13 Annotations

First Reading

David Quidnunc  •  Link

"Who you callin' a silly bub, and what's that you're offering me?"

Mentioned on three occasions in the diary -- in 1662, 1663 and 1668, says the L&M Index.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Definition: "sweetened cream beaten with wine or liquor"

And, it seems, often with various spices, including nutmeg, cinnamon and rosemary, and various fruity flavors.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

"Got Syllabub?"

"Syllabub was a popular dessert in seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth century England. It was popular for celebrations, special occasions and holidays due to its festive appearance. Many original recipes survive with various modes of preparation. Generally Syllabub was made with a mixture of whipped cream, whipped egg whites, white wine, sugar, lemon juice and zest of lemon. The quantity of white wine added would determine the consistency qualifying whether the mixture would be a creamy dessert or a popular punch. White wine could be substituted with apple cider or other alcoholic beverages. One could always detect the drinker of the beverage by the thick white mustache left behind. The following modern adaptation will make a Syllabub Dessert Parfait for 10 people. For a punch add more wine until you have achieved the desired consistency."

A recipe follows on this Web site (one of thousands of Syllabub recipes on the Web):

Here's a modern, "inauthentic" recipe with sherry:

A modern recipe with lemon juice:

sylla-Beeb recipe:

(Should I explain the "Got Syllabub?" reference? OK: In America, at least, the milk industry has (had?) a famous advertising campaign with "Got milk?" in the caption and the picture of a famous person with a milk moustache. I don't know if this is familiar elsewhere.)

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Evolution of Syllabub in the 17th century

"Syllabub is a delicious Elizabethan (1558-1603) creation that is still popular today. Actually, syllabub used to be served as a party drink flavoured with nutmeg and decorated with clotted cream and ground nutmeg on top. Gradually, in the seventeenth century milk and ale were replaced by cream and wine. Today, syllabub is a smooth dessert based on cream mixed with wine or cider, brandy and sugar. It is a simple dessert that can be served from an elegant bowl to individual glasses on the table."


David Quidnunc  •  Link

"Did you call me what I think I just heard you call me?"

"The quantity of white wine used dramatically alters the finished dish, allowing the cook to produce either a creamy dessert or a thick, rich punch. Drinkers of the punch, easily identified by a milky white mustache, would be equally pleased if the white wine were replaced with cider, though they'd also be satisfied with a dash or two of sherry.

"It must be noted that trifle, fool and syllabub, all traditional English puddings, have much in common; old recipes in particular have considerable overlap - one old recipe for fool produces something very similar to a trifle or a syllabub, highlighting their common heritage. Nowadays, a range of recipes for syllabub exist, adding Turkish delight, crystallised ginger and other flavourings to the basic recipe."


David Quidnunc  •  Link

1674, 1749 recipes & some history

"Take one Quart of Cream, one Pint and an half of Wine or Sack, the Juice of two Limons with some of the Pill, and a Branch of Rosemary, sweeten it very well, then put a little of this Liquor, and a little of the Cream into a Basin, beat them till it froth, put that Froth into the Sillibub pot, and so do till the Cream and Wine be done, then cover it close, and set it in a cool Cellar for twelve hours, then eat it."
-- From Hannah Wooley The Queen-like Closet (London:1674)

"Take a quart of thick cream, and half a pint of sack, the juice of two Seville oranges, or lemons; grate in the peel of two lemons; half a pound of double-refined sugar, pour it into a broad earthen pan, and whisk it well; but first sweeten some red wine, or sack, and fill your glasses as full as you chuse; then as the froth rises take it off with a spoon, and lay it carefully into your glasses, till they are as full as it will hold."
-- From Charles Carter The London and Country Cook (London: 1749)

"Towards the end of the century ice cream became increasingly popular in England, evcntually usurping the syllabub's role as a light refreshment at the end of the meal."


David Quidnunc  •  Link

High and Low Syllabub

"In the seventeenth century, a milkmaid would send a stream of new, warm milk directly from a cow into a bowl of spiced cider or ale. A light curd would form on top with a lovely whey underneath. This, according to Elizabeth David, was the original syllabub. Today's syllabub is more solid (its origins can also be traced to the seventeenth century, albeit to the upper classes) and mixes sherry and/or brandy, sugar, lemon, nutmeg, and double cream into a custard-like dessert or an eggnog-like beverage, depending upon the cook."

But live cows still had a role to play in syllabub for some time after the 1600s:

"Syllabub Pudding
"Make one quart of rich cream very sweet, grate half a nutmeg over it, put it into a china bowl and milk a cow into it, that it many become very frothy.

"From an 1855 Cookbook!"


Maureen  •  Link

You only have to do all that citified nonsense with egg whites and whisking if you don't have cow-warm milk with enough cream in it. Bubbles are produced naturally by the clabbering process when cow-warm milk hits cool wine. (Or ale, sherry, port, etc.) Mixing sugar with the alcohol helps make the drink sweeter.

Nowadays, of course, you can just microwave milk and cream to 103 degrees, pour it into your glass of sugary wine (from udder-height for best results), and watch it clabber away.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

To make Snow ...

Take a pint of thicke sweete Creame - and halfe a
pint of Sack and halfe a pound of Sugar, and the
white of two Eggs well beaten, and a pretty deale of
limon (lemon), and mingle all this together, and put
it into a pretty big earthen Pan, or Bason, and take
a pretty big birchen rod, and beate it till the froth
doth rise, and then take it of with a stirre, and put
it into the thing you would have it goe in, (it
should bee a glasse Sillibubbe pot, if you have it,
if not, a white creame dish will serve: you should
lett it stand a pretty while before you eate it,
because it should settle with a little kinde of
drinke at the bottome, like a Sillibubbe.

Sarah Longe. Mrs. Sarah Longe her Receipt Booke.
Manuscript, ca. 1610. Shelfmark V.a.425.


Terry Foreman  •  Link

sillabub | syllabub, n.
Forms:α. 15 solybubbe, 16 sullabub, sullibib, sullybub, 16–17 sullibub. β. 15 selybube, 15–16 seli-, 16 sellibub, sallibube. γ. 15 sillye-, 15–16 syllibub, 16 sillie bube, cilli-, 16–17 sillibub, 18 Sc. sillybob. δ. 15 sillabubbe, 15– silla-, 16– syllabub.
Etymology:Of obscure origin: compare sillibouk n. and sillub n. The most frequent spelling from c1700 has been syllabub, under the influence of syllable.
1. A drink or dish made of milk (freq. as drawn from the cow) or cream, curdled by the admixture of wine, cider, or other acid, and often sweetened and flavoured.
In common use from the 16th cent. to about the middle of the 19th cent., and revived in the 20th.
c1537 Thersytes (1848) 79 You and I‥Muste walke to him and eate a solybubbe.
1628 G. Wither Britain's Remembrancer iv. 1186 Some, Sulli-bibs among the Milk-maids, making.
1663 S. Pepys Diary 12 July (1971) IV. 227 Then to Comissioner Petts and had a good Sullybub.
1668 C. Sedley Mulberry-garden iv, in Wks. (1778)
1976 Sat. Evening Post All-American Cookbk. 259/2 A syllabub is a ladylike version of eggnog.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

SILLABUB, SILLIBUB, a Potable made by Milking a Cow into a Composition of Cyder, Sugar, Spice, &c.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1724.

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.


Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • Aug



  • May