[Sca-cooks] cow butter?

wheezul at canby.com wheezul at canby.com
Thu Jun 3 18:43:51 PDT 2010

> Another thing in the recipe that has me wondering is the mention of "cow
> butter". Is there no general term for "butter" in Spanish? Or do recipes
> tend to call out specific types of butter?

Thanks for bringing up the question of butter, because I too have some! 
First, I did go spend the time to read through the florilegium files and I
learned quite a bit from it - thanks everyone!

In Anna Wecker's cookbook (I am now up to almost all of part 3 creating an
ingredient list) - she specifies in a recipe to use butter, and that goat
butter is preferred if available.  She also mentions cow, goat and sheep
milks and cheeses.  I like her style of cooking - she says something like
'use this if you have it, or substitute x, y or z if you don't'.  Very few
of her recipes have rigid guidelines for measurements.

Specific questions I have are terminology related to fats.  The most
prominent fat reference is to schmaltz which since I haven't found a
'tell' in the recipes I consider an animal fat - probably pork, but could
certainly fall into the 'what you have on hand' category as well from pan
drippings.  She mentions sweet almond oil specifically, and I don't seem
to recall a reference to olive oil yet in the work.

She also calls out for 4 types of butter (or 5 if you count the goat
butter) - "butter", "anken", "sweet butter" and "May Butter".  To go back
to the florilegium commentary, the citations by the compilers in several
of the period German cookbooks I have been reading tell that May Butter
refers to the fattest butters of the year because the cows gave the most
milk fat in May.  In terms of Wecker's recipes, especially in how to make
almond "May Mushes" that include extra butter or cream than the more
regular mushes made with more or less the same ingredients, there is no
hint that the freshest May Butter used in the rather nummy looking almond
torte was meant to have medicianl value.

I am confused by the interchangeability of the terms anken (which my
dictionaries show as butter) or butter itself.  I just finished
translating an inventory of 1528 of the Bishop of Strassburg's effects. 
In the cellar are 4 pots of schmaltz and 2 pots of anken - so probably
different things entirely.  If anken is butter, than why does Anna switch
between anken and butter?  If anken was preserved butter, that might make

So would 'sweet butter' mean freshly made butter?  Or would it mean that
it wasn't allowed to sour at all as in the overnight step?  Or was the
stored butter of a sour quality?  There is also a keg of 'gumpost'
(compost) which my books suggest was a tub of soured milk.

One last question from me.  When I experimented with making croissants a
while back, one internet source said that European butter was drier than
the US butter.  Is there a way of drying ours out more?

Katherine in An Tir

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