Bookmark, recipe illustration? I haven’t decided. I’ll set this one aside for the night then come back and take a look at the proportions, etc. with a fresh eye.
The kitchen smells nice tonight. In addition to the sweet honey altar cake, I also tried the recipe for Roman-style deviled eggs again (Ofellae sine Isicia) and was much more successful the second time. I’m not sure how successful I was making placenta, but here’s a transcript of the live-tweeting over the three-plus hours it took to make a small version of the industrial-size version described by Cato in his book on agriculture (and on appeasing the gods of nature with large quantities of sweets).
I am happy to report there’s no fermented fish sauce in the honey cake recipe. Sadly, no wine either. pic.twitter.com/dWiNkysGdC
1:00 PM – 23 Dec 2015
I have limited ingredients so reduced from 8 lbs flour in the ancient original to 2 cups. It will be a teeny cake. pic.twitter.com/i73QUngc3N
1:08 PM – 23 Dec 2015
Actually, this turned out to be a fairly large cake. I didn’t realise just how enormous the cake in the original recipe was.
Kneading tracta (stiff dough used a lot of ancient Roman recipes), getting flour all over my phone… pic.twitter.com/QTLquOduUB
1:28 PM – 23 Dec 2015
For altar cake fill, tracta spread out to dry. Just like great great great great great great great gram used to make pic.twitter.com/4miqlc0JgO
1:50 PM – 23 Dec 2015
And now itty bitty bit of dough for teeny tiny crust. Debating whether original recipe justifies adding dollop oil. pic.twitter.com/ikRYfljZJp
2:05 PM – 23 Dec 2015
It did. (The original recipe basically just tells you to moisten the flour.) And that bit of oil helped a lot.
pan ready for the dough, dough ready for the filling. pic.twitter.com/jdMkQOUax6
2:42 PM – 23 Dec 2015
soft goat cheese and top-quality honey for the filling. Must not waste a drop. pic.twitter.com/9Qw1irTcWy
2:49 PM – 23 Dec 2015
Ancient Roman altar cakes: a layer of tracta, a layer of honeyed cheese, a layer of tracta, and so on. pic.twitter.com/i64oYjPDTb
3:01 PM – 23 Dec 2015
not quite enough dough to wrap the cake in its girdle. I’ll just have to make a bit more. pic.twitter.com/VaKjIRNpKU
3:11 PM – 23 Dec 2015
top patched, and hoping for the best as I put it in the oven on a low heat. pic.twitter.com/fYukMplaLd
3:17 PM – 23 Dec 2015
pretty sure made layers too thick but it’s already in the oven like a jiffy-pop cake so…so be it pic.twitter.com/pjZOWqj6Lo
3:34 PM – 23 Dec 2015
I’ll dutifully check it 3 times over hour to hour-&-half baking as instructed by the venerated Cato in his farming book.
3:55 PM – 23 Dec 2015
Roman honey altar cake (Placenta) – baked for an hour. pic.twitter.com/CeeAHuJB4d
Once honey is drizzled over it, it’s ever so slightly reminiscent of baklava. Ever so slightly.
My observations: goat cheese is too sour; the layers of filling should be very thin; the bay leaves should be oiled; and Roman deities definitely had a sweet tooth.