Leche Lumbarde (medieval sticky date pudding)

Leche lumbarde. Take Dates, and do awey the stones; and seth hem in swete wyne; and take hem vppe, and grinde hem in a morter, and drawe hem thorgh a streynour with a litull swete wyne and sugur; and caste hem in a potte, and lete boyle til it be stiff; and then take hem vppe, and ley hem vp apon a borde; and then take pouder ginger, Canell, and wyn, and melle al togidre in thi honde, and make it so stiff that hit woll be leched; And if hit be not stiff ynowe, take hard yolkes of eyren and creme thereon, or elles grated brede, and make it thik ynogh; take Clarey, and caste thereto in maner of sirippe, whan thou shall serue hit forthe. MS.Harl.4016.115

Take dates, and do away the stones, and set them in sweet wine, and take them up, and grinde them in a mortar, and draw them through a strainer with a little sweet wine and sugar; and cast them in a pot, and let it boil until it be stiff; and take them up,m and lay them upon a board; and then take powder ginger, cinnamon, and wine, and mix all together in your hand, and make it so stiff it will be sliced; and if it is not stiff enough, take hard yolks of eggs and crumble thereon, or else grated bread, and make it thick enough; take Clary Wine, and cast thereto in manner of syrup, and serve it forth.

Ingredients

The Leche

300g dates 2 tsp ginger
300 mL sherry 1 tsp cinnamon
650 g loaf bread 2 tbs sugar

The Syrup

100mL sherry 6 sage leaves

Method

  1. To make the leche: simmer the dates and sherry together until the dates are soft (around 15-20 minutes).
  2. Add the ginger, cinnamon and sugar to the dates and sherry, then blend until smooth. You can do this in a food mill (mouli) or a blender.
  3. Pulverise the bread to crumbs, then mix into the date paste until it is stiff and well combined. You may need to wait a few minutes to do this, as the date paste stays quite hot for a while.
  4. To make the syrup: simmer the sherry and sage together until the liquid is reduced by half
  5. Just before serving, slice the leche into serving pieces and then pour over the syrup.

Notes

  • “Leche” is derived from the Old French lesche, “slice.” A leche is basically any sliced food – in this case, slabs of a sweet cake, served with a sweet syrup. (Brears 2008, 293)
  • Clary wine is likely to be a sweet wine made from the flowers of clary sage. The syrup recipe I have used is suggested by Cindy Renfrow in her redaction of the same recipe (which differs from mine). (Renfrow 2003, 224-225)
  • The date paste can be made by passing it through a food mill, but in this case I would recommend using a blender.
  • You can use commercial breadcrumbs for this; however, these tend to be too dry and grainy, resulting in a less pleasing texture than making the breadcrumbs yourself.
  • I am starting to think that medieval “streynours” are not the same as modern strainers. Modern strainers are meant to separate solids from liquids; what is clearly meant here is to produce a puree. Anyone who’s tried this with a modern strainer knows this is really, really painful. I think the medieval strainer had holes more like a colander, through which solids would pass more easily when pressed; however most modern colanders don’t have enough holes to be effective. This is why I think a food mill would be more effective… but blenders are even better!

Bibliography

Brears, Peter. Cooking and Dining in Medieval England. Totnes: Prospect Books, 2008.
Renfrow, Cindy. Take a Thousand Eggs or More vol. 1, Unionville: Royal Fireworks Press, 2003.

Leche_Lumbarde

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