Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dyschefulls of Snowe and Fine Cakes: Scholar's Project #3


Snow with Fine Cakes in a Rosemary Forest.
I presented these Dyshefulls of Snowe and Fine Cakes at the Barony of Seagirt's Yule Revel in December. Although there wasn't enough time to have the project fully assessed at that time, I was able to get the Scholars and the Baron to taste both kinds I made at the event (one with eggs and one without) and then I presented the documentation at Gentle Arts. Interestingly, I found a further three recipes for Snow in the month between Yule and Gentle Arts, and added them to my documentation.

I have a long history with this holiday dish. Years ago, in the late 1980's I entered a dish for the Immaculate Confection contest and for my winning entry I received a book called Christmas Feasts from History by Lorna Sass. In it there was a basic recipe for a late period dessert called Snow. Ever since, I've made the dish frequently (including it in a Trio of Desserts I made for an entry into the Tir Righ Arts & Sciences Championship in 2006) and this time, I spent a lot of time researching the recipe.

It turns out that Snow was a popular late period dessert which I found in at least seven different period recipe collections! One contained two versions, one with the traditional dairy ingredients and one dry snowe without cream. I have found 8 different recipes. Three additional recipes since I had originally submitted this project in December at Yule Revel. Variations of this dessert can be found in several English recipe books, one in French from Liege, one in Middle Dutch and one in German. The recipes are exceedingly similar, most consisting of sweetened, whipped cream with or without egg whites and flavored with rose water and sugar. Several of the recipes include using a sprig of rosemary as a tree in either an apple or a round bread loaf, and then casting the snow upon it to suggest a snowy forest.

This one had eggs in the recipe.
The Fine Cakes are cookie-like desserts made with butter, flour, sugar, eggs and spices and both recipes call for them to be baked upon papers (parchment paper). I found two different recipes for these and choose to redact the one from Gervase Markham's  The English Huswife (1615):

To make fine cakes; take a pottle of fine flour, and a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a little mace and a good store of water to mingle the flour into a stiff paste, and a good season of salt and so knead it, and roll out the cake thin and bake them on papers.

I was unable to get an entire pottle (about 8 cups) into my redaction, but they turned out fairly well anyway. I cut most into a trencher shape, which the other recipe suggested and the rest into eight pointed Tir Righ stars. The recipe made over eight dozen little cakes.

You can download my documentation here:

Dyschefulls of Snowe & Fine Cakes

In addition to passing as a Scholar's project, my entry won Best Subtlety at the Yule revel and I received some lovely spices and a tiny salt cellar as a prize. The Immaculate Confection contest remains one of my favorite contests to enter. Next year, I am going to try something completely different and have already started the research for that. Stay tuned!

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