Cinnamon and Catteren Cakes

Though ’tis rare that Mistress Agnes can afford spices, she does have to enliven Sir Francis’ food with such exotic items, so she thought it was timely to share her thoughts on cinnamon. In our time, it is the Dutch who have the monopoly on cinnamon and the Dutch are not our greatest friends. In truth we will be going to blame them for the gurt fire that we hear will take place in London afore long.

Pestle and MortarThe leaves and the bark can be used. Oft times Mistress Agnes will sprinkle cinnamon in her jumble mixture and it is also added to Catteren cakes. Down in Darkest Devon, where Mistress Agnes doth abide, there are ladies who do weave the threads with bone to make lace. St Catherine’s Day is 25th November and on this day the lace makers cease their labours and Catteren cakes are distributed. These small fruit cakes are flavoured with caraway and with cinnamon. If truth be told, Mistress Agnes prefers the accompanying “Hot Pot”, a mixture of rum, beer and raw egg. ’Tis believed that King Henry’s Queen Catherine was the first to show kindness to the lace makers of Bedfordshire, by giving them both cakes and work.

Cinnamon can also aid those who ail. It makes a wonderously healing tea for those who suffer from the noxious wind of the belly. It also encourages the flow of blood to the extremities and can be used to swill the mouth after imbibing too much fortified wine. ’Tis a gentle herb for use in cases of debility.


To Make Fritters of Sheep’s Feet

Mistress Agnes has been sharing receipts for various delicacies that she connects for Sir Francis and his guests from time to time. This one seemed too good not to pass on.

cookingTake your sheep’s feet, slit them and set them a stewing in a silver dish with a little strong broth and salt, with a stick of cinnamon, two or three cloves, and a piece of an orange pill. When they are stewed, take them from the liquor and lay them upon a pye-plate cooling. When they are cold, have some good fritter-batter made with sack, and dip them therein. Then have ready to fry them, some excellent clarified butter very hot in a pan, and fry them therein. When they are fryed wring in the juyce of three or four oranges, and toss them once or twice in a dish, and so serve them to the table.

From W. M’s The Compleat Cook

Swords and Spindles give presentations about the food and drink of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Sir Francis Raises a Glass


Well, in truth, Sir Francis is raising a new, stylish pewter tankard full of fortified wine, malmsey or sack mayhap. We know, ’twill play havoc with his gout but will he be told? Mistress Mary is standing by with the cuckoo pint and hot ox dung, nothing like a good dollop of ox dung for the gout.

Other newly acquired drinking vessels include slightly less impressive horn beakers. These are for the likes of Master Christoper, who knows his place. He will be supping ale of course, brewed by Mistress Agnes’ fair hands.

When not imbibing, Sir Francis has been regaling young folk with tales of his good friend Samuel Peyps and the conflagration that we hear tell hath taken place in London town. So small persons have donned seventeenth century costume, played with the toys of our time and been whisked back to the era that we know best. ’Tis always a pleasure to wave our time-traveling wand in this way.

For those who do wish to learn more of the food and drink of our time, or indeed of the Great Fire of London, there be links to further information elsewhere on our website.

Swords and Spindles offer presentations on the food and drink of their time. Sir Francis’ attempts to put out the Great Fire of London are not to be missed.

Of Coffins and Marchpanes #GBBO

Mistress Agnes has heard that there hath been something called ‘Tudor Week’ on Great British Bake Off (whatever that be). Apparently good folk doth bake pies in Tudor style and then in a most peculiar fashion they eat the pastry! Here be an extract from the book that Mistress Agnes helped write, which do speak further on the subject.

CCCC front cover“Puddings, previously baked in animal entrails, were, by the early seventeenth century, wrapped in a pudding cloth and lowered into the cooking pot for boiling. Sweet and savoury would be cooked together in this way. Meat, flavoured with herbs, could be placed in an earthenware pot, with a little butter. This was sealed with a pastry strip and submerged in the cauldron. The use of the sealed pot, or jug, reduced cooking time and was the principle behind the digester, a form of pressure cooker invented by the Frenchman Papin in 1682. Pies were baked in pastry casings or coffins. Initially, these coffins were a cooking method, intended to hold the ingredients together; the pastry would have been too hard to be eaten. Pottery pie ware was also used to make pies; even the top might be pottery. A hollow pottery handle, similar to a modern saucepan handle, provided a method of removing the hot pan from the fire safely. A stick would be inserted into the handle in order to lift it off the heat, so no oven gloves were required. Open pastry tarts were also popular and gradually it became customary to eat the pies’ pastry casing as well as the contents.

Various novelty fillings were presented in pies, of both the pottery and pastry kind, in order to impress guests. This included live offerings: hence the ‘four and twenty blackbirds’. The Duke and Duchess of Buckingham, entertaining Charles I in Rutland in the 1620s, served a child dwarf, Jeffery Hudson, in a cold pie.”

Then they did serve marchpanes on that strange phenomenon that be the Great British Bake Off. This is a favourite of Sir Francis’, the only one of us who can afford such delicacies. There be a wonderous recipe for marchpane (that you modern folk called marzipan) here and our own website doth have links to more of the food of our time, amongst other things. For those of you that can read, we recommend our book about our daily lives.

Swords and Spindles offer talks about the food and cookery of their times and are presenting a family fun day on 24 October, where folk of all ages can learn more of our time and try on armour or clothing, help Mistress Agnes with butter-churning, take part in pike drill and much more. Book a consultation with Master Christopher here.