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Historical recipe: Buttered beere

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

Published: October 29, 2021 at 4:26 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
  • Difficulty 3/10
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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!

Ingredients

  • 1 ½l Good quality ale
  • 200g Demerara sugar, or other natural brown sugar
  • 100g Unsalted butter, chopped into small lumps
  • 5 Egg yolks
  • ½tsp Ground cloves
  • ½tsp Ground nutmeg
  • ¼tsp Ground ginger

Method

  • STEP 1

    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.

  • STEP 2

    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.

  • STEP 3

    Return to a low heat until the liquid starts to thicken, taking care not to overheat.

  • STEP 4

    Simmer for five minutes, then add the chopped butter and heat until it has melted. Hand-whisk the liquid until it becomes frothy.

  • STEP 5

    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.

Recipe from recipewise.co.uk

This article was first published in the May 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine

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