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The 2000 year old honey cake from Pompeii | How To Cook That Ann Reardon



Welcome to How To Cook That I'm Ann Reardon and today we're gonna be making a cake from 2000 years ago! So how do we even know what they ate back then? Well our trip to Italy helped us find some clues So we are here in ancient Pompeii which was a city destroyed by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79 so 2,000 years ago almost and a lot of it was preserved by the ash that fell over the course of really one or two days, just covered the entire city and is preserved that city for thousands of years this incredible place

To think that thousands of people lived here and they all died all at once I think it's a bit a eerie It's quite incredible really, the size of it how well-preserved it is it's basically untouched As we walked around Pompeii we saw the fast-food street vendor stands for selling hot meals and these huge stone mills for grinding corn and wheat into flour These were all positioned in a bakery and they even found preserved loaves of bread here Bread is great but I want to know about sweet food

A lot of the buildings have these ornate mosaics and paintings in the plaster and about 10 minutes away from Pompeii there's a seaside villa thought to have been owned by Nero himself and there you can see a painting of this cake on a pedestal Cake stands have got a lot smaller over the years! According to Pompeiiorguk this is likely to have been a Dulcia Piperata or honey cake I don't know if I said that right but anyway From their recipe it says we need flour baking powder rosemary cinnamon almonds grape juice passum which is like a sweet white wine honey milk and chopped hazelnuts My only problem with this recipe is that it has baking powder and baking powder wasn't invented until 1843 so we're around 1700 years too early for that So I'm gonna try and make this cake three ways

once with baking powder like they've got suggested here, once using nothing at all and once using yeast which we know they had because they needed it for their bread Okay so let's start with a hundred and forty grams of flour I don't have one of those huge stone mills like they had in Pompeii but I did manage to get this smaller version

I guess I just pour some wheat kernels and let them fall down the hole in the middle there and then turn it around This is not heavy enough I don't think look it's just spitting out wheat down the bottom that doesn't help me having whole wheat kernels that's what I put into it 🧐 It's not grinding them at all don't buy one of these Now if I push down hard on it as I turn instead of using the handle I can get some flour mixed in with whole wheat kernels coming out the other end Now if I lift the top off this it's quite heavy but you can see some of it is getting crushed but lots of it is not getting crushed at all Strangely enough I have actually ground wheat before using a stone mill and it should work really well so this is definitely a dodgy model

If I tip that into a sieve you'll be able to see we are getting some flour but not enough to make a cake So seeing as it's not working I'm gonna cheat and put the wheat kernels into my blender and grind it up that way We have it so easy now with electrical appliances we just don't even think about it we're just using for everything Next we need half a teaspoon of ground rosemary Rosemary is one of those herbs that's easy to grow in the garden it's quite hardy, it grows really well in every state of Australia here

It's pretty hard to grind fresh rosemary though but I'll resist the urge to put it in the blender with the flower Let me just fast forward! Put myself into blender speed ⏩There we go we've got some ground rosemary Next we need some ground almonds again the blender would be super handy for this job Baking even basic things just took them so long to do everything back then Now we need some honey and some cinnamon

it's interesting that this recipe has no eggs and no oil I wonder what it's going to taste like? So we ground our wheat to make flour we crushed the almonds to make the almond meal, pounded the rosemary to break that up and we've got the honey, cinnamon and baking powder which as I said they didn't have back then so I'm only going to use that in one of the cakes and not the others We've also got here some milk and they used a wine called passum

Now I couldn't get that here so I'm swapping it for this one which is apparently a thick sweet white wine which is very similar to passum So we'll start by adding the cinnamon to the bowl with the whole wheat flour and the crushed almonds and rosemary and stir that together and you can see how out of place the very white baking powder looks compared to everything else which is like these light brownish colors Add in the honey and the milk and the wine and stir them together Wow that looks very healthy very wholesome compared to normal cake batter And now I'm going to split this into three bowls

To this one I'm adding baking powder, to this bowl I'm adding some instant dried yeast and this one is staying plain with nothing Mix those through and put them into cake pans Now I assume they would have had pottery dishes to bake these in but I don't have little pottery dishes so forgive me for using metal baking tins Now we need to leave the one with the yeast in it to rise and you'll notice I didn't kneed it because I don't want it to develop the gluten in it and become like a bread dough I want it to have more of a cakey texture We can bake the baking powder and plain one straightaway just pop those into the oven and while they're baking chop up some hazelnuts

Once those are done take them out of the oven and drizzle the top with honey and then sprinkle some hazelnuts on top and you want to do this while they're still hot so that honey kind of melts down into it and makes the hazelnuts stick Our plain and baking powder ones are ready but the one with yeast in it has only just risen to the top so I'll put that one in the oven to bake now Once that's done you want to drizzle that one as well with your honey and add the nuts on top Now we've got the one with no raising agent the one with the baking powder and lastly the one that had the yeast in it The yeast one has quite big air bubbles on the outside compared to the others

If we slice that in half we can see inside it looks a bit like a carrot cake that actually looks really yummy The baking powder one if we cut that open looks pretty much like a normal cake texture and the one with no baking powder at all or that one is solid there's no air bubbles to be found in it Now to taste the two-thousand-year-old cake recipe the one with no raising agent as you would imagine is very dense that had no air bubbles in it it's a bit like eating how can I describe it it's a bit like eating a protein ball it's that dense It almost tastes fruity as well it's like I can taste some apricot or maybe even some orange in there which is weird because we didn't add any fruit I'm wondering if that flavor is from the wine? The baking powder one I can really taste the bitterness of the baking powder I think it's not very sweet this cake it doesn't have a lot of honey in it so just that little bit of baking powder is quite noticeable in it The texture of it is nicer but the flavour of the first one was better Now for the yeast

this texture is quite cake like it's not exactly the same as with baking powder but it's actually pretty good and it tastes much more like the first one did without the baking powder flavor in it You can taste a little bit of yeast but it's not very strong it's not overpowering So if you want to recreate a 2000 year old cake, use yeast in your recipe or you could use sourdough starter if you've got that I didn't have any of that and make sure you use freshly ground wheat it gives it a really wholesome flavor to it it's a bit like eating a whole wheat muffin almost but it's different you have to make it yourself and taste it

You can check out my other two hundred year old recipes here or if you're not already subscribed you can do that now and a big THANK YOU to my patrons and a shout out to my gold level patrons you guys are amazing if you'd like to join them you can click here to do that Make it a Great Week and I'll see you on Friday 💝

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