Delicious medieval recipes for a special cooking experience
England was a place of fine dining in the Middle Ages. This is shown by traditional recipe books. The first of our medieval recipes is this saffron cream cake, or as it is called “doucettes” in the original. It comes from the well-known collection “Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books, Harleian MS 279”.
It is one of the examples where an ingredient is used to color the food. The saffron makes the filling nice and yellow. Coloring of dishes was widespread in the Middle Ages: red with blackberries or cherries, yellow with saffron or the cheaper turmeric, green with parsley.
Rich Saffron Cream Cake
For 10 people 75 minutes (25 minutes preparation – 50 minutes in the oven)
225 g spelt flour 6 whisked egg yolks
65 g butter 350 ml double cream
40 g of lard 125 ml of milk
Cold water 65 g light sugar
1 pinch of salt
5 saffron threads, ground in a mortar
Mix the spelt flour, butter and lard by hand, add as much water as necessary so that the dough is nice and smooth. Put in a cool place.
Then fill the cake tin with a diameter of 10 inches (26 cm), base approximately 3 mm, and make the edge of the cake a little thicker, about 0.4 inches (1 cm). Prick the bottom with a fork.
Bake the dough blindly at 390 ° F (200 ° C) for about 20 minutes. Let cool down a little. Mix all ingredients of the filling together. Pour into the cooled form. Bake for about 50 minutes at 300 ° F (150 °C).
Chicken with Lemon (Limonia)
The second of our medieval recipes can be found in the Liber de Coquina, an early recipe book from the 14th century. Nothing is known about the author, which was quite common at the time. The composition of this recipe suggests an Arabic origin.
65 minutes (25 minutes preparation – 40 minutes over the fire)
1 chicken, ready to cook 3 cinnamon sticks
Salt to rub in 1 lemon, juice
2 large onions Spices (if desired nutmeg, pepper, cardamom)
60 g bacon Salt
500 ml bouillon 300 ml white wine at will
100 ml almond milk (from 50 g almonds soaked in 100 ml water overnight)
Cut the chicken into not too small pieces (breast, wings, legs) and rub with salt. Peel and quarter the onions. Put the bacon in the roaster, fry the onion with the chicken until they are golden brown. Deglaze with the bouillon.
Add the almond milk, the cinnamon sticks and the lemon juice. Spice up. Dilute the brew with water or wine as desired. Braise on the fire until the meat separates from the bone. Season to taste and serve.
Many medieval recipes that include citrus fruits use this following technique. It’s a more special variant that gives extra lemon flavor is the use of lemons pickled in brine. To do this, first water the untreated lemons for 3 to 4 days. Then cut them on 4 sides, and fill the cuts with coarse salt.
Afterward fill the lemons in a mason jar and pour boiling water over them. Close the jar immediately. The lemons are edible after 6 weeks. They can be roughly chopped and added to the Limonia dish.
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