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Libum (sweet cheesecake)

by Cato, De Agricultura

Libum was a sacrificial cake sometimes offered to household spirits during Rome's early history. The recipe below comes from the Roman consul Cato's agricultural writings, which included simple recipes for farmers. Libum, sometimes served hot, is a cheesecake he included. Cato's recipes for libum and placenta are particularly important historical sources, since both of these cakes were recommended for use in religious rituals.

Original recipe: 'Libum hoc modo facito. Casei P. II bene disterat in mortario. Ubi bene distriverit, farinae siligineae libram aut, si voles tenerius esse, selibram similaginis eodem indito permiscetoque cum caseo bene. Ovum unum addito et una permisceto bene. Inde panem facito, folia subdito, in foco caldo sub testu coquito leniter.'

Translation: 'Make libum by this method. Break up two pounds of cheese well in a mortar. When they will have been well broken up, put in a pound of wheat flour or, if you wish it to be more delicate, half a pound of fine flour and mix it well together with the cheese. Add one egg and mix together well. Then make into bread, places leaves beneath, and cook slowly on a hot hearth under an earthen pot.'

Ingredients

  • Cheese
  • Wheat flour
  • Egg

Preparation

  • Pound the cheese until it is a paste
  • Add in 1 pound bread-wheat flour or, if you want it to be lighter, just half a pound, and mix with the cheese.
  • Add one egg and mix all together.
  • Make a loaf of this, with leaves under it.
  • Cook slowly in a hot fire under a brick.
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