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Redacting a Medieval Caudle Recipe

Updated on September 16, 2014
CuAllaidh profile image

Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

The Challenges Of Modernizing A Medieval Recipe

Recently I decided to attempt to redact some medieval beverage recipes for my ongoing sca research. Redacting is defined as editing for publication, in this case taking the medieval recipe and translating and updating so it fits with what we consider to be a recipe. The recipe I chose is that of a caudle.

Medieval recipes are not like modern ones. At the time those who wrote the recipes assumed that the person who would read it had a basic understanding of cooking, rarely were amounts listed nor cook times. This is leaving out the fact that the language, even the English, of the time is not like modern English. Shakespearean English is often considered difficult because the phrases are so different, however Shakespeare spoke what is considered modern English, medieval people did not, if they spoke English at all it was a completely different language then what we are used to now. There was also no spelling conventions, no dictionary, so words were spelled how they sounded, and might be spelled different ways every time they were written, even by the same author, even in the same recipe. Redacting medieval recipes requires patience, a vague understanding of medieval English, and experimentation.

Medieval Cooking Is Tasty

Forget Your Misconceptions

Medieval cooking has a reputation for being terrible, this is simply not true. They ate a wide variety of vegetables, not mainly meat as modernly portrayed. They did not grab hunks of meat eat it with their hands and throw the rest to the dogs either. These are terrible misconceptions handed to us from Hollywood and works of fiction.

Medieval table manners were considerably more complex than modern man could probably handle. As to the food, if you were cooking for someone that could behead you because they didn't like the food would you cook terrible food? So throw aside your misconceptions and try a medieval recipe or two.

Recipe Source

The Forme of Cury is an ancient cookbook written by the cooks of the court of King Richard II in 1390. It is considered one of the best sources of medieval recipes by many historians and is referred to often when people talk about medieval cookery. Due to its popularity, and the fact that it is from the high middle ages I chose to redact my caudle recipe from the Forme of Cury.

The Recipe:

Cawdle Ferry
Take flour of Payndemayn and gode wyne. and drawe it togydre. do þerto a grete quantite of Sugur cypre. or hony clarified, and do þerto safroun. boile it. and whan it is boiled, alye it up with zolkes of ayrenn. and do þerto salt and messe it forth. and lay þeron sugur and powdour gyngur

Adding Sugar to the Mix
Adding Sugar to the Mix


A caudle was a popular drink of the medieval times, recipes show up in many of the extant recipe books that we have from this time period. Sometimes it was presented as a sauce, sometimes as a drink, sometimes as more a pudding. The reason for this is it is an eggnog like beverage very thick often almost as thick as pudding. In some cookbooks caudles are listed as a digestive aid and were served after dinner, desert was not common at the time so caudles could be considered desert like.

Caudles are wine and usually egg based beverages. This particular one is flavoured with ginger and has saffron for colouring, both were very popular spices in the day. Spicing for this drink could be pretty much anything I have seen recipes call for mace, cinnamon, various herbs, and a wide variety of other flavourings.

2 stars from 2 ratings of Medieval Caudle Recipe
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 30 min
Yields: 3-4

It will turn out to be a thin custard consistency. Sweet and sour, an interesting blending of flavours. The alcohol does not entirely cook out despite the boiling. Caudles make great beverages to warm up with on a cold winters day.

Personally this was not my favourite medieval food I have tried, but then I don't like eggnog and its very similar.


  • 3 cups wine
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 -3 threads of saffron
  • Ginger to taste


  1. Take flour and quality wine and mix it well, the better the wine the better the final product. Mix in the or honey and saffron and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium low and allow it to cool to blood warm. Mix it with the yolk of an egg and a pinch of salt. Continue to heat gently stiring constantly. Flavour to taste with sugar and ginger. The final consistancy will be like a thick creme anglaise.

Thoughts on Wine Selection

I've mentioned this before in my wine jelly recipe but it is important to note. Cooking wine is not an option, this stuff should never be used for cooking, or any other purpose. Never use a wine you would not drink, bad wine does not improve by cooking it. The more you like the wine the more you'll like the final product.

More Medieval Cookery

Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks
Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks

Pleyn Delit is a favourite among SCA cooks. It contains many redactions of medieval recipes in an easy to follow manner.

A Sip Through Time: A Collection Of Old Brewing Recipes
A Sip Through Time: A Collection Of Old Brewing Recipes

This book is my favourite collection of ancient brewing recipes. Don't expect to read the original form of the recipe though, its redactions only.


© 2013 Jeff Johnston

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    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      Wow- you are amazing. I can't imagine understanding Medieval English. Chinese is hard enough! I am totally impressed.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This sounds like a good addition to any meal.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @RowanChisholm: I am a member of the SCA too :D that's what got me started :D

    • RowanChisholm profile image

      Rowan Chisholm 4 years ago from Washington state

      Yes, I've cooked and eaten Medieval food. I was in the local SCA cookery guild for awhile back in the 1980s, and went to several banquets. I found it all very interesting! Very tasty, as well.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @CuAllaidh: Thank you. It does seem that there are many recipes which are forerunners of popular dishes today. I remembered too that I'd referenced Forme of Cury in a lens a couple of months ago - great minds :)

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @cocomoonbeams: I love working with medieval sources. It's a lot of fun to take something that seems so foreign and working out what they mean.

    • cocomoonbeams profile image

      cocomoonbeams 4 years ago

      I love reading lenses which translate ancient recipes... I find them very fascinating, even though I have no interest in cooking!

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 4 years ago from Ireland

      I had some mead the other day when I visited a castle in Ireland and went to the banquet, it was delicious. The meal was as close to a medieval one you could get, I suppose.

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 4 years ago from Topeka, KS

      A fascinating recipe and article! Well done. Thank you for taking the time to translate and modernize this recipe for us all. :)

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @BritFlorida: I am not sure about losens, my specialty is manly beverages, but I will confer with my fiancé who has done way more work with Cury than I have and verify :D

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      I've been interested in medieval recipes for several years now and it's great that you're adding to my knowledge. I love Forme of Cury because so many of the recipes are spicy. They had (if I've got this right) 'powder fort' which seems to be a better version of today's curry powder. And wasn't 'losens' (again, if I've got that right) an early type of lasagne?

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @flycatcherrr: LOL Chilly Knight... nice :D

      Yes it does read like Chaucer, its the same form of english

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 4 years ago from Houston

      What an interesting idea to recreate a medieval recipe. Very cool.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 4 years ago

      The old recipe reads like Chaucer, which is to say it's incomprehensible to me in the original - good thing you translate and adapt for modern times! - but it has a lovely sort of rolling lilting sound when you try to read aloud. What fun! A nourishing sort of beverage for a chilly knight.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @Vikk Simmons: Thank you, this is not the first one I have done, and it won't be the last ;)

    • mrdata profile image

      mrdata 4 years ago

      Thanks for your recipe! I will try it and congrats for your LOTD!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I'd love to try candle.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @TxCowboyDancer: Thanks... in the SCA we reenact everything :D I research sports and games quite a bit too :D

    • lgOlson profile image

      L. Olson 4 years ago from Northern Arizona

      I have been reading a lot of books from that era, and it's very cool that you have done this research into how to prepare some of their fare!

    • TxCowboyDancer profile image

      Tony New 4 years ago from Dallas, TX

      P.S. Uhmmm... No, I don't cook at all, I just "warm up" They did have microwaves back then right? for the single medieval guy? ;-)

    • TxCowboyDancer profile image

      Tony New 4 years ago from Dallas, TX

      Interesting lens. I had no idea that there were folks out there who do this sort of thing with food. I'm familiar with SCA of course but had no idea it included reenacting the food as well. :-)

      Congrats on the Purple star.

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      I cook but never medieval food. Thanks for sharing.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Not yet but I want to try.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @Splodgered: loving mead counts for everything.... its the bestest LOL

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      I haven't tried to cook it, but I've enjoyed eating it.

    • Splodgered profile image

      Splodgered 4 years ago

      I love mead - does that count?

    • Valerie Bloom profile image

      Valerie Bloom 4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA


    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Never tried, but I like to try new things in the kitchen.

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @mcspocky lm: It is fun to try. Its interesting what flavours they used, different than the norm we generally use, but still pleasant

    • mcspocky lm profile image

      mcspocky lm 4 years ago

      I've never tried cooking any medieval food, but it would be fun to try...

    • Shanna Redwind profile image

      Shanna Redwind 4 years ago

      I've never tried cooking medieval food, but I'm always interested in trying something new. Thanks for the yummy looking lens.