The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

"beat the batter one whole hour..."

ericb's picture

"beat the batter one whole hour..."

I recently ran across this reproduction of a 17th Century recipe for "Prince Bread," which apparently produces a cookie with the texture of angel food cake. The ingredients aren't anything special, but I couldn't get over the mixing time: 45 minutes! In fact, the original instructions say to "beat it all to batter one whole houre: for the more you beat it, the better your bread is."

Seriously! Check it out:


I can't imagine that it would work, but the author seems to have tried it with good results. What's going on here? What advantage could mixing a batter for 45 minutes possibly have over mixing it, say, five or ten minutes?

PaddyL's picture

How much less time would it take with a stand mixer, do you think?  I wouldn't mind trying this one.

Vicious Babushka's picture
Vicious Babushka

Probably had an apprentice just whisking away until the hourglass ran out. Or maybe apprentices took turns.

ericb's picture

Perhaps this was designed as punishment for wayward apprentices!

dabrownman's picture

listening Lucy?  Of course not - you never listen.....apprentice beware:-)

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

Flour was not the same back then as it is now.  The only leavening in that recipe is from the eggs - and though "8 eggs" to a pound of flour SOUNDS like a lot, eggs in general were pretty darn small compared to what we get in the grocery store today.  So beating it for that long would have beat some air into it as well as making sure the flour is THOROUGHLY hydrated, LOL!

gary.turner's picture

These really taste great. I love the licorice taste of the anise, and there is a subtle background I attribute to the rose water. Funny thing, the rose water reminds me of the hair tonic that always got splashed on after my haircut back in the fifties. (Kinda weird being closer to the next fifties than we are to the last.)  Not quite angel food; more like a marshmallow. Definitely  has a rebound feel.

The quarter sized recipe is too small. it doesn't quite cover a 9" square cake pan. And oh, is that a thick, sticky batter. I will definitely try this again, probably at double the modern version. That should work about right for a quarter sheet cake pan. I need to get to Penzy's to pick up some caraway seed. It should work well with nigella seed also.

I mixed in the DLX with the cookie whisk for a little over an hour (I missed hearing the timer).  Speed was set between the second and third marker blocks; probably equivalent to #2 on a KA, but a different beater.

Hmm. I wonder if ground allspice and orange blossom water...



ericb's picture

Wow, Gary! You actually made this? Thanks so much for the report!

I wonder how much difference an hour's worth of mixing makes. I might give it a try on my stand mixer sometime soon. If I do, I'll let you know how it turns out.

Does anyone know of any contemporary recipes that call for this much mixing?