Friday, July 9, 2010

Ancient Roman Honey Cookies with Sesame Seeds

So what did the Romans eat, so many years ago? This probably isn’t something that you think about too often! History books don’t always talk about the everyday lives of the people, which is too bad because we could probably learn a lot. I just finished reading The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer. It’s written as though you were going to travel to 14th century England and it was absolutely fascinating. What would you expect to eat? What would you expect to see people wearing? If you’re into history at all, I recommend picking it up.

The book taught me a lot of things about not making assumptions. In 14th century England, fashion changed dramatically, mainly due to the invention of buttons. I would never have known that, making the assumption that people just wore what was available, that clothes weren’t a priority. I was very wrong. Having just read the book, I was interested in this cookie when my husband set me the recipe.

It’s a replica of cookies that the ancient Romans would have made. I didn’t know that Romans ate cookies, but they were a robust society and it makes sense that they would have sweets, too. There’s probably no way of knowing how authentic these are, but it’s nice to think about eating something that others may have made years ago. They are sweet and you can really taste the honey. They are kind of a cross between a cookie and pastry, and have a good texture. I had them with my morning coffee and they were a nice accompaniment.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine butter, honey and eggs and mix until well combined. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Cover and chill the dough about 1 hour or until firm.

Form chilled dough into 1-inch balls and place balls on prepared baking sheets. Flatten each ball slightly. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

While warm, remove cookies from baking sheets and brush with melted butter and then roll in sesame seeds. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe from


Liz at EatingPlaces said...

Glad you liked the recipe!


Anonymous said...

how many cookies does this make?

SukiLiske said...

I tried this, and I love this recipe! It is so simple and delicious. The flavor is like a lightly sweetened pastry. With the taste of honey. Such a nice treat with coffee or pudding, plus it is really low in the sugar content.

Tmar said...

Baking soda wasn't invented until the 1800s, and butter wasn't exactly a main staple in Roman diets unless you're specifically talking about their northern territories outside of Italy. This is actually a recipe that was circulated widely among Christian groups in the 90s/2000s as an ancient form of bread -- though this is also not true. It was often used in bible lessons for children when discussing Israel and how people lived at the time; it's likely the recipe is the way it is because it uses ingredients the average household has around and the result is suitable for a child's palette. The recipe varied from person to person, but the result is always a somewhat dry, somewhat sweet "bread/cookie." The Romans did not eat these cookies, but they did enjoy honey-glazed treats like Globi or "placenta" (a very early form of cheesecake).