Thursday, November 3, 2016

Eating Medieval Art: "Tartys in Applis"

In talking about my food preferences and how they are shaping this project, I neglected to mention one thing: I have a major sweet tooth.  I love chocolate, but it's off the table for this project since it's a New World product.  I'm also a big fan of baked fruit desserts and so, when I saw a recipe for an apple tart in Plyen Delit, I knew I would have to give it a try.

The original recipe reads: "Tak gode applys & gode spycis & figs & reysons & perys, & wan they arn wel ybrayd colour wyth safroun wel & do yt in a cofyn, & do yt forth to bake wel."  I substituted prunes for figs, because I had some in my cupboard, and I didn't use any pears, because I didn't want to wait for them to get ripe.  For apples, I used Granny Smiths, as my favorite for baking in general.  The most unusual part of the recipe was the direction that the fruits be "wel ybrayd:" the authors of Plyen Delit translate that as chopping them up together in the food processor.   The result was similar to a mincemeat pie, but with no meat. 

The recipe didn't give directions for the pie crust, so I had to decide on a crust for myself.  I used this Smitten Kitchen pie crust and was very happy with the result.  My major issue with most apple pies is the soggy, flabby, mushy bottom crust.  This one was firm and light and flaky.  The only real difference I could see from pie crust recipes I've used in the past was not using the food processor for mixing in the butter.  I think Smitten Kitchen is right that using the processor always immediately over-processes but the butter, chopping it up much too finely and mixing it in much too evenly.  Doing it by hand kept the butter chunks much bigger - they were visible in the dough - and much more irregular in their distribution.  It also takes longer and requires more effort, but the results were worth it for me and I'm going to continue doing it that way.