Book Review of To Defy a King and Recipe for Cryspes!

I would again like to extend my thanks to Elizabeth Chadwick for taking the time to write that delightful guest post on the eating habits of medieval people. If you missed it, please be sure to go back and read it - you won’t be disappointed! I mentioned in it that I would be providing a recipe from her today for Cryspes. I had hoped to try them myself before I posted this but I just didn’t get to them…I promise that I will and will demonstrate them on the blog.

Here is a recipe for ‘Cryspes’ taken from Cooking and Dining in Medieval England by Peter Brears.
Half a pint of milk
1 teaspoon of dried yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
Half a teaspoon of salt
2 egg whites beaten
4 ounces of plain flour (I don’t know what this would be in the USA – ordinary flour that you’d make pastry with and not containing any raising agents).
Lard for frying (or I guess you could use vegetable oil if you didn’t fancy lard).
Beat the yeast, sugar, salt and egg whites into the milk.
Scoop a hollow into the flour and pour in this mixture and beat to form a smooth batter.  Leave in a warm place for around an hour.
Test the batter by dipping your finger in it and lifting it out.  The batter should run off in a thin stream.  If it forms droplets, beat in a little more flour and check again.
Heat the lard until it’s of frying temperature.
The author comments that originally the batter was run from the fingertips into the frying pan but these days it’s safer to use a piping bag with a very small nozzle and move it continuously to form long strands of fritter.
As the batter cooks and rises to the surface, use a skimmer to remove the fritters onto a dish.  Sprinkle with sugar – and cinnamon if you fancy, and enjoy!
Books about medieval cooking and their relationship with food that readers might find interesting include:
Cooking & Dining in Medieval England by Peter Brears (contains quite a few recipes including the Cryspes one.
Food in Medieval England: Diet and Nutrition edited by C.M. Woolgar, D. Serjeantson and T.Waldron
Food and Eating in Medieval Europe Edited by Martha Carlin and Joel T. Rosenthal.

They rather look like funnel cakes to me which means it will be hard to get photos before I eat them all. heh

Now on to my review of To Defy a King!

Click to purchase at Sourcebooks

About the Book:  

The adored and spirited daughter of England’s greatest knight, Mahelt Marshal lives a privileged life. But when her beloved father falls foul of the volatile and dangerous King John, her world is shattered. The king takes her brothers hostage and Mahelt’s planned marriage to Hugh Bigod, son of the Earl of Norfolk, takes place sooner than she expected. Mahelt and Hugh come to care for each other deeply, but Hugh’s strict father clashes with the rebellious Mahelt. When more harsh demands from King John threaten to tear the couple’s lives apart, Mahelt finds herself facing her worst fears alone, not knowing if she—or her marriage—will survive.
A brilliant story of a vibrant woman in a tyrant’s world, To Defy a King is another impeccably researched masterpiece from a beloved author.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Chadwick (UK) is the author of 17 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, Lords of the White Castle, Shadows and Strongholds, the Winter Mantle, and The Falcons of Montabard, four of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards.
My Opinion:
This is my second book by Ms. Chadwick and it won’t be my last. This tale of Mahelt Bigod takes you through the life of a woman who left little to history but who was the joint between two of the most powerful families of her time. By taking bits and pieces left in documents Ms. Chadwick has managed to create a story that brings Mahelt to life in a bold and vibrant way. She was not just a girl who followed her father’s orders to marry then submitted to her husband – her strong personality comes through and is believable due to the writing.
Ms. Chadwick has a way of telling her stories that pulls me from my current surroundings and submerges me in the place of her tale. Her eye for detail AND storytelling is so good that you forget where and almost who you are and just join the characters in the book. It is almost disconcerting to put the book down and rejoin the real world. I am never bored when I am reading one of her books. I have one more on my shelf and one on my Nook and I just keep looking for the time to get to them!
If you are looking for a fantastic tale of a bold and intelligent woman from the medieval age grab up To Defy a King. But you might want to start at the beginning of the tale with The Greatest Knight which tells the tale of Mahelt’s father, William Marshal. 
To Defy a King is available at Sourcebooks.
To Defy a King is available  at Amazon.com
The Greatest Knight is available at Sourcebooks 
The Greatest Knight is available at Amazon.com

Disclosure:  I received a copy of To Defy a King gratis. Any opinions expressed are my honest opinions and were not impacted by my receipt of the free book. I received no monetary compensation for this post.

One thought on “Book Review of To Defy a King and Recipe for Cryspes!

  1. Dina

    Ooooh, a new recipe – a medieval one at that! I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Hmmm, I wonder if palm shortening would do?


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