I’ve been playing around with some ancient Roman recipes recently, and wanted to share this one with you. The ancient Romans had two kinds of cheesecake, a savoury version (libum) and a sweet version (savillum). Savillum was eaten as part of secunda mesa (dessert) and was one of the Romans’ favourite sweets. It might also be offered as a sacrifice, though a lighter (and more cake-like) honey cake was more often used for this purpose. Here is a recipe from Cato’s De Agri Cultura (On Agriculture), from around 160 BC.
Take ½ pound of flour, 2½ pounds of cheese, and mix together as for the libum; add ¼ pound of honey and 1 egg. Grease an earthenware dish with oil. When you have mixed thoroughly, pour into a dish and cover with a crock. See that you bake the centre thoroughly, for it is deepest there. When it is done, remove the dish, cover with honey, sprinkle with poppy-seed, place back under the crock for a while, then remove from the fire. Serve in the dish, with a spoon. (translation from LacusCurtius)
And here’s a version you can try. You'll need the following ingredients:
15 Bay Leaves
225g Ricotta Cheese
½ Cup of Plain Flour
½ Cup of Honey (Make sure it’s good honey! This will be the main flavour)
1 Teaspoon Grated Orange Zest
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
Poppy Seeds/Nuts/Honey to Drizzle
You can find the recipe on allrecipes.com here. Don't forget to grease the sides of the dish so the cheesecake doesn’t stick too much. I would advise leaving the cake to cool and fully set before eating. I served it chilled with warm honey drizzled on top, and it was yummy! You can then choose to sprinkle on a topping if you like - poppy seeds as Cato suggests, or nuts if your prefer. Enjoy!