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Cooking with Claire – Tudor Buttered Sweet Potatoes

Tudor History Tours with the Tudor Society

In today's Claire Chats video, I am cooking Buttered Sweet Potatoes from Elinor Fettiplaces's Receipt Book: Elizabethan Country House Cooking edited and modernized by Hilary Spurling. The original book was compiled by Lady Elinor Fettiplace from Oxfordshire in 1604 and it's a treasure trove of Tudor recipes divided into the months of the year. In the October section, I found a recipe entitled "To Butter Potato Roots" and that's what I have made.


Take the roots & boile them in water, till they bee verie soft, then peele them & slice them, then put some rosewater to them & sugar & the pill of an orenge, & some of the juice of the orenge, so let them boile a good while, then put some butter to them, & when the butter is melted serve them. This way you bake them, but put them unboiled into the paste.

Hilary Spurling suggests using 2 lb/900g sweet potatoes, 2tbsp rosewater (I used orange flower water but you could also use vanilla essence if you didn't have rosewater), 2 rounded tablespoons brown sugar, and the grated rind and juice of 1 orange.

Our family loved the results!

There are 23 comments Go To Comment

  1. Beth von Staats /

    I will have to try this recipe at Thanksgiving! Thank you Claire.

  2. Maureen /

    Where do you find those great rubbery looking oven gloves?

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      They were from Ikea. They’re really good.

  3. Hanne /

    I absolutely loved this, I would cook Tudor recipes every day with your help 🙂 you should do it more often (no pressure).

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      I’m going to try and do it once a month or so as a Claire Chats video for the Tudor Society just to mix things up a bit. It was good fun.

  4. Jenny McFie /

    Love your video will be trying that receipt Thank you so much x

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      Thank you!

  5. Pam Cicerello /

    I enjoyed the video very much and look forward to more recipes. Thanks

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      Thank you!

  6. Doc Clark /

    As someone who regularly uses rose water in cooking, it can make a tremendous difference in taste. I would encourage anyone interested in trying the original rose water recipe.

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      I’d run out so that’s why I had to use the orange flower water. I just couldn’t get rose water here unfortunately.

  7. Doc Clark /

    I found the following Elizabethan exposition upon the (sweet) potato in John Gerald’s _Herball_ (1597), including notes on how it was prepared, including conserves not unlike that of quinces:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=pgZfAAAAcAAJ&q=potato#v=snippet&q=potato&f=false

    Click on p. 780 to get to the text.

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      In Lady Elinor’s book there are quite a few sweet potato recipes including a conserve – yummy! Thanks for that link, I’ve got John Gerard’s book on my shelf and it’s a wonderful resource.

  8. Belinda Ostwald /

    Hi Claire, this is a great recipe, I can’t wait to try it. May I ask, the brown sugar you used, was it raw sugar, as it did not look like the consistency of what we call brown sugar here in Australia

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      Hmmm… I’m not sure what the difference is. In the UK, we just call it brown sugar and we have a soft brown sugar as well which is more moist and has smaller crystals. This is just like white sugar in its crystal size. Perhaps your brown sugar is more like our soft brown sugar? I don’t think it would make a difference what sugar you added, to be honest.

  9. Cristina s robichez /

    Here in Brazil we don´t have the Thanks Giving tradition. But as a Tudor nut I will certainly try the recipe. Thanks, Claire.

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      Do let me know how you get on making it.

  10. Alex /

    That looks pretty good! And what a lovely lady, I might add.

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      Thank you, that’s so lovely of you to say.

  11. Anne Barnhill /

    Wonderful! I do use something like that for Thanksgiving, but I add pecans to the top. I wonder if the early settlers added nuts that they’d gathered. Thanks!

    1. Claire Ridgway / Post Author

      Oooh, I must try adding pecans on top! Thanks Anne!

  12. Camille Green /

    Looking forward to trying this recipe, although I am not sure about getting the rosewater here in the USA….I was thinking a health food store.

  13. brigitte webster /

    Absolutely love cooking the ” Tudor ” way ! It helped me re-discover fun in cooking ! Thank you !

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Cooking with Claire – Tudor Buttered Sweet Potatoes