I was not intentionally continuing the theme of medicinal cakes when I settled on the recipe for this day. Liquorice has a long history of medicinal use, it is true, but what caught my eye about this particular cake is that it is a ‘real’ cake – a real seventeenth century cake that is, leavened with eggs. It is not named ‘liquorice cake’ but the root does feature as one of the significant flavourings. The usual ‘liquorice cake’ found in historical cookery books is what we would now think of as a lozenge or candy intended for medicinal use.
Liquorice did have a culinary use in the past, in addition to its medical applications. It was used to flavour gingerbread for example, but I have not found any other examples of it in baked goods, until this discovery. I will continue my search and keep you informed.
Here it is, from Sir Theodore Mayerne’s book Archimagirus Anglo-Gallicus, published in 1658.
To make fine Cakes in the form of rings.
Take a quart of fine flower, an ounce of Colliander-seed, one ounce of Anniseeds, a good piece of liquorish, half a pound of sugar, two new laid egs, new milke to wet it withal, being warmed, and so make boughts* in the form of rings.
* ‘boughts’ puzzled me initially. The OED tells me that a ‘bought’ is ‘The bend or loop of a rope, string, or chain; the part between the ends or points of attachment; the fold of a cloth, etc.; a turn or involution.’
Quotation for the Day
Nouvelle Cuisine, roughly translated, means: I can't believe I paid ninety-six dollars and I'm still hungry.