Placenta cake

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For the temporary organ unique to Eutherian mammals, see Placenta.
Type Pie
Place of origin Roman empire
Main ingredients Flour and semolina dough, cheese, honey, bay leaves
Cookbook: Placenta  Media: Placenta
A Greek plăcintă-maker in Bucharest in 1880

Placenta is a dish from ancient Rome consisting of many dough layers interspersed with a mixture of cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves, then baked and covered in honey.[1][2] Cato included a recipe in his De Agri Cultura.[3] Cato writes:

Shape the placenta as follows: place a single row of tracta along the whole length of the base dough. This is then covered with the mixture [cheese and honey] from the mortar. Place another row of tracta on top and go on doing so until all the cheese and honey have been used up. Finish with a layer of tracta.[2]

It derives from the Greek term plakous (Greek: "πλακοῦς", gen. "πλακοῦντος" – plakountos) for thin or layered flat breads,[4][5][6] and several scholars suggest that its Byzantine descendants, koptoplakous (Medieval Greek: κοπτοπλακοῦς) and plakountas tetyromenous, are the ancestors of modern baklava and tiropita (börek) respectively.[7][2][8] A variant of the Roman dish survived into the modern era as the Romanian plăcintă cake.


  1. ^ "American Pie". American Heritage. April–May 2006. Retrieved 2009-07-04. The Romans refined the recipe, developing a delicacy known as placenta, a sheet of fine flour topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. 
  2. ^ a b c Faas, Patrick (2005). Around the Roman Table. University of Chicago Press. p. 184-185. ISBN 0226233472. 
  3. ^ Cato the Elder. "De Agricultura". 
  4. ^ placenta, Charlton T. Lewis, Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary, on Perseus
  5. ^ πλακοῦς, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus project
  6. ^ placenta, Concise Oxford English Dictionary Luxury Edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, p.
  7. ^ Rena Salaman, "Food in Motion the Migration of Foodstuffs and Cookery Techniques" from the Oxford Symposium on Food Cookery, Vol. 2, p. 184
  8. ^ Speros Vryonis The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor, 1971, p. 482