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Making a Renaissance Cake: Cogan's Ideas Applied

6hoh How to Make a Cake Recipe Mariabella Charles
A page from Mariabella Charles' recipe book, Cookery Recipes and Medical Cures, written c. 1678. The recipe, "How to Make a Cake" describes how to make a cake.

This exhibit features a video of the curators baking a cake and analyzing the ingredients using Thomas Cogan’s perspective as a Galenic Humorist. The recipe was located by using the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) digital collections and the Early Modern Recipe Online Collective, also known as EMROC. EMROC is a collection of institutions that have labored to transcribe recipes from the Early Modern period for scholarly use. Christine Curley, a student at UCLA transcribed “How to Make a Cake,” originally written c. 1678 by Mariabella Charles.

In order to utilize this recipe some adjustments were needed to adapt it to modern cooking equipment and ingredients. This includes: cutting all measurements down to one fourth of the original to fit to a 9 inch cake pan, adapting measurements from imperial cups to modern American cups, interpreting "partes" as cups in regard to the measurements for flour, adapting ale yeast- now known as “Brewer’s yeast” into regular baking yeast, substituting rosewater with vanilla extract due to expenses, substituting currants with raisins due to expenses, as well as substituting sack with white grape juice due to Utah State University being a dry campus- allowing for no alcohol on its premises- and in an effort to maintain a family-friendly content.

Utah State University student, Katie Farr, applies Galenic Medicianl advice from The Haven of Health, written by Thomas Cogan to the recipe "How to Make a Cake" from Mariabella Charles's Cookery Recipes and Medical Cures.



The results of the recipe were a cake that was overall a hot and dry food. Cogan would have likely allowed this more readily for an Englishman, as the English were naturally inclined to be cold and wet due to their location. Even so, Cogan would still have recommended that any portion of this cake be paired with a cold and wet food to maintain humoral balance. An example of one such food would be apples, as most fruits were considered wet and cold [1].

[1] Lloyd, "Dietary Advice and Fruit-Eating in Late Tudor and Early Stuart England," Journal o fthe History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, vol. 67 no. 4, (2012): 553, https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_the_history_of_medicine_and_allied_sciences/v067/67.4.lloyd.html (accessed November 7, 2017).