Beautiful handwritten cookbook

hn2o's picture

I recently got into possession of an old handwritten cookbook, I think it belonged to a distant relative, but I'm not sure. I just think it's beautifully written, so I thought I'd share this with you...

– Hanno

typerror's picture

What a treasure!


Nick Cooke's picture

Wow, that's gorgeous, albeit nearly totally illegible!

I can make out Mandl Creme, but hardly anything else. Is it German?

[edit] Should have looked at your profile – of course it is.

Nick Cooke

Florian Hardwig's picture

Language-sensitive handwriting!
While ‘Mandl’ [almond] is a German word and thus is written in Kurrent, the French ‘Crême’ is rendered in Roundhand! Nice.

Totally illegible? No. Most Germans under the age of ~70–80 wouldn’t be able to decipher Kurrentschrift, though. Back in school, I had an art teacher who taught us how to read and write it – lucky me.

The recipe starts with: ‘Hierzu wird ein Vierling Mandeln gesotten, geschält u. dan(n) zusammengemengt’.
Vierling is an old South German weight unit which equals to 8 Loth or, nowadays, 140 grams.

Wikipedia has an alphabet and a few links.
Like with other unfamiliar letterforms (Textura, for instance), it’s a matter of practice. That, and knowing the pitfalls:

There’s the long s (ſ), the tailed ‘z’ (ʒ), and other blackletter characteristics, like unusual forms for ‘k’ and ‘x’. The ‘h’ has a descender aswell, and looks almost the same as a ‘long s’ with loops, or an ‘f’.

The letter ‘c’ is a mere downstroke (like a dotless ‘i’), while ‘e’ is a double downstroke. Latter can easily be confused with an ‘n’. On top of that, ‘u’ is identical with ‘n’, were it not for the (curled) stroke above the ‘u’. Not to confuse with doubled letters (like the ‘n’ in ‘dann’): they were often marked with an overbar.

These similarities consequently lead to a zigzag overkill. Have a look at the word ‘Aluminiumminimumimmunität’ [aluminium minimum immunity – whatever that may be], written in Kurrent, at Then you’ll know why this script badly needs a dotted ‘i’ and a ticked ‘u’!

hn2o's picture

another page...

nina's picture

I'm personally a big fan of Kurrent – the texture it makes is amazing. And this is a particularly nice sample. That second page: «Beschamel-Auflauf»*! Utterly beautiful.
(* Is that Béchamel? Hey, that's French too. :-) )

BTW, if anyone is curious for more Kurrent, here's a sign painters' version of the alphabet:

Florian Hardwig's picture

Hanno, thanks for posting this! Awesome. Do you have more? Please!!

The first part of the second sample reads:
Butter lasse zergehen, die Hegfe auch dazu, dieses alles/ rühre in einem Hafen gut ab, ein schönes Mehl/ dazu bis der Teig die gehörige Dichte hat, lege dan[n] den/ Teig auf ein Brett, ziehe ihn auseinander, fülle ihn mit/ gewiegten Zwetschgen, schneide Stücke, rolle sie zu-/sam[m]en, bestreiche eine Reine mit Schmalz u. backe/ sie, zuvor lasse man sie aber gehen.

The spelling of ‘Hefe’ [yeast] and the use of ‘Hafen’ [pot] and ‘Reine’ [pan] – the former maybe familiar from its diminutive ‘Haferl’ [mug] – indicate that this was written in Bavaria or Austria.

One can also spot the two different origins of the modern eszett (ß):
At the bottom of the first sample, it says Rahm- oder Milch-Crême./ Man gieße Milch an 2 Löffel voll Mehl u. rühre es damit gut ab – ‘gieße’ is written with long s and tailed z; ſʒ.
In the second sample however, the second word, ‘lasse’, is written with long s and round s; ſs.
Both forms can be found in both samples.

As Michael said: what a treasure!

blank's picture

Stunning—get that treasure into a book scanner and flood Flickr!

hrant's picture

Very nice - makes me hungry! :-)


lucascobb's picture

Amazing - Thank you for sharing this.
Get My Fonts

dezcom's picture

What a beauty! To think a person wrote that way normally, I'll bet the cooking was outstanding as well!

Thanks, Florian!


Florian Hardwig's picture

Guess what: the text in the first sample actually is about stencil lettering! :-)
Translated, it says:
Before serving, take a sheet of paper according to the bowl’s form, cut out names or figures at will, place the paper on the crème, finely grind good chocolate and sprinkle it over the paper, remove the paper very slowly, that way the chocolate will leave an image on the crème of what was cut out of the paper.

Full transcription of the original:

Hierzu wird ein Vierling Mandeln gesotten, geschält u. dan(n) zusammengemengt.
Dan(n) wird eine Maß süßer Rahm, mit einer, auf einer Citrone abgerie-
benem Stück Zucker gekocht, auch allenfalls etliche Blätter Pomeranzen-
Blüthe oder ein Stück Zimt dazu genom(m)en u. hier auf die gewiegten
Mandeln hinein gethan. Wen(n) es nun ½ Stunde gestanden ist, schlägt
man 14 Eierdotter daran, seiht es durch ein feines Sieb oder Tuch, damit
die Mandeln hinweg kom(m)en, dan(n) gibt man es auf eine flache Schüssel
und lässt es auf einem Hafen mit siedendem Wasser zusam(m)engehen.
Ist der Crême fertig, so lässt man(n) ihn gut abkühlen. Ehe man ihn zur
Tafel gibt, schneidet man in einen Bogen Papier, nach der Form der
Schüssel, Namen oder Figuren nach Belieben aus, legt das Papier
auf den Crême, reibt gute Chocolade fein u. streut sie darüber, nim(m)t
das Papier ganz langsam von dem Crême ab, so wird dasjenige von
der Chocolade an dem Crême aufgezeichnet sein, was in Papier ausge-
schnitten ist. Andere Crême können auf die nämliche Art geziert werden.


typerror's picture

Do you need to use a "cookie sheet?" :-)


Florian Hardwig's picture

Another finding:
In the second sample, the first line of the recipe for Beschamel-Auflauf reads:
Man nimt ½ Maß gute Milch, ¼℔. Mehl, ¼

‘℔’ is the then common abbreviation for ‘Pfund’ [pound], also known as the l b bar symbol (Unicode 2114). It arose from a script lb-ligature (for the Latin ‘librum’), see this thread on Typophile, or this one on German Fontblog.

hn2o's picture

Happy New Year, everybody...

I'll post some more pages when I'm back in my studio, where my scanner is... it's great that you enjoy this as much as I do :-)


nina's picture

Great news. (And Happy New Year.)
So are you trying the recipes, too? :-)

hn2o's picture

I haven't tried any recipes so far, but i definitely will... I'll let you know how it turns out ;-)

here are two more pages...

dezcom's picture

This looks like Paul Hunt's typeface.
P22 Zaner Pro


Florian Hardwig's picture

Delicious! Thanks, Hanno.
Here’s what I read into it. Any takers for the superscript abbreviation (?) in the recipe for Wirsing-Pflanzl, between ‘2’ and ‘Sem(m)el’? Is it ‘dl.’? Nina?

Man thut 3 Kochlöffel voll Mehl in ein Häferl,
schüttet Milch daran, bis es ein fester Teig wird, schlägt
3 Eier daran u. etwas süßen Rahm, salzt u. zuckert
ihn, läßt in einer Pfan(n)e Schmalz heiß werden, den Teig
hinein, läßt ihn anziehen, kehrt ihn um.

Man siedet den 4. Theil von einem Wirsingkopf,
wiegt ihn fein, ein Stückchen kalten Braten, Zitrone
u. Petersil, weiche um 2 [?] Sem(m)el in die Milch
ein, winde sie aber [aber], drücke sie aus u. rührt alles
gut unter einander, nim(m)t dan(n) 4 Eierdotter dazu, das
Weiße zu Schnee geschlagen, salzt es, bestreicht
den Model mit Butter und backt es schön

Man macht einen mürben Teig, walgt ihn Meßer-
rückendick aus, thut Dopfen ausdrücken, treibt ihn dan(n)
ab, schlägt 5 Eier daran, süßen oder sauren Rahm,
Weinbeer u. Zucker, rührt alles gut untereinander,
lege den ausgewalgten Teig auf ein Blech, bestreiche
ihn mit dem Abgerührten u. bäckt ihn bei schneller

Man macht von einem Ei, Fleckeln, wiegt etwas
von einem Schinken, thut Petersilgrünes u.
Zitrone dazu, rührt alles gut untereinander,
nim(m)t 2 Eier u. etwas sauren Rahm dazu,
bestreicht einen Model mit Butter, lege eine
Reihe Fleckeln dan Schinken bis der Modl voll
ist, dan bäckt man es schön langsam im

‘Dopfen’ = Quark [curds]
‘abtreiben’ = schaumig rühren [cream until light]

nina's picture

Wow, I can read practically everything but that bit. It looks a bit like she (?) wrote «dl» and then crossed it out or maybe tried to write something else on top of it?

A wild theory: since milk is mentioned briefly after, maybe the writer was already thinking of this liquid, and put down «dl», but then realized the Semmel comes first, and those are definitely not measured in dl. :-)

But maybe it's actually supposed to be that way and we just can't read it. BTW, I don't even know what a «Pflanzl» is – sort of a large, baked Knödel/Kloß? (Yuk. :-)

Florian Hardwig's picture

The word ‘Pflanzl’ (or Pflanzerl, Pflanzel) is said to originate from ‘Pfann-Zelten’, i.e. a pan-fried flat pie. Most common is the ‘Fleischpflanzl’ [hamburger].

paul d hunt's picture

that M is M-azing!

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