Fritters, sweet or savory, were among the most common dishes in the Middle Ages and there are many recipes in the source we are using today, a beautiful 14th-century cookbook conventionally titled Anonimo Veneziano. In the past we prepared other fritters from this book, called Emperor’s fritters.
As the last recipe for this year, we are making easy and quick fritters, but incredibly good, made with a few ingredients, just apples, raisins, and saffron, with the addition of sugar on top, deep-fried in olive oil.
In the medieval Italian cookbooks, there are a few recipes with fresh fruit, whereas dry fruit (for example raisins or dates) are more frequent. In the past, we prepared another recipe with apples, a pie selected from a 15th-century cookbook, the Registrum Coquine, which has a few elements in common with this fritter recipe: the use of saffron and the way to slice finely the apples, as well as the use of olive oil, being both the recipes meant for the lean days.
According to Pietro de Crescenzi, a 14th-century agronomist, there were plenty of kinds of apples in the Middle Ages: round, flat, and elongated; sweet, acidic, and sour; green, yellow, and red. Some ripened in summer, others in winter.
For this recipe, we suggest sweet apples with a pulp quite firm to cook the fritters better.
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1,5 kg apples
white wheat flour
white cane sugar
Steep the saffron in warm water. Prepare a batter with flour and water, adding the saffron and raisins. Peel and clean the apples, cutting them into thin slices, then place them into the batter and deep-fry them one by one in olive oil.
Serve them dusted with sugar.
Note about the ingredients
In this recipe, the author uses olive oil to fry, since it is meant for the lean days. If you prefer, you can use other cooking fats, for example lard or cured pork fatback, well melted. Butter, instead, is rarely used by the author of this recipe.
We suggest making a batter quite thick to better cook the fritters and preventing them from breaking.
For this recipe, it is better to use white flour and white cane sugar, being the fritters characterized by the yellow color. These kinds of flour and sugar were the most common in high-end medieval cuisine, as reported by the authors, for example Michele Savonarola, since they were more costly and considered healthy and nutritious.
Fritelle de pome per quaressima. Toy le pome e mondalle, po’ taia a modo de hostie e fa un sugolo de farina con sufran, e mitige uva passa, e miti queste pome in questo sugolo; po’ le frige con olio zascuna per si, polverizali zucharo quando eno cocto, etc.
Apple fritters for Lent. Take the apples and peel them, then cut them like hosts and make a batter with flour and saffron, adding raisins. Place the apples in this batter, then fry them in olive oil one by one. When they are cooked, dust them with sugar.
Translations of Historical Sources
Opusculum de Saporibus by Mainus de Maineris (14th century)
Registrum Coquine by Johannes von Bockenheim (15th century)
Appendicula de Condituris Varis by Johannes Damascenus (8-9th century)
10th-century Goat Roast – A Langobard at the Court of the Byzantine Emperor
Romania – A Recipe Between Arabic and Italian Tradition – Medieval Chicken with Pomegranates
Medieval Pizza – The Origin of Pizza
Roast Chicken with Salsa Camellina
Afrutum or Spumeum – 6th-century Byzantine recipe
A Medieval Breakfast – Wine, Carbonata, and Millet Bread
Salviata – Eggs and Sage
Tria di Vermicelli
Frittelle Ubaldine – Pancakes with Flowers and Herbs
Drunken Pork – Early Medieval Pork Stew
Medieval Monk’s Stuffed-Egg Soup
Lentils and Mustard Greens
Chicken soup – Brodo Granato
Beans and Bacon – Black-Eyed Peas
Prawn Pie – Pastello de Gambari
Foxtail Millet Polenta and Spit-Roasted Goose
Quail Stew with Coconut
Red Mullet Soup
Spit Roast Beef with Arugula Seeds
Roast Lamb with Green Sauce
Sweet and Sour Sardines
Trouts with Green Sauce
Quails with Sumac
Chicken with Fennel Flowers