Ancient Roman Cake Recipes: The formal dinner of Ancient Rome was an elaborate affair. It consisted of several distinct courses. The dessert was an important part of the meal. The pastry chefs of ancient Rome did not have access to several implements and ingredients which are today thought to be indispensable.
However, they managed quite well with what they had. The result was a number of different types of cakes which survive in some form even today.
Roman Cake Recipes Ingredients
One of the most basic ingredients of modern baking is refined sugar. This was unknown in the Roman times. Instead, honey was used as the most preferred sweetening agent and it imparted its unique flavors to the cakes. These honey cakes are the best known baking legacy of ancient Rome.
Another indispensable item needed in baking is butter. However, it was almost never used by the ancient Roman bakers. Butter was not unknown in ancient Rome. However, its main use was as a salve. Instead, a variety of cheeses were used as the source of fat in the cakes. These soft cheeses were thoroughly washed with water to remove the salt. This salt has been used to preserve the cheese.
There were no leavening agents like baking powder. So the bakers used a lot of eggs. They were beaten very hard which helped the cake to rise.
There are several types of ancient Roman cakes.
The placenta was the most common type of cake. It was made by stretching thin layers of dough and cheese one upon the other. Several layers were made and finally topped with honey. This is the precursor of today’s honey cakes.
- The Spira was the precursor of the modern Danish pastry where spiral patterns were created with the cake dough.
- The Enkithoy is another type of cake where the eggs were beaten very hard to give a spongy texture.
- The Globi is made with cheese and flour. It is spherical in shape.
Roman Honey Cakes
The basic recipe of the ancient Roman honey cakes is that where coarse flour and eggs are mixed and beaten very hard to allow the dough to rise. Plenty of honey is added for sweetness and flavor. The mixture is then baked to obtain the honey cake. You can add fruits for variety.
Alternatively, you can stretch layers of dough made of flour and stiffly beaten eggs and cheese and bake them. Pour honey on top as the Romans did to enhance the taste.