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DYKIP-Sweets-art - 6/11/09


"Did You Know its Period? Part 3: Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth" by HL Rowan Houndskeeper.


NOTE: See also the files: easy-p-recip-msg, rice-pudding-msg, Sugarplat-Adv-art, fruit-pies-msg, gingerbread-msg, snow-msg, jellied-milk-msg, cookies-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 III: Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth

by HL Rowan Houndskeeper


The end of an old year and the start of a new one brings the holidays and their emphasis on celebration, social gatherings, and the inevitable holiday dessert table.  In period they liked their calorie-laden sweets just as much as we do today.  In fact, according to the 1542 book Dyetary of Helth, "All meates and drinkes the which is swete and that sugar is in, be nutrytyve [nuitritive]" (as quoted in To the Queen's Taste).  Various types of candies, puddings, and pies were prevalent throughout all of the times and cultures we recreate, and numerous recipes exist in the period cookbooks.  They had cookies and cakes, too, but they were not quite what we are used to today.


The biggest thing to remember about medieval desserts is that they did not have either baking soda or baking powder.  Instead, the leavening agent that allowed cakes and cookies to rise was yeast.  Honey was a common sweetener, but sugar from cane sugar was also available in Europe, brought back from the Middle East after the Crusades.  Here are some surprisingly modern medieval and renaissance desserts to add to your next holiday table.  



Take a lb. of fayr clarefyde suger and put it in a panne and sette it on a furneys, & gar it sethe the mountynance of a Ave Maria, whill evermore steryng wyth a spatur, and sette it of ageyne, but lat it noght wax over styfe for cause of powrynge. And loke thou have redy beforne a fair litel marbill stone and a litell flour of ryse in a bagge, shakyng over the marbill stone till it be overhilled, and than powre thi suger theron as thin as it may renne, for the thinnner the platen the fairer it is. If thou willt, put therin any diverse flours, that is to say roses leves, violet leves, gilofre leves, or any other flour leves, kut them small and put them in whan the suger comes first fro the fyre. And if thou wilt mak fyne suger plate, put therto att the first sethyng ii unces of rose water, and if ye will make rede plate, put therto i unce of fine tournesole clene waschen at the fyrst sethyng.

               - Curye on Inglysch (14th c. English)



Take a pound of fair clarified sugar and put it into a pan, and set it on a flame and let it boil for the time it takes to say an Ave Maria prayer while stirring with a spatula, and set it off (the fire) again, but don't let it get too stiff for pouring.  And look that you have ready beforehand a fair little marble stone and a little rice flour in a bag, shaking [the rice flour] over the marble stone till it is covered, and then pour the sugar thereon as thin as it may run, for the thinner the plate is the fairer it is. If you wish, put therein any diverse flowers, that is rose petals, violet petals, gillyflower petals, or any other flower petals, cut them small and put them in when the sugar first comes off the fire [and before pouring].  And if you wish to make fine sugar plate, at the first boil put in 2 ounces of rosewater, and if you wish to make red plate put in 1 ounce of fine tournesole, clean and washed, and add it at the first boil.



2 c. Sugar (Sugar Cane sugar, not Beet sugar)

1/3 c. Water

1/3 c. Rosewater

Rice flour or oil

Food coloring (Optional)                  

Diced flower petals (Optional)


Place rice flour in a thin muslin cloth bag and shake a thin layer of rice flour over a marble candy slab.  If you don't have a marble candy slab, lightly oil a cookie sheet.


Combine sugar, water, and rosewater in a saucepan, place on highest heat, and stir with wooden spoon JUST until sugar is dissolved.  Put in a candy thermometer and cook to hard-crack stage (310 degrees).  Brush down sides with cold wet pastry brush, but DO NOT STIR sugar after crystals are dissolved or it will cause crystallization and a sugary mess.


At hard crack stage turn off the heat and quickly stir in food coloring (if desired). This is also the stage that you can quickly stir in flower petals if desired. Dip the base of the pan in cool water and allow sugar to stand just long enough for the bubbles to disappear.  Pour out onto prepared slab or cookie sheet so that it forms broad thin disks, and let cool until brittle.  Store in an air tight container.


Period Sugar Plate is nearly identical to modern recipes for clear hard candies such as rock candy and lollipops.  The only difference between this redacted period recipe and a modern recipe in The Complete Wilton Book of Candy is that the flavoring is rosewater, substituted for half of the water in the modern recipe, instead of an oil based flavoring stirred in with the food coloring.  Although this redaction calls for making "plates" you can also pour it into a form to make hard candies or "stained glass", or break it up to form slivers of sugar glass (rock candy).


Adding flower petals, as in the period recipe, can have an interesting effect, but if you choose to add flower petals be sure to use only organic, edible varieties of flower petals – and make sure they haven't been exposed to any pesticides.  



Rice Puddings.  Take halfe a pound of Rice, and steep it in new Milk the whole night, and in the morning drain it, and let the Milk drop away, and take a quart of the best, sweetest, and thickest Cream, and put the Rice into it, and boyl it a little.  Then set it to cool an hour or two, and after put in the yolkes of half a dozen eggs, a little Pepper, Cloves, Mace, Currants, Dates, Sugar, and Salt, and having mixt them well together, put in a grat store of Beef suet well beaten, and small shred, and so put it into the farms, and boyl them as before shewed, and serve them after a day old.  

    -  The English Hous-wife (1683, English)



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



6 c. Milk

1 c. White rice (not instant rice)

1/2 c. Sugar

1 c. Heavy cream

1/4 tsp Salt

2 Tbsp Butter

1/8 tsp Cloves

1/8 tsp Mace

1/4 c. Currants (or raisins)

1/4 c. Minced dates


Mix fruit and spices together well and set aside. Add to a large pot the milk, rice, sugar, butter and salt.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat, cover pot, and allow to simmer for ~45 mins or until rice is tender, stirring occasionally.  Drain off excess milk.  Add cream, bring to a boil, and then immediately remove from heat.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Fold fruit and spice mix into the pudding so that it is evenly distributed. Serve either warm or cold.  To serve warm, simmer the pudding over gentle heat until warm.


Rice was an imported grain in England, and thus a luxury item listed in household accounts along with such items as spices.  The "farms" or forms (molds) mentioned in the recipe allowed the puddings to be cooked, stored, and served in a single container.  Alternatively, it is possible that the puddings were removed from the form for serving much the same way we use Jello molds today.


This recipe for rice pudding is actually from an out of period edition (1683) of the English Housewife (originally printed in 1615).  It is a fancier dish than both many modern and earlier-period versions of rice pudding that I have seen.  I've included a couple of other earlier period recipes here (below) for you to redact yourself.


I have omitted the eggs and pepper in the above redaction, making it closer to most modern rice pudding recipes, but it is also good with them, if a bit different to modern tastes.  Beef suet is found in many period recipes, and most modern redactions substitute lard or butter (as was done here).  But you can buy beef suet at a butcher's shop and process it in your food processor to get the "well beaten" consistency required by the recipe if you want.  


Two Earlier-Period Versions of Rice Pudding

Rys. Take a porcyoun of Rys, & pyke hem clene, & sethe hem welle, & late hem kele; þen take gode Mylke of Almaundys & do þer-to, & seþe & stere hem wyl; & do þer-to Sugre an hony, & serue f.

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



Rice. Take a portion of rice, and pick it clean, and boil it well, and let it cool; then take good almond milk and do [add it] thereto, and boil [it], and stir it well; and do [add] thereto sugar and honey, and serve it forth.


Ryse of fische daye. Blaunche almaundes & grynde hem, & drawe hem vp wyt watur. Wesche þi ryse clene, & do þerto sugur roche and salt: let hyt be stondyng. Frye almaundes browne, & floriche hyt þerwyt, or wyt sugur.

- Curye on Inglysch (14th c. English)



Rice of Fish Day.  Blanch almonds and grind them and draw them up with water [Make almond milk].  Wash your rice clean and do [add] thereto sugar, roche [the almond milk] and salt: let it stand.  Fry almonds brown, and flourish [sprinkle] it therewith, or with sugar.




Tak gode applys & gode spycis & figys & reysons & perys, & wan they arn wel ybrayd colour wyth safroun wel & do yt in a cofyn, & do yt forth to bake wel.

               - Curye on Inglysch (14th c. English)



Take good apples and good spices and figs and raisins and pears, and when they are well brayed [ground, mixed, or mushed] color with saffron well and put in a coffin [pie with both top and bottom crusts] and do it forth to bake well.



3 Apples

2 Pears

1/2 c. Figs, chopped

1/2 c. Currants or raisins

1/4 c. Sugar

1/4 c. Brown sugar

1/4 tsp Each of nutmeg, mace, salt

1/8 tsp Ground cloves

1/8 tsp Coarsely ground pepper

1/8 tsp Dried orange peel (or fresh orange zest)

1 to 1-1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1 Pie shell or tart shells (see below)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees . Peel and core apples and pears and chop them small – you want the pieces to be ~1/2" square or less. Mix together the sugar and all the spices. Mix all the fruit together in a bowl with approximately half of the sugar/spice mix. Put a layer of the fruit mix into a pie shell (recipe below) and sprinkle with some of the saved sugar/spice mix. Repeat layering fruit mix and sugar/spice mix until the pie shell is full, ending with sugar/spice mix sprinkled over the top. Bake for approximately 45 minutes. This makes a rather large pie (9"-10"), or ~20 tartlets (2"), but if making tarts reduce baking time to ~25 minutes.


Pie Dough Recipe

3 c. Flour

3/4 c. Canola or olive oil

3/8 c. Ice water


Mix water and oil together, stirring briskly, and then add them to the flour, mixing together to form a dough. Split the dough in two, and roll each half separately between 2 floured wax papers. Do not freeze dough to roll out later, although you may roll it out and freeze it in the pie pan. Makes a top and bottom crust for a 9-inch pie.


This particular period apple pie recipe calls for pears and other fruits as well as apples, resulting in a more complex taste than the standard modern apple pie.  There are in fact numerous period recipes for apple-pie-type desserts.  Some are quite different to modern tastes, containing cheese, meats, or vegetables, while others are closer to the classic American dessert.  In fact, my interest in redacting period recipes came from casually reading a translated (but not redacted) period German recipe and realizing "Hey, that sounds exactly like my grandma's recipe for applesauce pie!"



To make a dissh full of Snow. Take a potell of swete thicke creame and the whites of eight egges & beate them al togider with a spone / then put them in youre creame and a saucer full of Rosewater and a disshe full of Suger with all / than take a sticke & make it cleane / and than cutte it in the ende foure square / and there with heate all the aforesayde thinges togither / & ever as it ryseth take it of and put it into a Collander / this done / take one apple and set it in the myddes of it and a thicke busshe of Rosemary and set it in the middes of the plater / then cast your Snow upon the Rosemary & fyll your platter therewith. And if you have wafers cast some in with all and thus serue them forth.

- A Propre new booke of Cokery (15th c. English)



To make a dish full of Snow.  Take a pot of sweet thick cream, and the whites of eight eggs & beat them together with a spoon / then put them into your cream and a saucer full of Rosewater and a dish full of Sugar / then take a clean stick and then cut it in the end four square [make a whisk]/ and therewith heat all the aforesaid things [cream, egg whites, rosewater and sugar] together [while using the whisk to beat it] & ever as it rises take if off and put it into a colander / this done / take an apple and set it in the midst of it and a thick bush of Rosemary and set it in the middle of a platter / then cast your Snow upon the Rosemary & fill your platter therewith. And if you have wafers cast them around the edges and thus serve them forth.



Take a half gallon of cream, along with eight egg whites, 8 tsps rosewater, and 2c sugar as mentioned and place in a pot.  Gently heat ingredients together while whisking or beating until you get a meringue or whipped cream consistency.  Serve on a platter with an apple and rosemary branch in the center and wafers around the perimeter.  




A Second Recipe for Snow

(55) Ain schne zœ machen
Nitz ain milchram vnnd thœ den jn den haffen/ vnnd nim ain klœxen vnd rier jn dœrchainander, bis es ain schne oben gewint/ vnnd bee ain semel vnnd legs jn ain schissel vnd see daraœff ain zœcker vnnd thœ den schom aœff das brot, so jst es berait.

               - Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin (1553 German)



(55) To make a snow
Take dilute cream and put it in a pot. And take an eggbeater and stir it thoroughly, until it forms snowy foam on top. And toast a Semmel
and lay it in a bowl and sprinkle sugar over it and put the foam on the bread, then it is ready.



Take a pint of half-and-half and whip it until fluffy.  Place a warm glazed sweet roll on your platter and cover with the whipped cream.


The two period recipes presented here for "Snow" are fairly clear that this was meant as a sort of subtlety.  In the simpler German recipe the whipped cream was served over a toasted and sugared Semmel [a mildly sweet bread roll] resulting in "snow" on a "hill" made of a hot, glazed sweet roll.  The English recipe on the other hand indicates that it was served as a mound of whipped cream on a platter around an apple and a small rosemary plant to simulate a snow covered landscape complete with a "boulder" and "tree".  In this recipe it was served with wafers for scooping up the whipped cream and eating with it.  Most modern tastes (at least the adult ones) might find eating straight whipped cream a bit much, so you can stick to mounding it on your apple pie from the recipe above.



To The Queen's Taste: Elizabethan feasts and recipes adapted for modern cooking. Lorna J Sass.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976.


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.


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


The Complete Wilton Book of Candy. Eugene and Marilynn Sullivan. Wilton Enterprises 1981.


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


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. TrŸbner & Co., 1888.


A Propre New Booke of Cokery. 1575. A. Veale at http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/pnboc1575.txt


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


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


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