Sixteenth-century Spießkuchen

Today, there will be two more recipes from our weekend experiments – one a great success, the other less so. This is the success, a recipe i have long been wanting to try out over an actual fire. Spießkuchen, a sixteenth-century affectation:

Spießkuchen

If you would make an egg cake that soldiers also call spit cake (Spießkuchen), take sweet cream and one or two spoonfulls of yeast. If you have a large spit, you have to take more yeast, and add saffron to make it nice and yellow. Also pour in a little butter and mix it well so that it turns nicely smooth, and make a dough of it that is nice and loose (soft?) and doesn’t stick to your hands. Add small rasisins. Grease the spit with butter, as you would with other egg cakes, but not too much, so that it doesn’t fall off. Take the dough and break pieces off it, draw it out long on a board, dip your hands in flour so that it doesn’t stick and make five or six pieces, depending on howe much dough you have. When you want to wind it around thespit, beat it with your hand a little to flatten it and wind it round the spit in the right place. Turn the spit so that the dough twists around it like a rope, and when you have wound up one piece of dough, pat it down so that it flattens out and covers the spit. Then take another piece of dough, put it on the spit and wind it up like the previous one. Do that until the spit is full, then pat it down completely so that it is the same everywhere and doesn’t stick to the spit or slip off. Then take string and bind it loosely, place it by the fire and bake it, and when it is half baked, drizzle it with melted butter, and before, salt the dough in proper measure, and nonetheless also salt it while on the spit. When you cut off the tubes (of cake) you can melt butter and serve it in small bowls to dip the pieces. (Klosterkochbuch IV.3)

The Klosterkochbuch is a questionable source accessible only in a nineteenth-century edition that does not meet any standard of academic rigour. It dates to the mid-sixteenth century and contains some interesting reipes, and this is one of the nicest.

The dough was fairly basic: 1 kg of white flour, a pinch of salt, 200ml of cream, some extra milk, 45g of live yeast (the modern commercial kind), 5 eggs, 50g of melted butter and a bit of extra milk after it turned out too stiff. It went through two risings before we wrapped it around the spit and started basting it with melted butter as it cooked. It took a long time, but the result was excellent:

It did not come off the spit smoothly, but tore into several tubular sections. The result was a heavy bread, something akin to Klöben or an unsweetened Stollen. It went very well with our other dishes, even though we did not dip it in melted butter.

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