The Tale of Two Tarts – Pear tarts three ways

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dsc_0483Sometimes you find two recipes that are fairly similar but with small differences. Like the two recipes that are back to back in A  BOOK OF COOKRYE :

To bake small meats.
Take Egges and seethe them hard, then take the yolkes out of them and braye them in the morter, and temper them with Creme, and then straine them, and put to them Pepper, Saffron, Cloves, Maced, small raisins, Almonds blanched and small shred and grated bread.
Take Peares also sodden in Ale, and bray and straine them with the same Licour, and put therto Bastard and Honny, and put it into a pan and stir it on the fire til it be wel sodden, then make little coffins and set them in the Oven til they be hard, and then take them out againe, and put the foresaid licour into them and so serve them forth.

To make small bake meats of Sirup and Peares.
Take Peares and seethe them in Ale, then bray them and straine them and put Sanders to them and Ale, with the spices aforesaide, and the Coffins in likewise ordered, and so put in the sirup. A.W. A  BOOK OF COOKRYE (1591)

The first “to bake small meats” recipe is pretty straight forward, a honey sweetened pear puree tart with a thick cream sauce that uses all the things to thicken the sauce. The second tart is less clear. Instead of simmering the pear mixture its baked, with a ‘sirup’. Its not clear what the ‘sirup’ A.W. is talking about here.

The manuscript has ‘sirip’ listed in four other places:

“…put in some sirup of vergious, and some sugar…”

” …take Claret wine, Vergious, Rosewater, Sinamon, Ginger and Sugar, boyle them togither, laye your Pig flat like a Fawne or a Kidde, and put your sirup unto it…”

“…and make your sirrop half with rosewater and half with that liquor & put double sugar to your Orenges, and when your sirup is halfe sodden…”

“To make sirup of Violets. … and put to them so much rosewater as you think good then let them boyle altogither untill the colour be forth of them, then take them of the fire and straine them through a fine cloth, then put so much Sugar to them as you thing good…”

So the ‘sirup’ in the second recipe can be three things:

  1. the cream sauce from the first recipe.
  2. sugar + the cooking liquid
  3. sugar + rosewater and cooking liquid

It cannot be verjuice + sugar because I said so.

So a mad scientist er a medieval recipe enthusiast googles the recipes to see what other people have done, and as of today I found nothing for either recipe. The other option open to the cook is to try the variations and see which tastes better.

Makes 37 tarts

Recipe 1 Pear Puree (for both tarts):
* 3 cups of chopped pears
* 500 ml (1 can) light-coloured beer

  1. Place chopped pears in small sauce pan. Cover with  beer. Simmer for 1 hour on medium.
  2. Strain fruit but reserve the cooking liquid, you will need it.
  3. Smash batches of fruit with mortar and pestle with a small splash of cooking liquid and then force through colander with potato masher and/or wooden spoon. This will remove most of the skins.
  4. Should arrive at 2 cups of pear puree.

Pear Tart #1 (To bake small meats)

Ingredients:
Cream sauce:
* two egg yolks, cooked
* 1/2 cup cream
* 1/4 tsp each, pepper, mace, cloves
* 1 pinch saffron
* 1 tbsp raisins
* 2 tbsp almond meal
* 3 tbsp bread crumbs

tart filling:
* 1 cup of pear puree
* 2 tbsp white wine
* 2 tbsp honey

12 small tart shells

Directions

  1. Make cream sauce: Take 2 egg yolks and mast in mortar and pestle, adding cream slowly. Stir the liquid in the mortar, and slowly pour through a colander into another bowl. Add spices, raisins, almond meal and bread crumbs into cream mixture. Stir well and set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  3. Place pear puree, wine and honey into sauce pan and brig to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Place 1 tbsp of pear mixture into each tart shell.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes, until tarts are brown.
  6. Place 1/2 tbsp of the cream mixture on each hot tart, spreading it out with a knife or spoon. Make sure there is at least 1 raisin on each tart.
  7. Serve once cooled.

Tart #2 (To make small baked meats of sirup and pears)

Ingredients:
* 1 cup of pear puree
* 1/4 tsp each, pepper, mace, cloves
* 1 tsp saunders
* 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup of cooking liquid
* 1/2 cup raw sugar
* 1 tsp rosewater
* 25 tart shells

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix pear puree, spices, saunders and 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
  3. Put 1/2 tbsp of pear mixture into each tart shell.
  4. Mix 1/2 cup cooking liquid and raw sugar together in sauce pan, heating gently to dissolve sugar.
  5. Put 1/2 tbsp of syrup onto 12 of the filled tart shells.
  6. Mix rosewater into rest of syrup. Put 1/2 tbsp of the adulterated syrup onto the rest of the filled tart shells.
  7. Baked for 35 minutes until tarts are brown.

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Authors notes:

  1. The rose water ones taste better than the ones without. Who knew?
  2. The option of putting the “cream sauce” on the second kind of tart and baking it was gross. I’m not including a recipe here. 
  3. None of the above recipes tasted of pear. 

 

 

Fancy Pear Tart for the Holiday Party or A Baked Mete

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I was flipping through the bible “Take a Thousand Eggs or More” by the goddess, Cindy Renfrow, and needed to find a recipe worthy of the precious beef marrow I’d saved from making something else. Her recipe on page 191 called “A Baked Meat” seemed like a great place to start.

Pears set in a yellow custard. You also make use of the strainer technique to smooth out the custard.

My recipe deviates from the one by Renfrow but it does so with respect.

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A bake Mete. Take an make fayre lytel cofyns; than take Perys, and 3if they ben lytelle, put .iij. in a cofynne, and pare clene, and be-twyn euery pere, ley a gobet of Marow; and yf thou haue no lytel Perys, take grete, and gobet ham, and so put hem in the ovyn a whyle; than take thin commade lyke as thou takyst to Dowcetys, and pore ther-on; but lat the Marow and the Pecy3 ben sene; and whan it is y-now, serue forth…

Doucete3. Take Creme a gode cupfulle, and put it on a straynoure; thanne take 3olkys of Eyroun and put ther-to, and a lytel mylke; then strayne it thorw a straynoure in-to a bolle; then take Sugre y-now, and put ther-to, or ellys hony forde faute of Sugre, than coloure it with Safroun; than take thin cofyns, and put in the ovynne lere, and lat hem ben hardyd; than take a dysshe y-fastenyd on the pelys ende; and pore thin comade in-to the dyssche, and fro the dyssche in-to the cofyns; and when they don a-ryse wel, take hem out, and serue hem forth. (England, 1430)

Ingredients:
* 2 9″ pie shells
* 5-6 small bosc pears, washed, halved, cored
* 4 tbsp beef marrow
* 1.5 cups whipping cream
* 4 egg yolks
* 3 tbsp honey
* 2 pinches of saffron

Directions
1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Place pear halves cut-face down, stem side in the middle with the round bottoms around the edge like a flower in both tart shells. Distribute the marrow around the pears in each pie. Bake for 25 minutes, until tart is browning, and marrow is sizzling.
3) Stir together cream, yolks, honey and saffron then, while stirring, pour through a pasta strainer into a larger bowl. Divide into two parts.
4) Pour cream mixture slowly into each pear tart, careful not to fully submerge the pear bottoms completely. Bake on 350 for 30 minutes, until custard sets and pears are cooked through.
5) Serve cold.

Tart it up Week: Quince Tarts

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To make a quince tart. Take quinces and cook them well and strain it and put sugar, cinnamon and strong wine thereon.  Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin (1553)

Ingredients
* 3 cups quinces, peeled, cored, roughly chopped into large pieces
* 2 tablespoons cooking wine
* 1/2 cup of raw cane sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
* 1 pie shell

Directions
1) Place quince chunks into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to boil on high and then reduce heat to low and simmer. Simmer fruit for approximately 30-60 minutes (quince is sometimes difficult) until fruit is easily broken with a fork.

2) Strain fruit through a colander or mash with spoon to puree.

3) Mix quince mash, wine, sugar and cinnamon together.

4) Preheat oven to 350C.

5) Once oven is hot, pour fruit mixture into pie shell and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and crust is brown. Let tart cool before slicing.

Tart Week: Apple and Orange Peel Tart

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To make a tarte of apples and Orange pilles. TAke your orenges, and lay them in water a day and a night, then seeth them in faire water and hony, and let them seeth till they be soft: then let them soak in the sirrop a day and a night: then take them forth and cut them small, and then make your tart and season your Apples with Sugar, Synamon and Ginger, and put in a peece of butter, and lay a course of Apples, and betweene the same course of apples, a course of Orenges, and so course by course, and season your Orenges as you seasoned your Apples, with somewhat more sugar, then lay on the lid and put it in the ouen, and when it is almost baked, take Rosewater and Sugar, and boyle them together till it be somwhat thick, then take out the Tart, and take a feather and spread the rosewater and Sugar on the lid, and set it into the Orenges, Pilles Ouen againe, and let the sugar harden on the lid, and let it not burne.The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin (1588)

So there is a redaction of this recipe already by Gretchen Miller. I am going in a different direction from where she went. I will put a top and bottom on my tarts and I won’t be using whole oranges.

Although I won’t be following the recipe literally, for example I will peel and core my apples instead of leaving them whole because it doesn’t actually say to cut them up, I think the important aspects–removing the bitterness from the orange peels, and giving the pie a layered look, and seasoning with the spice choices listed above–will be followed.

I am going to use orange peels instead of whole oranges for the title of the recipe is “tart of apples and orange peels” not orange slices. Although there are sweet oranges by 1588 in England but the most common are Seville oranges. These oranges are not very juicy, the ‘meat’ is rather stringy, and they full of seeds.

Soaking peels and simmering them in sugar-water is a way of taking the bitterness out of the peel. I am not sure that whole oranges, although they will soften when simmered, will sweeten cooked this way.

Orange peels can be made into marmalade using this technique (soaking the peels, boiling, rinsing in water, simmering in syrup.) If you really want to cheat prepared marmalade would totally turn this from a 3 day project to a 1 day.

Directions:

Day 1:
Ingredients: peels from 3 Seville oranges
Directions: Slice the peels thin, removing as much of the white pith as you can. Submerge the peels in water. If you leave them on the counter you can change the water as much as you feel like.

Day 2:
Ingredients: 2 cups of honey
Directions: Drain the peels and cover them with honey and an equal amount of water, then stir well. Put saucepan on a high heat until it comes to a low boil, and then reduce to low heat. Simmer for 2 hours. Cover pot and set aside for 1 day.

Day 3 (actual tart day!):
  Ingredients:
* 6 apples, peeled and sliced into thick rounds
* 1/4 cup + 1/2 cup + 4 tbsp raw sugar
* 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/4 cup butter
* pastry for top and bottom of pie
* 2 tsp of rosewater

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 350F
  2. Mix apples, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp ginger together.
  3. Drain orange peels. Mix peels, 1/2 sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp ginger together.
  4. In bottom of pie shell drop pieces of butter.
  5. Layer the pie with one layer of apple slices, then cover the slices with a portion of the orange peel mixture. Repeat, but make sure to overlap the apple slices with the bottom ones for more coverage. Repeat until you are out of fruit mixes and then cover pie with rest of pastry. Cut a few small slits in lid.
  6. Bake pie for 50 minutes.
  7. Mix 4 tbsp of sugar with the rosewater. Using a pastry brush brush top of pie with this ‘icing’. Return pie to oven for 10 more minutes or until pie is bubbling and a golden brown.

Tart it up Week: Peach Tarts

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To make all maner of fruit Tarte. You must boyle your fruite, whether it be apple, cherrie, peach, damson, peare, Mulberie, or codling, in faire water, and when they be boyled inough, put them into a bowle, and bruse them with a Ladle, and when they be colde, straine them, and put in red wine or Claret wine, and so season it with suger, sinamon and ginger. The Good Housewife’s Jewell (1596)

 

This ‘tart’ doesn’t actually say to place in a tart shell and bake. If you stop after mixing wine and sugar with the fruit you get a sauce where the sugar doesn’t quite fully dissolve. It tastes delicious, but the pie is the superior product.

Using a large-holed, pasta strainer to puree the peach meat instead of a food processor works really well. It also de-skins the tougher skinned fruit listed above.

Recipe:

Ingredients
* 3 cups peaches, stone removed, roughly chopped into large pieces
* 2 tablespoons dry red cooking wine
* 1/2 cup of raw cane sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
* 1/2 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
* 1 pie shell

Directions
1) Place peach chunks into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer fruit for approximately 10 minutes, until fruit is easily broken with a fork.

2) Strain fruit through a colander. Place colander, with fruit still inside over a mixing bowl. Break-up fruit with ladle then let cool.

3) Once fruit is cold enough to touch, press fruit through colander with wooden spoon, or your fingers. This will break up the fruit, and remove the skin.

4) Mix fruit slurry, wine, sugar and spices together.

5) Preheat oven to 350C.

6) Once oven is hot, pour fruit mixture into pie shell and place in oven. Bake for 45 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and crust is brown. Let tart cool before slicing.

Tart it up week: Tart of Cherries

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To make a tart of cherries, when the stones be out, another waye. Seeth them in white wine or in claret, and drain them thick: when they be sodden: then take two yolks of egges & thicken it withall: then season it with cinnamon, ginger, and sugar, and bake it, and so serve it. The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin (1588)

Ingredients:
* 2 cups of cherries, pits removed
* 1/2 cup of wine
* 2 egg yolks, room temperature, beaten with fork
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
* 1/2 tsp ginger, ground
*1/2 cup sugar
* 1 pie shell or ~20 tart shells

Directions
1) Mix cherries and wine in a sauce pan. Simmer on medium-low for 1 hour, fruit should break apart when cooked. Remove from heat.
2) Mash fruit with spoon, or other tool, to break them up.
3) Preheat oven to 350F
4) Pour eggs into large bowl, pour a few tablespoons of the liquid from the cooked cherries into the eggs and stir briskly. Slowly add all the cherry mixture into the eggs, a little at a time until the eggs are fully mixed with the cherries.
5) Add spices and sugar to cherry mixture and mix very well.
6) Pour mixture into pie shell (or 1 tbsp of cherry mixture for each smaller tart) and bake for 50 minutes (40 for tarts) or until crusts are brown.
7) Cool tarts before serving.

 

Gooseberries (3 tarts)

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Gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa) are a small berry, a little smaller than a grape, with tiny little stripes similar to watermelon. Not to be confused with other fruit sold as gooseberries, especially those ‘gooseberries’ that are the size of yellow plums.

They are a little sour and are often cooked and sweetened before eating. They are sometimes swapped with grapes in recipes, especially with chicken. Thier high pectin level means they can be used in jelly and pies because they thicken themselves.

Gooseberry and Raisin Tart
Tartes of gooseberries. Lay your gooseberries in your crust, and put to them cinnamon and ginger, sugar and a few small raisins put among them, and cover them with a cover. A Book of Cookrye (1591)

Ingredients
* Pastry for top and bottom of pie
* 1 tsp of cinnamon, ground
* 1 tsp ginger, ground
* 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
* 3 cups gooseberries, cleaned and stems removed
* 1/3 cup raisin

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix the sugar and spices together.
  3. Pour the gooseberries into your pie crust, cover with spice mixture, and then sprinkle raisins evenly on top. Seal on pie lid using water.
  4. Bake pie for 40 minutes, until pie is golden brown, and filling is bubbly. Serve once cooled.

Gooseberry and Ginger Tart
A Gooseberry Tart. Pick the stalks of your gooseberries, and the pips in the tops: put them in good paste, with a little green ginger, sliced in slices: cast on good store of sugar, and rosewater, and so close them. A New Book of Cookerie (1615)

Ingredients
* Pastry for top and bottom of pie
* 3 cups gooseberries, cleaned and stems removed
* 1 tsp fresh ginger, sliced
* 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
* 1 tsp rosewater

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix gooseberries, sugar, and ginger together. Pour the gooseberries into your pie crust, sprinkle rosewater evenly on top. Seal on pie lid using water.
  3. Bake pie for 40 minutes, until pie is golden brown, and filling is bubbly. Serve once cooled.

Crustless Gooseberry Tart
To make a tart of gooseberries. Take gooseberries and parboil them in white wine, claret or ale, and boil with all a little white bread, then take them up, and draw them through a strainer as thick as you can with the yolks of six eggs, then season it up with sugar, half a dish of butter, so bake itA Proper newe Booke of Cokerye (1650)

*Ingredients
* 4 cups of gooseberries, cleaned and stems removed
* 2 cups of dry white wine (or claret or ale)
* 1 cup of dry bread crumbs
* 6 egg yolks
* 1/3 cup raw cane sugar
* 1/3 cup butter, softened

Directions
1) Place gooseberries, wine and bread crumbs in a sauce pan, bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer fruit until it softens and bread breaks down, approximately 10 minutes. Let fruit mixture cool.

2) Preheat  oven to 350.

3) Stir egg yolks into the fruit mixture, mashing fruit apart as you work in eggs. Pour fruit mixture through a pasta strainer (this will remove a lot of the fruit skin, leave it behind).

4) Mix sugar and butter into pureed fruit. Pour the sweetened puree into a pie plate or a small cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes until top is golden, and middle of the tart is firm like a quiche instead of liquid.