[Sca-cooks] Pancakes and Fruitcakes was Happy Shrove/Fat Tuesday

jenn.strobel at gmail.com jenn.strobel at gmail.com
Tue Feb 24 08:58:50 PST 2009

A few years ago, I'd done some research into fruitcake and what I found was  
that there were a few things that could be interpreted as fruitcake. The  
fruitcake that we're all familiar with was essentially a Victorian  
creation, there's not really a straight line from a cake that was  
documented during the middle ages or renaissance. The complete fruitcake  
documentation is located at  
http://www.medievalcooking.org/aestelfruitcake.doc if you want to jump  
straight to to long play extended remix of the information below.

My understanding of cake during our period of study is that it wasn't what  
we'd understand as cake now, which involves artificial leveners in order to  
get the volume and crumb. "Cake" would have been something that we'd  
associate closest with a "cookie", smallish and not very risen. When I did  
my research, I was looking for something that was more like modern cake  
than medieval cake, so now you have the bias of my research.

 From Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book:
Take a peck of flower, and fower pound of currance, one ounce of Cinamon,  
half an ounce of ginger, two nutmegs, of cloves and mace two peniworth, of  
butter one pound, mingle your spice and flower & fruit together, put as  
much barme as eill make it light, then take good Ale & put your butter on  
it, all saving a little, which you must put in the milk, & let the milk  
boyle with the butter, then make a posset with it, & temper the Cake with  
the posset drink & curd & all together, & put some sugar in & so bake it.

This is more of a currant spice bread that is really delicious, but isn't  
quite right.

 From the Libro Novo:
Take three pounds of candied citron cut very finely, five pounds skimmed  
honey, five eights of an ounce of pepper, one scruple of saffron, three  
quarters of an ounce of cinnamon, three grains of musk, and enough flour  
that it will hold all these together. Make the Mostazzoli large or small as  
you would like them to be. You will bake them as you would pampapati.

Mistress Rachaol MakCreith found a reference to pampapati in Waverly  
Root’s "The Food of Italy", sent it to me, and I ran with the information.

The reference is: “The Christmas-New Years holidays are marked by the  
appearance in pastry-shop windows of pampepato di ciccolato, a very old  
Ferrarese sweet. It is a cake made of flour, cocoa, milk, honey (sugar if  
honey is not at hand), pepper, spices, almonds, and lemon peel with  
chocolate frosting powdered with sugar and tiny candies. It is of ancient  
lineage. Duke Borso d’Este served pampapati at a banquet on November 11,  
1465, making them exceptionally appetizing by inserting a gold piece in  

Even in my own creation of a pampapato recipe includes baking soda,  
something that our medieval counterparts would not have had access to. What  
I need to do is go back, not use any levener whatsoever in one batch and  
use baking ammonia (which would be more appropriate for our period of study  
as far as chemical leveners go).

If anyone else has done any research on fruitcake, or has points that I  
missed/failed to get/totally screwed up, please contact me. This particular  
subject is (obviously) one near and dear to my heart, but I haven't had the  
time to revisit what I did lo those many years ago. New and better  
information is always welcome.

Thank you to all who got this far in reading.


Odriana vander Brugghe

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