[Sca-cooks] Not bagels, pretzels

Mairi Ceilidh jjterlouw at earthlink.net
Thu May 3 12:50:39 PDT 2007

With all due respect to His Grace, Master Cariadoc, I must, as I did when we
had this discussion at Pennsic two years ago, disagree with his
interpretation of the translation of this recipe.  I am not the person who
taught the class referenced here, but I have translated, researched,
interpreted and prepared this recipe.  I did an Art/Sci entry based on it
some years ago.

My main concern is the necessity to leave the language in which to recipe
was originally written, and go elsewhere to stretch an association of words.

In the 1611 edition of John Florio's Italian/English dictionary, which uses
Messisbugo's Libre Novo (the book in which thich recipe is published) as a
word source, we find a reference to the word brazzetto which sends us to the
alternates spelling braccietto.  Braccietto translates to "a little arm" or
"bracer".  The OED tells us that a bracer is something that goes around the
arm as a protector (loosely interpreted from multiple references).  The
circular form of a bagel is much more likely to match this definition than
the multi-twist form of a pretzel.  Extend the search to other forms of the
word in Florio's dictionary and we find Bracciatillo, a kind of roule or
bisket bread, we call them round simnels.

It seems obvious that it is not necessary to go outside the Italian language
to discern what Messisbugo is making in this recipe.  Rolls formed in a
circle.  Maybe not bagels, but certainly not pretzels.

Actually, it doesn't matter what you call the things.  They are good, and
well worth the effort to make.  Here is my interpretation of the recipe:

Brazzatelle Di Latte, E Zuccaro

Modern Redaction (as I interpreted the translation and prepared the recipe)

4 pounds bread flour
1 ½ T. rose water
1C. milk
¾ C. sugar
6 large eggs
2T. butter
2 t. salt
1 T. active dry yeast
1C. warm water
Several pinches anise seeds (optional)

Dissolve yeast in 1 C. warm water and set aside.
Scald the milk in a small saucepan, add the butter and allow to melt, 	add
the rosewater and cool.  
In a large bowl, beat the eggs well.  Add the yeast and milk mixtures and
stir well.
Add about 4 cups of flour and the salt to the liquid mixture.  Stir until
roughly combined; continue adding flour, about a cup at the time until it is
difficult to stir.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is
smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour if needed.
Leave the dough to rise, punch down.  Cut dough into 4 ounce pieces.  Shape
each piece as you like; preferably roll into a rope about 12 inches long,
joining the ends to make a ring.  Place the rolls on an oiled baking sheet
and allow to rise for 45 minutes, or until about double in size.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Heat a large pot fill with water to a simmer.
Boil the rolls, four to six at the time (do not let them be crowded in the
pot) for about five minutes on each side, or until they are well puffed and
float.  Place the boiled rolls on an oiled baking sheet, sprinkle with anise
seeds, if desired.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

If anyone would like a copy of my documentation, which is four years old and
possibly not as detailed as it might be were I writing it today, please
contact me with your email address.  It is in a word document which I can
send as an attachment.

Mairi Ceilidh

Messibugio has a recipe which I originally encountered in a class at 
Pennsic some years ago, with the title translated as "Bagels of milk 
and sugar." The italian original is "Brazzatelle di latte, e 
zuccaro." When we tried the recipe, it occurred to me that the 
process--boil then bake--could describe either bagels or pretzels, as 
would the implication of some specific (but not stated) shape. And 
the name could be related to "bracelets" for bagels, or to "pretzel."

It finally occurred to me to check the etymology of "pretzel."

"[German Brezel, Pretzel, from Middle High German bremacr.gifzel, 
premacr.gifzel, from Old High German brezitella, ...

I think that's close enough to establish a strong presumption that 
it's a pretzel recipe.

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