Apple-filled Apples

A set of three recipes from the Mondseer Kochbuch that all depend on the same filling:

Halved filled apples, here in the plain eleventh-century version with honey

92 Filled apples

If you wish to prepare filled apples, take good tart apples and peel them cleanly. Cut them in slices (I think this means halves) and cut out the core. But then take other apples, peel them cleanly, cut out the cores, and chop these apples very small on a chopping board. Take a pan and put in enough honey, also put in the chopped apples and stir it with a spoon over the fire. It boils and turns brown. That is the filling for the filled apples. Then take the sliced apples and the filling and spread the filling on one side. Cover it with the other slice that was cut from the (same) apple and press them together. Now you have a filled apple. Prepare as many of these as you please. Take flour in a bowl, pour wine into it and prepare a batter that is not too thin, but also do not make it too thick. Salt it very little, colour it yellow with saffron, and then take fat, butter, or oil. Take the filled apples, turn them around in the batter, and throw them into the pan. See that there is oil or fat in it and fry them well and cleanly, then you have good filled apples.

93 Filled wafers

If you wish to prepare a different dish from the same filling, take wafers and cut them square, as (large as) you please. Take of the same filling and spread it on one side. Cover it with another wafer and press it together cleanly. Now take it and dip it into the batter with its sides all around, thus it will hold together and be white in the middle. Throw them into the pan and let them fry in whatever you please (i.e. in oil, butter, or fat), thus they will turn out good. But do not leave them in the pan for too long so they do not turn black.

94 Filled apples on a spit

But if you wish to prepare another dish with that filling, that is the third, take applews and peel them cleanly. Cut then in slices and then cut them small, as small as a penny or wider. Now take the same filling that you had the first time and make small cakes (küchel) from it it. Cut small skewers like straws, a span long, and first stick on a slice of apples and then a ball (of the filling) between, always one after the other. And take of the same batter you had before for the second recipe, and wine must be in it. Take fat or butter and do as in the first recipe. When you have fried it, take the skewers out, slice them (the fritters) lengthwise with a sharp knife, and set them on a bowl. Thus you have the three dishes. Each is different from the others, and they are made with one filling.

While filled, baked apples (Bratäpfel) are still a staple of German wintertime cooking, many of the medieval recipes that survive are batter-coated and deep-fried. That is probably owed to the fact that recipe collections rarely record the quotidian. These are often elaborate preparations suitable for a lordly table. The idea of filling an apple with a honey-apple paste is interesting, but not uncommon. A very similar recipe is found, for example, in the Kuchenmaistrey. A similar apple-honey condiument known as doberiz or deweriz also shows up in a number of recipe collection, not least the Mondseer Kochbuch itself. It is described as lasting long, so it could actually have been on hand in well-appointed households. This is Meister Hans’ take on it:

Recipe #82 Ain Condiment haist dewericz
A sauce that is called
dewericz Item take a sour apple after St Martin’s Day (11 November), peel them and cut them apart. Then lay them in a honey beverage (hönig tranck). Let it boil so that it turns brown. You may keep this for a year. This sauce is called dewericz. You may also fill krapfen (small pastries) with it.

The first recipe is a fairly straighforward preparation, halved apples with a filling in the middle that are battered and fried. We have a number of similar ones, including some very early descriptions. The second, too, is nothing unusual. Putting a sweet filling between wafers (or, in a pinch, sage leaves) was common currency in German kitchens of the Middle Ages. The third belongs to a class of very elaborate fritters that are often cut open before serving to reveal their complex and sometimes colourful internal structure. This is an early instance, but there is no reason to assume the concept was new at the time just because they do not show up in written sources.

It is interesting from an organisational perspective that these three recipes are grouped together here because the principle that connects them – using the same filling – is attractive from a perspective of labour economy more than that of diners invested in variety. The Mondseer Kochbuch is no cookbook in the modern sense, but at some level there clearly was input by someone who cared about running an efficient kitchen.

The Mondseer Kochbuch is a recipe collection bound with a set of manuscript texts on grammar, dietetics, wine, and theology. There is a note inside that part of the book was completed in 1439 and, in a different place, that it was gifted to the abbot of the monastery at Mondsee (Austria). It is not certain whether the manuscript already included the recipes at that point, but it is likely. The entire codex was bound in leather in the second half of the fifteenth century, so at this point the recipe collection must have been part of it. The book was held at the monastery until it passed into the Vienna court library, now the national library of Austria, where it is now Cod 4995.

The collection shows clear parallels with the Buoch von guoter Spise. Many of its recipes are complex and call for expensive ingredients, and some give unusually precise quantities and measurements. It is edited in Doris Aichholzer’s “Wildu machen ayn guet essen…” Drei mittelhochdeutsche Kochbücher: Edition, Übersetzung, Quellenkommentar, Peter Lang, Berne et al. 1999

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