“Italian” Funnelcakes

Another short recipe for a very basic fritter rich with eggs today. I may have to ask your patience: I ran across an interesting source, but it may take a bit longer to write up. So there will be a longer post or two at the end of it, but it may take a few more days than usual. For today, from the collection of Philippine Welser:

99 If you want to fry Italian streybla (Strauben)

Lay eggs in warm water. Put water in a pan over the fire, salt it, and let it boil. Pour flour into it, stir it quickly, take it off and stir the eggs into it. Stir the batter and make it smooth. Take a funnel that your little finger fits through to half a digit, put the batter into it, and let it pass through it gently into hot fat. Thus it can be an ell or 2 long and does not stick. Take two shovels that are two fingers wide to turn them over and take them out.

This is just another variation on the theme of frying choux pastry, much like the syringe fritters. This one is poured through a funnel, also an established technique at that point. In order to flow through a narrow funnel continuously, the batter must be quite liquid, so I am not really sure what to expect, but it sounds worth trying out. The results seem to have been impressive. Two ells Augsburg measure would be almost 120 cm (slightly more if the great ell rather than the linen ell was used), so I assume we are talking about circles or figures piped into a round pan. It is difficult to envision a frying pan this long.

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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