Two Complicated Fritters from the Innsbruck MS

I am not entirely sure how these work, but they are fascinating:

Rolled-up. deep-fried pancakes, these are a much simpler version

68 If you would make filled sheets of eggs, take eggs and beat the whites separately. Take a little fat into a pan, only enough to cover the bottom, and pour the eggs into it. Make very thin sheets and also make sheets from the yolks. Spread the sheets (with) roast apples or with raisins or figs and then roll them over each other (welig si dann uber ein ander) and cut them like fatty sausage (rosen wurst). Stick 4 or 5 of them on a skewer of wood. Prepare a batter and roll them in it, then fry them, withdraw the skewers, and cut them open lengthwise.

69 If you would make filled slices (gefult sniten) in this manner, lay one slice atop the other. If you spread them (bestreichst), use four (apiece). Also fry the in the same manner and also cut them open into pieces (snitzen) etc.

This recipe is not only interesting in itself, but also for vwhat it tells us about the ubiquitous Blätter, the sheets variously described at times as of egg or of dough, but usually left undefined. Here, they are made of egg only, the whites and yolks separated, and I wonder how strongly the whites would have been beaten. The principle of turning egg whites into a froth was understood, but it is not attested for culinary use this early. Given the sheets are specifically described as thin, I suspect they are made of liquid egg white.

The filling is very likely cooked into a homogenous mass. With apples, this was typically done with honey and spices, raisins were cooked in wine until they were soft enough to mash. This could be spread even on thin and fairly fragile egg pancakes. Up to here, the recipe is clear. What I have yet to fully understand is how they are then rolled up and sliced, but I suspect we basically stack up pancakes, roll them into a long sausage and cut it into slices that are then skewered across their diameter. Knowing how one usually cut a rosen wurst, a sausage made with the rib meat of pork, would probably make this clearer.

The whole skewer is then dipped in a batter and fried. The description of rolling them in it suggests it was a fairly thick, heavy batter that would produce a solid, crisp crust. The resulting fritter would thus hold its shape as the skewer is withdrawn and the whole cut apart in the middle to reveal the spiral structure with its complex colours – white, yellow, brown or green, and likely a golden crust all around. I can absolutely see the appeal.

The second recipe for sniten, slices, is a bit more enigmatic. These may be bread slices, but that is not certain. If they are, they would have to be cut fairly thin and I suspect there was no way of actually rolling them, so they would just be stacked. It is then a simplified, cut-rate version of the first.

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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