“Lamp” Choux Fritters

Another recipe from the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch:

Sixteenth-century oil lamp with a foot from Bruges, courtesy of wikimedia commons

49 Liechtfesser küchlein

Take milk in a pan, salt it like soup and add fat. Half a seidlein of milk and a pletzlein of butter like half a schmaltz. Let it boil, and when it is boiling, take a handful (batzen) of flour and put it into the pan. Stir it well and do not stint the flour so that it becomes thick, like the gewolnen küchlein. Cook it (brenne in wol) above the fire and see there are no lumps (putzen) in it and that it smells nice. Place it in a bowl and beat it well, Break an egg or two into it and beat it well, but do not make it too thin but as thick as the dough for gewolnen küchlein. Make them round like küchle Liechtfesser (?) and put fat into a pan. When it is melted, roll it out on a board and put it into the pan so that the rounds are not too broad. Fry them well again, thus they gain small bubbles (kluntzlein). Let them have a good heat so that they brown.

This is an interesting recipe and the instructions for making what looks like proper choux pastry are quite detailed. However, the name has left me a little stumped. Liechtfesser looks like a plural of Lichtfass, a word that could refer to a lamp. The problem I have is that I cannot quite see how the final result would resemble one. It might be meant to look like a tallow dish with a spout to hold a wick. Similar ceramic lights are still used in Hindu ceremonies. But rather than speculate, it is probably best to actually try the recipe and see how it ends up behaving in the pan.

A more basic ceramic oil lamp in use, courtesy of wikimedia commons

Choux pastry, known today as Brandteig or Brühteig in German, is by now something we can confidently date to at least the sixteenth century. This sounds like it is exactly that: flour dissolved in boiling milk and butter to produce a dry mass, then enriched with egg and cooked – in this case fried. Rolled out into flat round pieces and deep-fried, it will almost certainly rise and might do so quite impressively. This is a recipe I would love to try out.

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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