Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Subtleties&Stuffe Early Sugar Recipes from the Mappae Clavicula

I have been doing some research on casting sugar and in the course of reading odd notes and articles, I came across an indication that the following work contained early sugar or candy recipes. Being the librarian that I am, I hunted the source up and eventually found the recipes.

Smith, Cyril Stanley and John G. Hawthorne. "Mappae Clavicula: A Little Key to the World of Medieval Techniques." Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 64, No. 4 (1974), pp. 1-128. [Published by: American Philosophical Society. and Available through  Accessed: 29-01-2017]

On page  4, the authors note

“This is the Mappae Clavicula. Of this there exist a fragment from the early ninth century, an extended manuscript of the tenth century, and the most complete one dating from the twelfth century, which we translate here.”

On page 19:

“The compiler of the Mappae Clavicula incorporated all this: in addition he included some freshly translated accounts of Arabic alloys, north European runes, ancient Greek pneumatic toys, and a number of other recipes from various places on pigments and dyes, alcohol, sugar candy, coffer-dam construction, and incendiary mixtures.”

The recipes of interest for sugar-candy are as follows: 

"285. The recipe for sesame candy
The recipe for sesame candy. Put white pure honey near a moderate fire in a tinned [pan] and stir it unceasingly with a spatula. Place it alternately near the fire and away from the fire, and while it is being stirred more extensively, repeatedly put it near and away from the fire, stirring it without interruption until it becomes thick and viscous. When it is sufficiently thickened, pour it out on a [slab of] marble and let it cool for a little. Afterwards, hang it on an iron bolt and pull it out very thinly and fold it back, doing this frequently until it turns white as it should. Then twist and shape on the marble, gather it up and serve it properly.

286. Sugar candy Now by a similar cooking process [put] some sugar soaked in a little water in a tinned [pan] and defroth it when it boils and strain it well in a colander. In this way, after adding in the ingredients that you know, stir it unceasingly until it reaches [the correct] consistency. Pour it out in separate pieces on a marble [slab] that has been lightly oiled. Carefully cool the pieces on the marble, separate them from it by hand and keep them properly.[footnote 195]

287. Penidias candy Now penidias candy [is made] like sesame candy after the sugar has been defrothed and strained, but without stirring it. When it has been fully cooked, work it on the bolt as described above, then shape it by cutting with shears."

[Footnote 195] On the history of sugar, see M. F. Deerr (1949). Although sugar was known in classical antiquity it was not much used in Europe until the twelfth century, after Arabic influence. DEERR, N. F. 1949-1950. The History of Sugar (2 v., London).

I hope you enjoy them.


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