Sunday, January 20, 2013

Medieval Apple Pie

Yesterday, at the even I attended, I brought a few medieval items for the hospitality table. I figured that way, I'd get to bring food that I could eat but that others might try just because it's all from within the time period of the SCA (600-1600).

I ended up bring my sourdough bread made from just flour, water, olive oil, honey, and sea salt. The only thing more period correct would have been if I ground the flour myself. ;-) I also brought the medieval herb bread which was a huge hit. It was a HUGE loaf of bread and I only have enough left over to maybe make one sandwich with. I also made Apple Pie. I did get some wonderful feedback on it (thank you Mistress Molly!) that makes me think I might start entering in some of the food I've been making for A&S competitions or maybe even do an open display on the Lenten Food. I did try a slice of the apple pie and, honestly, I think I love this recipe.

First, the pie crust:

I used two slightly different pie crust recipes. One for the bottom crust and one for the top. The reason is very simple - I didn't think an apple pie should have a crust without some sort of sweetener in it. In the bottom crust, the sugar would seep in from the filling. Not so much in the top crust.

So, the bottom crust:

I took this recipe from here.

A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye of the Sixteenth Century)

Take fyne floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolckes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.

This is the source I use for medieval pastry recipes; it forms the basis for a standard shortcrust pastry, enriched with eggyolk and, often, saffron.

200g flour
1 tsp salt
100g margarine or butter
pinch saffron
1 egg yolk
iced water

Since I can't have butter and olive oil is a period substitute, I used that instead. I also used cold water. I suspect that "Fayre water" might actual mean something more like rosewater but that would change the flavor of the entire recipe way too much and be far from the modern palette.

Because of the oil for butter change, the recipe itself changed. Rather than 1/2 a cup of butter, I used a "hefty" 1/3 cup of olive oil and a tablespoon of oil as well. The reason is that you always use roughly 20% less mass for olive oil than you would for butter.

The one egg yolk was fun. I kept passing it bag between the two shells, slightly lamenting that I had nothing that needed egg white right then, until I had just the yolk. The yolk gives the dough a slight yellow color but the saffron makes it "dear God!" yellow. The water was necessary just to make the dough less clumpy. I only used a little bit.

The dough looks...sticky. But it's not really. It will stick to the wax paper but not to your hands as I quickly figured out. So, I ended up picking up small batches of it and placing them into the pie pan. I then pressed them down until it felt even enough and I got another batch. This recipe is just enough to completely cover a store bought tin pie pan (it was going to an event and I wanted something I could throw away!) along the bottom and sides. You will not have enough for the top.

Once I covered the pie pan, I set the crust in the oven for about 8 minutes at 390F (200C). Once it was done, I got started on the top pie crust and the yummy filling.

Top Pie Crust

I found page that talks about pie crusts in the 15th and 16th centuries. On the page is even Italian instructions for a French Apple Pie, hooray! I'm an Italian making an apple pie so...this sounds good. According to the translation:

then make a dough of sugar, flour, oil, water and salt, mix them together to make the dough, spread it over the bottom of a low pan, and put the mixture in so that it is no more than a finger deep; cook it in the oven or on the fire as is directed for the other tortes; when almost cooked, get wafers, crumble them over the Tart - those wafers should be made with good sugar; when cooked, garnish with sugar and rosewater.

This sounded interesting to me because the top "crust" and the bottom were clearly different. I also liked that they are essentially sprinkling cookie crumbs on top but decided against that. Instead, I used flour, olive oil, honey rather than sugar, water, and salt. I may have used another egg yolk as well but I don't remember. I pretty much hybridized the two recipes to come up with something that may have been used in period but isn't exact. I wanted honey, gosh darn it! :-) I let that sit while I worked on the pie filling.

Second, the pie filling:



PERIOD: Germany, 16th century | SOURCE: Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin | CLASS: Authentic



225. To make a good tart with roasted apples. Peel the apples and cut them into four pieces, cut out the cores, and put them in pot, which should be well covered, and let them stew in the pot. One should watch them frequently, so that they do not scorch. Afterwards spread them on the pastry shell, which should be made of good flour, and put a half pound of sugar and a half ounce of finely ground cinnamon therein.

I cheated and used the lovely modern invention of an apple slicer. Yes, I still had to peel them but this made life a lot easier. (And, okay, so they probably wouldn't have been shocked in the 16th C by that. It's not like I used a blender.)

I put the pot to boil with enough water to easily cover the apple slices. I ended up cutting up 4 medium sized apples which was exactly enough for the pie. Once they had boiled for about 10 minutes, I drained the water and put the apple slices into the pre cooked crust. I then sprinkled on 1/3 cup of sugar in the raw plus another 1/8 cup or so because it didn't look like enough sugar. :-) I also put in a generous amount of cinnamon simply because I like it and you try measuring anything from a grinder spice jar. :-p

Once the filling was in the bottom crust, I smoothed out and added the top crust in clumpy pieces which actually looked fine once it was baked. The pieces were flattened by hand they just were...everywhere. Based upon the instructions, I preheated the oven to 375 and baked the pie for a half hour. It came out perfectly and I really liked it.


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