Poudre Douce and Poudre Fort

May 2, 2011

If you don’t do a lot of medieval cuisine, you’ve probably never heard of poudre fort and poudre douce — literally, strong powder and sweet powder. I was first introduced to the concept when I was doing SCA regularly, via a nifty little pair of books called Take A Thousand Eggs or More, by Cindy Renfrow. They’re both spice blends, one spicy and one sweet, and there’s no standard recipe for either of them. So I’m going to share mine with you.

Now, you’re probably thinking — I don’t cook medieval cuisine, what’ll I do with these blends? Actually, they’re terrifically flexible. I use my poudre douce blend for French toast, cookies, pumpkin pie, the spices in my jam, you name it, if it’s sweet, it will go well. Poudre fort is great with pork, beef, and chicken, especially in stews and slow cooking. Of course, if you want some heat in your sweet dishes, you can use poudre fort there too.

Poudre Douce
Inspired by a production of The Knight of the Burning Pestle, wherein Master Merrythought sings,”Nutmegs and ginger, cinnamon and cloves, and that gave me this jolly red nose.” You’ll note it doesn’t scan well. Most of Master Merrythought’s songs don’t. The general consensus amongst the cast was that he was supposed to be singing poorly because he was drunk, but that’s kind of a far reach for a modern audience who doesn’t know the songs. In our production, it was switched to “cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg and cloves” … and it has been stuck in my head ever since.

  • 5 parts ground cinnamon
  • 3 parts ground ginger
  • 2 parts ground nutmeg
  • 1 part ground cloves

Combine all ingredients, mix well, and store in an airtight container.

Poudre Fort

I heavily adapted this blend from War Fare, by Bonny Feinberg and Marian Walke, which was recommended to me by a friend. “You remember Old Marian? She wrote a cookbook …” Well, that was that, I had to get a copy. (And mmm, the recipes in it are delicious.)

  • 4 parts poudre douce
  • 2 parts ground cubebs
  • 1 part ground peppercorns

Combine all ingredients, mix well, and store in an airtight container.


9 Responses to “Poudre Douce and Poudre Fort”

  1. These sound great! Where do I get cubebs?

  2. My specialty grocery store actually carries them. You may find them as “Javanese Comet’s Tail Peppercorns”. The company they got them from is this one: Big Tree Farms, but other online spice companies might carry them too. Penzey’s doesn’t, though. By the way — Big Tree Farms also carries Balinese long peppercorns, which were in use by the Romans, so I use those for Roman cuisine. They are super-tasty too.

  3. […] 1 Tbsp. poudrefort or poudredouce […]

  4. Long peppers can be used for medieval food, too. Just remember that the milder black pepper was driving it out by the 14th Century.

  5. […] 1/2 tsp. poudre douce […]

  6. Outstanding! As one of the Tudor cooks at Historic Royal Palaces, I’ve accumulated MANY Medieval spice mixes for our cooking, and many variations on ‘powders fort’…. but I tried fortifying the poudre douce with the cubebs and pepper (I used long pepper here, and also grains of paradise), and I must say – it’s a fantastic mix! It’s now incorporated in the food I cook for the King’s table! (and since HE’S not around to eat it, we do!)

  7. Thank you! I’m glad you like it. Cubebs and long pepper are more difficult for me to acquire easily, but I really like long pepper for pickling. It adds terrific savory notes to things like pickled fennel. Yum!

  8. We use Steenbergs for spices like Long pepper, Cubeb, Grains of Paradise and the ‘less used’ spices in the UK. They’re excellent.

  9. Sounds great! I’ll have to check them out. Thanks for the recommendation.

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