A Breadcrumb Cake

I am back to shorter posts of individual recipes that can hopefully be more frequent again. Today: Something the recipe collection of Philippine Welser calls a tart (dortten):

41 If you want to make a tart of semel bread (semla)

Take 10 eggs on the table, beat them well, and put grated semel bread into it. Make the filling (fyllin) for this as though for a fladen. Take almonds, cut them small and stir them into it. Take fat and put it into the tart pan, and do not let the tart pan get too hot. Pour in the filling and do not let it bake for as long as the other tarts. Check often to see that it does not stick, and salt it.

This is clearly not like the other tart recipes in the collection; There is no crust. It is much more like what we would think of as a cake or baked pudding, and what other recipes from the period describe as a mortar cake or just cake. It is interesting that this source calls it a tart, and indicates that terminology here is thought from the process, not the dish. This is cooked in a tart pan, therefore it is a tart, regardless of having no crust and no filling. Incidentally, several other recipes indicate that top heat produced by stacking embers on the lid of the tart pan was needed to produce a degree of fluffiness and brown the top. This was presumably what distinguished these dishes from pancakes using identical ingredients.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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