If some of you cringe at your upcoming Birthday, look at it this way, Emperor Hadrian is 1940 years young. Here is an ancient Birthday cake recipe easy to make today, giving you again a flavour of what life was like back then. As for the wine unfortunately not available outside Italy, though in Italy it is still made in the antique method BUT must be cut be adding water to your wine, it is undrinkable otherwise. Back then wine was kept in clay amphoras and took on the earthy flavour of the clay, good but potent.

FOLLOWING HADRIAN

Happy 1940th birthday Hadrian! © Carole Raddato Happy 1940th birthday, Hadrian!
© Carole Raddato

For this year’s birthday cake I chose to cook Cato’s recipe for savillum (a kind of cheese cake/bread).

Savillum recipe in Latin (from LacusCurtius):

Cato’s De Agricultura 84: Savillum hoc modo facito. Farinae selibram, casei P. II S una conmisceto quasi libum, mellis P. [a column of three horizontal lines, the middle one of which is shifted to the right. It is an ancient Roman symbol used to represent '¼'.] et ovum unum. Catinum fictile oleo unguito. Ubi omnia bene conmiscueris, in catinum indito, catinum testo operito. Videto ut bene percocas medium, ubi altissimum est. Ubi coctum erit, catinum eximito, melle unguito, papaver infriato, sub testum subde paulisper, postea eximito. Ita pone cum catillo et lingula.

Translation:

Take ½ pound of flour, 2½ pounds of cheese, and mix together as for the libum; add ¼ pound of honey and 1 egg. Grease an earthenware dish with oil. When you have mixed thoroughly, pour into a dish and cover with a crock. See that you bake the centre thoroughly, for it is deepest…

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