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Page history last edited by Chuck Ehlschlaeger 13 years, 9 months ago

Kaliis recipe from `Libellus De Arte Coquinaria,' with analysis for a 10-11th Century Anglo-Saxon dish

written by Lord Albert the Artesian, known as Aleator

From the book:

Take fresh milk and add to it finely diced crusts of wheat bread; simmer it in a pan, and add well-beaten egg yolks to it. `Libellus...' also has four paragraphs discussing derivative recipes in later cookbooks.

My interpretation:

`Libellus...' describes kaliis as bread pudding. My plan was to have it as a breakfast food, which I've nicknamed `scrambled french toast'. Dianne and I bake whole wheat bread (in a bread machine). This bread has a thick crust, which the kids hate. Dianne usually ends up cutting the crusts off the bread before making sandwiches for the kids. When I started my resolution to eat like a 10th Century Anglo-Saxon living near York, Dianne started saving the bread crusts for this recipe. Here it is:

Modern recipe ingredients:

  • 1 Cup bread crusts in small cubes (crusts from three slices)
  • One beaten egg yolk
  • About 1/4 Cup milk
  • (Optional) Mix in raisins, small chunks of chicken or fish, and/or figs if rich or gifted by a rich liege lord.
  • (Optional) Spices to choose from: sugar and saffron were specifically mentioned in `Libellus...'. Ann Hagen wrote that pepper and honey would be used in dishes similar to this. Rich nobles or lords and serfs gifted by a rich liege would have access to these spices that would go well with this dish: anisecinnamon, ground clovescoriandercardamom,  and ginger. (Hagen specifically points out that serfs working for lords would be more likely have spiced dishes that members of the middle class.) 

Modern recipe instructions:

  • Heat frying pan on a low-medium setting. 
  • Place all ingredients in bowl, bread crust cubes first.
  • Pour mix onto frying pan. Flip mixture when bottom browns.  Heat until egg/milk thickens.

Kaliis for a feast

If you were to serve kaliis for many people, here is an oven baked version of the dish:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease 8" cake pans.
  • Be generous with spices, fruit, chicken or meats as kaliis will otherwise be pretty bland. 
  • For each cake pan, mix together 3 Cups of bread crumbs, three beaten egg yolks and just enough milk to saturate bread. Spread mixture into cake pan and heat for 15 minutes.


  • The French version of this dish, Taillis from `The Viandier of Taillevent' ca 1300, includes figs and raisins, uses almond milk instead of animal milk & eggs, and uses `a sort of pastry' in addition to bread crusts. Since some very biased people believe that many French dishes have Anglo roots, I won't feel guilty using that dish on an abstinence day.
  • I'm planning on making kaliis for an SCA event. In order to serve 40 people, I'm thinking of baking them instead of frying them. In the first attempt, the following proportions were used to make enough kaliis for a single filled 8" cake pan (baked for 30 minutes: too long, try 20 minutes next time):
    • crusts from a half recipe of the Anglo-Saxon Rye Bread.
    • 1 C milk (I probably didn't put a full cup in and the kaliis was too dry)
    • 4 egg yolks and 2 egg whites
    • 1 Cup pork sausage (used breakfast sausage so some spices were already in meat)
    • 4 tsp of pepper (too much: try 1 tsp next time)
    • 4 tsp of cinnamon (too much: try 2 tsp next time) 


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