[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Flathonys, Medieval Ale Custard, Now With Bacon!
14 July 2011

This week I finish up with the recipes from the Culinary Historians of New York talk a few weeks ago ...

The recipe for Flathonys, a Fifteenth-Century custard featuring ale as part of the liquid, is pretty straightforward, and also good as written. That's the version that I presented for the CHNY talk. But as I was working on it, I though to myself, "It's got beer and eggs already, what could possibly make it better?" The answer, of course, was bacon. So, I experimented a bit more and present here a second variation.

[Custard Served] First, from British Library Harley MS 4016, dated to the mid Fifteenth Century, and reproduced in "Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books," edited by Thomas Austin:

Flathonys::Take mylke, and yolkes of egges, and ale, and drawe hem thorgh a straynour, with white sugar or blak, And melt faire butter, and put thereto salt, and make fair coffyns, and put hem into a Nowne til þei be a litull hard ; þen take a pile, and a dissh fastned there-on, and fill þe coffyns therewith of the seid stuffe and late hem bake a while. And þen take hem oute, and serve him forthe, and caste Sugar ynogh on hem.

The only question here is one of proportions. The ones below work fairly well.

Flathonys, Ale Custard

Beat all the ingredients together. Pour into pastry shells, small, individual shells work nicely here, and bake at 350F for 35 minutes or until set. Cast a bit more sugar on top before serving.

[Custard Baked] The texture is interesting, since even if I beat the ale thoroughly, there seems to be a little carbon-dioxide trapped in it to make it bubble up just a hair. The taste is also interesting, sweet and rich, but with just a hint of flavor that we don't usually find in a custard.

The idea of adding some other texture, crunchy or chewy rather than smooth, as well as a bit of salty kick led me to the following adjustment.

Take three of four slices of bacon and line a muffin tin with them. If you are feeling ambituous, weave them together before you do. Bake the bacon cup at 400F for twenty minutes or more, until it has the texture you want, chewy or crispy. The main thing is to be sure to render out most of the fat. Drain the fat and let cool. Make the custard as above, fill the tin and bake as above. Cool and turn out to serve.

Especially with the bacon involved, a sort of caramel sauce develops in this version. (At least, it did when I made it.) The bacon adds a welcome bit of salt, and some nice chewy bits - since I like my bacon chewy.

[Cup made of Bacon] If making the "cup" is too much hassle, simply cooking up some lardons or bacon bits, draining and cooling them, then adding them would also work nicely.

As a final note, I also find that one can skip the pastry entirely if so inclined, and simply bake them in ramekins or the muffin tin, with good results.

© 2011 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite