A Possible Choux Pastry Recipe

This is an interesting recipe, but unfortunately not a conclusive one. The term pranntem taig is suggestive – in modern German, Brandteig or Brandmasse is the term for choux pastry. The description could fit – flour mixed with hot liquid, then worked into a dough with eggs and deep-fried. But of course it looks a little too pat, and we need to bear in mind that this could also be interpreted in a completely different manner.

<<47>> Ein anders pachens von pranntem taig

Another fritter of choux pastry (literally: burned dough)

Take flour and good green (i.e. fresh?) broth or hot water and pound that together in a mortar. Take 6 eggs for one dish and hot fat, and draw it through that (zeuchs darein).

You can probably see it in your imagination right now: Boiling broth or water poured over flour and the whole thing pounded intzo a cohesive mass in a big mortar as it cools, developing gluten to the fullest. Eggs worked into the dough which is then dropped into hot fat in small portions to puff up impressively. So long, Catherine de Medici! Windbeutel are a German invention!

But of course this could also be something completely different. There are no quantities and very little on proceeding. We could be looking at a flour-bound soup fortified with eggs to make thin pancakes, or a version of ‘mortar cake’. But the use of the word branntem does suggest this may in fact be choux technique.

In fifteenth and sixteenth century German recipes, we meet the verb brennen with reference to flour in the context of making roux (and yes, that is adequately attested significantly earlier than Catherine de Medici). The action of stirring flour into a thick mass with fat is similar enough to making choux pastry base in a pot to make transference credible. Of course we do not know that choux pastry was made this way – the above recipe seems to imply adding liquid to flour rather than flour to liquid – but it is the most efficient way. And the liguistics are plausible.

I am going to try this out.

The Inntalkochbuch is from a monastic library in Bavaria’s Inntal region (the Inn is a tributary of the Danube), dating to the late 15th/early 16th century. It is written in Upper German and strongly reflects local culinary traditions, though some of its recipes are commonplaces found elsewhere.

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