Hares’ Ears

We have found references to a dough “as for hares’ ears” in quite a few other recipes, and it seems to have been a staple in all kinds of rolled-out fritters. This is, finally, Philippine Welser’s recipe for it:

115 If you want to fry hares’ ears (hasen nerlach)

Take good flour and pour in eggs and warm milk. Salt it and prepare a dough that is not too stiff. Roll it out with a rolling pin until it is thin, then take a pastry wheel and cut it as you please, square or anything else you want, and fry it quickly.

This is not a precise recipe, but the combination of eggs, milk, and flour and the instructions to roll out the dough thinly give us a good baseline to work from. The list from Tegernsee reckons one egg per person when “hares’ ears” are prepared, which may be relevant for this recipe as well. Interestingly, the instructions here envision no distinctive shape for the finisahged fritter. I assume the original ones must have had one, and modern version of Hasenöhrl or Hasenöhrlein certainly do. Maybe the dough simply became so much of a kitchen staple that it was detached from the original form.

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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