|A "Cover" Tart, c. 1545|
About the Recipe
- This recipe, To make a couer tart after the French fashyan [To Make a Cover Tart after the French Fashion], comes from A Proper Newe Booke of Cookerye, published in 1545 in Tudor England. Source: www.recipewise.co.uk
- What is interesting about this cookbook is that it offers what is believed to be the first English cookery book that gives recipes for pie crusts that are actually meant to be eaten, not just used as cooking vessels.
- According to Peter Brears in Cooking and Dining in Medieval England (Prospect Books, 2012), “With regard to cereals, wholemeal wheat flour should only be used where specified for, contrary to popular belief, medieval millers and bakers were highly skilled in extracting every grade of flour, from coarsest to the finest. Unbleached white flour is best for general purposes, but ordinary white also gives good results.” This recipe dates to 1545 so I followed this advice regarding the use of all-purpose white flour for the shortcrust.
Modern Recipe Adaptation: To Make a Cover Tart After the French Fashion
- Shortcrust recipe (see below)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 6 egg yolks, large (save the whites for brushing on the top crust)
- 2 Tbsp butter
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cream and the egg yolks. Add the butter and sugar.
- Pour mixture into a medium saucepan and set on medium heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from the heat and pour through a sieve to remove any lumps of curdle egg, if necessary. Let the filling cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a pie plate with the shortcrust pastry. Pour the cooled custard filling into the pastry. Roll out a top crust and cut a hole in the center of it. Cover the top of the pie. Brush the top crust with the remaining egg whites. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.
To make short paste for tarte. (also from A Proper Newe Booke of Cookerye, published in 1545)
Take fine 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.
Modern Recipe Adaptation: Shortcrust
Makes enough for one standard-sized thinly rolled covered pie (bottom and top).
- 2 egg yolks
- Pinch of saffron
- 8oz unbleached all-purpose flour[i], about 1½ cups (plus some extra for flouring the board)
- 4oz unsalted cold butter, diced
- 2-3 tbsp cold water
- Mix together the egg yolks and the saffron and set aside.
- Measure the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and work the butter into the flour using your hands so that the butter is no larger than the size of peas.
- Add the egg/saffron mixture and stir with a spoon.
- Add enough water to make dough come together in a ball of soft dough.
- Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.
- When ready to use, roll out on a well-floured board.