Renaissance cake recipes are surprisingly easy to make. They have their roots among the Medieval and Elizabethan cooking recipes that had been popular for generations.
Why not serve a Renaissance dessert cake for your next gathering? Just imagine how cakes from the days of King Charles I and the Lord Cromwell will delight your guests, and it would be a great conversation piece too.
The Queen-like Cloſet or Rich Cabinet (1672)
Take four pounds of Flower, two pounds of Butter, one pound and an half of fine Sugar, four Eggs, a little beaten Cinamon, a little Roſewater, make a hole in the Flower, and put the Eggs into it when they are beaten, then mix the Butter, Sugar, Cinamon, and Roſewater together, and then mix them with the Eggs and Flower, then make them into thin round Cakes, and put them into an Oven after the Houſhold Bread is drawn; this quantity will make three dozen of Cakes.
Take four new laid Eggs, leave out two of the Whites, beat them very well, then put in two ſpoonfuls of Roſe-water, and beat them very well together, then put in a pound of double refin'd Sugar beaten and ſearced, and beat them together one hour, then cut to them one pound of fine Flower, and ſtill beat them together a good while; then put them upon Plates rubbed over with Butter, and ſet them unto the Oven as faſt as you can, and have care you do not bake them too much.
Take a Quart of fine Flower and the yolks of 4 Eggs, a quarter of a pound of Sugar, and a little Roſewater, with ſome beaten Spice, and as much Cream as will work it into a Paſte, work it very well and beat it, then rowl it as thin as poſſible, and cut them round with a Spur, ſuch as the Paſtry Cooks do uſe; then fill them with Currans firſt plumped a little in Roſewater and Sugar, ſo put another ſheet of Paſte over them and cloſe them, prick them, and bake them but let not your Oven be too hot; you may colour ſome of them with Saffron if you pleaſe, and ſome of them you may ice over with Roſewater and Sugar, and the White of an Egg beaten together.
The Queens Closet Opened (1658)
Take a pound of ſugar finely beaten, four yolks of Eggs, two whites, one half pound of Butter waſht in Roſe-water, fix ſpoonfuls of ſweet Cream warmed, one pound of Currans well pickt, as much flower as will make it up, mingle them well together, make them into Cakes, bake them in an Oven; almoſt as hot as for manchet, half an hour will bake them.
Take three pound of the fineſt Wheat Flower, one pound of fine Sugar, Cloves, and Mace, of each one ounce finely ſearſed, two pound of Butter, a little Roſe-water, knead and mould this very well together, melt your Butter as you put it in; then mould it with your hand forth upon a board, cut them round with a glaſs, then lay them on papers, and let them in an Oven, be ſure your Oven be not too hot, ſo let them ſtand till they be coloured enough.
Cakes in the Renaissance Era were unlike our modern-day cakes. Some were similar to what are now called fruit breads but sweetened with sugar or honey and filled with combinations of preserved fruit, nuts, seeds, and spices. They were sometimes profusely decorated with comfit candies or simply glazed with sugar and white of egg.
Other cakes were small and shaped similar biscuits, not unlike our modern cookies. Though different from our lighter modern-day variety, historical cakes were wholesomely delicious, and they were enjoyed on mostly festive occasions.