It’s the semi final week (😮) and this week covers patisserie; small, often ornate sweet pastries and cakes. Medieval pastry was often thick and functional rather than edible, but they did have some more delicate treats.
Maids Of Honour Tarts (16th C, England)
Originating in Richmond Upon Thames, these curd tarts were allegedly a favourite of Henry VIII, who upon finding his second wife Anne Boleyn and her ladies eating them, tried one and decided to keep the recipe for himself, secret forever more. The recipe ‘re-emerged’ in the eighteenth century and has been made at Richmond ‘Maids of Honour Tea Rooms‘ that way ever since. I actually tried one when I was working in the museum there and can confirm, they’re very nice. The tea rooms still keep their recipe closely guarded, so I have no original recipe for you this time, but the National Trust recommend this version.
450g (1lb) shortcrust pastry
100g (4oz) curd cheese
75g (3oz) butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
65ml (2½fl oz) brandy
75g (3oz) caster sugar
75g (3oz) cold mashed potatoes
25g (1oz) ground almonds
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Grated rind of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
If making your pastry, chill for at least 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4. Grease 24 patty tins.
On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry and cut 24 circles using a 7.5cm(3in) cutter. Use to line the prepared patty tins. Beat together the curd cheese and butter. Add the beaten eggs, brandy and sugar and beat again. In a separate bowl beat together the mashed potatoes, ground almonds, nutmeg, lemon rind and juice, and gradually mix in the cheese mixture. Beat thoroughly.
Spoon into the pastry cases and bake for 35–40 minutes until risen, golden and firm.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 5–10 minutes before lifting carefully on to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Crispels (round pastries with honey, ‘Forme of Cury’, 1390)
Take and make a foile of gode past as thynne as paper; kerue it out wyt a saucer & frye it in oile; oþer in grece; and þe remnaunt, take hony clarified and flamme þerwith. Alye hem vp and serue hem forth.
Take and make a sheet of good pastry as thin as paper; carve it out with a saucer & fry it in oil; or in grease; and to finish them, take clarified honey and baste them. Do them up and serve them forth