From De Agricultura (75-76), 2nd century BCE
Cato the Elder (234-149 BCE) was a conservative Roman statesman known for his relentless lecturing about lost Roman values. Although this probably didn’t make him the most delightful dinner guest, his recipes are definitely worth putting on your table! Two of this curmudgeon’s recipes that I found especially intriguing are called libum and placenta (the latter is not what you think it is, I promise). The three main ingredients are flour, cheese and honey. Can’t go wrong, right?
Here’s my version of libum:
350 g / ~12.5 oz fresh ricotta
160 g / ~5.5 oz flour (I used half whole wheat, half white)
2 tbsp honey (plus extra for garnish)
Whenever you’re preparing ancient dishes, the quality of your products is key. I decided to make my own ricotta, because it really elevates the recipe. If you don’t feel like going through the trouble, try to find it fresh at your local grocery store.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (392°F).
Mix the cheese, flour, eggs and honey. Next, divide the dough into 4 balls and place in an oven pan on a couple of bay leaves. Cover the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The bay leaves will make your kitchen smell amazing and also give a great touch to the cakes.
Take the cakes out of the oven and let them chill for a few minutes. Finally, drizzle extra honey over them and enjoy one of the earliest recipes for cheesecake!