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DYKIP-Brekfst-art - 3/7/10


"Did You Know its Period? Part 7: Time for Breakfast" by HL Rowan Houndskeeper.


NOTE: See also the files: easy-p-recip-msg, breakfast-msg, Brakng-t-Fast-art, eggs-msg, raw-fruit-vg-msg, 3-F-Toast-Rec-art, Bagels-art, fried-breads-msg, pancakes-msg, porridges-msg, ham-msg.





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


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


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


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


Thank you,

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

stefan at florilegium.org



This article was first published in "The Barge", the newsletter of the Barony of Three Rivers, Calontir.


Did You Know its Period?  Part VII: Time for Breakfast

by HL Rowan Houndskeeper

Barony of Three Rivers, Calontir


The "modern" medieval dishes provided in this month's article are all items we mundanely tend to think of as breakfast foods. However in period, foods were not categorized and relegated to certain times of the day.  Instead the medieval cook would divide dishes based on whether they were suitable for either feast or fast days (e.g. Rice of Fish Days, English 14th c.).  They would also classify particular dishes as appropriate for specific seasons (e.g. Pancakes in Lent, Dutch 15th c. or Tarts out of Lent, English 15th c.).  Finally some dishes were intended for specific types of people – for example a chapter on "Dishes for Invalids" in Libro della Concina (Italy, 15th c).


For us the recipes in this months article are modern breakfast dishes but in the medieval period, while they may have been eaten in the mornings it was equally likely - and possibly more commonly - that they were offered as an light entrée, side dish, or as a dessert.  The period equivalent of serving breakfast all day.


To start our set of not-just-for-breakfast period dishes, a series of recipes for the ultimate in breakfast food – eggs.  

Don't laugh - period cookbooks include instructions on how to make such simple egg dishes as scrambled eggs, poached eggs, fried eggs, and even boiled eggs.  Then again, so do many modern cookbooks such as Betty Crocker's and Good Housekeeping.


For these egg dishes, I've done something just a bit different from my previous redactions of period recipes. I've taken the original recipes from Platina (Venice, 1475) but instead of redacting them in this article, I've quoted the instructions for the similar modern dish straight from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.  Notice how the directions for making these egg dishes, written over 400 years apart, are nearly identical!


Eggs in the Form of Frictellae = Fried Eggs Sunny side up

Into a pan with boiling oil or butter put fresh whole eggs without the shells, and cook them over a slow fire, all the while dropping in oil with a spoon or beater.  When they begin to turn white, they are done. …the doctors think these are more difficult to digest because they are fried.

Platina: On Honest Indulgence (1475, Venice)



In a skillet over medium heat, heat butter until it is just melted and hot.  One at a time break the eggs into a saucer and slip them into skillet.  Reduce heat to low.  Cook the eggs, basting the yolks with butter from the skillet until the whites are cooked though and opaque and the yolks are desired firmness.  Remove eggs from pan, season with salt and pepper and serve.

              Good Housekeeping (1989)


Eggs Cooked in Whatever Way You Please and First About Scrambled Eggs = Scrambled Eggs

Eggs that have been well beaten with a little water and milk, either with a beater or with a spoon should be blended with some grated cheese.  When this has been mixed, cook them in butter or oil. That will be more flavorful if they are just cooked a little and have not been turned while being cooked.  And if you wish them more seasoned with herbs, add bleta, a little more parsley, juice of bugloss, and a little mint, marjoram and sage.

Platina: On Honest Indulgence (1475, Venice)



Break 2 eggs into bowl add 2 tablespoons milk, cream or water and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  With a fork beat slightly just until mixed.  In skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tbls butter. Pour in the egg mixture…cook the egg mixture gently until set but still very moist, remove from heat.

Good Housekeeping (1989)


To match the period recipe we should add to our modern cookbook's instructions:  Beat ~2 Tbls grated cheese into the egg mixture.  Spice with herbs such as parsley, mint, marjoram or sage if desired.  Then cook as directed.


Boiled Eggs = Poached Eggs

Into boiling water put fresh eggs without the shell. When they harden, take them out right away; they should be tender. Pour over them sugar, rosewater, mild spices, verjuice or orange juice.  There are those who sprinkle them with grated cheese, but this is not to my taste or Phosphorus', while we eat them often. For this is better without cheese, and more flavorful.

Platina: On Honest Indulgence (1475, Venice)



Eggs may be poached in a variety of simmering (not boiling) liquids including [water], milk, soup,…and broth.  In a saucepan or deep skillet, pour in 11/2" water [or other liquid] and heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Break an egg into a saucer and gently slip it into the simmering water. … Cook 3-5 minutes until desired firmness.  Remove the cooked eggs from the liquid with a slotted spoon.

            Good Housekeeping (1989)


To match the period recipe we should add to our modern cookbook's instructions:  After cooking but before serving, spice the pouched eggs with either a sweet or a tart sauce or with simple spices, or simply grated cheese.  

            The sweet or tart sauce would be the sugar, rosewater, verjuice, or orange juice called for in the original recipe.  Hollandaise sauce would be a modern example of a tart sauce used over poached eggs.


[Eggs] Otherwise = Hard or soft boiled eggs

Put fresh eggs into a kettle with fresh water. When they begin to boil a little, take them out and eat them.  For these are best and quite nourishing.

Platina: On Honest Indulgence (1475, Venice)



Put the eggs in a pan roomy enough to hold them covering them with cold water by at least 1 inch.  Heat water and eggs until just fully boiling.  Remove pan and let stand 15 minutes for hard cooked, 2 minutes for soft cooked.  Pour off hot water and run cold water over eggs to stop cooking and make peeling easier.

            Good Housekeeping (1989)


I couldn't resist adding the following period recipe from Platina for everyone that has been a Boy or Girl Scout.  Like many others, our troop leader insisting that we had to do several…um…interesting campfire meals from the Scout manual, including "egg-on-a-stick."  The fact the egg usually got crushed in spearing it, or fell off and ended up in the fire had me echoing Platina's comment that trying to cook an egg this way was "foolish behavior".  I'll stick with cooking my eggs in a skillet and save the spit roasting for meat.


Eggs on a Spit = boy/Girl scouts Campfire Cooking Egg-on-a-Stick

Pierce eggs lengthwise with a well-heated spit and turn them over the fire as if they were meat. They should be eaten hot.  This is a stupid invention and foolish behavior and sport of cooks.

Platina: On Honest Indulgence (1475, Venice)



You can cook an egg on a stick.  Carefully make two small holes at either end of an egg, slightly off center.  Spear the egg with a green stick or a hot dog/marshmallow fork.  Hold the egg over the fire and turn it occasionally.  It is cooked when the egg white, which will be dripping out of the hole, is firm and the egg will no longer spin on the stick.  Allow to cool before peeling.


Did you know French Toast is a period dish – and not necessarily French?  One of the earliest (pre)period recipes for this "modern breakfast" dish is from Apicius (Roman, ~5th c.).  The medieval Englishman knew the dish as Pain Perdieu (Lost Bread).  There is even a 14th c. French version called Golden Toasts from Le Vindier de Taillevent.  Even though the medieval recipes served it up with sugar or honey instead of maple syrup, this modern breakfast treat is still essentially the same dish from the 5th c. to the 21st c. – over 1600 years!


I have provided a redaction only for the English Pain Perdieu recipes here, but as you can see (below) the other period recipes are very similar to our English Lost Bread dish.  The main difference from the English recipe I have redacted and the (pre)period Roman recipe is the simplicity of the instructions and the use of milk (instead of egg) to wet the bread before frying.  The main difference from the period English recipe and most modern recipes is that the modern recipe uses both milk and egg for dipping bread in.  The period French recipe actually toasts the bread first, then dips it in egg yolks and fries it – in effect toasted French toast J.


Note that the provided recipes are only a sampling of the period recipes for this dish.  There are versions that use brown bread (Brown Fries, Harleian MS 4016, 15th c.) and versions that spice the dipping batter (To make the best Pamperdy, The English Housewife, 1615).  There are versions from Venice (Golden Morsels, Platina, 1475), Germany (To make filled Semmel, Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin, 1553), and Italy (Sops, Another Preparation, Libro della Cocina, 15th c.) to name but a few.



79. Payn purdeuz. Take faire yolkes of eyren, and try hem fro the white, and drawe hem thorgh a streynour; and then take salte, and caste thereto; And then take manged brede or paynman, and kutte hit in leches; and then take fair buttur, and clarify hit, or ellses take fresh grece and put hit yn a faire pan, and make hit hote; And then wete the brede well there in the yolkes of eyren, and then ley hit on the batur in the pan, whan the buttur is al hote; And then whan hit is fried ynowe, take sugaur ynowe, and caste there-to whan hit is in the dish, And so serue hit forth.

Harleian MS 4016 (English 15th c.)



Lost Bread.  Take fair yolks of eggs and separate them from the whites, and draw [put] them through a strainer and then take salt and cast thereto [add it].  And then take manchet bread or paindemaine [good white bread] and cut it in slices, and then take fair butter and clarify it, or else take fresh grease, and put it in a fair pan and make it hot.  And then wet the bread well there in the yolks of egg and then lay it on the butter in the pan when the butter is hot.  And then when it is fried enough take sugar enough and cast thereto when it is in the dish. And so serve it forth.


Xliij. Payn pur-dew. Take fayre yolkys of Eyroun, & trye hem fro the whyte, & draw hem thorw a straynoure, & take Salt and caste ther-to; than take fayre brede, & kytte it as troundes rounde; than take fayre Boter that is claryfiyd, or ellys fayre Freysshe grece, & putte it on a potte, & make it hote; than take & wete wyl thin troundes in the yokyes, & putte hem in the panne, an so frye hem vppe; but ware of cleuyng to the panne; & whan it is fryid, ley hem on a dysshe, & ley Sugre –nowe ther-on, & thane serue it forht.

Harleian MS 279 (English 15th c.)



Lost Bread. Take fair yolks of eggs and separate them from the whites, and draw [put] them through a strainer and then take salt and cast thereto [add it].  And then take fair bread and cut it a slices round. Then take fair, clarified butter, or else fair fresh grease, and put it in a pot and make it hot. Then take and wet well thin slices [of bread] in the yolks and put them in the pan and so fry them up, but beware of [them] clinging [sticking] to the pan. And when it is fried lay them in a dish and lay sugar enough thereon and then serve it forth.



4 egg yolks

1/2 tsp salt

5-6 slices of good bread




Beat egg yolks and salt together.  Heat butter in a skillet or griddle.  Dip slices of bread into the egg only long enough to coat both sides and not long enough to soak the bread. Fry bread in butter until golden brown.  Place fried bread on a plate and sprinkle generously with sugar.  

Note that that other period "French toast" recipes top with honey or sugar and spices (I suggest cinnamon).



Siligineos rasos frangis et buccellas maiores facies in lacte infundis frigis et in oleo mel superfundis et infers.

            Apicius: De Re Coquinaria (~5th c. Roman)



Break [slice] fine white bread crust removed into rather large pieces which soak in milk, fry in oil, cover with honey and serve.



122. ….Pour faire tostées dorées, prenez du pain blanc dur et le trenchiez par tostées quarrées, et les rostir ung pou sur le grail, et avoir moyeulx d'oeufz batuz, et les envelopez très  bien dedans iceulx moyeulx. Et avoir de bon sain chault et les dorer dedans sur le feu tant qu'elles soient belles et bien dorées, et puis les oster de dedans la paelle, et mettez ès platz, et du succre dessus.

            Le Viandier de Taillevent. Manucrit du Vatican. (French, 14th c.)



To make gilded toasts, take some hard white bread, slice it into square toasts, roast them a bit on the grill, coat them very well in beaten egg yolks, brown them in good hot lard on the fire until fine and very golden, remove them from the pan, and put them on plates with some sugar on top.


To finish off our set of not-just-for-breakfast medieval foods, another standard Sunday morning "modern" breakfast dish – pancakes.  The English Housewife offers this recipe for pancakes spiced with cloves, mace, cinnamon, and nutmeg and topped with sugar.  This recipe is actually from an out of period (1683) edition of the cookbook which was originally printed in 1615.  



To make the best Pancakes, take two or three Eggs, and break them into a dish, and beat them well; then add unto them a pretty quantity of fair running Water, and beat all well together: then put in Cloves, Mace, Cinnamon and Nutmeg, and season it with Salt; which done, make it as thick as you think good with fine Wheat-flower, then fry the Cakes as thin as may be with sweet butter, or sweet seam, and make them brown, and so serve them up with Sugar, strewed upon them. There be some which mix Pancakes with new Milk or Cream, but that makes them tough, cloying, and not so crisp, pleasant and savory as running water.

            The English Huswife. (English, 1683)



2 eggs

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 c. water or milk

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/16 tsp cloves

1/16 tsp mace




Beat egg, spices and liquid (milk or water) together.  Beat in flour to obtain a batter with no lumps. Heat butter in a skillet or griddle.  Pour batter into skillet and fry in butter until golden brown.  Place fried cakes on a plate and sprinkle generously with sugar.  




Platina. On Honest Indulgence (De Honesta Voluptatae). A little work on foods and honest indulgence by the very learned man Platina: Printed with the work and care of Father Laurentius de Aguila for the Distinguished Duke Peter Mocenicus. Venice, 1475. Evans, Susan J. Falconwood Press. 1989.


The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. New York: Hearst Books, 1989.


Chuck Wagon Diner at http://www.chuckwagondiner.com/recipes.php?id=543&;cat_id=13


Marcus Gavius Apicius. Libri decem qui dicuntur de re coquinaria. at


translation available at http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Apicius/7*.html


Apicius, Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome (Apicius de re Coquinaria). trans. Vehling, Joseph Dommers. New York: Dover Publications, 1977


Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. Austin, Thomas. The Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., 1888.


Le Viandier de Taillevent: 14th century cookery. Vatican Library Manuscript. Prescott, James trans. Alfarhaugr Publishing Society. Oregon. 1989. translation available at http://www.telusplanet.net/public/prescotj/data/viandier/viandier1.html. Original French text available at http://www.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/vi-vat.htm


The English Huswife. 9th Edition. Gervase Markham, 1683 (original printing in 1615) at http://katrowberd.elizabethangeek.com/texts/english-housewife/.


Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin. trans. V. Armstrong. 1553. at http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Sabrina_Welserin.html


Anonimo Toscano Libro della cocina. trans. Vittoria Aureli at http://www.geocities.com/anahita_whitehorse/LibroDellaCocina.html


Take a Thousand Eggs or More: A collection of 15th century recipes. Renfrow, Cindy. 1990.


Modern Dishes in Medieval Guise; a Discussion of Food. Rycheza z Polska at http://www.dragonslaire.org/Articles/modern_dishes_in_medieval_guise.htm


From Lost Bread to French Toast. Christianna MacGrain. at http://florilegium.org


Period French Toast Recipes. Hauviette d'Anjou at http://florilegium.org


Copyright 2009 by Teresa Roberts, 9900 Juniper Ct. St Louis MO 63123. <tkroberts at toast.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org