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History Cookbook: Sweet Frumenty

This recipe is in categories Normans / Medieval, Main courses
About this recipe
Healthiness : (141 votes)

It is important to let the frumenty cool a little before adding the eggs or they will cook rather than combine.

Do not allow the frumenty to boil once the eggs and cream have been added.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes and 15 resting
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Number of servings: 6
Serving suggestions: Traditionally served at Christmas with roast meats and vegetables.
This is a vegetarian recipe

This is a standard dish appearing in many variations over the centuries. It makes a lovely side dish, especially with strongly flavoured meats. It was a symbolic dish in winter, a sign that spring would come. It later came to be served as a festival dish on Twelfth Night (5th of January).

This is the original recipe:

'To make frumente. Tak clene whete & braye yt wel in a morter tyl the holes gon of; seethe it til it breste in water. Nym it up & lat it cole. Tak good broth & swete mylk of kyn or of almand & tempere it therwith. Nym yelkes of eyren rawe & saffroun & cast therto; salt it: lat it naught boyle after the etren ben cast therinne. Messe it forth.'  (Curye on Inglysch CI.IV.i.)
kyn: cow
eyren: eggs

mylk of alamand: almond milk, used during Lent

  • 140g (5oz) cracked wheat, bulgar
  • 1 pint ale (you could use stock instead)
  • 1 large or 2 small eggs
  • 1-2 handfuls of currants
  • ½ teaspoon (or generous pinch) of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
  • 3-4 tablespoons of single cream
  • a jug of water or stock to top up during cooking
  • optional: a generous pinch of saffron
  • Weighing scales
  • Measuring jug
  • Teaspoon
  • Tablespoon
  • Jug
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Soak the wheat in the ale until it begins to swell, this takes a few hours. (Or boil for 15 minutes and then leave to stand for 15 minutes) Most of the liquid will be absorbed. Add more liquid if the frumenty begins to dry out when cooking
  2. Add the spices, then boil for a few minutes until the wheat is soft
  3. Remove from the heat
  4. Add the currants and allow to cool a little 
  5. Stir in the beaten egg(s) and the cream
  6. Cook on a low heat, do not allow it to boil
Sweet Frumenty - print view  Sweet Frumenty - print view

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Name: Deborah 7th March 2016
This was Easter dish cooked for Mothering Sunday, Christmas? who got that wrong?
Name: 20thcenturyfox 19th December 2015
I was thrilled to find this vegetarian--but traditional--festival dish to accommodate vegetarians in what otherwise tends to be a cholesterol frenzy at Christmastime (i.e. roast beef & Yorkshire pudding, Butterball turkey or glazed spiral ham).

For Christmas, I make a few alterations: 1) instead of whole eggs, I use 4 egg yolks left over from making cranberry sorbet; 2) for colour, I substitute green raw pumpkin seeds and red dried sweetened cranberries for some or all the currants; 3) I also add half a cup (2oz/60g) of lightly roasted slivered almonds.

BTW cracked wheat and bulgur are quite different products; IMO cracked wheat (which I love and use in many different ways) calls for slightly longer cooking even after cold soaking.

And, being Canadian, I have no idea what "single cream" is. I use 33-36% BF because that is what I have on hand during the holidays (I suppose that must be "double.")
Name: Finn 8th June 2014
Does this dish have to be served hot or can it be served cold?
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