Total War Bake Off: Libum
Total War Bake Off is a new series in which we’ll be making both historical and fantasy recipes inspired by the settings of Total War games – and then forcing our unwitting coworkers to try them.
This week, we’re making libum.
Ancient Roman recipe
Libum is a cheesecake of sorts (more of a “cheese cake” than a “cheesecake”) traditionally used as a votive offering to the household gods, and is also associated with the festival of Saturnalia. Cato included this recipe in his book On Agriculture (De Agri Cultura) – his recipe is as follows:
How to make libum. Crush two pounds of cheese in a mortar. When it is thoroughly ground, add a pound of wheat flour or, if you want a lighter cake, just half a pound of fine flour and mix well with the cheese. Add an egg and mix together well. Make it into a loaf, put it on a bed of leaves and bake slowly in a warm hearth under a clay pot.
However, we gave our bakers some slightly more modern versions to choose from.
When briefing our bakers, we provided them with a number of recipes to use as a starting point. One of these was by Susanna Duffy:
- 1/2 cup plain all-purpose flour
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- bay leaves
- 1/2 cup clear honey
- Sift the flour in a mixing bowl.
- Beat the cheese until soft, stir into the flour.
- Add the beaten egg to the flour/cheese mixture, forming a soft dough.
- Divide the dough into four and shape each piece into a bun.
- Place on a greased baking tray with a fresh bay leaf underneath.
- Heat the oven to 375F/190C. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
- Warm the honey, pour into a flat plate, and place the buns on it to rest until the honey is absorbed.
We also referred to:
Most bakers made some adjustments to the recipes they used (and more than one batch), so some experimentation may be necessary!
Step by step
We got Grace and Wheels to be our Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood for this Total War Bake Off – but who would take the title of emperor (or empress)?
Congratulations to our winner, and tune in next time for another Total War Bake Off!