Piped Fritters

We are finally getting into the next section of Philippine Welser’s recipe collection. After tarts and pastries, here come the fritters:

90 Here follow the fritters

If you want to make fritters with a syringe (spritzen baches)

Take milk in a pan and put it over the fire. Add a little fat to it and let it boil. Stir in flour and make it dry like dough for bryette kychla (gebrühte Küchlein – choux pastry). Then mix it with eggs and leave it thick (starck). Then put it into the syringe and press it into hot fat. Shake the pan, and let it fry slowly.

91 If you want to make fritters with a syringe (spritze baches)

Stir up the dough with cold water. It should be a little thicker than common streybla (Strauben) batter. Put some fat into a pan and put the dough into it. When it becomes properly dry, put it into a bowl and put 6 or 8 eggs into warm water, depending on how much dough there is. Break one after the other into the dough until it turns the consistency that can be pressed through the syringe. Then you should lay the dough around the pan like a ring so that it turns into a triple ring and fry it properly.

92 If you want to fry fritters with a syringe (sprytze kiechla)

Put a little water into a pan and fat, and fry (brenn) the fat so the dough becomes dry (this section seems to be incomplete). Then put the dough into a mortar that is warm and pound in the eggs one after another until you think that the dough is right. Also lay the eggs in warm water before. Put it into the syringe and let it fry properly.

Again, we get three very similar recipes presented separately, as is common in this collection. All three care variations on choux pastry used to make piped fritters like churros (at least I would reconstruct the incomplete third recipe like that). There is a close parallel in the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch of 1559:

44 Piped Fritters (Spruetzen Kuechlein)

Item take half a seidlein of blue (plae) milk into a pan and let it boil. When it is boiling, add flour so that it turns thick. Then cook (roeste) this well in the pan so it does not become stinking. It should be thick. Then, beat it well in a bowl. Set eggs atop the oven so they become warm, beat them nicely in a pot, salt them, leave out the birds (i.e. strain them) and always pour in a little egg and then beat it (the dough) thoroughly again. You must prepare it so no lumps (puetzlen) remain in it and thicker than for pruete Kuechlein. Put the dough in a syringe and press it out into the fat. Move it about in small circles (fare fein gerings). Moisten the syringe with water beforehand or the dough will not come out. It is thick. You must press them out quickly. Lay them in the fat hot, like pruete kuechlein, and move about with the syringe. If you have a broad pan, you can make them all the better, as wide as the pan. If you want to make them smaller, take a smaller pan. Turn them about carefully and do not break any of them.

Here, we get some practical advice in addition to very similar instructions. The close similarity is not surprising; Both works were produced in the same city and within a decade of each other, making it likely the authors, surely culinary professionals, actually knew each other. It also suggests that the parallels between Philippine Welser’s manuscript recipe collection and the 1559 print as well as the recipe collection of Sabina Welser and Maria Stengler, all from mid-century Augsburg, will repay closer study (already undertaken by Valoise Armstrong for the two Welser family manuscripts).

Our main problem reconstructing these fritters is that both the reference points given in the text, bryette kychla/pruete küchlein and streybla, are not as well understood as we would like. The former are a kind of choux pastry fritters, perhaps something broadly like Windbeutel. The latter are Strauben, a kind of hand-pulled fritter of plain dough that was the baseline fried dough dish of the time. There are a few recipes for these surviving, including one from Philippine Welser’s collection to follow, suggesting a soft but cohesive batter.

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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