December 2, 2007

The History of Syllabub, and a Tudor Recipe

Cookies, hot toddies, syllabub -- these are our favorite things, for our December recipe call, anyway.

What is a syllabub? A syllabub is something Papaw asks for sometimes when he wants a cocktail. Growing up, I always thought it was a funny word my Papaw made up! Now that he’s nearing 100, and I 50, and my aural travels have brought me far enough afield to hear the word spoken outside of my grandparents’ house I find that a syllabub is a real thing, a dessert, a drink, a frothy liquor confection apparently greatly loved by the Tudors and Stewarts and perhaps by those dwelling even farther back in time than they. (And yes, those who know me can wink at the odd little Tudor connection there). So, this Christmas I vow to make my Papaw a real, true syllabub. Will he like it? I’ll let you know. But I’d love to collect some syllabub recipes here, and hear from you about your experiences making or imbibing it. And I’d love to know if anyone else’s grandpa ever referred to his cocktails this way. Also, just pure curiosity, is the plural of syllabub, syllabi?

-- Margaret

This recipe and commentary are from Food Heritage dot com:


Syllabub was a popular dessert in seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century England. It was popular for celebrations, special occasions and holidays due to its festive appearance. Many original recipes survive with various modes of preparation. Generally Syllabub was made with a mixture of whipped cream, whipped egg whites, white wine, sugar, lemon juice and zest of lemon. The quantity of white wine added would determine the consistency qualifying whether the mixture would be a creamy dessert or a popular punch. White wine could be substituted with apple cider or other alcoholic beverages. One could always detect the drinker of the beverage by the thick white mustache left behind. The following modern adaptation will make a Syllabub Dessert Parfait for 10 people. For a punch add more wine until you have achieved the desired consistency.

2 cups of whipped cream
½ cup of white sugar
1/8 cup of white wine
1/8 cup of freshly-squeezed lemon juice and zest of lemon
grated nutmeg
sprig of mint
lemon slice

Whip cream until thick in a chilled bowl. When the cream begins to thicken, add the sugar, white wine, lemon juice and zest of lemon. Continue to whip until thick. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Spoon the mixture into footed parfait glasses and garnish with a sprig of mint, a slice of lemon and a sprinkle of grated nutmeg.

10 servings

1 comment:

Lisa Abel said...

This sounds very festive and delish! Lemons at the Yuletide are a wonderful tradition, since before our generation, citrus was only available in the winter when they were harvested.

Thank you for posting the Syllabub recipe. I always wondered if it was, indeed, a real word.