Monday, June 1, 2015

Butterbeer recipe

Updated 8-6-16 with the correct butter measurement! 


Updated 10-2-17 with some more info on eggs and beer selections.  And updated some volumes.

What could be better for a miserable day than buttered beer?  This is not the low alcohol stuff from the Harry Potter books, but based on a recipe (modified by my taste) from 16th century England--it's rich, thick, and warms the body and soul.  Not to mention clogs your arteries...

My buttered beer

I am happy to announce that I finally found the PERIOD recipe for buttered beere that this was based on.  I finally tracked down a reference to a couple of recipes from 1665, and thence to 1594/97.  The first is from The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin, the second The Accomplisht Cook by Robert May.  I will share the recipes here, along with a redaction or two.

The Good Huswifes Recipe:

To make Buttered Beere.
TAke three pintes of Beere, put fiue yolkes of Egges to it, straine them together, and set it in a pewter pot to the fyre, and put to it halfe a pound of Sugar, one penniworth of Nutmegs beaten, one penniworth of Cloues beaten, and a halfepenniworth of Ginger beaten, and when it is all in, take another pewter pot and brewe them together, and set it to the fire againe, and when it is readie to boyle, take it from the fire, and put a dish of sweet butter into it, and brewe them together out of one pot into an other.
Simple, right?  She even gives you the amounts needed....except we aren't talking about the same measurements.  We are talking about pre-imperial pints...based on ale gallons, to be specific.  As near as I can tell, an ale gallon pre-1700 was the equivalent of 1.22 US gallons (or 282 cubic inches).  A pint was 1/8th gallon.

Laid Table, Anon.  1615
The butter was far more complicated to find the measurement of, and I just now (8-6-16) think I figured it out. I found a couple of extant butter dishes in the Boijmans Collection.  Both dishes were approximately 18cm in diameter; I also found a painting from 1615 in the same collection depicting how the butter was actually on it.  While butter dishes do vary in size, I feel this measure works fine.

Taking the measurements and proportions of the butter dish in the painting to the extant examples, and regularizing the gob of butter into a truncated cone, I calculated the volume of the butter--approximately 209.85 cubic centimeters.  Or a touch over 14 tablespoons.

To Make Buttered Beere: (In modern, US measurements)
60.75 oz/7.59 cups dark beer.  English mild is perfect, and there are more notes at the bottom of the article.
5 egg yolks (medium size eggs*)
8.2oz, by weight sugar.  Rather than white, I suggest a raw sugar (I did a little more research, and ended with deciding on the "London" pound, which is 466.6 grams)
1.56 grams each of ground or broken nutmeg and cloves
0.78 gram of ginger, ground or broken
14.19 tbsp unsalted butter (or partly salted, if you prefer.  I do).

The directions seem to say: Mix the beer and egg yolks and place on the heat source (on low I presume!), add in the sugar and spices.  Mix violently to combine (brewe = pour into another pot?), and heat almost to boiling.  Add in the butter, and mix until it melts and there is froth. 

*Eggs, and egg size.  While apparently the sizes of period eggs wasn't all that different from our Medium and Large (not extra large!) eggs, from the Florilegium article on eggs, anyone who has had farm fresh eggs knows that there is a noticeable difference in flavour.

The Accomplisht Cook
Buttered Beer.
Take beer or ale and boil it, then scum it, and put to it some liquorish and anniseeds, boil them well together; then have in a clean flaggon or quart pot some yolks of eggs well beaten with some of the foresaid beer, and some good butter; strain your butter’d beer, put it in the flaggon, and brew it with the butter and eggs.

Buttered Beer or Ale otherways.
Boil beer or ale and scum it, then have six eggs, whites and all, and beat them in a flaggon or quart pot with the shells, some butter, sugar, and nutmeg, put them together, and being well brewed, drink it when you go to bed.
Take three pints of beer or ale, put five yolks of eggs to it, strain them together, and set it in a pewter pot to the fire, put to it half a pound of sugar, a penniworth of beaten nutmeg, as much beaten cloves, half an ounce of beaten ginger, and bread it.
These, I will leave here, as they will require experimenting before I can post a recipe.

My Recipe (which is much less healthy than the original, and makes a single serving)
12 oz ale*. 
4-6 oz apple juice
1 egg yolk (large/extra large)
3.5 tablespoons sugar, or to taste.  I use some brown sugar.
1/2 tsp or so of Mulling spices.
2 tablespoons butter.  I prefer salted.

Heat the apple juice in a saucepan and allow to simmer with the spices for at least 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, thoroughly mix the sugar and egg yolks.  After the spices have steeped for long enough, pour in the ale, then slowly mix in the egg/sugar paste.  Once warm, stir in the butter.  Serve when it is hot, and butter melted.  Be careful to not heat it to even a slight simmer, or the eggs will break--it won't change the flavour but it'll look funny (although whipping it afterwards does help some).
If you want, you could add something to make it even more warming--brandy would probably be my choice, although for something less traditional butterscotch schnapps would be fantastic.

* Malty--or at most, balanced ales are typically suggested to make this recipe.  Experiment, and comment with suggestions (or ones which are nasty).  Old fashioned English ales work nicely, as would most styles which are not heavily hopped, although more bitter (traditional) styles haven't given me flavour issues.  Likewise Belgian style also work well.  I typically don't recommend high alcohol beers for it, as the alcohol aroma becomes prominent with heat.

....I wonder how the sahti, or rauchebier would work...?

The recipe I modified is from Here.

The Accomplisht Cook:
The Good Huswifes:
Stefan's Florilegium article on eggs:

Other versions: (With a chilled version as well) 

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