If you have ever visited one of our encampments, it is evident upon arrival, that we always have some sort of savory or sweet treat that we are eating. It is a personal challenge for this writer, and really, for the majority of those that cook for the Trayn’d Bandes, to try out and use existing recipes from the 16th century. This recipe was tested and modified by me a few years ago, and has become a favorite of the pikemen and cantoneers, especially when we celebrate Michaelmas or Lammas.
The original recipe for this pastry is from The Good Huswifes Handmaid for Cookerie in her kitchen (1588):
For 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 honey and let seeth till they be soft; then let them soak in the sirrop a day and a night: then take forth and cut them small and then make your tart and season your apples with suger, synamon and ginger and put in a piece of butter and lay a course of apples and between 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 oven and when it is almost baked, take Rosewater and sugar and boyle them together till it be somewhat thick, then take out the Tart and take a feather and spread the rosewater and sugar on the lid and let it not burn.
You will see that in this recipe, as in a great deal of recipes from this time, quantitates aren’t given. I used the original recipe as a procedural and ingredients guide, and through the testing process, determined the amount of ingredients.
Here’s the results:
Apple and Orange Filling
6 medium oranges.
I used Valencia oranges. The sweetness in these are perfect, and mimic the type of oranges that were available during the 16th century. Avoid using navel oranges. The skin on the orange is too thick and will make the tart bitter.
4 cups water
1 1/3 cup honey
14 small apples
I used Macintosh apples, however any small sweet apple will do. Avoid sour apples.
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
2 Tbsp rosewater
A fairly uncommon ingredient in a majority of modern American cooking, rosewater is used a great deal in Middle Eastern cooking, and can be found a most grocery stores that boast “ethnic” cooking aisles.
1 Tbsp sugar
(1) 9″ pie crust and lid
This recipe tastes the best with the crust recipe included, which does not require pre-baking. If you choose to use storebought crust, bake for 10 minutes prior to filling, allowing it to be cool before inserting the ingredients.
Below are the original instructions in red, with the translation in black.
“Take your orenges and lay them in water a day and a night, then seeth them in faire water and honey and let seeth till they be soft; then let them soak in the sirrop a day and a night…”
Soak oranges with the peels on, in room temp water for 24 hours.
In a large saucepan, mix honey with 4 cups of the water used to soak the oranges, add the oranges, bring to a boil, and simmer until the peels on the oranges feel soft. Place the oranges in a container and pour on all the syrup. If there is not enough syrup to completely cover the oranges when weighted, add a little more warm water. Put a plate or other heavy object on top of the oranges to hold them under the syrup, cover your container, and let the oranges soak for 24 hours.
YES. YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY. YOU PREP THE ORANGES FOR 2 DAYS BEFORE YOU EVEN START BAKING.
PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 350 degrees.
“…then take forth and cut them small and then make your tart and season your apples with suger, synamon and ginger and put in a piece of butter and lay a course of apples and between 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…”
Slice oranges and remove the seeds. If the syrup has not completely saturated the rinds, boil the slices in the syrup until the rinds are saturated (this should not be necessary). Chop the oranges into small pieces (I used a blender), and mix in 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp ginger. Peel, core, and quarter your apples, mix them with the remaining sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Make and roll your pie crust. Place a layer of apples on the bottom of the crust, cover with a layer of oranges. Repeat the layering until you’re out of filling. (Typically, you’ll get two layers of each)
“…then lay on the lid and put it in the oven and when it is almost baked, take Rosewater and sugar and boyle them together till it be somewhat thick, then take out the Tart and take a feather and spread the rosewater and sugar on the lid and let it not burn.”
Put on the lid, crimp the edges, and bake for 1 hour. Ten minutes before the pie finishes baking, mix your rosewater and sugar and stir over low heat until it becomes syrupy. Five minutes before the pie finishes baking, remove the pie from the oven, brush on the rosewater syrup, and return the pie to the oven until the hour is up.
As to the pie crust, the same Good Huswifes Handmaid includes recipe for that, too:
“To make paste and to raise coffins. Take fine flour and lay it on a board and take a certaine of yolkes of egges as your quantitie of flower is, then take a certain of Butter and water and boile them together but you muist take heed ye put not too many yolkes of egges, for if you doe it will make it dry and not pleasant in eating, and ye must take heed ye put not in too much Butter, for if you doe, it will make it so find and so short that you cannot raise: and this paste is good to raise all manner of coffins: likewise if ye bake veneson, bake it in the paste above named.”
These are both very similar to modern pie crust recipe.
Here’s the result:
For a 9″ pie:
2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
6 Tbsp water
3 egg yolks
Mix flour and egg yolks. Put butter and water in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted. Add butter and water to flour and egg mixture. Knead until all flour is part of the dough ball. If extra water is needed, add 1 tsp water. Divide in half and roll. No chilling required! Put it in the pie or tart pan, and bake with the recipe above.
So go forth, bake, eat and enjoy! And if you want to see this tart in the encampment, visit us this summer at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, and I’m sure it will be found at least once in our kitchen.
See you in the kitchen!
The Good Huswifes Handmaid for Cookerie in her kitchen (1588)