‘Italian-Style’ Egg Pancakes

Another small recipe from the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch:

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

40 Pletzlein (Pancakes) as they are made in Italy, thin as the back of a knife

Take eggs, beat them well for an egg pancake (ayerplatz), salt it, and take a pan for fat (schmaltzpfendlein). Put in a little butter and let it run around the pan, about half a spoonful. When it has become hot, take a spoonful of egg and put it in. This fries out nicely, as wide as the pan is. Turn it over so it becomes nicely brown. Then lay two or four on each plate.

As happens so often with this source, this recipe is most interesting for its remarks on technique and at the same time raises more questions than it answers. What it describes is a kind of thin pancake made entirely (or at least largely) of egg. The detailed description and the remark that these are made this way in Italy suggests that this was not a familiar preparation. At the same time the author writes that the eggs should be prepared as for an ayerplatz which would describe a flat pancake. What exactly distinguished this familiar preparation from the Italian manner is left unclear. It might have been the thinness, or the size, or the fact that these are served on their own. Many descriptions of a platz or plat suggest it is large enough to serve as the basis for a pastry-like dish or to wrap significant amounts of filling. They are by and large treated as ingredients. That may be the key difference. But of course pancakes were served as a dish in their own right in Germany before the 1550s.

Simply taken as a dish, these pletzlein sound attractive enough.

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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