Tuesday, February 24, 2015

14th c. British Apple Fritters

Apple Fritters, c.1390, The Forme of Cury

About the Recipe

In 1397 a great feast was held in honor of King Richard II of England. The feast was given by Lord Spencer possibly to honor the King and Queen on their marriage that occurred in 1396. The list of dishes served at this feast is immense, but there is one dish that interested me, and I thought it would be fun to make 14th century style Apple Fritters. 

What makes cooking this dish even more fun is that I chose the Apple Fritter recipe from The Forme of Cury, a manuscript cookery book compiled by the master cooks for King Richard II around 1390. It is the oldest known manuscript recipe compilation in the English written language! The recipe is for fritters made with apples and root vegetables; however, I chose to make them just with apples.

Frytour of Pasternakes of Apples XX.VII.IX 

Take skyrwater and pasternakes and apples, & parboil hem, make a batour of flour and ayrenn, cast perto ale. safroun & salt. Wete hem in be batour and frye hem in oile or in grece. Do perto Almaund Mylk. & serue it forth. 

Recipe Translation in Modern English 
Take skirrets (a root vegetable also known as water parsnips) and carrots and apples, & parboil them, make a batter of flour and eggs, cast there-to ale/yeast, saffron & salt. Wet them in the batter and fry them in oil or in grease. Do them in almond milk & serve it forth. 

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Apple Fritters
Yield: 10 Fritters

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Lard (or butter), Melted
  • 1/2 Cup Ale
  • ½ Teaspoon Saffron
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Sweet Variety of Apple, Chopped in Small Bits

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the apples until smooth. 

2. Let batter stand, covered, for about 15 minutes before using. 

3. Add the chopped apples. If you want to use larger pieces of apple, you can parboil them first.

4. Heat the fat of your choice (lard, shortening or vegetable oil) until it reaches 360ยบ F. 

5. Drop the batter into the hot fat in 2 tablespoon measures. 

6. Fry until golden and light. 

7. Remove from the fat, drain, and sprinkle with powdered sugar, or . . . 

8. To be true to the recipe, serve in a bowl of almond milk. 




  1. I have never heard of skirrets but would be interested to see what it looks like. Almond milk seems like such a modern thing in my mind.

  2. Using the skirrets and parsnips might add sweetness.
    (pasternak is parsnip in Russian and Pastinake is the German, so I guess parsnip is more likely than carrot)

  3. Wonderful history lesson! Apple fritters are among my usual desserts and I couldn't guess what was their origin. Your blog is really nice and interesting, thanks!


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