‘I was so blinded with sack posset I could not see my deliverers’ – Edward Ravenscroft

Ingredients for posset

Ingredients for posset

Serves 4 (in small cups), 2 (in mugs)


1 glass single cream

1 glass rosewater

1/2 glass ale

1/2 glass sherry

1/2 glass brandy

4 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

2 tbsp chopped angelica (fresh or candied)

4 egg yolks, beaten

(optional) 1 sponge finger per person

Posset boiling

Posset boiling


Boil all of the ingredients except the sponge fingers together for 2 minutes, whisking well with a fork, and pour into cups. Grate a sponge finger into your cup if you like.


The blue cup has grated biscuit in, the yellow one has none

Recipe mainly inspired by these (substituting angelica for musk / ambergris, sponge fingers for ‘naples biscuits’ and allspice because we couldn’t find any mace):

Anon, ‘A Book of Cookrye very necessary for all such as delight therin’

Take a posnet full of creame and séethe it and put Suger and Sinamon in it, then take halfe Ale and halfe Sacke and put Suger and Sinamon in it.

‘The Accomplisht Ladies Delight’ [1675, copied from the earlier works of Hannah Woolley]:

Set a Gallon of Milk on the Fire, with whole Cinamon and large Mace, when it boyls stir in a half, or whole pound of Naples-bisket grated very small, keeping it stirring till it boyls, then beat eight Eggs together, casting of the whites away; beat them well with a Ladle-ful of Milk, then take the Milk off the fire, and stir in the Eggs; then put it on again, but keep it stirring for fear of curdling; then make ready a pint of Sack, warming it upon the coals, with a little Rose-water, season your Milk with sugar, and pour it into the Sack in a large bason, and stir it a pace, then throw on a good deal of beaten Cinamon, and so serve it up.

William Rabisha, ‘The Whole Body of Cookery’ (1661), ‘To Make a Posset the Best Way’:

Set a gallon of milk on the fire, put therein a grain of Musk, whole Cinamon and large Mace; when it boyls, stir in half a pound of Naple-Bisket grated, keeping of it stirring while it boyls; then beat eight eggs together, casting four of the whites away; beat them well with a ladleful of milk or two amongst them; take off the fire the aforesaid milk, and stir in your eggs; put it on the fire again (but keep it stirring for fear it curdles) having almost a pinte of sack in your Bason (upon the coals, with a spoonful of Rose-water) your milk being seasoned with sugar, and taken off the fire· pour it into your said sack, stirring of it apace; while it is so pouring forth, take out your grain of Musk, so throw thereon beaten Cinamon, and send it up.

Kenelm Digby, ‘The Closet’ (1669):

Take a pottle of Cream, and boil in it a little whole Cinnamon, and three or four flakes of Mace. To this proportion of Cream put in eighteen yolks of eggs, and eight of the whites; a pint of Sack; beat your eggs very well, and then mingle them with your Sack. Put in three quarters of a pound of Sugar into the Wine and Eggs, with a Nutmeg grated, and a little beaten Cinnamon; set the Bason on the fire with the Wine and Eggs, and let it be hot. Then put in the Cream boiling from the fire, pour it on high, but stir it not; cover it with a dish, and when it is settlede, strew on the top a little fine Sugar mingled with three grains of Ambergreece, and one grain of Musk, and serve it up.

Next up: Tansy Cake


Apple Fritters

fritters, tansy, and posset

Makes around 24 smallish fritters – serves 4


1 large wineglass of warmed hoppy ale

1 and a half large wineglasses of flour

1 tsp yeast

2 egg whites

6 egg yolks

splash of cream

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

shot of brandy

pinch of salt

6 apples

To fry: vegetable oil

To sprinkle: sugar


Whisk all the ingredients except the apples together with a fork and leave in a warm place for 30-60 minutes. Slice the apples thin, coat them in batter, and fry them in boiling vegetable oil for 10-20 seconds on each side till they’re cooked but not too crispy (‘if your batter be too thin, it will drink suet; if it be in good temper it will swim’, advises Hannah Woolley). Sprinkle them with sugar and eat.

photo (3)

‘in good temper’ – a bit runnier than custard



photo (2) photo

Recipe created from the best bits of various sixteenth and seventeenth century recipes, but mainly:

Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kent (1653):

Make your batter with Ale, and Eggs, and Ye[a]st, season it with Milk, Cloves, Mace, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Salt, cut your Apples like Beanes, then put your Apples and Batter together, fry them in boyling Lard, strew on Sugar and serve them’

Hannah Woolley (1664):

‘Take the curd of a sack posset, the yolk of six eggs, the whites of two eggs, and a little fine flower, put in a little nutmeg and some ale, and a little salt, mingle them well together, then slice in some apples very thin, and so fry them in lard boiling hot; if your batter be too thin, it will drink suet’ if it be in good temper it will swim’

Next… posset, and tansy cake