two small slices of a custard served in a ceramic bowl. They have a sugar crust on top, and a breadcrumb crust below.

from The Neapolitan recipe collection


Tartara Julatica, 133

This is one of those times when we are grateful to the translators but still wish they were working from the mindset of cooks rather than linguists.

The hardbound book I work from, translated and crafted by Terence Scully, is one of the most strangely organised messes I have dealt with. It isn’t as awkward as the Opera of Sent Sovi, but it’s up there.

The translators give a section with the original language, then a section with commentary on the language, and only then a section translated to English.

This recipe has a couple of oddities in it’s manuscript of origin. The commentary, rather than being on something helpful like the size of a Jug in Italy, is all conjecture about whether the sidenote about “Serve this very hot to Catherina Fasanica” is for a girlfriend or whether the allusion to pheasants has to do with “fancy ladies”.

The jug thing. It took a while to dig that up. My gut was to use about a pint of milk, but that was based on my experience, not to be trusted quite yet. I searched on the term “bucale” and got back the standardised work “boccale.”

From there, with a bit of digging, I eventually got to a wonderful web page of standard weights and measures, which had several iterations of “Boccale” from mostly Northern Italy, as well as other sites with surviving vessels of the type, and their dimensions.

This isn’t a math blog by any measure, but I have settled on the “bucale” as being a viable quart analog, and used that. It worked. If at some point elsewhere in the book a quart doesn’t work, I will amend.

In the end, we got a very greasy flan, with a tiny note of tang from the truly minute amount of cheese, and a slight zing from the massive quantity of ginger.

The crust vanished, as we assumed it would, and the sugar lost its gloss after about 20 minutes.

To make this GF, use the instructions in the original to use a dusting of cheese as the pan release.

The quantities here are pretty well defined in the original. Remembering the period weight of a pound as being 12 oz, it worked out as follows.


20 servings.

20 eggs

1 pint milk

1 oz parmesano dolce, the young cheese, if you can get it

6 oz sugar

6 oz unsalted butter, at room temp

3 TBS ginger powder (really!)


1 oz butter

3 oz breadcrumbs, or as needed to coat your vessel, or for GF, an ounce of grated cheese

To Finish

3 TBS sugar (you probably won’t use it all)

Rosewater, or if that’s not to your taste, Orange Flower Water

(be careful to use the confectionary type, not the cosmetic kind)

9×13 pan (or similar, it puffs up almost an inch)

( crack eggs as individuals, then put in your blender, for in case of duds)

Preheat the oven to about 250, lower is fine.

Put the eggs, milk, cheese, ginger, 6 oz sugar, and 6 oz butter in the blender, mixer, processor, or under the whisk.

Make it fluffy.

Rub the separate ounce of butter into your pan, then drop the breadcrumbs (cheese for GF) in. Roll it around so they stick, empty out the extra.

put the baker onto a larger baking sheet for ease of handling.

Pour the egg mixture into the coated baking vessel,

Let stand for a moment, and tap the sides, to allow air bubbles to rise and pop, for a finer appearance at service.

Place in oven,

close the door.

Leave, go grocery shopping.

It took three hours to cook.

Three hours.

Immediately upon removal, sprinkle with the reserved sugar til you think it is too much, then a little more.

Mist or sprinkle with scented water, serve as soon as possible.

About 2″ x 2″ is likely quite sufficient as a portion, on average.




I can see why it had to be served hot, it’s so very rich.

It was too rich when it was hot, and it is not so amazing the second day. There was a ¼” layer of butter in the bottom of the pan within 5 minutes of cutting.

This fancy custard is quite stable enough to be in the ovens for a very long time, making it an appropriate dessert or breakfast offering at a meal with unstable serving times.

Serve with fruit and a sharp beverage such as a lemonade to balance the richness.

Scully, Terence. The Neapolitan Recipe Collection: (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS Bühler, 19) : A Critical Edition and English Translation. Ann Arbor, Mich.: U of Michigan, 2000. 180. Print.