Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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placenta is an ancient Roman cake of goat’s cheese and honey layered between a dried semolina pastry (called tracta, which some consider to be an early form of pasta) and an outer wheat pastry shell with a central knob of dough. The top and edges were scored, and the cake was said to resemble the seed pod of the mallow flower. This Roman dish was descended from the Greek plakous, which is normally understood to mean a flat cake, although some scholars believe it was named from the fact that it was “full of individual flat sheets.” The name survives in many European languages, particularly the Rumanian platchynta, which resembles the ancient cake, and the Hungarian palacsinta, which now refers to crepes. See ancient world and pancakes.