 

Alys Katharine

 

 

Date: Wed, 30 May 2007 00:08:23 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Comfit Making

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

 

On May 29, 2007, at 11:33 PM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Why did you raise the temperature? Was this a trial and error sort of

> thing? Or did you find some medieval description or recipe that lead

> to this?

 

The earliest recipe I've seen appears to actually involve melting

sugar without water, so a somewhat different sugar-working technology

than the modern fixation with temperatures and cooking heights for

syrups may be at work. That recipe (which you probably already have;

it's 15th century, as I recall) refers to things you should not do if

you want to avoid ragged comfits, so presumably it was possible to

get smooth ones (the language is kind of vague and it's possible you

add water and cook it all more slowly to get them smooth). I've just

never succeeded in doing so. Luckily, the ragged ones are good, too.

 

Adamantius

 

 

Date: Fri, 1 Jun 2007 06:26:06 -0500

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Comfits Revisited

To: "sca-cooks at ansteorra.org" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Greetings!  Stefan had written regarding the temperature of the sugar  

syrup:

> Why did you raise the temperature? Was this a trial and error sort of

> thing? Or did you find some medieval description or recipe that lead

> to this?

 

I had responded quickly that I hadn't raised it but had lowered it.  I

missed the last part of his questions. The sugar temperature is hinted at

in most of the recipes.  Various terminology is used - a light decoction,

until it streams like turpentine, and so on.  Plat says "For crispe and

ragged comfits, make your sugar of a high decoction, euen as high as it may

runne from the ladle, and let fall a foot or more from the ladle, and the

hotter you cast in your sugar, the more ragged will your comfits bee."

Part of my choice of temperature was from Ivan Day's feedback.  I'd brought

some samples of the comfits my friend and I had made - and were so proud

of!  We were pleased at how smooth they appeared.  Ivan's comment was "Oh,

so you've made ragged comfits."  To me they looked smooth - until I got

back from England and tried another batch using a lower temperature, less

sugar, and more patience.  This new batch is much smoother, although I can

still see a little bumpiness.  No wonder Ivan thought our earlier attempt

was "ragged".  In the class I took from him this year we did comfits again

and I queried about the temperature.  He showed me how to test the degree

of sugar by dropping a bit of syrup onto a plate, dipping my finger into it

and then pressing thumb and finger together.  A very short thread should

appear when the fingers are pulled apart. So, in a sense, I'm going

through trial and error - plus additional information given by Ivan who has

made hundreds of pounds of comfits over his career and has based his work

on descriptions in comfit recipes up through the 1700s.

 

I got some additional hints on candying almonds and will be trying that

out.  The sugar coating kept melting off my first attempts.

 

Alys

 

 

Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007 08:13:23 -0500

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Coloring Comfits Green

To: "sca-cooks at ansteorra.org" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Greetings! I don't know if you have been reading the Tudor Cook blog

recently but they showed pictures of the parsley and sugar syrup that they

made in their experiment to make green comfits. There were visible clumps

of green in the clear syrup. My reaction was that they didn't strain out

the parsley sediment so this morning I decided to try some green comfits,

using my 55-charge caraway comfits as the base.

 

I "cheated" by not doing everything in Tudor style but I think that I've

done the equivalent of what the period cook would have. I used a blender to

liquify curly parsley (the kind the Hampton Court cooks were using) and

added enough water so that the mixture spun around. My mortar isn't the

size of theirs and to get the equivalent done in a mortar would have taken

several times in my small one. From the end results, I think that there

would be less tiny pulp pieces if it were done in a mortar, so I might have

made my job harder by using the blender. I then filtered out the

pulp/sediment through a damp coffee filter. Finely-woven cloth would have

been used in period which I didn't have this morning. After letting the

pulp drain for a bit, I mushed it around with a spoon and then gathered the

ends of the filter and gently squeezed the contents. This can be a no-no if

using cloth because you'll squeeze little bits of pulp through the fibers.

I think it started to happen here, but what did happen was that the filter

finally burst open. I was able to keep pulp from falling into the filtered

water, thankfully.

 

I used the green water to dissolve the sugar and bring it up to the proper

temperature. It boiled up much more quickly even on a lower heat and when I

let the furious bubbly foam subside I found that there was a green scum on

top. I skimmed off most of it. The scum was mostly parsley pulp that had

been in the water. The resultant syrup was a very pale green. It took 10

charges before the comfits began to actually look greenish rather than "not

white". Around 11 charges I decided to add some of that green glop which

was still in the pan. The greener glop seemed to break up and increased the

greenness of the comfits. There are a few comfits where I can see flecks or

a small line of the green glop which might not have been wanted in period,

but it isn't a lot. After 15 charges (now a total of 70 on those comfits),

they definitely are green but it is a pale green. Hooray! And, oh...  There

is no parsley taste to those comfits.

 

Alys Katharine

 

 

Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 22:04:36 -0700

From: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Anneys in Counfyte: The Recipe Was Right

 

We are doing a cooking workshop tomorrow, and one of the ingredients

for one of the dishes is "colyaundre in confyt rede." Our grocery

store doesn't carry candied corriander seeds, but Goud Kokery, number

V in _Curye on Englysche_, has a recipe "to make Anneys in counfyte.

" At the end, it adds that it can be used with a variety of other

things--including "colyandre." What more could I ask?

 

It's a puzzling recipe in a variety of ways. You are combining seeds

with melted sugar. The recipe repeatedly tells you to "stere in the

panne wyth thi flatte hand sadly." "Sadly" means slowly, but one's

first reaction reading it is that if you are stirring melted sugar

onto seeds with the flat of your hand, you are going to be very sad

indeed.

 

It turns out that the recipe is right. What you want to end up with

are a lot of individual seeds, each coated with sugar. The problem is

that when you stir melted sugar into the seeds, they clump up. The

solution is to melt the sugar in one pan--probably the "ladell"

referred to in the recipe (see below)--then add it to the seeds in

another, the latter being at a very low heat. As soon as the

combination is cool enough to touch, you rub the clumps of seeds

against the bottom of the pan, using a circular motion with your

spread out palm. That breaks the lumps up into individual candied

seeds. You want a thicker coating than you get with one application,

so you keep repeating the process.

 

It was the first time I did it and it didn't work perfectly, but it

worked. One piece of advice--your pan should be a dutch oven or

equivalent. If you use a frying pan, the process of rubbing the seeds

against the bottom to break up the lumps also squirts seeds out of

the pan onto the stove, kitchen counter, floor, ...  .

 

One of the things I don't think I got quite right was the color. I

suspect, from the comment at the end of the recipe, that the candied

seeds are supposed to come out a nice white. I let the sugar get  a

little too hot, so it ended up pale brown.

 

The recipe that we are using them in wants them to be red. I don't

know if that means "brown," in which case I've got just what they

asked for, or if their candied coriander seeds used something

additional, perhaps saunders, for color.

 

Here's the recipe, copied from the Florilegium:

---

To mak anneys in counfyte.  Take ii unc of fayre anneys & put them

in a panne & drye them on the fyr, euermore steryng them wyth 3owre

hand, till thei ben drye.  Put them than owte of the panne into a

cornes and take up thi suger in a ladell the montynance of a unc and

sett it on the fyr.  & ster thi suger wyth a spatyle of tree, & whan

it begynneth to boyle take a lityll up of the | suger betwene th

fyngers & thi thombe, & whan it begyneth any thyng to streme than it

is sothyn inowe.  Than sett it fro the fyre & stere it a lytyll wyth

thi spatyll, and put thin anneys than to the panne to the suger, and

euermore stere in the panne wyth thi flatte hand sadly, euermore on

the bothum, tyl thei parten.  Bot loke thou ster them & smertyly for

cleuyng togedyr.  & than sette the panne ouer the forneys ageyn,

euermore steryng wyth thi hand, & wyth that other hand euermore tourne

the panne for cause of more hete on the othyr syde tyl thei ben hote &

drye.  But loke that it mel no3t be the bothyn.  And al so as 3e see

that it ges ageyn in the bothym, sette it fro the fourneys and

euermore stere wyth 3oure hand, and put on the fourneys ageyn tyl it

be hote & drye.  And in this manere schull 3e wyrke it vp til it be as

grete as a peys, and the gretter that it waxes the more suger it

takys, and put in 3oure panne at ilke a decoccioun.  And 3if 3e see

that 3oure anneys wax rowgh and ragged, gyf 3oure suger a lower

decoccioun, for the hye decoccioun of the suger makys it rowgh and

ragged.  And 3if it be made of potte suger, gyf hym iiii decocciouns

more abouen, and at ilk a decoccioun ii vnc of suger: and it be more

or lesse, it is no forse.  And whan it is wroght vp at the latter

ende, drye it ouer the fyre, steryng euermore | wyth thi hand, and

whan it is hote and drye sette it fro the fyre and stere it fro the

fyre wyth thi hand sadly att the panne bothym til thei ben colde, for

than will thei noght chaunge ther colour. And than put them in

cofyns, for 3if 3e put them hote in cofyns thei will change ther

colour.  And in this maner schull 3e make careawey, colyandre, fenell,

and all maner round confecciouns, and gyngeuer in counfyte; but thi

gynger sud be cote leke a dyce in smale peses, fowr sqware, and gyf

thi gynger a litill hyar decoccioun than thou gyffes the other sedys.

--

David/Cariadoc

www.daviddfriedman.com

 

 

Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 08:05:01 -0400

From: Elise Fleming <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-cooks <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Anneys in Counfyte: The Recipe Was Right

 

His Grace [Cariadoc] wrote:

<<< It's a puzzling recipe in a variety of ways. You are combining seeds

with melted sugar. The recipe repeatedly tells you to "stere in the

panne wyth thi flatte hand sadly." "Sadly" means slowly, but one's

first reaction reading it is that if you are stirring melted sugar

onto >seeds with the flat of your hand, you are going to be very sad indeed. >>>

 

Well, it _is_ possible to do it without tremendous pain.  Some tips are

using only a tiny amount of syrup and being careful about the

temperature of the bottom of the pan where the seeds are.  If you drop

in the sugar onto the seeds, and the sugar bubbles, DON'T use your hand;

use a wooden spoon or scraper.

 

About four years ago I attended an Ivan Day course where we learned to

make comfits over a charcoal brazier. Ivan uses a wok, which is similar

in shape to the period pans in which comfits were made.  I've used a

frying pan years ago, but have found the wok to be better.  Two years

ago I attended another Ivan Day workshop and asked about some of the

problems I was having with my comfits. Armed with more detailed

information, I've made more, with great success - if I do say so myself.

This spring (at another Ivan course) I took my new comfits and showed

them to him.  He said that they were very good!  (Big smile on my part!)

 

So, here are some comments

 

<<< One piece of advice--your pan should be a dutch oven or equivalent. If

you use a frying pan, the process of rubbing the seeds against the

bottom to break up the lumps also squirts seeds out of the pan onto

the stove, kitchen counter, floor, ...  . >>>

 

I am curious how vigorously the seeds must be being stirred for them to

squirt out of the pan.  Were they being stirred with enthusiasm or with

soft patience?  How many seeds were in the pan?  Perhaps there were too

many.  In my wok, depending on the size of the seed, I can use one of

those small containers which have less than an ounce.  However, once the

sugar coating has begun to build up, I find that I need to divide the

seeds into two or three different batches.  If you have a wok, try that

but be sure that the bottom of the wok is not sitting directly on the

heat source.  Use a "wok ring" or something to elevate the bottom off

the direct heat.

 

Also, the recipe that you cited mentions taking the pan off the heat

from time to time.  That keeps the pan within a temperature range where

you can stir the seeds without burning yourself.

 

<<< One of the things I don't think I got quite right was the color. I

suspect, from the comment at the end of the recipe, that the candied

seeds are supposed to come out a nice white. I let the sugar get  a

little too hot, so it ended up pale brown. >>>

 

Yes, a nice white is the desired color. Some problems are that when the

sugar coating (the "charge") is initially applied, care must be taken to

continue moving the seeds in the warm/hot pan until they are thoroughly

dry.  Adding charge after charge to a not-thoroughly-dried seed will

result in a grayish color.  If you got brown, then as you mentioned, you

may have had too hot a syrup.

 

How hot _was_ the syrup?  If you are aiming for a ragged comfit, then

the syrup is hotter than for a "smooth" comfit.  The testing is in the

sugar stage. I'm going to refer you - and anyone else - to my web site

(http://home.netcom.com/~alysk/articles/articles.html) where there are

two articles that may be of interest or of use.  One is "Sugar

Temperatures Compiled".  I've pulled together a number of references to

sugar temperatures and the testing methods.  The second is "Historic

Comfits Using Modern Equipment" where I've tried to set out all the

information about making comfits so that a person can be successful

(having been notoriously Unsuccessful myself!).  At this point, I'm

trying for smooth comfits since those are harder (I think) to achieve

than ragged comfits.  My last batch was what Ivan said was "good".

 

The recipe you cited says "whan it begynneth to boyle take a lityll up

of the | suger betwene th fyngers & thi thombe, & whan it begyneth any

thyng to streme than it is sothyn inowe."  Here's a description of their

test for the desired sugar stage.  (I've seen Ivan do this, but he

admits that he has "asbestos fingers".)

 

<<< The recipe that we are using them in wants them to be red. I don't

know if that means "brown," in which case I've got just what they

asked for, or if their candied coriander seeds used something

additional, perhaps saunders, for color. >>>

 

Saunders is indeed what is called for in later recipes when red is

wanted.  I've successfully gotten green from parsley, but it's not a

"green green" and the color fades after some months.

 

For a good color, I started adding the coloring agent to the sugar for

the first charges rather than putting on a number of coats and then

adding the color to the final charges.

 

(Emphasis...) THIS IS NOT A SPEEDY PROCESS!  One can put on 10 or so

charges the first day.  Then the seeds are put out in a warm, dry place

to let them fully dry.  The second day another 10-15 charges are added.

Then, they are put aside to dry fully again.  The third day they can

get another 10-15 charges.  Perhaps a full day's drying isn't needed; I

don't know if any recipes specify.  I have gotten 70 charges on my seeds

which ended up the same size as the original ones that I made with 20

charges.  I had added too much sugar each time I ladled on the syrup.

 

The recipe that you cited would seem to have a goodly amount of syrup

added since this appears to be a one-day process.  Don't rush the drying

process in the pan.  As you continue to move the seeds around, you

should notice that they change from a grayish color to a whitish one.

The dryer they get, the whiter they get.

 

Let us know how today's batch goes!

 

Alys K.

--

Elise Fleming

alysk at ix.netcom.com

http://home.netcom.com/~alysk/

 

 

Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 09:17:10 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Anneys in Counfyte: The Recipe Was Right

 

On Sep 19, 2009, at 8:05 AM, Elise Fleming wrote:

<<< Well, it _is_ possible to do it without tremendous pain.  Some tips  

are using only a tiny amount of syrup and being careful about the  

temperature of the bottom of the pan where the seeds are.  If you  

drop in the sugar onto the seeds, and the sugar bubbles, DON'T use  

your hand; use a wooden spoon or scraper. >>>

 

One consideration might be that seeds, containing by some design a  

certain amount of air space, don't really transmit heat the same as an  

equal volume of hot water or oil. As I recall the 15th century recipe  

His Grace is working with, you heat the seeds, remove them from the  

pan to another  container, heat the sugar in the pan, then return the  

somewhat cooled seeds to the sugar in the pan. The only warm seeds act  

as a barrier between the hand and the hot sugar, which begins to cool  

once the seeds are added.

 

<<< 

<< One piece of advice--your pan should be a dutch oven or equivalent.  

If you use a frying pan, the process of rubbing the seeds against  

the bottom to break up the lumps also squirts seeds out of the pan  

onto the stove, kitchen counter, floor, ...  . >>

 

I am curious how vigorously the seeds must be being stirred for them  

to squirt out of the pan.  Were they being stirred with enthusiasm  

or with soft patience?  How many seeds were in the pan?  Perhaps  

there were too many.  In my wok, depending on the size of the seed,  

I can use one of those small containers which have less than an ounce. >>>

 

Yes, I also use a one-ounce sauce ladle. It's not clear if the  

instruction is to use an ounce of seeds or (as I suspect) the  

equivalent in volume of an ounce of something like sugar or water.

 

<<< However, once the sugar coating has begun to build up, I find that  

I need to divide the seeds into two or three different batches.  If  

you have a wok, try that but be sure that the bottom of the wok is  

not sitting directly on the heat source. Use a "wok ring" or  

something to elevate the bottom off the direct heat. >>>

 

I also used one of those slightly flat-bottomed Japanese woks with a  

skillet-type handle on one side. The omelette-stirring hand motion is  

useful here, too.

 

<<< Also, the recipe that you cited mentions taking the pan off the heat  

from time to time.  That keeps the pan within a temperature range  

where you can stir the seeds without burning yourself.

 

<< One of the things I don't think I got quite right was the color. I  

suspect, from the comment at the end of the recipe, that the  

candied seeds are supposed to come out a nice white. I let the  

sugar get  a little too hot, so it ended up pale brown. >>

 

Yes, a nice white is the desired color. Some problems are that when  

the sugar coating (the "charge") is initially applied, care must be  

taken to continue moving the seeds in the warm/hot pan until they  

are thoroughly dry.  Adding charge after charge to a not-thoroughly-

dried seed will result in a grayish color.  If you got brown, then  

as you mentioned, you may have had too hot a syrup.

 

You can also pick up a grayish color from an iron or steel pan.  

Basically microscopic iron filings and minute bits of blackened oil  

from a seasoned pan.

 

<<< How hot _was_ the syrup?  If you are aiming for a ragged comfit,  

then the syrup is hotter than for a "smooth" comfit.  The testing is  

in the sugar stage. I'm going to refer you - and anyone else - to my  

web site (http://home.netcom.com/~alysk/articles/articles.html)  

where there are two articles that may be of interest or of use.  One  

is "Sugar Temperatures Compiled".  I've pulled together a number of  

references to sugar temperatures and the testing methods.  The  

second is "Historic Comfits Using Modern Equipment" where I've tried  

to set out all the information about making comfits so that a person  

can be successful (having been notoriously Unsuccessful myself!).  

At this point, I'm trying for smooth comfits since those are harder  

(I think) to achieve than ragged comfits. My last batch was what  

Ivan said was "good". >>>

 

One of the beauties of the 15th century "rough and ragged" confit is  

the omission of water and the basic absence of certain considerations  

like sugar height. It's hard crack by default as soon as it is melted  

-- assuming you don't let it brown, at which point it is becoming  

caramel.

 

<<< The recipe you cited says "whan it begynneth to boyle take a lityll  

up of the | suger betwene th fyngers & thi thombe, & whan it  

begyneth any thyng to streme than it is sothyn inowe."  Here's a  

description of their test for the desired sugar stage.  (I've seen  

Ivan do this, but he admits that he has "asbestos fingers".) >>>

 

I can attest to this; it is more doable than it may seem. Basically  

the candy (I try very hard not to use the word "syrup" because there  

is no water involved in the 15th century recipe) contains no water and  

doesn't retain heat for any appreciable period of time. I usually  

stick my wooden spoon into the pan and then put my fingers into that.

 

<<<

<< The recipe that we are using them in wants them to be red. I don't  

know if that means "brown," in which case I've got just what they  

asked for, or if their candied coriander seeds used something  

additional, perhaps saunders, for color. >>

 

Saunders is indeed what is called for in later recipes when red is  

wanted. >>>

 

Quite possibly, but when Chiquart calls for a red confit garniture he  

may be referring to the earlier "rough and ragged" confits rather than  

the dipped-in-syrup type, since the former are basically contemporary  

for him. I STR different shades being achieved by storing, or allowing  

them to cool, in different ways, so I assume it's connected with  

oxidation. This discussion also turns up, in a variation, in some of  

the early cotignac/quidony (quince paste) recipes. Basically it  

amounts to leaving the cover off while cooking for red cotignac (which  

is a very dark, almost black, red), and keeping the cover on for white  

(which is a far more visible reddish amber).

 

<<< I've successfully gotten green from parsley, but it's not a "green  

green" and the color fades after some months.

 

For a good color, I started adding the coloring agent to the sugar  

for the first charges rather than putting on a number of coats and  

then adding the color to the final charges. >>>

 

It probably also helps to add colors to sugar or syrup that isn't  

going to be heated to high temperatures. Another problem for the 15th  

century version.

 

<<< (Emphasis...) THIS IS NOT A SPEEDY PROCESS!  One can put on 10 or so  

charges the first day.  Then the seeds are put out in a warm, dry  

place to let them fully dry.  The second day another 10-15 charges  

are added.  Then, they are put aside to dry fully again.  The third  

day they can get another 10-15 charges. Perhaps a full day's drying  

isn't needed; I don't know if any recipes specify.  I have gotten 70  

charges on my seeds which ended up the same size as the original  

ones that I made with 20 charges.  I had added too much sugar each  

time I ladled on the syrup.

 

The recipe that you cited would seem to have a goodly amount of  

syrup added since this appears to be a one-day process.  Don't rush  

the drying process in the pan.  As you continue to move the seeds  

around, you should notice that they change from a grayish color to a  

whitish one. The dryer they get, the whiter they get. >>>

 

What I've found is that the 15th-century process can go fairly  

quickly, say, an hour or two to achieve the largest size they're going  

to reach. Eventually, however, you get to a point where they're not  

going to get any larger, and as the sugar melts and clings to  

surfaces, it is as likely to cling to other bits of sugar as it is to  

coated seeds, so eventually you begin to get coated seeds and sugar  

balls without seeds. At that point I stop... I'm kind of assuming that  

they can be made larger, but perhaps not with the sugar technology of  

the 15th century. So I stop. If there's a way to go further without  

dipping each one in syrup and drying on a screen between applications,  

I'd be glad to know what it is.

 

Adamantius

 

 

Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 10:05:43 -0400

From: Elise Fleming <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-cooks <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Anneys in Counfyte: The Recipe Was Right

 

Adamantius wrote:

<<< One of the beauties of the 15th century "rough and ragged" confit is

the omission of water and the basic absence of certain considerations

like sugar height. It's hard crack by default as soon as it is melted

-- assuming you don't let it brown, at which point it is becoming

caramel. >>>

 

The recipe refers several times to "decoction" or "decoccioun".  This

general means a boiling and the dictionaries say that it's a boiling in

water, or in a fluid.  Wouldn't this imply that there was water added?

The amount of water wouldn't matter because one was to boil the sugar

(and water) until it streamed between the thumb and forefinger.  Have

you tried just melting sugar and checking to see if it streams between

thumb and forefinger?  Or, by the time you could check this, might the

sugar have passed to a different stage?

 

On re-reading the recipe, I'm not sure if what they wanted was a "rough

and ragged" comfit.  It says (put into today's spelling) "and if you see

that your anise becomes rough and ragged, give your sugar a lower

'decoction', for high 'decoction' of the sugar makes it rough and

ragged."  To me that would say that if the anise became rough, you

should lower the sugar temperature, implying that a rough and ragged

comfit wasn't desirable.

 

I've not tried this specific recipe but have used the later period ones

which contain all the pertinent instructions but do mention the use of

water with the sugar.

 

Alys K.

--

Elise Fleming

alysk at ix.netcom.com

http://home.netcom.com/~alysk/

 

 

Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 10:31:34 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Anneys in Counfyte: The Recipe Was Right

 

On Sep 19, 2009, at 10:05 AM, Elise Fleming wrote:

<<< The recipe refers several times to "decoction" or "decoccioun".  

This general means a boiling and the dictionaries say that it's a  

boiling in water, or in a fluid. Wouldn't this imply that there was  

water added? The amount of water wouldn't matter because one was to  

boil the sugar (and water) until it streamed between the thumb and  

forefinger.  Have you tried just melting sugar and checking to see  

if it streams between thumb and forefinger?  Or, by the time you  

could check this, might the sugar have passed to a different stage? >>>

 

Yes, it does stream. Basically it spins a thread from the get-go, and  

then the threads break after being stretched about an inch or less.  

The real trick, I've found, is to use a good-quality, thick pan (not  

easy to find in a wok), a low, steady flame, and patience. Our  

ancestors may also have had more water in their sugar.

 

<<< On re-reading the recipe, I'm not sure if what they wanted was a  

"rough and ragged" comfit.  It says (put into today's spelling) "and  

if you see that your anise becomes rough and ragged, give your sugar  

a lower 'decoction', for high 'decoction' of the sugar makes it  

rough and ragged."  To me that would say that if the anise became  

rough, you should lower the sugar temperature, implying that a rough  

and ragged comfit wasn't desirable. >>>

 

I agree. The recipe tells us why they are rough and ragged if they are  

(it's all too easy to achieve), and implies what one needs to do to  

avoid it.

 

<<< I've not tried this specific recipe but have used the later period  

ones which contain all the pertinent instructions but do mention the  

use of water with the sugar. >>>

 

Yeah, Plat, et al. It probably depends on how dedicated you are to  

getting it "right" on the first shot, or are simply trying to learn  

something about the process (which is usually closer to my intent).  

But the Harleian 2378 recipe is a lot of fun to take on a leap of  

faith (like Markham's similarly vague but equally effective infusion  

mashing instructions). It looks crazy but you never know unless you  

try it, huh?

 

Now, there's just one thing, regarding the sugar/syrup question, and I  

just noticed this now: if you look at the immediately preceding recipe  

in Harl 2378, it is for clarifying sugar and a syrup is clearly made.  

The last line of the recipe is something like, "and with this you may  

make all manner of confections".

 

The next step would be to try both recipes together (as in, in  

immediate sequence) and see if you get something more like Plat's  

smooth, large confits.

 

Adamantius

 

 

Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 10:28:37 -0700

From: David Friedman <ddfr at daviddfriedman.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Anneys in Counfyte: The Recipe Was Right

 

<<< One consideration might be that seeds, containing by some design a

certain amount of air space, don't really transmit heat the same as

an equal volume of hot water or oil. As I recall the 15th century

recipe His Grace is working with, >>>

 

14th c.

 

<<< you heat the seeds, remove them from the pan to another  container,

heat the sugar in the pan, then return the somewhat cooled seeds to

the sugar in the pan. >>>

 

I don't think that's quite right. At least as I read it, you heat the

seeds in your pan, remove them to another container, melt the sugar

in the ladle, combine sugar and seeds in the pan. That matters,

because you are adding additional layers of sugar, and the sugar is

being melted in something other than the pan you are working in. And

it explains the reference to the ladle, which otherwise doesn't make

much sense--you are using a ladle that holds an ounce of sugar,

because you are going to be repeatedly melting an ounce of sugar in

the ladle and adding it.

 

...

 

<<< One of the beauties of the 15th century "rough and ragged" confit is

the omission of water and the basic absence of certain

considerations like sugar height. It's hard crack by default as soon

as it is melted -- assuming you don't let it brown, at which point

it is becoming caramel. >>>

 

Yes--the latter was a problem.

 

So you read it as I do and as Alys Katherine I gather does not, as

straight sugar.

 

But the recipe explicitly warns against letting them come out rough and ragged.

 

...

 

<<< Quite possibly, but when Chiquart calls for a red confit garniture

he may be referring to the earlier "rough and ragged" confits rather

than the dipped-in-syrup type, since the former are basically

contemporary for him. I STR different shades being achieved by

storing, or allowing them to cool, in different ways, so I assume

it's connected with oxidation. >>>

 

Indeed, the recipe seems to be saying that you have to let them cool

before you box them in order to get the color right--but doesn't

specify what color that is.

...

 

So we basically have two interpretations. Mine and Adamantius', with

straight sugar, Alys Katherine's and the expert she cites in her

article, with sugar syrup. The question is whether the latter is a

later version, as Adamantius suggests, or if we are merely misreading

the 14th c. recipe and sugar is implied by "decoction."

--

David Friedman

www.daviddfriedman.com

daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/

 

 

Date: Sat, 19 Sep 2009 22:46:27 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Anneys in Counfyte: The Recipe Was Right

 

On Sep 19, 2009, at 1:28 PM, David Friedman wrote:

<<< 14th c. >>>

 

Hieatt suggests it's late 14th, early 15th century. I had understood  

most of the contents of Book V of Curye on Inglysch (which I believe  

has our source recipe) to be 15th century.

 

<<< 

<< you heat the seeds, remove them from the pan to another  container,  

heat the sugar in the pan, then return the somewhat cooled seeds to  

the sugar in the pan. >>

 

I don't think that's quite right. At least as I read it, you heat  

the seeds in your pan, remove them to another container, melt the  

sugar in the ladle, combine sugar and seeds in the pan. That  

matters, because you are adding additional layers of sugar, and the  

sugar is being melted in something other than the pan you are  

working in. And it explains the reference to the ladle, which  

otherwise doesn't make much sense--you are using a ladle that holds  

an ounce of sugar, because you are going to be repeatedly melting an  

ounce of sugar in the ladle and adding it. >>>

 

Or, because it's a convenient measuring device that prevents you from  

attempting to add too much sugar at once. I'm not sure how wise or  

effective it is to try stirring a full one-ounce ladle of sugar, as it  

melts, with a wooden spatula. The recipe clearly has us measuring the  

sugar in the ladle and then putting it on the fire in an unspecified  

vessel. But then a few steps later on, you're adding the seeds to the  

sugar in the pan, right? You might be adding both at the same time, or  

the sugar may have been there already. I'm leaning towards that one,  

again, due to the difficulties of melting a full ladle and stirring it  

without having it overflow. And I have certainly made confits  

successfully (apparently) without melting the sugar in the ladle.

 

<<< One of the beauties of the 15th century "rough and ragged" confit  

is the omission of water and the basic absence of certain  

considerations like sugar height. It's hard crack by default as  

soon as it is melted -- assuming you don't let it brown, at which  

point it is becoming caramel.

 

<< Yes--the latter was a problem.

 

So you read it as I do and as Alys Katherine I gather does not, as  

straight sugar. >>

>>> 

 

For years I read it as straight sugar. Now I look at the immediately  

preceding recipe, note that it comes from the same original MS, and  

note that what that first recipe, which is for clarified sugar,  

produces is a syrup, which the recipe then says you may use to make  

any kind of confection -- and refers to throughout not as syrup (which  

is what it is) but as sugar. Followed by recipes for anise in confit,  

images in sugar, sugar plate, and penydes (pulled sugar candy).

 

I now suspect there's at least a possibility that the confit recipe is  

made with the clarified syrup in the first recipe -- the other candy  

recipes in that section either contain their own instructions for  

clarifying, or in one case, specifies that the sugar not be clarified.

 

Clearly the results can be achieved with straight sugar. I've done it  

several times. I would like to try clarifying something like turbinado  

and see what using that resulting syrup does to achieve confits. It  

might make a difference, it might not.

 

<<< So we basically have two interpretations. Mine and Adamantius', with  

straight sugar, Alys Katherine's and the expert she cites in her  

article, with sugar syrup. The question is whether the latter is a  

later version, as Adamantius suggests, or if we are merely  

misreading the 14th c. recipe and sugar is implied by "decoction." >>>

 

I think Dame Alys is using something like Hugh Plat's recipe, which is  

definitely later. I agree that the Harleian recipe calls for sugar and  

does not directly instruct us to make a syrup, and it's clear that the  

job can be done that way. I would like to look at the possibility that  

the Harleian recipe is referring to the clarified syrup from the  

previous recipe.

 

[Maybe I'll write a note to the OED committee and get them to revise  

their definition of "decoction". Worked pretty well for "pomace",  

after all... ;-) ]

 

Are we sure there isn't an illustration for me to ignore?

 

Adamantius

 

 

Date: Sat, 31 Oct 2009 22:08:02 -0400

From: Elise Fleming <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-cooks <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Candying Nutmegs: Was Break the Pot

 

Adamantius wrote [about candied nutmegs]:

<<< Cracking a whole one with my teeth is another story. But I suspect

candied ones behave differently, and are probably sliced before

candying, exposing at least some of the softer insides. >>>

 

Seems to me I read somewhere about soaking the harder, larger items in

either wine or something else for a while before candying them.  This

included spices like cubebs and nutmeg. Can't recall the source now.

My thought at the time was that this was to soften the larger item so

that it would be more "edible".

 

Alys K.

--

Elise Fleming

alysk at ix.netcom.com

http://home.netcom.com/~alysk/

 

 

Date: Sun, 01 Nov 2009 07:45:14 -0500

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius" <adamantius1 at verizon.net>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Candying Nutmegs: Was Break the Pot

 

On Nov 1, 2009, at 2:05 AM, otsisto wrote:

<<< The nutmeg has fruit surrounding the nut and the Indonisians candy it. Could the fruit be what the recipe is calling to be candied?

Fruit, mace and nut

http://tinyurl.com/ygudxrd >>>

 

Hmmm. It's an interesting idea, but since they refer to usually nutmeg  

and mace as separate items, and since candying could indicate (among  

other things) a need to preserve things, long journeys by land and sea and all, it sort of makes you wonder where the fresh whole nutmeg  

fruits are coming from in this model.

 

I'd be more inclined to think they're talking about ordinary peeled  

nutmegs, and that,  as with cuir bouilli, once infused, the nutmeg  

takes on a different character.

 

Adamantus

 

 

Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 16:15:57 -0400

From: Elise Fleming <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-cooks <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] period spice containers/storage

 

Aine wrote:

<<< I am looking for any information on how spices were stored.  I have

found a reference to (and a picture of) a spice box that seems to be a

wooden box that locks, that has compartments inside.  I have also

found reference to a "spice plate" that is either silver or gold and

usually has compartments to load spices in and pass around at a feast

or dinner of upper-class guests in a noble's home (for example) for

adding spices on top of the food that is served. >>>

 

The "spice plate" was used for the candied spices and similar items that

were served to end the meal.  They weren't used for adding spices on top

of the food that was served. Spices were added in the kitchens.  AFAIK,

other than salt, spices weren't provided for guests to use as seasonings

for their food.

 

Spices that might have been provided for the "banquet course" included

pepper, anise, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, nutmeg, cumin, and cubebs,

along with candied/sugared nuts like filberts, pine nuts and almonds.

 

Alys K.

 

 

Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2011 12:31:25 -0400

From: Sharon Palmer <ranvaig at columbus.rr.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] period spice containers/storage

 

<<< Spices that might have been provided for the "banquet course"

included pepper, anise, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, nutmeg, cumin,

and cubebs, along with candied/sugared nuts like filberts, pine nuts

and almonds. >>>

 

Rumpolt lists Various sugar comfits from the Apothecary:

 

Sugar coated almonds, anise, cinnamon bark, cloves, coriander,

caraway, fennel, walnuts, hazelnuts, peach kernels, citron peel,

apricot kernels, plum kernels, cherry kernels, chestnuts, bitter

orange peel, lemon peel, chicory root, pimpernel root, elecampane

root, sugar root, violet root, ginger and "various roots that a well

tasting scent"

 

Ranvaig

 

 

Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2011 16:20:22 -0500

From: "Terry Decker" <t.d.decker at att.net>

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] period spice containers/storage

 

I can't think of any synonyms for spice plate, although I have seen a

reference about Tudor spice plates becoming sweetmeat plates later on.

 

I think the work Aine is referencing is Turner's Spice--The History of an

Obsession.

 

Bear

--------

Aine wrote:

<<< And I will look for the place I read about the

spice plate that was passed around at the end of

the meal.   I appreciate the correction -

possibly the source I read was not a good

source?  If you have the source where you found

the information about it  being like a sweets

plate passed around, I would very much appreciate it. >>>

 

Other than saying that such a plate wasn't (IIRC) passed around for diners

to add their own spices to their food, I don't think there was any

correction.  A spice plate or a sweets plate, however it might have been

called, would have served the same function - that of serving

sugared/candied spices to people at the close of a meal, rather like

after-dinner mints today.  They were frequently of silver, silver-gilt or

gold.

 

I'm not coming up with a good name for that type of plate at this moment.

Someone else might have a more functioning brain (Johnna? Doc? Bear?

Adamantius?...?) as to what that serving utensil might have been called.

 

Alys K.

 

 

Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2011 07:15:56 +0100 (BST)

From: Volker Bach <carlton_bach at yahoo.de>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] period spice containers/storage

 

--- Claire Clarke <angharad at adam.com.au> schrieb am Sa, 25.6.2011:

<<< Um, aren't peach kernels poisonous? And cherry stones are very hard. I can't

see them softening enough to eat, even after candying. Or did people just suck the sugar off and get a bit of cherry flavour along with it? >>>

 

I can only speculate what they did, but like peach and apricot kernels, cherry  stones contain a nut that you can extract. It was used to flavour cherry dishes in period, and that is what they may have candied.

 

And yes, peach kernels are poisonous, but not eat-one-and-drop-dead poisonous. I accidentally overdosed on them once (the leaching process hadn't worked out the way the source said it should) and got a bad case of the trots. If you eat one or two, nothing much should happen.

 

Giano

 

 

Date: Sun, 26 Jun 2011 10:02:04 +1200

From: Antonia di B C <dama.antonia at gmail.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] period spice containers/storage

 

On 25/06/2011 4:15 PM, Claire Clarke wrote:

<<< Um, aren't peach kernels poisonous? >>>

 

Yes, but you have to eat quite a lot of them for it to be a problem.

 

<<< And cherry stones are very hard. I can't

see them softening enough to eat, even after candying. Or did people just

suck the sugar off and get a bit of cherry flavour along with it? >>>

 

Are they?  I would have thought they were similar to a peach or apricot

kernel once you remove the hard outer shell.

--

Antonia di Benedetto Calvo

 

 

Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2011 00:13:56 -0400

From: Sharon Palmer <ranvaig at columbus.rr.com>

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] period spice containers/storage

 

<<< Um, aren't peach kernels poisonous? And cherry stones are very hard. I can't

see them softening enough to eat, even after candying. Or did people just

suck the sugar off and get a bit of cherry flavour along with it?

 

Angharad >>>

 

Cherry kernels have a "nut" inside the shell, which is the part that

is eaten.  Mahlab is made from sour cherry kernels and is still used

as a seasoning in the Middle East.  The taste is said to be a

combination or bitter almond and cherry.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahlab

 

Peach kernels are similar to bitter almonds, mildly toxic, but you

would have to eat a large amount.

 

Ranvaig

 

<the end>



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