Picture of Hannah Woolley Recipe Book


Comfits Old Elizabethan
Dessert Recipe

  • Ingredients for Comfits - an Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipe
  • Cooking method for Comfits
  • Comfits  - Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipe

Picture of Hannah Woolley Recipe Book

Comfits Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipe

How to cover all kinds of Seeds, or little pieces of Spices, or Orange or Limon Pill, with Sugar for Comfits. First of all you mast have a deep bottomed Basin of Brass or Latin, with two ears of Iron to hang it with two Cords over some hot Coals. You must also have a broad Pan to put Ashes in, and hot Coals upon them. You must have a Brass Ladle to let run the Sugar upon the Seeds. You must have a Slice of Brass to scrape away the Sugar from the sides of the hanging Basin if need be. Having all these things in readiness, do as followeth; Take fine white Sugar beaten, and let your Seeds and Spice be dry, then dry them again in your hanging Basin: Take to every two pounds of Sugar one quarter of a pound of Spices or Seeds, or such like.


If it be Aniseeds, two pounds of Sugar to half a pound of Aniseeds, will be enough. Melt your Sugar in this manner, put in three Pounds of Sugar into the Basin, and one Pint of Water, stir it well till it be wet, then melt it very well and boil it very softly until it will stream from the Ladle like Turpentine, and not drop, then let it seeth no more, but keep it upon warm Embers, that it may run from the Ladle upon the seeds.

Move the Seeds in the hanging Basin so fast as you can or may, and with one hand, cast on half a Ladle full at a time of the hot Sugar, and rub the Seeds with your other hand a pretty while, for that will make them take the Sugar the better, and dry them well after every Coat. Do thus at every Coat, not only in moving the Basin, but also with stirring of the Comfits with the one hand, and drying the same: in every hour you may make three pounds of Comfits; as the Comfits do increase in bigness, so you may take more Sugar in your Ladle to cast on: But for plain Comfits, let your Sugar be of a light decoction last, and of a high decoction first, and not too hot.

For crisp and ragged Comfits make your decoction so high, as that it may run from the Ladle, and let it fall a foot high or more from the Ladle, and the hotter you cast on your sugar, the more ragged will your Comfits be; also the Comfits will not take so much of the sugar, as upon a light decoction, and they will keep their raggedness long; this high decoction must serve for eight or ten Coats, and put on at every time but one Ladle full. A quarter of a pound of Coriander seeds, and three pounds of sugar, will serve for very great Comfits. See that you keep your Sugar in the Basin always in good temper, that it burn not in Lumps, and if at any time it be too high boiled, put in a spoonful or two of water, and keep it warily with your Ladle, and let your fire be always very clear, when your Comfits be made, set them in Dishes upon Paper in the Sun or before the Fire, or in the Oven after Bread is drawn, for the space of one hour or two, and that will make them look very white.


Comfits Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipe
The above Old dessert recipe for Comfits is written in totally different way to today's recipe books.

  • There were no lists of ingredients - these were included as part of the text
  • Food and ingredient measurements were extremely basic - quantities were not often specified.
  • Temperature control was difficult and therefore not specified.
  • Cooking times were vague - and left to the cook to decide.
  • It was assumed that the reader would already have some knowledge of cooking

The History of the Recipe Book

  • Some of the language might be referred to as 'Olde English'
  • The art of cooking and the recipe was passed verbally from one generation to the next
  • The first printed book ever to be published in English was in 1474.
  • Most Elizabethan women were unable to read.
  • The idea of a Recipe Book was an entirely new concept
  • The first Recipe Books to be printed in England which included many old Elizabethan and Medieval recipes were called:

    • 1545 - 'A Propre new booke of Cokery'
    • 1588 - 'The Good Huswifes Handmaid for Cookerie in her kitchen'
    • 1596 - 'The Good Hyswife's Jewell'
    • 1610 'Mrs. Sarah Longe her Receipt Booke'


Comfits Old Elizabethan Recipe

The above Old recipe is taken from the book by Hannah Woolley (1622-1675) printed at the White Lion in Duck-Lane, near West-Smithfield, London in 1672 entitled:

The Queen-like Closet
Scored with all manner of
Preserving, Candying and Cookery


Picture of the Art of Cookery


Comfits Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipe

  • Ingredients for Comfits - an Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipe
  • Cooking method for Comfits
  • Free Comfits  - Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipe
  • Have fun reading this Comfits old dessert recipe
  • What food people ate during the Renaissance era
  • The cooking instructions used
  • The different types of food used in old dessert recipes


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Comfits Old Elizabethan Dessert Recipe


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