Fried Cheese Sandwiches

Another recipe from the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch:

Cheese and Semmel loaf, 1611, courtesy of wikimedia commons

34 To Make Good Fledlein

Take semel bread and cut it like for golden slices (tostes dorées, like French toast), and take grated cheese as though for frying kuechlein. Break eggs into it and do not make it too thin, but thinner than for cheese fritters (keßkuechlein). Spread it on one side, one finger thick. Then make a batter as though for baking strewblein (a type of fritter) and dip it into the batter on the other side that has not been spread (with cheese). Set it into the fat so that the cheese is above. Thus it gains a poitlein (crust?) like a fledlein. Spoon (hot fat) on top assiduously, thus it will be brown like the fladen should be.

This recipe is interesting in how basic it is. A slice of bread topped with a cheese and egg mix and dipped in batter below, fried to crispness. I can see it as a successful lunch dish today, though it would more plausibly have served for a nightcap or drinking snack at the time. The cheese fritters referred to in the description of the cheese batter are a varied and popular class. Here, the batter that would usually be made stiff and mouldable with flour is left fairly liquid and spreadable. The bottom batter very likely was just a simple egg and flour mix with some wine or milk added. Strauben were a kind of leavened fritter made from elastic batter that was pulled into strings to drop into hot fat, but the term served to cover a great deal of variety. In this case the likely consistency is relatively thin. Frying the slices on only one side and spooning hot fat over the top to brown it will make the cheese topping look much more attractive. Needless to say, this is a very rich dish suitable for winter days.

The short Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch was first printed in Augsburg in 1559 and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1560 and subsequently. Despite its brevity, it is interesting especially as it contains many recipes for küchlein, baked or deep-fried confections, that apparently played a significant role in displaying status. We do not know who the famous cook referenced in the title may have been or if he ever existed.

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