National Sticky Bun Day

Writers need all kinds of tools to craft believable stories. One of my favorite facets of research for my books was learning about period cooking. To that end, I even purchased a cookbook written by archeologists who reconstructed recipes based off the remnants of food found near cooking fires.

Everyone loves sweets and the ancient Gauls (Celts) were no exception. Deep in the middle of book 3, Klara makes sticky buns to celebrate Imbolg, a Celtic holyday. Both Imbolg and National Sticky Bun Day occur in February.

Coincidence? Probably.

However, in honor of National Sticky Bun Day, I’ve produced a recipe for sticky buns adapted from a stone age recipe in found in “A Culinary Journey Through Time.” The original recipe “Barley Balls with Wild Fruit and Berries” appears on page 95.

Barley Balls with Wild Fruit and Berries

Ingredient list:

  • 1 handful dried fruit (rose hips, apples, sloes, etc.)
  • 2 C water
  • Dash of salt
  • Honey
  • 1 C Barley
  • 1 handful hazelnuts, crushed

I presume the modern equivalent of rose hips and hazelnuts is raisins and walnuts, but any fruit and nut combination will work.

The original recipe called for roasting the barley until dark brown, then grinding it. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, feel free to just buy a cup of barley flour from the bulk foods section of your local supermarket.

The other amusing thing about this book is that is that it lacks any form of cooking instructions. Those of us familiar with Dutch ovens and camp cookery can adapt well to instructions like, “cook until done.” For the benefit of everyone else, I’ve included more precise instructions below.

Klara’s Sticky Buns

  1. Finely chopped fruits and berries, then boil in 2 cups of water until liquid is reduced by half. Add ½ cup of honey and salt, mix well.
  2. Pour fruit mixture over barley and form into balls.
  3. Roll the barley balls in the crush nuts.
  4. Place balls in a baking pan and drizzle with additional honey.

Bake at 375 until golden (about 25 to 30 min.) When cool, serve with whipped cream.

Because of a lack of yeast, these will be quite dense. However, I imagine there was yeast aplenty in ancient kitchens without anyone having to add it. If you want something lighter and fluffier feel free to add a packet of yeast to the berry mixture after adding the honey and wait for it to activate before proceeding.

If you’d like more recipes from Klara’s Journey, please let me know in the comments.

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