The Realms of Talithia


musings on writing and all things medieval

Sambocade in "The Secret Treasons of the World"

As I mentioned in my bio, one of my interests is recreating authentic medieval recipes.  I play in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and have had the honor and pleasure of being the feast steward at more than one event.  At my very first feast, I entertained our newly-crowned King and Queen and wanted everything to be perfect.  I created every dish at home for myself before I served it to a room full of royalty, lords, and ladies.

One of the dishes I created was sambocade, a fourteenth-century dish served at the court of Richard II and featured in A Forme of Cury, one of the first cookbooks ever printed.  Sambocade is the medieval version of cheesecake, though they didn't have our style of cream cheese back then, or graham cracker crusts.  It calls for rosewater and elderflowers and it has a unique taste, one that grew on me the more I sampled it.

What does this have to do with writing?  In my story, "The Secret Treasons of the World," Braelin has sambocade as part of her birthday feast, so I thought I would include the recipe here in Middle English and with a modern redaction.

Sambocade. Take and make a crust in a trap & take cruddes and wryng out þe wheyze and drawe hem þurgh a straynour and put hit in þe crust. Do þerto sugar the þridde part, & somdel whyte of ayren, & shake þerin blomes of elren; & bake it vp with eurose, & messe it forth.

Drain 24 oz. of large curd cottage cheese.  Add to it about 1/3 cup of sugar (no more than 1/2 cup), three lightly beaten egg whites, two tablespoons of dried elderflowers or 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh elderflowers, and 1 tsp. rosewater.  Blend well, using either a blender, hand mixer, or food processor.  Pour into a 9" pie shell and bake at 350° F for 45 minutes to an hour, until filling has set and the crust is a golden brown. Let cool and serve.

I recommend using dried elderflowers (sambucus nigra), unless you can be certain that the fresh ones you choose have not been treated with pesticides.  Also, you need to be sure to remove everything but the smallest stem from fresh elderflowers, as elderberry leaves, stems, and unripe berries are toxic.  Dried elderflowers can be found online.  Buy organic.  I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs (I have no relationship with them... they're just awesome).

It's worth noting that the medieval palate was different from our modern one.  It's probable that Richard II's chefs used more than 1 tsp. of rosewater in this recipe, but I have found that a little rosewater goes a long way.  You may prefer more.

For the better part of the past two decades, I have studied various aspects of medieval life.  It's always fun when I can use that knowledge to enhance the stories I write.

If you make sambocade, please let me know in the comments how it turns out.