Today we are going to feature one ancient Roman cake recipe prepared by Paul Waumsley. He is a food and history enthusiast whose hobby is to try various old recipes in his own kitchen. He shares his delicious results in an FB page named Ancient & traditional recipes providing appetizing photo record of his tries.
Pepper and Nut Roman Cake was originally published on September 27, 2015, as follows:
Another wonderful recipe of the amazing ancient world. This cake has healthy written all over it, well not unless you suffer from Coeliac disease, in which case it'll have you squirting through the eye of a needle. The main ingredient is Spelt flour, it is also known as Dinkel wheat, Hulled (or Ulled in normal English) or its Latin name Triticum Spelta.
Triticum Spelta (Dinkel Wheat), Courtesy of the picture on left Wiki Commons & Ziko,
It is possibly the oldest cultivated wheat none to use today, archaeological evidence dates back Fifth millennium BC, the first evidence of this recipe was found in Transcaucasia, North of the Black Sea. Spelt has been found on Neolithic sites 2500-1700BC in central Europe. The middle ages we see spelt becoming widely used instead of barley & Emmer wheats. Spelt was finally exported to the U.S.A in 1890.
Bread wheat during the 20th century became more popular & spelt cultivation fell into decline. It is now making a comeback as a health food. Mind you what isn't making a comeback from way back when, we are finally realising the ancients ate well.
The second ingredient is nuts and I'm not talking about hanging my family plums in the mix. Nuts were an integral part of diets in the ancient world (no allergies there then). There is a difference between Roman & Greek recipes, the Romans preferred almonds & hazelnuts whereas the Greeks added walnuts to their cakes. The Greek believed Zeia (spelt cake) a gift from the goddess Demeter.
I've been looking forward to making this cake, so I set my mind to thinking like a Roman baker. The basic recipe is a nice but bland cake so I thought make for a toff. Cato mentions (as do others) to sweeten the cake up when serving wealthy guests. So while the cake was baking I added wine, honey, cinnamon and pepper together, and heated it gently. Poppy seeds, almonds and hazelnuts were ground to sprinkle over the warm liquor. Truly, I found this delicious and one that hits the spot just right.
8oz (230 gr) spelt flour
4oz (100 gr) almonds, ground
½ tsp ground rosemary
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
8 tbsp grape juice or wine
Pepper to taste
Mix the flour, rosemary, cinnamon and honey together. Add the juice or wine, once mixed start adding the milk until the mix slides off your spoon. Pour your mix into a 9 inch (23 cm) cake tin. Put in a preheated oven at GM5/190c for 30 minutes.