A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents

Capons in dorre

PERIOD: England, late 15th c. | SOURCE: MS Pepys 1047 | CLASS: Authentic

DESCRIPTION: A dish of toasted bread in a sweet golden almond milk.

Facsimile of receipt from the original manuscript:

Transcription of original receipt:

Capons in dorre (3.1)

Blanched almoundes grynd hem temper them vp with fare water un to A goode mylke And draw hit through A streynenor in to A pott do ther to saferon for yf thow wylt thow may cullor hit A litill ther with And put ther to sugure and salte and set hit on the fyre stere hit well and when hit is at the boylyng do ther to A litell goode wyne take hit fro the fyre And stere hit well And then take white brede and cut hit manor of brewes (3.2) thyn tost them A litell on A rost yrne that thei be sumdele (3.3) brown And then dyppe hem A litell in wyne And tost hem better and do a litell mylke in dysches and coche (3.4) .iij. or .iiij. tostes in A dysche And powre more mylke A pon And serue hit forth. probatu est.

Modern translations:

(1) Capons in dorry (3.1)

Blanched almonds grind them temper them up with fair water unto a good milk And draw it through a strainer into a pot do there to saffron for if thou wilt thou may color it a little there with and put there to sugar and salt and set it on the fyre. stir it well and when it is at the boiling do there to a little good wine take it from the fire and stir it well and then take white bread and cut it manner of brews (3.2) thin toast them a little on a roast iron that they be somewhat (3.3) brown and then dip them a little in wine and toast them better and do a little milk in dishes and couch (3.4) 3 or 4 toasts in a dish and pour more milk upon and serve forth. Probotum est.

(2) Capons in golden almond milk (3.1).

Take blanched almonds and grind them; mix them with water and make a good almond milk. Strain it, place in a pot, and color with saffron. Add sugar and salt and place on the fire (put on the stove). Stir it well and bring to a boil; add a little wine and remove from heat. Take white bread, slice it in small thin pieces (3.2), then toast it on a grill until somewhat (3.3) brown. Dip the bread pieces in wine and grill again. Pour a little of the almond milk in serving plates or dishes, lay (3.4) 3-4 pieces of the grilled toast on top, then cover with additional milk. Serve.

(3.1) dorre - a dorre, or dorry, was almond milk colored yellow, sometimes with a coloring agent but often with just the burnt crumbs of the brewes; the word is a derivative of endored. See Hieatt, Curye on Inglisch, p. 215

(3.2) brewes - small, thin pieces of bread, usually toasted dark brown, and placed in the bottom of a dish and covered with other foods or sauces. Brewes are one of the main ingredients in the many "soppes dorre" recipes found in period manuscripts. Compare the line mentioning brewes in the Pepys receipt with these from the Harleian Manuscripts:

Harleian MS 279, .xxvij. Soupes dorye - "an þan take Paynemayn, an kytte it an toste it, an wete it in wyne, an ley it on a dysshe..."

Harleian MS 279, .xxviij. Soupes Jamberlayne - "an þen take Paynemaynne an kyt it in maner of brewes, an toste it, an wete it in þe same lycowre, an ley it on a dysshe..."

Harleian MS 4016, Soppes Dorre - "And then take a paynmain, And kut him and tost him, And wete him in wyne, And ley hem in a dissh..."

Harleian MS 4016, Soppes pour Chamberleyne - "And then take paynmain, And kutte hit in a maner of Browes, And tost hit, And ley hit in a dissh..."

(3.3) sumdele - somewhat. See Austin, p. 147.

(3.4) coche - couch; lay. See definition of Cowche in Austin, p. 126.

Hodgett (Stere Htt Well), calling this recipe Capons in Sauce, has seemingly misread the third word in the title of the MS receipt as Sorce or Sowce; it is actually dorre.

Similar recipes for toasted bread in almond milk are found in Harleian MS. 279, .xxvij. Soupes dorye (Austin, p. 11) and Harleian 4016, Soppes Dorre (Austin, p. 90). Since no capons appear in this recipe (see note, below) and nearly identical recipes for this type of dish are called dorre in other 15th century manuscripts, it can be safely deduced that Capons in dorre is actually another version of the two meatless Soppes Dorre recipes of the Harleian manuscripts:

.xxvij. Soupes dorye - Take gode almaunde mylke y-draw wyth wyn, an let hem boyle to-gederys, an caste þer-to Safroun an Salt; an þan take Paynemayn, an kytte it an toste it, an wete it in wyne, an ley it on a dysshe, an caste þe syrip þer-on. And þan make a dragge of powder Gyngere, Sugre, canel, Clowes, Maces, an caste þer-on When it is y-dressid, an serue þanne forth for a potage gode. (Austin, 11)

Soppes Dorre. ¶ Take rawe Almondes, And grynde hem in A morter, And temper hem with wyn and drawe hem thorgh a streynour; And lete hem boyle, And cast there-to Saffron, Sugur, and salt; And then take a paynmain, And kut him and tost him, And wete him in wyne, And ley hem in a dissh, and caste the siryppe thereon, and make a dregge of pouder ginger, sugur, Canell, Clowes, and maces, And cast thereon; And whan hit is I-Dressed, serue it forth fore a good potage. (Austin, 90)

Despite the receipt's name, Capons in dorre, there is actually no mention of capon in the directions. This is conceivably a scribal error of two different possibilities. The more probable explanation is that Capons was accidentally re-copied from the title of the previous recipe, Capons stewed; Soppes or Sops may have been the intended word the scribe missed (see note on similar dorre recipes, above) and this dish is merely a simple meatless pottage of sliced or diced toast (brews) in almond milk, just like the Soppes Dorre recipes found in the Harleian MS.

A less certain occurrence is that the instructions for including the capon were mistakenly left out; in this case, the cooked capons would have been placed on top of the toast in the dishes, and then covered with the dorre. A recipe from Harleian MS 279, .Cxliiij. Schyconys with þe bruesse (Austin, p. 32), is done in such a manner, with chicken served on bread that has been made into thin brewes. However, leaving out any mention of a necessary ingredient seems less probable than the more likely explanation that the scribe's mistake here is in the receipt's title and not in the directions.

Hodgett makes no clarification of this discrepancy between title and recipe in Stere Htt Well.

Modern version:

  • Almond milk
  • Saffron
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Wine
  • Brewes - white bread cut in thin small pieces or strips and toasted or grilled dark brown
Make the almond milk according to the instructions HERE. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat. Color gold with the saffron and season to taste with the sugar, salt, & wine. Dip the brewes in a little of the wine, then toast them a few additional minutes on a hot grill. Places a little of the dorre in serving dishes, place 3-4 brewes in each dish, then cover with more of the dorre. Serve.

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