Samatard - Medieval Pancakes

Another Medieval recipe!

This recipe comes from A Noble Boke of Cookry ffor a Prynce Houssolde, which is an incredible resource for Medieval recipes. I'm determined to get through it all, and pick out some more recipes to recreate here. Watch this space. 

Written in 1467-68, which places it in the middle of the reign of King Edward IV, the book contains recipes for meats and fish, sauces and sweets. When reading it, if the language written seems a bit unfamiliar, it can help to read it out loud. Medieval people would have spoken very differently to us, but they wrote down how they spoke. You can really get an idea of the accents of the time in contemporary documents. 

These crispy, moist pancakes are not quite like the pancakes we're familiar with today, but then the dish is almost at least 600 years old. The recipe states to 'serve it forth in dishes with sugar thereon' but while making them, all I could imagine was to drizzle them with honey, so I did. 

The original recipe also urges us to deep-fry the pancakes, but I've experimented with shallow frying them in a non-stick pan. They are fragile, and, owing to the fact they're free of flour, potentially difficult to turn, but if you just wait until bubbles appear on the surface, wiggle a spatula under them carefully and then flip them firmly, you'll be fine. You might find too, that the pancakes are quite juicy and moist. If you don't like this texture, you can try and strain the cottage cheese more, so that you end up with more of the hardened 'curds'. 

The pancakes aren't round. They're a long oval shape - I tried to keep to the recipe which asks us to 'take out the batter with a saucer and let it run into the grease and draw your hand backward that it may run abroad'. And I've also added vanilla - which isn't in the original. I couldn't resist adding it for modern tastes, especially with the milky, soft pancakes and the sweet honey - it just seemed to be crying out for sweet, comforting vanilla.

Try them for yourself - my daughter and my husband tried them with me, and we enjoyed them, although they're definitely not as sweet as pancakes we'd know today. The taste of the cheese comes through, and they're quite milky and comforting - and when you taste them you're connecting with all those years of history, which I think is pretty amazing. 

Samatard - Medieval Pancakes
Makes 12
3 large eggs
100g full fat cottage cheese
2 tsp double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

olive oil, for frying 
honey or sugar, to serve

In a blender (yes, Tudor people didn't have a blender, they'd grind the cheese to a fine paste in a pestle and mortar but we have a modern kitchen, we might as well use it), combine the eggs, cottage cheese, cream and vanilla extract and blend until smooth. 

Set a non-stick pan on a medium heat and drizzle in a little of your favourite oil (I used light olive oil). When hot, pour a little of the batter into the pan, drawing your hand back to make a thinnish, oval pancake. Allow to cook gently on the bottom for half a minute and then, using a thin spatula, turn the pancake over. Once golden on both sides, pile up on a serving dish. 

Serve the pancakes warm with honey drizzled over, or keep to the authenticity and dredge with sugar. 

Enjoyed this? Have you made these pancakes? What did you think? What other recipes would you like to see me recreate here?  

Interested in Medieval history? I explore women affected by the Wars of the Roses conflict in the fifteenth century in my book Forgotten Women of the Wars of the Roses, published by Pen and Sword.  Order your copy here. 

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