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"Did You Know its Period?  Part 4: Fried Foods" by HL Rowan Houndskeeper.

 

NOTE: See also the files: easy-p-recip-msg, fried-foods-msg, fried-cheese-msg, frittours-msg, fried-breads-msg, Ital-Fnl-Caks-art, French-Toast-art, cooking-oils-msg.

 

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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

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

 

Did You Know its Period?  Part 4: Fried Foods

by HL Rowan, Houndskeeper

 

They may not be good for you (or your New Year's Resolution to lose weight) but some of the most surprisingly "modern" medieval foods are the numerous items that wouldn't be out of place at a State Fair:  Funnel Cakes, Donuts dripping in honey, Apple Fritters, Fried Apple Turnovers, Fried Cheese Sticks or Cheese Balls, Fried Cheese Curds, and more.  Such deep fried foods are not at all calorie or cholesterol conscious, but you have to admit they taste good, and in these cases, all of them are period too.

  

It is always interesting to look at what appear to be variations of a single period recipe – either similar recipes from different cultures or a single recipe that has "evolved" over time in a single culture.  This is a fun exercise that you can easily do with the two most readily available medieval cookbooks – Forme of Cury (14th century; available as part of Curye on Inglish); and Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks.  Presented first in this article we have two similar recipes from these two sources that result in two different fried treats.  The Cryspes of the 15th century recipe may have evolved from the Crispels recipe of the 14th century, but the later recipe results in funnel cakes, while the earlier recipe results in a fried pastry in honey that is similar to modern donuts.

 

 

Cryspes = Funnel Cakes

Take white of eyroun, milk, and flour, and a little berme, and beat it together, and draw it through a strainer, so that it be running, and not too stiff, and cast suger thereto, and salt; then take a chafer full of fresh grease boiling, and put thine hand in the batter, and let thine batter run down by thy fingers into the chafer; and when it is run together on the chafer, and is enough, take and nym a skimmer, and take it up, and let all the grease run out, and put it on a fair dish, and cast thereon sugar enough, and serve forth.

- Two Fifteenth Century Cook Books (15th c. English)

 

Translation

Take egg whites, milk, and flour, and a little berme [yeast], and beat it together, and draw it through a strainer, so that it is runny and not too stiff, and add sugar and salt; then take a pot full of fresh boiling grease, and put your hand in the batter and let it run down your fingers into the oil until it is run together [the surface of the grease is nearly covered with batter], and is enough [cooked till done], take a skimmer and take it up and let all the grease run off, and place it on a dish and sprinkle with sugar and serve it forth.

 

Redaction

4 egg whites                  

1 c flour                          

2/3 c milk                       

1 Tbsp dried yeast

3 Tbsp sugar                 

1/2 tsp salt

~3 c vegetable oil

 

Take the egg whites, milk, flour, and yeast and whisk them together to make a runny batter (no lumps!).  Add sugar and salt and continue to whisk until smooth. Drizzle batter into your pan of hot vegetable oil (~350╝ to 375╝) using a funnel, pastry bag, or slotted spoon to make a lacy web on the surface of the grease. Fry until it puffs up and browns (~2 minutes) then flip them to allow both sides to brown (~1 minute more).  Remove them, drain them on paper towels, and sprinkle with sugar to serve.

 

Modern recipes for funnel cakes typically sprinkle with confectioners (powdered) sugar.  Although there is some evidence for a medieval "powdered" sugar – probably the finest white sugar available ground in a mortar and pestle then sifted – I suggest using plain white sugar for a more medieval dish.  Also, even though the recipe says you should make your Cryspes by letting"thine batter run down by thine fingers into the chafer [pot]" – I recommend you use one of the suggested implements for a less messy endeavor (or make sure no one is watching you play with your food).

 

Crispels = Donuts

171. Crispels. Take and make a foile of gode past as thynne as paper; kerue it out wyt a saucer & frye it in oile; oþer in grece; and þe remnaunt, take hony clarified and flamme þerwith. Alye hem vp and serue hem forth.

               - Forme of Cury (14th c. English)

 

Translation

Crispels. Take and make a sheet of good pastry as thin as paper; carve it out with a saucer and fry it in oil or in grease, and for finishing, take clarified honey and baste therewith.  Do them up and serve them forth

 

Redaction

~3 c flour                                      

2 tsp melted butter                    

3 tsp sugar

1/2 c milk                                      

2 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp yeast

~3 c vegetable oil

~1 c Honey

 

Make your pastry dough by combining butter, milk, sugar, salt, and eggs.  Knead in flour until you get a good dough.  Allow dough to rise for ~2 hours. Punch down risen dough. Roll out the pastry dough thin and cut into circles. Fry the pastry circles in hot oil (~350╝ to 375╝) until lightly browned on both sides. Remove them and drain them on paper towels.  Meanwhile in a separate pot warm your honey and skim off any scum that rises.  Liberally brush your drained crispels with warm honey and serve.

 

You'll notice that the original recipe for Crispels only calls for you to roll the pastry dough thin, but does not tell you how to make the dough.  This is quite common in period manuscripts – there are rarely recipes for doughs.  It seems it was just assumed that everyone knew how to make pastry dough and bread dough.  The recipe I give in the redaction is just a suggestion - try your favorite pie or pastry dough as well.  Just remember that (as I mentioned in the previous article) there was no baking power or baking soda in the time periods we re-create.  Therefore you'll want to find a pastry recipe that doesn't use either of these, such as a pie dough or the sweet dough used for sopapillas (which is what the above dough is based on).

 

Frutours = Apple Fritters

XIX – For to Make Fruturs.

Nym flower and eyryn and grynd peper and safroun and mak therto a batour and par aplyn and kyt hem to brode penys and kest hem thryn and fry hem in batour with fresch grees and serve it forthe.

               - Forme of Cury (14th c. English)

 

Translation

Take flour and eggs and ground pepper and saffron and make a batter, and peel apples and cut them to broad pieces and cast them therein [into the batter], and fry them in batter with fresh grease and serve it forth.

 

Frutours.

Take yolkes of egges, drawe them thorgh a streynour, caste thereto faire floure, berme and ale; stere it togedre til hit be thick.  Take pared appelles, cut hem thyn like obleies, ley hem in the batur; then put hem into a ffrying pan, and fry hem in faire grece or buttur til thei ben browne yelowe; then put hem in dishes, and strawe Sugur on hem ynogh, And serue hem forthe.

               - Two Fifteenth Century Cook Books (15th c. English)

 

Translation

Take egg yolks and draw them through a strainer, cast thereto fair flour, berme [yeast] and ale; stir it together till it forms a thick batter.  Take pared apples, cut them thin like obleies [sacramental wafers].  Lay them in the batter then put them into a frying pan and fry them in fair grease or butter till they be yellow-brown [lightly browned]; then put them in dishes and strew enough sugar on them, And serve them forth.

 

Redaction

1-2 large apples

1 egg                                               

1 c flour

1/2 c beer

1 Tbsp dried yeast

~1 c vegetable oil

 

Mix flour, egg, beer, sugar, and yeast to make a smooth, thick batter.  Peel and core apples and slice into rings or wedges.  Dip the apple rings into the batter and fry in hot oil until lightly brown (~4 minutes).  Serve hot sprinkled with sugar.

 

The above is another example of a recipe that appears to have "evolved" between the 14th century Forme of Cury and the later Two Fifteenth Century Cookbooks.  Both clearly result in a dish similar to the modern Southern fried treat of apple fritters. However, the earlier recipe contains very little liquid for the batter and the somewhat odd (to modern tastes) addition to the batter of pepper and saffron, while the later recipe appears to use a very familiar beer batter.  Note that different types of beer will change the flavor of your batter and your fritters quite a bit.  You'll want to experiment with your various beer, stout, or ale brands (or homebrew) to obtain the batter that suits your own tastes (I tend to use cheap commercial beer).

 

To Fry Applepies = Fried Apple Turnovers

Take Apples and pare them, and chop them very small, beat in a little Cinnamon, a little Ginger, and some Sugar, a little Rosewater; take your paste [pastry], roul it thin, and make them up as big Pasties as you please, [in order] to hold a spoonful or a little lesse of your Apples; and so stir [fry] them with Butter not to hastily least they be burned.

- A True Gentlewomans Delight (1653, English)

 

Translation

It's post-Elizabethan English, London dialect – I shouldn't need to translate it for anyone J

 

Redaction

3 med. tart apples (Granny Smiths or similar)

1 Tbsp rosewater

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ginger                              

1 c sugar

1 Tbsp flour                                 

Pastry dough (use your favorite pie dough recipe)

~3 c vegetable oil

 

Combine apples and rosewater in a saucepan and cook over low heat 10-15 minutes or until tender.  Mix together sugar, flour, and spices and add to apples in saucepan.  Cook ~10 minutes more until thick.  Roll out pastry dough fairly thin (~1/8" to 1/4") and cut into 5" circles.  Spoon ~2-1/2 tablespoons of the apple filling into each circle. Fold pastry circle in half and seal with a fork.  Drop into hot oil and fry until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and serve warm or cold (warn people about the hot filling if serving hot).

 

This recipe from a 1653 cookbook is slightly out of period for the SCA, but the results would be familiar to anyone who frequents either a County Fair or a fast food restaurant.  Due to the rosewater, the resulting flavor of the fried pies is just different enough to modern tastes to be a pleasant surprise.  And once again, as mentioned earlier, the original recipe just assumes that you know how to make pastry dough.  Try experimenting with different types of pie dough to obtain the results that best suit your tastes (I use a simple oil pie crust recipe).

 

               You can also "short-cut" this recipe by using canned apple pie filling and canned refrigerator biscuits.  Simply flatten the biscuits, spoon filling into the center and fold over, pinching the edges to seal, then drop into hot oil to fry.  This shortcut is certainly not what I would suggest for an experience in medieval cooking, but it is useful for when you are short on time, would like to serve a treat at a camping event, or have children helping you prepare your treats.    

 

Dough to make pipes = Fried Cheese Balls

Deeg om "pijpjes" te maken.  Neem kaas uit Gouda en eieren. Stamp samen [fijn] met witt meel. Leg het op droge bloem en maak er koekjes van.

               - Wel ende edelike spijse (15th c. Dutch)

 

Translation

Dough to make "pipes"

Take cheese from Gouda and eggs. Grind together with white flour. Lay it on dry flour and make small biscuits of it.

 

Redaction

1 egg

1/2 c grated gouda cheese

1/2 c flour

~3 c vegetable oil

 

Mix all ingredients together to form a paste-like dough.  Drop balls or spoonfuls of the dough into hot oil.  Fry until they float up and are both stiff and nicely browned.  Drain on paper towels and serve.  Can be kept warm in a chaffing dish fairly well.

 

Pipefarces = Fried Cheese Sticks

Take the yolks of eggs and flour and salt and a little wine and beat them well together and cheese cut into strips and then roll the strips of cheese in the paste and fry them in an iron pan with fat therein. One does likewise with beef marrow.

               - The Goodman of Paris (1395, French)

 

Redaction

8 egg yolks
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp wine (enough to make thick paste)
about 1/2 pound cheese (works better with a hard cheese such as cheddar)

~3 c vegetable oil

 

Mix egg, flour, wine, and salt to form your batter. Cut cheese into thin slices about as long and thick as your pinkie finger. Dip into batter and fry in hot oil to evenly brown (~1 minute on each side). Drain on paper towels and serve warm (careful - hot cheese burns!).

 

To Make Curd-Cakes = Deep Fried Cheese Curds

To make Curd-Cakes.

Take a pint of Curds, four Eggs, take out two of the whites, put in some Sugar, a little Nutmeg, and a little flour, stir them well together, and drop them in, and fry them with a little Butter.

- A True Gentlewomans Delight (1653, English)

 

Translation

Once again, post-Elizabethan English, London dialect – no translation necessary

 

Redaction

2 egg yolks

2 eggs                              

1 tsp sugar

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 c flour

1/2 c milk or beer

1 lb fresh cheese curds

~3 c vegetable oil

 

Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, and milk.  Mix in flour, sugar, and spices to form a smooth batter. Drop cheese curds into batter and coat thoroughly.  Drop coated cheese curds a few a time into hot oil and fry until brown and puffed, turning to brown on all sides (~1 minute).  Do not overcook or cheese curds will melt and ooze through the coating.  Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Allow to cool slightly before serving (hot cheese burns!).

 

Here is another opportunity to compare similar period recipes, this time across cultures.  All three of the above recipes are for Deep Fried Cheese.  The first is a 15th century Dutch recipe for fried cheese dough balls, the second is a French recipe for fried cheese sticks (as quoted in Cariadoc's Miscellany), and the third a slightly out of period English recipe for fried cheese curds.

 

               Unless you are from Wisconsin or a few other places where fried cheese curds are a common tasty-but-bad-for-you snack, of these three period recipes the one that will feel most modern and familiar is the Pipefarces recipe.  Note that although cheddar is suggested in the redaction, it is questionable if cheddar was a period type of cheese - a white cheese like mozzarella also works.  However, the type of cheese can significantly affect the resulting end product - too moist a cheese results in soggy cheese sticks.  So experiment a little with your favorite types of hard cheese to see which you like best.

 

               The Dutch recipe was redacted by Lady Emeline de Moulineaux (Erin Mulanax) for the 2007 Lilies Taste of Calontir Table.  The Pipefarces recipe was redacted by and is available in Cariadoc's Miscellany.

 

References:

 

Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.

 

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. London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trčbner & Co., 1888.

 

Wel ende edelike spijse: manuscript UB Gent 1035. translated by Christianne Muusers  at  http://www.coquinaria.nl/kooktekst/Edelikespijse0.htm

 

A True Gentlewomans Delight, 1653. As available via 17th Century English Recipes  at http://www.godecookery.com/engrec/engrec.html

 

Le Menagier de Paris, 1395. trans. Janet Hinson (Lady Mairoli Bhan); also translated as The Goodman of Paris, trans. Power and Coulton, As available via Cariadoc' Miscelleny.

 

Cariadoc's Miscellany: A Collection of Medieval Recipes, 9th edition. Cariadoc and Elizabeth (David Friedman and Betty Cook)  at http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/miscellany.html

 

Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks. CB Hieatt, B Hosington, and S Butler. University of Toronto Press, 1996.

 

Gode Cookery website  at  http://www.godecookery.com/godeboke/godeboke.htm

 

Medieval Cookery website  at  http://recipes.medievalcookery.com

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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).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org