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renaissance small cakes

Renaissance Recipe: Small Cakes

This exploration is for all ages, as the colored smilies show. You can cook Renaissance food with your whole family together!

1st thru 4th grades
5th thru 8th grades
9th thru 12th grades

Layers of Learning Unit 2-19
Unit 2-19: The Renaissance, Italy, Magnetism, Renaissance Art 1

The small cakes recipe is a history exploration from Layers of Learning Unit 2-19 about the Renaissance. Layers of Learning has hands-on experiments in every unit of this family-friendly curriculum. Learn more about Layers of Learning.

During the Renaissance cooking became an art form, at least in wealthier households. Cooks easily obtained herbs and spices, a variety of meats, and vegetables of all sorts. Trade and travel flourished during this time so cooking techniques, recipes, and foods traveled widely as well. Merchants imported sugar, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and other foods from the New World where they were discovered or grown on plantations. Italy became the center of not only art and science, but food.

Step 1: Library Research

Before you begin exploring, read a book or two about the Renaissance. Here are some suggestions, but if you can’t find these, look for books at your library about the Renaissance. The colored smilies above each book tell you what age level they’re recommended for.

If You Were Me and Lived in Renaissance Italy

by Carole P. Roman

What did Renaissance kids wear, eat, and do for fun? Find out in this attractively illustrated book.

The Beginning of the Renaissance

by Baby Professor

Even though this is written by “Baby Professor” these books are meant for middle grads kids. Colorful illustrations in every page and good solid content on a middle school level.

The Story of the Renaissance

by Suzanne Strauss Art

An excellent overview of the whole Renaissance period, this resource includes art, science, fashion, society, and politics during the renaissance period in Europe. Easy to read.

Step 2: Small Cakes Recipe Exploration

You will need two mixing bowls, mixing spoon, pastry cutter or fork, baking sheets, a can of powdered sugar icing, and the ingredients listed below.

You need two bowls!
If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can use the tines of a fork.

Ingredients

3 cups flour
¾ cups sugar
¾ pounds (2 ½ cups) raisins
¾ cups butter, room temperature
2 ½ Tbsp. cream
1 egg yolk
¼ tsp. nutmeg
4 Tbsp. water

Method

Mix together the flour, sugar, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or the tines of a fork.

small-cake-dry-ingredients-

In another bowl mix together the cream, water, and egg yolk. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir.

adding-the-egg-to-small-cake-
You can separate the egg yolk and white by carefully breaking the egg in half, then tipping the yolk from one half of the shell to the other over a small bowl. The white will drop into the bowl and the yolk will stay in the egg shell.

Stir in the raisins.

small-cake-batter-

With your hands form the dough into small cakes to fit in your palm.

Place the cakes on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes.

small-cake-on-the-pan-

Let cool completely then ice with powdered sugar icing.

putting-the-frosting-on-small-cakes-

Step 3: Show What You Know

Copy the recipe onto a piece of paper. Add a paragraph about Renaissance food. Add your page to the history section of your binder.

Additional Layers

Additional Layers are extra activities you can do or tangents you can take off on. You will find them in the sidebars of each Layers of Learning unit. They are optional, so just choose what interests you.

Writer’s Notebook

Find other Renaissance recipes to try and compile your own Renaissance cookbook.

This is a page from a Renaissance cookbook illustrating how to prepare a banquet.

You can add recipes for food but also for things like clothing: “take one doublet and add a white undershirt tunic.”

Additional Layer

The Age of Exploration really took off in 1492 with Columbus’ disco very of the New World. This heavily affected the foods available to Europeans.

This map of the world shows the origins of some foods.

Learn more about which foods came from the Americas, the Far East and Sub Saharan Africa.

Famous Folks

Bartolomeo Scappi was a famous chef of the Renaissance period. He lived in Italy and was chef to the Popes.

Learn more about him and other Renaissance chefs.

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15 thoughts on “Renaissance Recipe: Small Cakes”

  1. We loved them! If you eat tons of sugar you might not think they are sweet enough, but we thought they were tasty and just right!

  2. Where is original recipe in Good Cookery. I would like to use for my sons project. He is required to submit from research the original as well as modified

  3. The icing must be a recent addidition? I wouldn’t have thought they’d have powdered sugar back then…

    1. I doubt they could go down to the grocery store and buy it, but sugar was brought to Europe in the Middle Ages actually. There were professional confectioners who did all kinds of amazing things with desserts throughout this time period. They made candies and icing, and even combined sugar with Tragacanth gum (naturally sap) to make molded sugars. There are lots of and lots of primary source recipes from that era. Sometimes the ingredients are things that are hard for us to come by, but we typically have something comparable.

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