A friend of mine who is in the same medieval society as me was inducted into the “Order of the Laurel” last weekend. This is our club’s way of recognising outstanding achievement in the study and recreation of historical things (in her case, dressmaking), and it is kind of a big deal. Part of the ceremony is a ‘vigil’, a period where the inductee is seated in a separate room or tent and is visited by friends and older Order members for congratulations and advice. The vigil traditionally involves finger food, and that is where I came in.
From a recipe in Anna Wecker’s 1598 Koestlich New Kochbuch pre-tested at a pity party, this time I made both the flat cookies and the almond-stuffed versions:
Take egg yolks and rosewater, one as much as the other, sugar it, add finely ground cinnamon, ginger, saffron, white flour, and a little salt and make a dry dough from it. Roll it into any shape you want, fairly thin, and also spread the almond filling (zeug) on part of it. Fold another piece over it and press it down with moulds or pastry wheels or pick it out as you wish. You can also make shapes like sausages. Bake it in a pastry pan. You can also work a little butter (ancken) into the dough. And you can also shape such a dough into whatever form you want by itself or cut it like ginger roots (ingwerzeen) and fry it in fat, but it is better baked in a pastry pan. It is also better for the sick because the fat takes a lot of its strength and is difficult to digest.
Prepare a dough as described above and work two or three egg yolks, the same quantity of rosewater, a vierling of almonds or half a one, depending on good you wish to have it and what you can handle. Roll it out as you wish, round or long, and bake it in the pan or the oven. It is most skilfully done round like plates. Or roll it out and cut it with a pastry wheel to the length and breadth of a waffle (gofferen oder eysen kuechlein), Make it hot (the waffle iron?) as though you wanted to bake waffles, lay it on and press it together a little, as usual. Bake it slowly, These are all strengthening things if a patient desires to eat fried foods. Otherwise fritters are not suitable (?selten) for the sick because, as people say, it dries you out. And it is true, it dries you out in that you enjoy a drink with it. You can also shape or mould many different things from such a dough, such as antlers, all kinds of lovely ropes, skins, hats, seashells, hunting horns and all kinds of hunting gear, silkworms (Seidenwuerm), Nespel, Kesten, artful bags, pouches and everything else if you are skilful. Think up each by yourself or have moulds made. That way it works easiest. Bake/fry it as you like.
The cookies (left of the twelve-o-clock-biscotti) are fairly basic, though given the reticence with which butter is allowed rather than enouraged, the dough is a lot less buttery and more eggy than a modern cookie would be. I brushed them with rosewater and sprinkled them with sugar before baking for a bit of added crunch. The almond pastries (right of the biscotti) are also made simply. They can be stamped or moulded creatively, but I was under time pressure to get the spread done, so I went with simple folded-over circle with an almond and sugar filling. It still worked very nicely.