Apple Preserve, and a Fritter

Two more recipes from the Mondseer Kochbuch, with another parallel to Meister Hans and one of my favourite sauces:

141 Doberiz sauce

A sauce (condiment). Take sour apples after St. Martin’s day. Peel them and cut them thinly. Lay them in honey drink and let them boil until they become brown and black. You can keep this for a year. This sauce is called Doberis. You can also make krapfen with it.

142 To prepare a kuochen with doberis

If you wish to prepare a good kuochen, prepare a sheet of two eggs. Take doberis and dilute it with boiling water so much that it will stick. Spread it on the sheet on four corners and all across, and tie it together. Dredge it through egg batter and work it with a rolling pin so that it becomes as thin as a reed (halm), and prepare it like a kuochen.

Doberiz or dewericz is mentioned in several sources, and the recipe is simple: “Honigtrank” and apples are cooked together until the mixture turns brown. I used to interpret that as a slight change of colour, but it is possible to keep cooking it down until it gets quite dark and firms up. The second recipe suggests that this is the intent. The doberis is softened with boiling water, an approach that works for firm jellies or fruit leathers. We should assume that it is quite hard in its stable state.

The kuochen in recipe 142 is a little harder to parse. In modern German, kuchen means a cake, usually a little denser and more flavourful than American cakes, but fundamentally the same thing. Here, it clearly doesn’t. In fifteenth-century sources, the word sometimes applies to fried patties, fritters, and even meat-filled pancakes. The point seems to be a solid dish made with flour that is baked or fried to a firm consistency. we seem to be aiming for something like that here.

A different kind of fritter

The wording of the recipe is not entirely clear, but I think it describes one of the complex fritters that were fashionable at the time. They were filled with strongly flavoured sauces, often coloured, and served in a way that revealed their intricate internal structures. The ‘sheet of two eggs’ most likely refers to a dough in which the eggs are ingredients. There are fritters that use fried egg, but they would not roll out as this one does. The dough is spread with doberiz all over and – I think – rolled or folded up. The reference to tying up may be a scribal error or a reference to securing the dough with string. The sequence of the following steps may be reversed – it makes more sense to first roll out the dough and then coat it in batter – or the coating is stiffer and more flexible than I envision it. Finally, the roll is fried and served. This technique, if carried out successfully, would produce a delicate, flaky structure smaller than would be easily made by hand. Confectioners use a similar effect to produce small images in sweets today.

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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