Hat-shaped Fritters

Another short recipe frpm Philippine Welser’s collection. These are basic fritters, but the shape distinguishes them:

A Schaube and one of the possible hats worn with it, courtesy of wikimedia commons

108 If you want to fry schaub hiettla (hats)

Take 8 egg yolks on the table and a little more cream than there are yolks, and a good lump of fat, as much as to spread on a slice of bread (wie an ain geschmaltztes brott). Beat the eggs well together and salt them. Stir in fine flour and prepare the dough as though for hares’ ears (hasen nerla dayg). Break off pieces as large as a walnut and roll them out in discs (gescheyblat). Lay them in a dish, and when you want to fry them, place them on an iron spoon beforehand and immerse the spoon in the fat with the dough sheet (bledlin). Thus it will be shaped like a hat. Turn them around quickly so they do not become brown.

I am not entirely sure what a schaub hietla is, but hietla is clearly the diminutive of hat. A Schaube is a male outer garment worn by wealthy people, especially academics and officials, and the hat may be associated with it, but that is uninformed speculation. I am no expert on clothing.

EDIT: I am indebted to my learned friend for the information that a Schaubhut as early as the fifteenth century refers to a wide straw hat worn for field work in summer. It is only etymologically related to the Schaube, but had a shallow bowl surrounded by a wide brim – much like a sombrero, and exactly like the shape you would expect to produce by draping a dough circle over an inverted spoon. Thank you!

More like this, late fifteenth century courtesy of wikimedia commons

Certainly the fritter is interesting. It is very rich with cream and fat, almost like a modern cookie dough, and reallys looks better fit for baking than frying. The shape it is given over a metal spoon would not hold up in an oven, though, so that is most likely why it went into the pan. Note how it is carefully lowered into the fat still attached to the spoon – these must have been fragile things. My problem in reconstructing them is that while I am sure everybody then knew what kind of hat they were supposed to look like, I have no idea which of the many different kinds of sixteenth-century headwear to copy. I could absolutely see shaping the dough over an inverted cupcake pan, though.

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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