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pie doughs

Talk about period recipes & ingredients

pie doughs

Postby digger » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:59 am

Historic dough recipes are hard to come by - especially in pre 1500 recipe collections. There is a wide range of interpretations out there - some work fine, others not that good.
So what recipes do you work with for making pastries and filled baked goods? My experience is that most German and many American writers have lost the knowledge of making propper pastry cases and very often tend to using baking-tins because their doughs can't support the filling while baking and would otherwise lose their shape.

I use a modern recipe for hot water pastry. I decided to do so because the ingredients match more or less those mentioned in one of the "Welser" cookbooks (sorry have to look, which one it was), supposed to be one of the oldest "detailed" (no measurements, no baking times,...) pie dough recipes in Germany.
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Re: pie doughs

Postby Elise_Fleming » Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:52 pm

These aren't pre-1500. The first three come from mid-1600s. The two from Markham might more closely approximate something you could use. Certainly, he describes in more detail what is needed and for what type of dish.


A True Gentlewoman’s Delight, W.I., Gent, London, 1653:

A. To make Paste for a pasty of Venison – Take almost a peck of flower, wet it with two pound of butter, and as much suet, then wet your Pastie, put in the yolks of eight to ten Eggs, make it reasonable lithe paste, then roul it out, and lay on suet, First lay a paper under your paste, then lay on your Venison, close it, pinke it, baste it with buttet, and bake it, when you draw it out, baste it with butter.

B. To make a Paste for a Pie to keep long – Your flower must be of Rye, and your liquor nothing but boiling water, make your paste as stiffe as you can, raise your Coffin vry high, let your bottome and sides be very thick, and your lid also.

C. To make Paste for a Custard – Your Liquor must be boyling water, make your paste very stiffe, then roul out your paste, and if you would make a great Tart, then raise it, and when you have done, cut out the bottom a little from the side, then roul out a thin sheet of paste, lay a paper under it, strew flower that it may not stick to it, then set your coffin on it of what fashion you will, then dry it, and fill it, and bake it.

The English Housewife, Gervase Markham, 1615 – “Of the pastry and baked meats – Next to these already rehearsed, our English housewife must be skilful in pastry, and know how and in what manner to bake all sorts of meat, and what paste is fit for every meat, and how to handle and compound such pastes. As, for example, red deer venison, wild boar, gammons of bacon, swans, elks, porpoise, and such like standing dishes, which must be kept long, would be baked in a moist, thick, tough, coarse, and long lasting crust, and therefore of all other your rye paste is best for that purpose: your turkey, capon, pheasant, partridge, veal, peacocks, lamb, and all sorts of waterfowl which are to come to the table more than once (yet not many days) would be baked in a good white crust, somewhat thick: therefore your wheat is fit for them: your chickens, calves’ feet, olives, potatoes, quinces, fallow deer, and such like, which are most commonly eaten hot, would be in the finest, shortest and thinnest crust; therefore your fine wheat flour which is a little baked in the oven before it be kneaded is the best for that purpose.”

The recipe that follows tells what is needed to make those pastes.

“Of the mixture of pastes – To speak then of the mixture and kneading of pastes, you shall understand that your rye paste would be kneaded only with hot water and a little butter, or sweet seam [clarified animal fat] and rye flour very finely sifted, and it would be made tough and stiff that it may stand well in the raising, for the coffin thereof must ever be very deep: your coarse wheat crust would be kneaded with hot water, or mutton broth and good store of butter, and the paste made stiff and tough because that coffin must be deep also; your fine wheat crust must be kneaded with a much butter as water, and the paste made reasonable lithe and gentle, into which you must put three or four eggs or more according to the quantity you blend together, for they will give it a sufficient stiffening.”

In a note to the Michael R. Best edition, it refers to a 1594 cookery book: “The Good Huswifes Handmaide gives further advice: ‘To make paste, and to raise coffins. Take fine flour, and lay it on a board, and take a certain [quantity] of butter and water, and boil them together, but you must take heed you put not too many yolks of eggs, for if you do, it will make it dry and not pleasant in eating; and you must take heed you put not in too much butter, for if you do, it will make it so fine and so sort that you cannot raise [it]: and this paste is good to raise all manner of coffins.’”

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Re: pie doughs

Postby Elise_Fleming » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:03 pm

For pre-1500 references, there is this in Diuersa Cibaria which is printed in Curye on Inglysch. It is #34 and the line says, "Nim flour of corne and ayren & make past..."

Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery Books includes these lines: "...Take faire floure, Sugur, Saffron, and salt, and make paast ther-of; then make small Coffyns..."

Also, for "Lesenges Fries", "Take floure, water, saffron, sugar, and salt, and make fyne paast ther-of, and faire thyn kakes, and kutte hem like losenges..."

"Chawettys Fryidde: Take & make fayre past of flowre & water, Sugre, & Safround, & Salt; & than make fayre round cofyns ther-of..."

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Re: pie doughs

Postby digger » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:44 pm

Thanks Elise,

I definitely will try some of those. On this matter historic British recipes seem more precise than German ones. Most German recipes I know just say "nimm einen derben teyg" (take a strong/ tough/ rustique/ mushy dough; the German term "derb" in its historic meaning is not very precise) or something like that. Sometimes they specify to add eggs or safran or greece or to let them away.
The main problem is that pastries are out of fashion over here since at least the 1930ies so very few people still now how to make them properly.

I have the "Curye on Inglysh" lying on my desk. When I have finished extracting the "Form of Cury" I will look through the other collections as well.
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Re: pie doughs

Postby Elise_Fleming » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:15 pm

If I may share a recipe that Ivan Day used in his pie and pastry-making course:

Hot Water Paste

2 lb flour
½ lb lard
2 oz butter
½ pint milk (can be water)

He uses rolling pin (one without those handles on the end as in the US) to mix the ingredients since the dough is too stiff for a wooden spoon and too hot for one’s hand.

Heat the water, butter, and lard to the boiling point. Pour into a well in flour. Mix using a rolling pin. Let rest, covered with wet cloth, in a warm place for an hour or more.

He used this to make raised coffyns so it should be sturdy enough. The period sources seem to imply rye flour for those raised coffyns, but this was wheat. Of course, British wheat flour is a bit different from the US wheat flour. I don't know how British flour compares to German flour.
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Re: pie doughs

Postby TerryL » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:58 pm

Do they do 'Jus-Rol' versions of those?

:-D
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Re: pie doughs

Postby Elise_Fleming » Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:21 pm

TerryL wrote:Do they do 'Jus-Rol' versions of those? :-D


Must be British. Please explain?
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Re: pie doughs

Postby TerryL » Fri Nov 18, 2011 9:29 pm

Elise_Fleming wrote:
TerryL wrote:Do they do 'Jus-Rol' versions of those? :-D


Must be British. Please explain?


A brand of ready-made pastry from the supermarket - keep it in the fridge, just thaw and roll it out.
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Re: pie doughs

Postby Tomas de Courcy » Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:03 am

I have about fourteen pre 1600 recipes for pastry cases, but my research project on that is currently on hold until I have more time. However, last year I did some research on two types of coffin. The whole thing is here: http://www.sca.noaharney.com/an-examination-of-coffins/ but the one you're probably looking for is:

Fourme of Curye (1390) .Cxj.

take blank suger & ayroun & flour &
make a past with a rollere

And modern version:
2 C Flour
12 Egg Yolks
¼ C Sugar

Beat the sugar into the egg yolks until thickened and the colour begins to change
Mix in flour slowly with spoon, and then by hand until dough is heavy and accepts no more flour
Roll out thinly (1/4” or less)
Lay in form
Bake at 425 for about 15 minutes
Fill, cover if needed, and re-bake without form

Yes, that's correct, three ingredients. It makes a pie shell that will stand up to anything. It's blind baked, and I used a form for the blind baking, but that is not required at all if you want to form it by hand instead and blind bake it.

Give it a shot. It's completely replaced the modern hot water crust I was using for coffins.

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Re: pie doughs

Postby Louise W » Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:50 pm

I haven't visited the forum in a long time and just read Elise's list of dough recipes. I wish I had read it before last weekend's Catalan feast. I see clues to problems I was having preparing cases for my May Herb torte. I wanted to raise a pie crust using Sabina Welserin's hot water crust. What I usually do in MY kitchen quickly, took me so long I had to resort to purchased pastry. I just couldn't produce 14 in the time allowed. I think the cold metal counter of the institutional kitchen pulled too much heat from the dough. Reading the recipes I also wonder if my boiling water had cooled too much by the time I actually used it. Thank you for posting the dough excerpts. I'm going to try again and see if I can figure out what went wrong.
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