[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Sew Trappe
24 January 2014
[medieval pie]

I've been thinking a lot lately about medieval urban cooks, their facilities, their recipes, and about pies. That they made pies is pretty much indisputable, but how they made them is not quite so straightforward. As a preliminary step, I had another browse through some surviving recipe collections, which although they have little direct relevance to the urban, commercial cook, do have recipes for pies. I wasn't expecting too much, and my expectations were mostly met. However, I did find one interesting thing, which prompted me to do some experimenting. It was from BL Harleian MS 279, as documented by Austin, and it goes like this:

.xxx. Sew trappe.—Take .ij. lytel erþen pannys, & sette on þe colys. tyl þey ben hote; make a dyssche-fulle of þikke bature of Floure & Watere; take & grece a lytel þat oþer panne, & do þe bater þer-on; & lat renne al a-bowte þe panne, so þat þe pan be al y-helyd; take & sette þe panne a-ȝen ouer þe fyre of colys; do þat oþer panne a-boue þat oþer panne, tyl it be y-baken y-now; whan it is y-bake, þat it wol a-ryse fro þe eggys of þe panne, take kydes Fleyssche & ȝong porke, & hew it; take Percely, ysope, & Sauerey smal y-now; & þrow a-mong þe Fleyssche; do it in a panne, & þe cofynne, do it to þe colys; hele it with þat oþer panne, & do colys a-bouyn, & lat baken wyl; whan it is y-now, take Eyroun, & breke hem; take þe ȝolkes, & draw þorw a straynoure: caste to þe ȝolkys Hwyte Sugre, Gyngere, Canelle, Galyngale; sture it wyl to-gederys; take al þis, & sette a-doun þe panne, & cast in a-bouyn þe cofynne in þe panne: sture it to-gederys; hele it aȝenward with þat oþer panne, & lay colys a-boue, & lat bake wyl tyl it be y-now; take yt owt of þe panne, & do it out y-hole, or as moche as þow wolt, & þanne serue it forth.

Setting aside the filling for a moment, what we have is a recipe for blind-baking a pie shell in a Dutch oven, more or less. This is interesting for a wide variety of reasons, but for practical use at this moment, I was mostly interested in the batter of flour and water baked as a coffin. So I messed about with that, and with a filling which could be described, if one was feeling generous, as 'medievally influenced.' [Lots of pictures]

Sew trappe

Attempt number one was a thick batter of flour and water, which I put into my new silicone muffin tins. It didn't stick to the sides very well, and after cooking, even more of it had drifted downwards. However, they did hold their shape upon being removed from the tin, so that was good.

The second attempt used what I would call a thin dough more than a thick batter, if you follow me. I also used both metal and silicone muffin tins, since I suspect that the silicone was doing what it does well - insulating - and preventing the coffin from cooking from both inside and out. The dough was thick enough that I could sort of form it against the sides, but no thick enough to roll out or any thing like that.

These worked a bit better, with the sides holding up better during the baking process, which took longer than I expected - I want to say half-an-hour in a moderately hot (385F/185C) oven.

For the filling, I cooked some leeks in butter, mixed them with some already roasted chicken, hard-boiled egg yolks, the spices above mentioned, and a couple of whole eggs. That went into the (cooled) coffins, and they went back into the oven for another ten minutes or so just to set the eggs.

They turned out pretty well. I was a bit worried that the coffins, being made of naught but flour and water, might be unpalatable, but they were thin enough that it wasn't really a problem. I find myself wondering about using a hot pot/pan and a thinner batter, rolling the batter around like a pancake or crepe before setting it to bake, but this method gave decent results.

© 2014 Jeff Berry

The Aspiring Luddite