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Recipe for
(Pepper and Nut Cake)


from AthenaeusThe Partying Professors

Yeah, go ahead and click here to buy this book!
Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens.

Yes, this book has a new cover, but I like this one better. Blah, I am so horrible.
AFAIK, this recipe comes from Grant and was inserted by original site author (I will say again to PLEASE buy these author's books! By doing so, you will help support them — even for books that are older and might not sell as well anymore... These authors do not do this for money, they do it for love. Please support them!

Roman Pepper and Nut Cake is a popular ancient recipe that was prepared in Ancient Greece as well in Ancient Rome. One small difference between them was that in terms of nuts, the Romans preferred almonds and hazelnuts whereas the Greeks added walnuts to their cakes.

Original recipe:

Translation: In Crete, says Chrysippus, they make a small cake called gastris. It is made as follows: walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and also some poppy seeds. Roast, keeping a close eye on them, and pound carefully in a clean mortar. Mix in fruit softened with boiled honey, add plenty of pepper and soften. It becomes dark with poppy seeds. Flatten it out and make into a square. Next purée some white sesame seeds, soften them with boiled honey and draw out into two thin slabs. Place one slab underneath and the other on top, so that the dark slab is in the middle, and shape it properly.. This is what the wise pâtissier Chrysippus says.


  • 100g/3 oz each:
    • poppy seeds
    • ground almonds (or walnuts)
    • ground hazelnuts
    • ground almonds,
    • dried and stoned dates
    • dried figs
    • 150g/5 oz sesame seeds
    • 75g/2½ oz clear honey
    • ½ tsp ground black pepper
    • Flour


  • Put the poppy seeds and ground nuts on a baking tray and place under a hot grill for 5 minutes, turning them over occasionallyto prevent them from burning.
  • Put the sesame seeds in a bowl.
  • Puree the figs and dates in a blender and add the nut mixture and pepper to the dried fruits and blend until they are it looks and feels like a dough.
  • Pour the honey into a pan and bring to the boil. Boil for 3 minutes or until the honey begins to darken.
  • Blend one-third of the honey into the dried fruit and nut mixture and stir the rest into the sesame seeds.
  • Divide the mixture into two balls of equal size. Flour your hands and flatten one of the sesame seed balls into a disc about 25 cm/10" in diameter and put this onto a flat plate.
  • Place the nut mixture on top of the sesame seeds and flatten with your hands until the sesame seeds are completely covered.
  • Flatten the remaining sesame seed ball with floured hands and position this on top of the cake.
  • Leave for one hour to allow the honey to set.
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