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History Cookbook: Sweet Frumenty

This recipe is in categories Normans / Medieval, Main courses
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  • Sweet Frumenty
    Sweet Frumenty
About this recipe
Healthiness : (26 votes)
View a modern version of this recipe

This is a very old dish, appearing in many variations over the centuries. It is a very popular dish in Norman and Medieval times. 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

To see images of the cooking process see our Sweet Frumenty Pictures.

With thanks to Cathy Flower-Bond (Tudor Tales) and the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum for their help with making this podcast.

Ingredients
  • cracked wheat, bulgar
  • ale
  • 1-2 handfuls of currants
  • a generous pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
  • optional: single cream and an egg
  • a jug of water or stock to top up during cooking
Equipment
  • Jug
  • Small spoon
  • Jug
  • Cooking pot
  • Wooden spoon
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Add the cracked wheat, ale and spices to a pot
  2. Set a pot above the fire for a few hours to cook
  3. Stir occasionally and add water so the pot doesn't boil dry
  4. When the wheat is soft, you can add the currants and stir in an egg if you wish, for extra richness
  5. Remove from the heat
  6. Spoon into a bowl
  7. Stir in a little cream
  8. Serve hot
Sweet Frumenty   - print view  Sweet Frumenty - print view

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Comments
There are 3 comments for this recipe.
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Name: Kryss 26th February 2017
I know that cinnamon and currents are common Medieval ingredients; but the original recipe mentions neither (nor the ale), just the eggs, milk, saffron, and salt.

The original recipe says to crack the grains until the hulls fall off (later recipes say to blow or fan away the hulls) and to cook it until the wheat is tender, and to then let it cool; then to boil broth and either milk or almond milk, reduce the heat a bit and add egg yolks, saffron, and salt, cook it a bit (not letting it boil), and then serving it with the grains (not saying whether to add the boiled grains to the egg and milk mixture while it's cooking, mix it together afterwards, or serving the eggs as a topping on the cooled grains).

This looks like it would be a savoury recipe, what with the broth and no sweetener; but what you've got here as the modern version is a dish very like rice pudding.

Can you please give your reasoning when you deviate so dramatically from the Medieval dish? It makes it easier to decide if I should follow the modern recipe or muddle through the original.

Thanks!
Name: Jeremy Hunter 27th September 2014
Is the addition of cinnamon realistic or authentic?
Name: Anett 11th June 2012
Wow that is strange. I just now comopsed an really long comment however after I clicked on publish my comment didn’t appear. Definitely I’m not writing all that once more. Regardless, I would like to say great blog! As this is an education site all comments are checked before publishing. We can't however see your first comment, sorry it didn't appear at this end either. We love everyone's comments so do please keep sending them. The Cookit Team
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