Hard Custards from the Innsbrucker Rezeptbuch

Today, I am starting a new source for translated recipes: The Innsbrucker Rezeptbuch (Cod. Vind. 5486). The medical issues are not letting up (fortunately, I am healthy now, but not everyone in my family is), so I ask your forbearance for very likely missing out a few days this coming week. I hope to make up for it by giving you a series of recipes today:

Pressed hard custard, ready for further use.

1 If you would make a pressed milk, take two parts milk and the third part eggs, beat it together and salt it lightly. Boil them in a pot and the same pot inside another pot, boil water in this, or inside (immersed in) a cauldron, or add hot fat and stir it together as for a vogel pias (a kind of custard). Then wrap it in a cloth and press it etc.

2 If you would make a fried milk, take pressed milk and cut it into slices (snitzen). Make a strauben batter and fry them and then serve it in a ziseindel sauce (fruit sauce) or a pepper sauce (pfeffer) or dry (i.e. without sauce). Thus it is good etc.

3 If you would roast (pratten) it then, lay it on a griddle or stick it on a spit and drizzle them with fat or serve it in a yellow broth (prodlem) etc.

4 If you would make congealed milk (stokmilich), also prepare it this way. If you wish, also serve it warm and stir it with a spoon etc.

5 If you wish, put it in a cheese vat (chas kar) and let it drain well, and serve it in place of an ayer chas (egg custard). You should make it quite thin and salt it very lightly, and serve it with saffron.

6 But if you wish, serve it in a spicy sauce (ein gesultzt). That is also good. Prepare a sauce (sultz) for it and spice (stupp) it well etc.

Griddle-roasted custard, sadly fallen apart on serving

These recipes are hardly original. Hard custards – Eierkäse or Eiermilch – are a staple of German foods in the 15th and 16th centuries, and I included a fair number of them in this blog already. What makes this list interesting is the systematic way it presents various options of what to do with them: battering and frying, roasting, serving in sauces. This approach in the Innsbrucker Rezeptbuch is quite endearing and suggests that it was produced in one piece and by someone taking a structured, logistical approach to cookery. For the German tradition, this is a remarkably early example.

The Innsbrucker Rezeptbuch is a manuscript recipe collection from a South German/Austrian context. It dates to the mid-fifteenth century and survives as part of a set of medical and culinary texts bound together. The editor Doris Aichholzer published it together with two related manuscripts and drew attention to the less elaborate, more practical recipes. The manuscript is of unknown provenance, but has been owned by the Habsburg emperors since at least the early sixteenth century. It is now held at the Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. An edition, German translation and commentary can be found in Doris Aichholzer: Wildu machen ayn guet essen… Drei mittelhochdeutsche Kochbücher, Peter Lang Verlag Berne et al. 1999

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