Wafer Fritters

Another set of recipes from Philippine Welser’s collection:

94 If you want to make wafer fritters (mandatten baches)

Take almonds and grind or pound them small and see they do not turn oily. Moisten them with rosewater in a timely fashion. Then put in sugar so it turns nicely sweet and grind or pound it well together. Then take wafers and spread this on them, not too thick, otherwise it will not rise. Spread it in the middle (?hergatt) so it turns out smooth. Then cover one wafer with another and press it closed firmly at the edges with rosewater. Cut them as large as you wish, and do not make the almond filling (dayg) too thin. Then prepare a yellow batter with water, pour it on a plate, and dip the wafers into it along the edges, not too deep. Fry them nicely, not too hot so they stay white, and lay them out on a sieve, no other place, otherwise they drop down. Shake the pan when you put them in until they rise.

95 If you want to fry filled wafers

Take apples and cut thin slices from them. Dust them with flour and fry them well. Then put them into a mortar and pound them well, and take them out into a pan. Add a raisin/grape sauce (wein draube seltz) and set it over the fire. Sugar and spice it as you please and stir it a while over the fire, that way it gains colour. Spread it on the wafers and fry them quickly.

96 If you want to make wafer fritters from an electuary (aus latt wery)

Take electuary, slice it and soften it in good wine. Take a little cherry sauce and add sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Pound it or stir it together well. Make it nicely spicy (res), spread it on the wafers, dip them in a yellow batter along the edges and fry the quickly. This is healthy and good.

Wafers, thin and crisp, were used as a base of marzipan, almond cookies, and fritters in medieval Germany. They are usually then known as Oblaten (as they still are), a name hinting at their origin in Christian ritual. This recipe knows them as mandatten, but otherwise it is not unusual at all. There are again numerous parallels, including one I tried out a while ago. These are larger and only dipped in batter along the edges, others were smaller and dipped into batter entire. Fillings could vary, though fruit confections and almonds are the most common.

Here, we have three distinct fillings. The first recipe calls for what is basically a thin almond paste. The second is a little hardewr to interpret, but it basically is a confection of cooked apple and what sounds like a raisin-based sauce to me (but could be one made with fresh grapes). The third is made from an electuary, which was a thick paste of fruit cooked with honey or sugar. It is dissolved in wine and mixed with cherry sauce, another popular ingredient of the age, to produce a sweet, fruity, and probably quite overpowering filling.

I have poited this out before, but it bears repeating: The fritter culture of South Germany is varied and long-lived, and this particular type is found nearly unchanged in Katharina Prato’s very influential Süddeutsche Küche (quoting from the 50th edition, Vienna 1912):

Oblaten-Krapferl (wafer fritters). With wine batter. Cut wafers into rounds, brush them with egg, fill each two and two with cherry flesh, dip them in wine batter, fry them in fat and strew them with sugar.

With choux paste: You place small heaps of firm rosehip sauce (Hagebuttensalse) on wafers cut square, cover them with wafers cut to the same shape, and only press them together slightly in the middle so that a space remains between the wafers where there is no sauce. Dip the four corners of the wafers into choux paste thinned with eggs to fill the interstices and fry them in fat. The sauce should shine red through the yellowish cooked wafer, the edges be light brown.

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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