Skip to main content

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Lyode Soppes-An Early Bread Pudding

Lyode Sops
Dan Myers, of "Medieval Cookery" made a comment regarding the Boylede Creme that he wondered how much it would taste like bread pudding if bread were added. This inspired me to do a little more research into the history and origins of bread pudding.  If you are a medieval food enthusiast, budding cook, foodie or curious about eating in the Middle Ages, I urge you to visit his site, it is full of information and his own interpretations of recipes. 

While researching the history of bread pudding, I kept finding repeatedly the phrase "probably originated in the early 11th or 12th centuries" and was created by "frugal cooks looking to use up stale bread" but little evidence to support those references.  However, I believe that this recipe from  "Two fifteenth-century cookery-books. Harleian ms. 279 (ab. 1430), & Harl. ms. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole ms. 1429, Laud ms. 553, & Douce ms. 55" Thomas Austin offers support for bread being placed into custard as early as 1430. Lyode soppes is literally a sop of bread floating in a pool of beautifully thick and sweet custard and it is the last of the milk based pottages that I worked with this week. I believe that this is one of the earliest recipes for "bread pudding."

Lyode Soppes lacks many of the characteristics we think of when we think of bread puddings; there are no raisins, no cinnamon, it is lacking the creamy texture of what most modern diners would think of when they think of bread pudding. Lastly, it is not made in the oven.

The main component of lyode sops is the custard. Like papyns and creme boylede, it is made from milk and eggs, sweetened with sugar, tempered with just a bit of salt and cooked over low heat until thickened. Custard can trace its origins back to Ancient Rome.  According to C. Ann Wilson, Romans "exploited eggs as a thickening or binding agent for other foods. They borrowed from the Greeks the idea of combining eggs with milk to form a custard mixture, which was either cooked very slowly in an earthenware pot, or fried in oil...Another kind of egg confection was made of fruit or vegetables, or fish or shredded meat, bound with eggs and lightly cooked in the open dish called a "patina." ...The "flathons" (flans), "crustards" and other open tarts of medieval cookery again recall the old "patinae," with the shallow open dish of the Romans replaced by an open pastry crust, and the filling once more mixed and bound with eggs."

.xxix. Lyode Soppes.—Take Mylke an boyle it, an þanne take ȝolkys of eyroun y-tryid fro þe whyte, an draw hem þorwe A straynoure, an caste hem in-to þe mylke, an sette it on þe fyre an hete it, but let it nowt boyle; an stere it wyl tyl it be somwhat þikke; þenne caste þer-to Salt & Sugre, an kytte fayre paynemaynnys in round soppys, an caste þe soppys þer-on, an serue it forth for a potage.

29 Lyode Sops- Take milk an boil it, an than take yolks of eggs separated from the white and draw them through a strainer, an cast them into the milk, an set it on the fire and heat it, but let it not boil, an stir it well till it be somewhat thick; then caste there-to salt & sugar, an cut fair bread in round sops, an cast the sops there-on, an serve it forth for a pottage. 

Interpreted Recipe                                                                                      Serves 1 as main, 2 as side

3/4 C. milk
1/4 C. heavy cream
1 egg, or 2 egg yolks
1-2 tbsp. sugar (to your taste)
Salt to taste (I used about 1 scant tsp.)
Rounds of bread (I used Rastons)

Mix the heavy cream with the milk and add sugar, salt and egg. Place in a pot on the stove and cook over low heat until the mixture becomes thick. It is important that you keep the heat low because you don't want your custard to curdle. Meanwhile, put your round of bread into the bowl.  I elected to not toast the bread as the recipe did not call for it.  When the custard has thickened, pour it through a strainer onto the bread.  I let mine sit for approximately five minutes before serving.  The bread did soak up some of the moisture from the custard. 

I was unsure how this dish would be received by my bevy of taste testers, and they received it much better than I expected they would. There were a few surprised looks as they tested this dish.  The general consensus amongst the tasters is "it was good but not something they would want to try again." It is unusual and might fall into the category of "too period to serve at feast". I liked it but I can say that it was not to everyone's taste. Use your best judgment.

Custards are fussy dishes that require your attention. I would serve this as a small luncheon, or for breakfast.  I would also add some additional flvaoring to this dish to evoke the "comfort food" flavors of modern bread puddings, for example- maybe a sprinkling of sweet powder before serving, or even garnish it with fruit. 


Popular posts from this blog

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .lxxix. Apple Muse - Apple Mousse

Fall is here and with it an abundance of apples! What better way to pick up the pen again then with this fruit?? Apples have a long and varied history. Carbon dating of seeds found in Southwestern Asia suggest that apples may have originated there. There is also evidence of fossilized apple seeds dating to the Neolithic period found in England which suggests that a variety of wild apple was known. 
Whatever the origin, we do know that the Greeks were familiar with apples.  Homer writes about them in the Odyssey.  Hippocrates recommends sweet apples with meals as a way of aiding in digestion. The Romans however, developed the fruit that we are aware of today through the process of cross breeding for sweetness and grafting.   Pliny the Elder describes multiple varieties of apples that were cultivated in Rome.

After the Roman occupation of Britain, many of the orchards were left abandoned.  It was through the efforts of monks that many of the orchards were maintained.  The earliest know…

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .xxiiij. Drawyn grwel - Tempered Gruel

Earlier this week I posted the recipe for .vij. Gruelle a-forsydde, or Gruel Reinforced, meaning that the gruel had been fortified with meat. That was the first of two recipes for gruel found in "Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 by Thomas Austin". This is the second that I reinterpreted. The same caveats apply, I did not go through the process of straining the dish, and the dish as I have created it is much meatier then what would probably expect in period. 
Of the two recipes that I tried this one was the favorite. The commentary from the taste testers as this was cooking was "it smells like biscuits and gravy in here!" When it came time to testing we engaged in spoon war's to eat the last of it! I have also been made to promise to make this again. I will.

The basis of any gruel is meal. In this case, that meal is specified …

Five Simple and Delicious Medieval Vegetable Dishes

Positive responses continue to pour in on these kinds of posts. Today I thought I would bring to your attention five very different vegetable dishes that were enjoyed in the late Medieval period.   I hope you try them and let me know how you liked them.

Simply click the link to be taken to the page to find the recipe. Please leave me a message and let me know if you would like to see more posts like this.

Thank you!

.xxx. Soupes dorroy. (Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430)) Soup Dorroy - A delicious twist on "creamed" onion soup. The onions when cooked with the wine take on a very fruity flavor, and the almond milk adds creaminess in the background that tempers the sweet fruity taste of the onions. A budget friendly, easy to cook, tasty dish that would not be amiss at a luncheon, tavern, feast or camp meal.

.v. Whyte wortes. (Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - Creamed Wortes - A true comfort dish from Harleian MS 279 (~1430) -- Tender cabbage and kale, or other "worts" (mustards, …

Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430) - .Clj. Creme Bastarde - Cream Bastarde

The Two fifteenth-century cookery-books : Harleian MS. 279 (ab 1430), & Harl. MS. 4016 (ab. 1450), with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1439, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS. 55 Thomas Austin contains instructions for a custard made exclusively with egg whites.  This dish appears to have been very popular and instructions for it can also be found in the later tudor period.  As previously discussed, custards enjoy a long history. The Romans enjoyed many sweet and savory egg based dishes, but it wasn't until the middle ages that "custards", as we understand them, hit their prime.  Some of these dishes, like the hardened custards known as let lardes or milke rosty's have fallen out of favor.

I recently served this at our local Baronial 12th Night alongside stewed apples or pears (pictured above.)  I discovered that my own interpretation was nearly identical to that of Peter Breverton's found in his Tudor Cookbook. It is his interpretation I have included here which incl…