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.