Eating Medieval: Bough Cake The Best!


Food and Feast in the World of the Blue Bells Chronicles: 
a gastronomic historic poetic musical romp in thyme

For my upcoming book, which features over 300 pages of recipes, history, music, and poetry related to the scenes in The Blue Bells Chronicles, I have been making and sampling some of the recipes in it.

In the first episode of Eating Medieval: Bough Cake, I tried four variations, which got progressively better.  After I posted, just before having to leave for work, I managed to make one more try before I left for work.  Here's the recipe, and the results of Experiment # 5 below.


1-1/4 C. flour
3/4 C. ale or beer
1/4 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar or to taste

  1. Heat 3/4 cup ale or beer to lukewarm in a pan on the stove
  2. Heat one tbsp of beer to hot and partially crush saffron into it
  3. Mix with flour, salt and sugar, until smooth and thick
  4. Set aside in a warm place to rise, 30 to 60 minutes
The next step is:

Bough Cake::

dried fruit—apricots, apples, plums, etc

  1. Thread dried fruit onto a long, thin stick—fruit shish kabob!
  2. Coat with batter and roast over an open fire
  3. Spoon more batter over fruit as it cooks, until they are covered in a thick layer
  4. Roll bough cake in honey and spices
medieval, apple, honey, dessert, medieval history, food and feast
I mentioned in the previous post that I was a bit distracted.  So, really the Grand Experiment # 5 consisted of nothing more than--realizing I'd forgotten to roll the previous bough cakes in honey and spices.  So, with freeze-dried apples dipped in ale batter, this time I poured a plate full of honey and sprinkled in loads of cinnamon.  Probably all the homeowner's cinnamon.  He was stuck in bed with his new knee, recuperating, and couldn't stop me.

Had there been other spices--and had I not had to go teach--I would have experimented with a number of spices commonly used in medieval cooking--especially nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, which were the trio in Hildegard's Cookies of Joy--singly and in combinations.

I would have gone home for my insanely expensive saffron (yes, it's true, I made this recipe without the saffron called for--hey, I don't normally take saffron when on my way to deal with new knees).

I hope that some of my readers will try this with various spices and various dried fruits, and let me know the results.


waiting with baited breath!  


oh my gosh this was so good!!!!

I was in my happy place!!!


I nearly skipped work and just kept making and eating dried fruit rolled in bough cake and honey and spices.  But I figured sooner or later the homeowner would realize I'd eaten all his spices and get enough PT under his new knee to kick me out in retaliation, and so I would probably need the income in order to buy my own spices.  Only for this reason did I stop making and eating bough cake rolled in honey and cinnamon and go to work.  

All joking aside (which is probably just as well, as there's a reason I'm not a comedian), once again, I was confirmed in my growing belief that we are horribly mistaken in our notions of what our medieval ancestors ate.  We tend to think they had bland food, or food half spoiled whose rotten taste was covered by spices.

My research suggests that we are nistaken to think they ate rotten food in the first place.  But moreover, even when I have made the 'common' meals, the turnip pottage such as commoners might have eaten, the food has been delicious!

I encourage people to get together with friends and try some of these recipes--a medieval potluck of sorts!  Thanksgiving is coming up--what better time to try some unique and delicious new foods!

If you liked this post, you might like others with the 
Apple Muse
Apple Tart
Juselle Dates

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  1. Said homeowner is doing better now but still hobbling. I had not realized the things that could occur in a narcotic-induced haze. Figs, and batter, and fire, oh my!


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