The mostacciolo that Scappi uses here is a kind of biscotti that uses eggs as a leaven. Although it is very good eaten by itself, Scappi uses it mostly to flavor his other dishes. He lists this recipe as a food for the sick (1)
When redacting historical recipes it is important to note that the pound is not a uniform measurement. In Scappi’s Italy the pound, or libre, was 12 oz and not the imperial or modern pound of 16 oz. In latin, the word “libre” means pound and it is the source of our modern abbreviation of lb. The ounce in Scappi’s world is the same as the ounce today and is the approximate weight of twenty mustard seeds. This measurement has not changed in hundreds of years. Further reading is at A Brief History of Measuring (2) and “How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement” (3)
NOTE: Scappi was feeding ALOT of people! His recipes make huge amounts. I would reccommend halving the original amounts. All of my redactions are at least half unless otherwise noted.
Book VI Recipe 142 (4)
“Perfare morseletti, cioè mostaccioli alla Milanese
Piglisi quindici uoue fresche, e battanosi in una cazzuola, e passino per lo setaccio con due libre e mezza di zuccaro fino fatto in polvere, e mezza oncia di anici crudi, ovvero pitartamo pesto, et un grano o due di muschio fine, e mettanosi con esse libre due e mezza di farina e fattasi ogni cosa per tre quarti d’hora, di modoche venga la pasta come quella delle frittelle, e lascisi riposare per un quarto d’hora, e ribattisi un ‘altra volta, poi si abbiamo apparescchiati fogli di carta fatti a lucerne onti, ouero tortiere alte di sponde con cialde satto senza essere bagnate di cosa alche la grossezza d’un dito, e subito si spolverizzino di zuccaro, e pongano si nel forno che sia caldo, ouero quelle delle tortiere cuocanosi come le torte, e come tal pasta sarà sgonfiata, e hauera in tutto perso l’humidita, e sarà al quanto sodetta, cio sia come una focaccia tenero, cauisi della tortiera o lucerna, e subito si taglino con un coltello largo e sottile, a fette larghe due dita, e lunghe a beneplacito, e rimetta nosi nel forno con fogli di carta sotto a biscottarsi, rivoltandoli spesso, pero il forme non sia tutto caldo come di sopra, e come saranno bene asciutte, cavinosi, e con ferui nosi perché sono sempre migliore il secondo giorno che il primo, e durano un mese nella lar perfettione.”
“To Prepare Dainty Morsels – that is Milanese Style Mosticcioli
Get 15 fresh eggs, beat them in a casserole pot and strain them with two and a half pounds of powdered sugar, half an ounce of raw aniseed or else ground coriander, and a grain or two of fine musk; with that put two and a half pounds of flour. Beat everything for three quarters of an hour so that the dough becomes like fritter batter. Let it sit for a quarter of an hour, then beat it again. Then have greased sheets of paper ready, made like lamps, or else high sided torte pans with, on the bottom, wafers that have not been moistened with anything; then put the batter into the lamps or tourte pans, filling them to no more than the thickness of a finger. Sprinkle them immediately with sugar and put them into a hot oven or, in the case of the ones in the tourte pans, bake them like tourtes. When that batter has risen and thoroughly dried out and is rather firm, that is, it should be soft like focaccia – take it out of the tourte pan or lamp. Right away with a broad, sharp knife cut them up into slices two fingers wide and as long as you like, and put them back into the oven on sheets of paper to bake again like biscuits, turning them often. The oven should not be as hot as before, though. When they have thoroughly dried out, take them out and set them aside because they are always better the second day than the first. They will last a month in their best state.”
- 7 Eggs, beaten
- 15 oz. Powdered Sugar
- 1/4 oz. of ground Coriander
- 15 oz. Flour
First, let me say that we did not include the musk. It undoubtedly changes the flavor profile but it is difficult to get and it just makes me cringe. (For those that do not know, musk is the dried anal glands of a red deer. So, um, yeah, no musk.)
Mix everything together for 45 minutes, a stand mixer works ideally since you can go do something else while it mixes. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes and then mix for another 45 minutes.
The egg is the only leaven so it is extremely important to incorporate as much air as possible to ensure as much rise as possible. The trapped air from whipping the eggs expands from the heat as you bake the mosticcioli. As the eggs cook the air bubbles become set giving the mosticcioli the light and airy texture that a modern biscotti has.
Line a 1/4 sheet pan with parchment paper and pour the batter into the pan. Cook it at 350 for 25 minutes until bread-like and just starting to color.
When done, remove from the oven and as soon as you are able to handle it, cut it into one inch slices. Arrange the strips on a parchment lined 1/2 sheet pan, cut side up, and put them back into a 225. Turn them over every 15-20 minutes until completely dried, an hour – an hour and a half.
1)Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi, The. (1570). Trans. by Terrence Scully. Toronto, Canada. Univrsity of Toronto Press. 2008. Print
2) Lambert, Timothy. “A Brief History of Measuring”. Retrieved December 3, 2018. http://www.localhistories.org/measurement.html
3)Rowlett, Russ. “How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement” Copyright Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved November 27, 2018. http://www.ibiblio.org/units. Internet