This recipe caught my eye when I was researching ciambelle. It is in Bartolomeo Scappi’s The Opera in Book VI which was written for the sick or invalid. I don’t pretend to know the in’s and out’s of humoral theory but apparently sugar was good for the sick.
When I realised what this recipe really was, I knew that I had to try it. It is from The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi 1571 and can be found in Book VI Recipe 139
“Per fare zuccarini a foggia di ciambelle
Piglisi zuccaro fino falto in polvere, & habbianosi chiare d’uove fresche battute, mettanosi in un catinello, & pongasi in esse chiare tanto zuccaro quanto ne possono portare, cioe che vengano in pasta soda, & d’essa pasta se ne faranno ciambelle, l’equali si pongano in una tortiera a cuocere che sia spoluerizzata di farina, o onta di cera bianca, faccianosi cuocere con poco foco sotto, & al quanto piu di sopra, vogliono poca cuocitura,
percioche per vigor delle chiare d’uova sgonsiano, & rimangono leggiere; con esse si puo mettere un poco di acqua di rosi, o muschio a beneplacito.” (1)
My Translation using John Florio’s Dictionary (2)
“For making zuccarini in the fashion of ciambelle
Take fine sugar reduced to a powder, & have fresh beaten egg whites, put them in a (shallow pan), & put with the egg whites as much sugar as they are able to bear, that is that it comes to a stiff dough, & with this dough make ciambelle, the same amounts are put in a torte pan and cook that it be dusted with flour, or else with wax white, make it cook with a small fire below, & and some measure of it above, they will require a little baking because by reason of the liveliness of the egg whites to swell & lift up light; with these things you may put a little rosewater, or else musk and good will and pleasure.”
My Redaction Printable Version
- 2 egg whites
- Castor Sugar equal to double the weight of the egg whites
- 1 tsp. Rosewater
First, here in America we do not have castor sugar. Castor sugar is a finer grind than granulated sugar but not as fine as confectioner’s sugar. You can use store bought confectioner’s sugar but it does have cornstarch. This is fine to use as it will not hurt your meringues in anyway but I was trying to recreate Scappi’s meringue so I chose to gring the sugar in a mortar until it was as fine as I wanted. Feel free to use a spice/coffee grinder for a faster method.
Scappi would have used ounces and the 12oz. pound but I actually used grams because they are more accurate.
After you have ground the sugar a little finer, crack your eggs whites into a bowl on a scale. Remember this amount. Put the egg whites into your mixing bowl and add double the amount of sugar. For example: my egg whites weighed 112 grams so I will need 224 grams of sugar.
Start beating the egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage. Start adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time and allow it to become mixed in before adding more. Keep doing this until all the sugar has been added. Add in the rosewater and continue whipping until they become glossy and form stiff peaks.
Scappi used a syringe for making fanciful shapes with batter into hot oil and for butter. I experimented with using a spoon, shaping them by hand but using a cake decorating bag and tip was by far the easiert to use with the best results. I think it is entirely plausible that Scappi would have used this syringe to shape his zuccarini into ciambelle.
Preheat the oven to 275º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form your zuccarini. I made mine about 2-3 inches in diameter. Bake them for 10-15 minutes until the surface is set. Cover them with a second piece of parchment paper and bake for another 20 minutes. If they release from the paper quickly and easily they are done. If they stick give them another 5 minutes or so.
1) Scappi, Bartolomeo. The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi: L’Arte et Prudeza D’un Maestro Cuoco (The Art and Craft of a Master Cook) (1570). Translated with commentary by Terrence Scully. Toronto Canada. University of Toronto Press Inc. 2008. Print.
2) Florio, John. Queen Anna’s New World of Words or Dictionarie of the Italian and English Tongues. 1611 http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/florio/
3) https://archive.org/details/operavenetiascap00scap/page/n155. Retrieved August 3, 2019. Plate 13