In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates buttered beere – a sweet, slightly alcoholic drink that warmed the cockles in Tudor times.
This is an authentic Tudor recipe from 1588, taken from The Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin. It’s similar to a caudle, a drink of warm wine or ale with sugar, eggs and spices, renowned for its medicinal properties and popular at the same period.
I love mulled wines and ciders, so the idea of this drink really appealed to me. The smells wafting through my kitchen while I was making it were delicious, though the drink itself was a bit, well, ‘robust’ – great when you’ve just come inside on a cold winter’s day, but for ordinary drinking a bit too heavy for me. My partner loved it, though – he drank the lot!
1,500ml (3 bottles) of good-quality ale
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
200g demerara or other natural brown sugar
5 egg yolks
100g unsalted butter, chopped into small lumps
Pour the ale gently into a large saucepan and stir in the ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Bring slowly to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until the ale clears.
While the ale is simmering, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is light and creamy. Remove the spiced ale from the hob, add the egg yolk and sugar mixture, and stir until all ingredients are well blended.
Return to a low heat until the liquid starts to thicken, taking care not to overheat.
Simmer for five minutes, add the chopped butter and heat until it has melted. Hand-whisk the liquid until it becomes frothy.
Continue to heat for 10 minutes, then allow to cool to a drinkable temperature. Give the mixture another whisk, serve into a jug or small glasses (or tankards!) and drink while still warm.