Recipe by Daniel Myers
There is another version of this recipe on this site, but a few things occurred to me and I decided to reexamine it with a more critical eye.
The recipe in "Proper newe" calls for eight eggs and a pottle of cream. Since a pottle is a half a gallon, these proportions are very different than what I am used to using. It also can be scaled down to one egg and one cup (as I have done here), which seems a very logical starting point for a medieval cook.
"Proper newe" also says to mix everything together and then whisk. This is very different from modern cooking methods, which would have us beating the egg whites and the cream separately until stiff and then folding them together. How would the recipe turn out if the instructions were followed as written? Would it become stiff at all? I decided to find out.
When made as written - everything mixed together and whisked by hand - the mixture stiffens up to a consistency thicker than whipped cream. There is no need for an electric mixer as a whisk works just fine. In this size batch the step of putting the foam into a colander was unnecessary as the whole thing turned to snow, but I suspect that things would be different if I were working with the full half-gallon of cream.
As a further experiment, I continued to whisk well after the snow was done. Gradually the mixture collapsed, yellowed, and turned grainy. Eventually when I saw whey separating out, I put everything into a strainer and ended up with a very nicely flavored butter. In short, this recipe can be whisked too much and ruined, but it took a lot of work and it's not something that's likely to happen by accident.
1 cup cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. rose water
Separate egg, discarding yolk. Stir egg white in a large bowl. Add cream, sugar, and rose water. Whisk until mixture will not drip out of whisk. Strain to remove whey if necessary. Serve with wafers.
Source [A Proper New Booke of Cookery, C.F. Frere (ed.)]: To make a dyschefull of Snowe. Take a pottell of swete thycke creame and the whytes of eyghte egges, and beate them altogether wyth a spone, then putte them in youre creame and a saucerfull of Rosewater, and a dyshe full of Suger wyth all, then take a stycke and make it cleane, and than cutte it in the ende foure square, and therwith beate all the aforesayde thynges together, and ever as it ryseth take it of and put it into a Collaunder, this done take one apple and set it in the myddes of it, and a thicke bushe of Rosemary, and set it in the myddes of the platter, then cast your Snowe uppon the Rosemarye and fyll your platter therwith. And yf you have wafers caste some in wyth all and thus serve them forthe.
Source [The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchen, S. Peachey (ed.)]: To make Snowe. Take a quart of thicke creame, and five or sixe whites of Egs, a sawcerfull of Sugar, and a sawcerfull of Rosewater, beate all together, and ever as it riseth take it out with a spoone: then take a loafe of bread, cut away the crust, and set it upright in a platter. Then set a faire great Rosmarie bush in the middest of your bread: then lay your snaow with a spoon upon your Rosemary, + upon your bread, + gilt it.
Source [Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin, V. Armstrong (trans.)]: 55 To make snow. Dilute cream and put it in a pot. And take an eggbeater and stir it thoroughly, until it forms snowy foam on top. And toast a Semmel and lay it in a bowl and sprinkle sugar over it and put the foam on the bread, then it is ready.
Published: January 12, 2005
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