Rosette Fritters

Just a short recipe today, but an interesting one. From the collection of Philippine Welser:

Modern Rosenküchle courtesy of wikimedia commons

102 If you want to fry fritters over a mould (yber die medel)

Take eggs and beat them well, and beat in a little wine. Then stir in flour so it becomes a thin batter. Take your moulds and first dip them in hot fat. Then pour the batter over them or dip the moulds into the batter so that it does not go higher than they are. Dip it into the fat carefully and let it fry.

Rosenküchlein or Rosetten are popular in South German traditional cooking, though these days the sets for making them show up more on flea markets than in actual use. The principle is simple, if a little fiddly: You heat a metal form in oil or fat, then dip it in a batter and return it, coated in batter, to the hot fat. As the batter solidifies, it detaches from the metal and becomes a crisp, hollow fritter that can be served with cream or sauce. It takes skill and timing not to let them burn or break, but you can easily turn a session of cooking them into a social occasion much like fondue.

Modern rosette fritters are typically flower-shaped. We don’t know what they looked like in the sixteenth century, but flowers are a possibility. Later sources locate them especially in Southwestern Germany, France, and Switzerland, but similar dishes are popular in Scandinavia and much of Western Asia. There is no reason to think they were first invented in Germany or that this is their origin point. However, this may well be the earliest evidence for the tradition in this part of the world. The Swiss Patrimoine Culinaire website dates the earliest recipe to 1742. I think we have topped that.

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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