Spanish Paps

These three dessert recipes are taken from antiquarian cookery books. Recreate them in your own kitchen and learn about the how the Elizabethans cooked.

Spanish Pap is a creamy dessert, rather like a blancmange, but enriched with egg yolks and flavoured with sugar and rosewater. For a banquet they were made in moulds and then, when set , would be turned upside down on the dish, with a cherry placed on the top. This made them look rather like small breasts.

The name is in fact a pun on the word pap, which could mean either Pope (as in the leader of the Catholic church) or pap, which also meant breast. This touch of humour reflects the fact that the Catholic church was outlawed in England and Wales, following Henry VIII’s Reformation of the church.

The Accomplished Cook - Robert May, 1685

"Take milk and flour, strain them, and set it over the fire till it boil, being boil’d, take it off and let it cool; then take the yolks of eggs, strain them, and put it in the milk with some salt, set it again on the embers, and stir it till it be thick, and stew leisurely, then put it in a clean scowred dish, and serve it for pottage, or in paste, add to it sugar and rose-water."
Hannah Woolley's Recipe

The Queen-like Closet or Rich Cabinet - Hannah Woolley, 1670

"Boil a quart of Cream with a little whole Spice, when it is well boiled, take out the Spice, and thicken it with Rice Flower, and when it is well boiled, put in the yolks of Eggs, and Sugar and Rosewater, with a very little Salt, so serve it to the Table either hot or cold, with fine Sugar strewed on the brims of the Dish"
Lady Leicester's Recipe

Lady Leicester’s Spanish Pap

From The Compleat Confectioneris - Hannah Glasse, 1760.

"Take a quart of cream, coil it with mace, then take half a pound of rice, sifted and beat as fine as flour, boil it with the cream to the thickness of a jelly, sweeten it with sugar, and turn it into a shallow dish; when cold you may slice it and eat it like flummery, with cold cream."

Classic Home Desserts: A Treasury of Heirloom and Contemporary Recipes, By Richard Sax, Published 1999 by Houghton Mifflin Cookbooks, ISBN:0618003916

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