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The first thing you are likely seeing here is a recipe. I try to translate one recipe from a historical source every day, and here is where I post them. When I have time to experiment, I also post reports on actually trying out the dishes or short articles on other historical questions I find interesting. But mostly, it is recipes. I hope you enjoy them.

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Raisin Tart

After devoting so much time to my ahistorical hamburger soteltie, I am finally back to properly old stuff. A raisin tart recipe:

38 If you want to make a raisin tart

Take a bottom like for another tart and strew it with raisins, on the bare crust and so that it is well covered in one place as much as in another. Then sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and make a thin, cut cover to go on top. When it is half baked, pour in a malfasyer (Malvasier, malmsey wine) or a ronfal (Reinfal, Ribolla gialla wine) into it and brush it with egg, and let it bake fully.

I must admit I am not sure how this one works in a purely technical sense. Dry raisins baked in a pastry crust, even with the addition of wine halfway through, sound unappealing to me. I would expect some kind of softening, maybe a parboiling, like we see in the recipe for fig tart. Maybe we are talking about softer raisins than we tend to get today – I will have to try the recipe with some Persian or Uzbek ones. Still, I do not hold out high hopes for this one.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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Illusion Burgers

My son spent the weekend with me. We made burgers.

That is, of course, not the whole story. It begins with a tradition of illusion foods that goes back to at least the Hellenistic era and was very strong in medieval Europe. Sotelties, dishes meant to look artful or simply represent something other than they were fascinated the rich and powerful. My son knows about this, of course – I keep boring him with history, but he does get the good bits. And for over a year, we were talking about producing an illusion hamburger whenever we passed though a station called Hamburger Straße. This weekend, we did it and inflicted the result on an unsuspecting grandmother.

Starting off with the basics: There are two kinds of burger patties. The darker ones are butter cookies made with plenty of cocoa powder. The recipe involved 220g of flour, 125g of sugar, 125g of butter, an egg, and 30g of cocoa. I baked them at a low temperature to produce thick cookies and overbaked them, having to trim some burnt edges. The lighter kind consists of 3 parts walnuts to two parts dates, processed together. It is best to first turn the walnuts to a powder and then gradually add the dates until you get the consistency you want. Then, you can hand-shape it into patties. In the process, I learned that adding some dried breadcrumbs to soak up excess oil is both practical and frugal.

Then, the buns. These are simply homemade brioche, a yeast-leavened dough of pastry flour, butter, sugar, milk and egg. I sprinkled them with sesame because this is common on hamburger buns here. Just buying brioche buns could have served much the same purpose – I do not like sweet bread with my burgers normally, but many do.

Of course, burgers stand or fall with their condiments. We served mustard, ketchup, and remoulade relish, with lettuce, tomato, onion rings, and pickle slices along with some extra spice powder. It was an unimaginative setup to be honest, but it worked, and of course none was as it seemed.

To start with the least convincing: The lettuce leaves were cut from edible paper, a task suited to the abilities and patience level of a seven-year-old. Actual leaves, perhaps of lamb’s lettuce, or a meadowsweet salad, would appear more convincing and still match the flavour, but it is February and this was what we did.

The mustard is supermarket vanilla pudding from a bag, beaten with a little cream and tinted yellow with commercial food dye. I could have used saffron, but the cost militates against doing that for a stunt. The same vanilla pudding also went into the remoulade, though it was made with less liquid for a firm consistency, then beaten to break down the jelly-like cohesion. I added finely chopped candied citron, pear peel, and grated baking chocolate to simulate garlic, herbs, and pepper. The ketchup is strawberry jam, in this case homemade, passed through the finest mesh of a foodmill and stirred until nearly liquid. Again, spices are simulated by grated baking chocolate. The process was so much fun that my son produced another bowl of chocolate powder to use as “extra pepper”.

Then there are the vegetables. The tomato slices are utterly unconvincing, but then, they were the counsel of despair. After several failed attempts to make commercial gelatin stand firm enough to cut or improvise containers that would make discs that could be unmoulded, I grabbed a bag of berry-flavoured fruit gum and melted it in a pot.

Poured out into the lid of a bisquit tin, it set firm enough to use a cookie cutter on the next morning, but of course it does not look at all like tomatoes and the sesame added for “seeds” does not help us suspend disbelief. Dyed apple rounds might have worked better.

The pickle slices, on the other hand, went very well. These are sections of thin, long-stemmed pears soaked in a heavy sugar syrup flavoured with lemon juice. I was going to add a few pieces of apple cut out with a melon baller for onions as well as shreeded peel for dill and paprika, but lacked the time and patience in the end.

Finally, the onion rings were cut from cross-sections of Granny Smith apples using a succession of round cookie cutters. Starting on the outside and working your way in got me the best results, but there is not a lot of material in an average-sized apple. I stored the slices in a mix of cold water and lemon juice until just before serving to stop them from turning brown, which worked very well.

And how did all of this end up tasting? Surprisingly good, actually. The mustard and remoulade were just sweet, but added a little much-needed moisture to an otherwise dry affair. Combining the brioche with the date-walnut patty worked better than with the crumbly, chocolate-y cookie, but even the latter was not bad. Adding pear and apple proved a winning combination for me while my son favoured the jelly tomatoes. Of course, just baking a cake could have achieved much the same end in purely culinary terms, but much fun was had by all. Hints of recreating this for a birthday party have already been dropped.

We invited grandma for cake in four weeks’ time. Plans are proceeding apace.

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Two Fruit Tarts

Another brief post today:

36 If you want to make a sour cherry tart

Prepare a bottom as for other tarts. When it is finished, take a semel loaf, grate it small, and fry it in fat. Then spread it on the bottom and spread it out evenly. Break off the sour cherries (off the stalk) and lay them on this close together. Take out the pits (beforehand), that way it cooks better. Sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon and make a fine thin cover on top. Cut this as you like and brush it with egg, and let it bake until it is enough.

37 To make a plum tart

Take plums, take out their stones, cut them in two parts and put them in sweet wine. Let them boil well in it, and when they are boiled, put them in a bowl and let them cool. Then put them on the tart base and put in cinnamon, sugar, fresh butter, and a little raisins. Let it bake for a quarter hour and serve it warm.

These are again very close in basic flavour profile to the apple and pear tarts and hints at the limits of the domestic tradition of the Welser household. Sugar, cinnamon, fruit, fat. It is not a bad combination, but it must have got old at some point. The use of grated bread (fried in fat, of course) to stop cherry juice from soaking the bottom crust is interesting, and the problem is one we still have and often solve with grated nuts these days.

I am not entirely sure whether the plums in recipe #37 are fresh or dried, given how they are treated.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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Fig Tart

Just a short recipe today:

35 If you want to make a tart of small figs (fegalein)

Take small figs, as many as you want, and prepare them as cleanly as you can. Prepare a tart base with high edges, and when the figs are nicely prepared, first parboil them in water and when they are parboiled, lay them on the base next to each other and sprinkle them with cinnamon, sugar, and a little pepper. Occasionally add fat of an ox or marrow, that is even better. If you do not have those, put on fat (schmaltz) ob it. Prepare a fine and thin cover (bedalin) on top that is whole (i.e. not cut) , and once it is half baked, make a hole in the top of the lid and pour in good wine, not much, and let it bake fully quite slowly.

This sounds like it could be quite attractive: Parboiled dried figs (most likely dried – you can grow figs in South Germany if you know what you are doing, but it takes a lot of effort) with cinnamon, sugar, pepper, and just a touch of wine. A wintertime treat, I think.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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In Praise of the Cow

An extra for today: A fourteenth-century paean to domestic bovines.

L0029211 A woman milking a cow, woodcut, 1547 Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org A woman milking a cow. Coloured Woodcut 1491 Ortus sanitatis Arnaldus de Villanova, Published: 1491 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Here begins the praise of the cow

Many men praise the love of their heart
So must I quietly and loudly
Bemoan that men toll bells
For those without virtue.
Men toll for old women
When they die, 
That is great labour.
We should rather toll bells eagerly
For the good cow. 
She gives us the white milk
Pure and clabbered (? gelebet)
Of which you are proud
At home when it is well salted.
It also makes good cheeses
And whey thick and thin
That is the pleasure of children.
Porridges (mus und brye) made with milk,
that is also a good cry,
When one shouts out „It is ready“
Many people are happy,
No better food was found
Between Bolzano and Salerno
Than those, I am sure.
She also makes good delicacies
Which you lay by the beets
And treat people to them
While you make light with the tallow:
Sausages of the brain
And the forehead makes
Tough leather for flails
(That is also good)
With which you thresh the grain
Pure or mixed.
He who has a good beef roast
Will gain a soup if he has a roast
She also provides a delicacy called marrow
That makes people strong
And from the bones you make
Dice, big and small
Those run over the board quickly
And many a knave gambles away his skin
Which makes him angry.
From the horns we get
Good combs;
What young children there are
You should attend to well with those
As it should properly be done.
Lanterns made of horn
You are also glad to have
If you put your light inside
It is good against the wind.
I also say more of the horn,
Those who are aching in the back
Are scratched with it.
And the hunters have a custom
That they have chosen for themselves
They hold the horn by a strap
So they can blow it often. 
And those who wish to raise birds
Larks or finches
You give those their drink from it.
You arm the bolt (?)
In front with cow horn.
Of horn you work diligently
To shape knife handles.
Thus the scribes see
Their horns go empty
As they write for people.
From the skin we make
Good wide boots
Derm (belly?) leather serves well
For feet and soles
And, in truth, for bags (wotsecke)
And covers over the pack saddle,
You would not want to be without those,
Chest leathers (armour?), funnels, helmet decorations (helmshorn), 
You also strap spurs with it.
And I will not be silent
But talk of the waterskin
From which you pour the wine
That is also of the cow.
So are the useful collars 
In which the draft horses pull things
And the straps for yokes
Nobody will gainsay 
That cattle also pull things with those.
And many men will have
Belts, broad and narrow, 
Those are worn everywhere
With buckles of bone on them
Women and men wear them. 
Gloves and thimbles,
If you need those, you are happy,
And bags and pouches.
You make bottles of leather
And the funnels and stoppers in them
To keep the wine in.
Straps and scabbards
For both sword and knife
And the wide(?) fodder container (fuotervaz).
I must make yet more verse
The bellows must be here
That is what smiths demand.
Then there is their fine tail,
That makes a good wedel (flywhisk?)
When you are to shoe horses
You shall defend them with it (against flies?),
The organ’s high tones
All of that comes from the skin,
From the sinews the attachment
For the bell clapper,
Hawk hoods, wrapping bands
Armguards, leg wrappings,
Gauntlets of leather, 
All of that is made of leather
Which came from the cow
As we all have heard.
I also speak of covers:
You make bags from skins
And covers and the helmet
As you carry it to the tourney
So it stays beautiful
And drives away rust.
You also cover 
Shield and buckler with sinew
And with cow skin
That I say to the people.
The strap on the kettle helm (kezzelhuot)
Is worn well by knights and sergeants.
A (folding) chair of the skin 
Is good for a cushion
A bishop sits on it
He cultivates a fine mind.
I also will not avoid saying
That the skin is used for catapults
And I will say more yet
In suspended carriages (dem hangenden Wagen)
You have cow skins,
Brides sit upon it
I tell you more yet of the skin
You make large books of it
From which you sing or read.
What else is come of the skin,
drums big and small (trummen und tammuren)
you should not be sad when they are played.
And those are not dreams:
Whips, halters, reins,
Stirrups, saddle straps, rearstraps,
chest straps and bags, understand this
Leather padding (?gegenleder), leather straps,
A man rides(?) the better,
And saddles are adorned finely
With leather and with bone.
I must now make an effort:
Children play with the knuckles
And I should also think of
The cushions on benches;
They are covered in skin
In that one is not mistaken.
The wooden pattens are exempted
On which you step up tall
But shoes, wide and narrow,
The short and also the long,
And leather patches, in truth.
From the hair you make
Stuffing, rope and felt
Thus you make zaumgetilz (adornments for harnesses?)
And for the children a ball
For all of them to run after
Both forward and back.
You nail the tail to a door
And pull it open and shut with it
All of this comes from the cow. 
The praise is not complete yet
Which I have thought of for the cow
For she bears young calves
That grow into cows and oxen
Fat calves innards
And the heads are not bad
Boiled and roasted
You take comfort with them. 
None of this is a lie:
Crossbows and horn bows
Would not be worth half an egg
All would break into pieces
If it wasn’t for the tough sinews
That you get from the cow.
The Zerfe (spanning string?) with which you string,
As someone who goes abroad (taking to the field?),
A cover (?scheiden) over your crossbow,
That is a joy to them. 
And you take the hooves,
The black and the grey,
And turn paternoster beads from them
To scare away the devil.
You think I would blush
If I forgot the bladder
This is a good bag for spices (pfeffersag)
And once it has cured for four days
It becomes a toy.
If you want to scare a dog,
Tie a bladder to his tail
He will think it is hail
And cry out with anger.
And people learn to swim on them,
Both young children and older boys,
When they are on the water.
And thus the lute sounds further,
Those who have no glass for their windows
They take up frames
With many good flemen (guts? rawhide?)
To cover their windows in
According to old custom. 
Liver, kidney, lung
Heart, throat, tongue
Spleen, galantines, feet
The mullin (intestinal fat?) so pleasant
Many kinds of guts
Whiter than ermine.
And then I tell you plaintively:
I have forgotten the stomach
And the udder so very good
That you roast over the embers
And the fat rectum.
The ordure is taken away warm
And spread over the ground,
He who would clear poor lands
Needs much dung for that.
It is better to mourn a good cow
Than an evil old woman, 
That young people are joyful
Was ever the displeasure of the old. 
So many blessings (genade) come from a cow,
The king does not know to do better.
Thus ends the poem of the cow
I should not think this overly hard work. 

An exhaustive list of all good things to come from the cow, interesting particularly because we have no German recipes from the 1340s, but can relate some later ones to the foods mentioned here. A few details stand out – keeping spices in dried bladders, using cow tails as doorhandles, and horns as bird feeders. Overall, it is an interesting look at the domestic economy of the fourteenth century, very likely written just before the Black Death hit.

Der König vom Odenwald is an otherwise unknown poet whose work is tentatively dated to the 1340s. His title may refer to a senior rank among musicians or entertainers, a Spielmannskönig, but that is speculative. Many of his poems are humorous and deal with aspects of everyday life which makes them quite interesting to us today. The evident relish with which he describes food and the fact his work is first recorded in a manuscript owned by the de Leone family led scholars to consider him the author of the Buoch von Guoter Spise, but that is unlikely.

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Quince Tarts

Philippine Welser also has two recipes for quince tarts:

(C)Guy Ackermans 2005

34 If you want to make a tart of quinces

Take 6 or 7 quinces, peel and clean them whole, and boil them in water before you peel them. Then peel them as thinly as you can, and take out the cores. Then pound them in a mortar and put it into a bowl. Take half a pound of well pounded sugar with it, rosewater on account of the scent, and eight newly laid eggs, but only the whites. Mix all of this together, and if you want, add spices to it. Prepare a tart base as usual and put the above on it, and let it bake slowly.

45 If you want to make a quince tart

Take several quinces, grate them, and press out the juice. Take other quinces and cut slices from them, and steam them in the juice you pressed out. Afterwards, put them on the tart base and put ginger, cinnamon, much sugar, and raisins on it. You can also do this with pureed quinces (er dryben), Make a crust on top, or do as you please, and let it bake nicely. When you wish to serve it, sprinkle it well with sugar.

This is very close to the way she makes apple and pear tarts, with no particular surprises to be had. One interesting point in recipe #45 is the way quince juice – pressed from the grated fruit – is used to parcook the quince slices that go into the tart. That is necessary, of course; quinces are much harder than apples or pears. The choice to use laboriously rendered juice, though, suggests that the flavour of the quince thus concentrated was greatly prized. This also means that the tarts will be less rich than the apple or pear ones that use fat for parcooking. Their fruitier, lighter taste could well appeal more to modern diners.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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A Liver Tart

Another one of Philippine Welser’s tart recipes, and this one shows how much modern tastes have changed:

40 If you want to make a liver tart

Take a calf’s liver, let it boil well and chop it small afterwards. Take 4 sage leaves, 3 marjoram steydlin (branches? bundles?) and spikenard or roses so that it smells of it, and chop it with the liver. Then take half a pound of sugar, 2 spoonfuls of pepper, a handful of pounded almonds, a handful of grated semel bread, 9 eggs, and a piece of fat as large as for a water soup. Stir these things well together, salt it a little, and pour it on a tart bottom. Let it bake gently for about an hour. Take half of the abovementioned almonds, add sugar and rosewater, and when the tart is just baked enough, spread the moistened almonds on it as thinly as possible with your finger so it is covered as thinly as possible all over. Then let it bake another half of a quarter hour, thus it is proper.

The recipe is comfortably set between one for strawberry tart and a pancake made with grated bread and almonds, clearly not out of place there. I doubt even many adventurous modern eaters could be brought around to it, though. The idea of eating meat in a sweet dish has become quite alien to the European palate. We can still see how liver goes well with pepper, sage and marjoram and might countenance almonds – effectively a filler, really – but sugar in this quantity is disconcerting. Depending on the amount of liquid involved, this looks to become either a liver custard or a sweet variety of Leberwurst. I must admit it makes me curious enough to try it, but I would still not serve it to anyone.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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Pear Tarts

After a longer hiatus than I would have wanted, finally some new recipes. And again, it is fruit tarts:

Kochbirnen, courtesy of wikimedia commons

28 If you want to make a pear tart

Take 2 pounds of pears, Regel birenn (cooking pears similar to wardens) or others that are good roasting pears. Let them roast in the fire a little, but not much. Then put them in fresh water and clean them well. Then grate them small and fry them in a butter for a short time. Then put them in a bowl and add half a pound of sugar, an ounce of cloves, an ounce of cinnamon, all pounded, and rose water that smells nice. Further take eight eggs with it and add a little salt. Stir it all together, make a tart base as for other tarts, and bake it with little heat above and below.

29 If you want to make a pear tart

Take good pears and cut about 10 or 12 slices from them. Turn them over in flour and then fry them a little. Let them cool and lay them on the tart base, two layers, then strew sugar, cinnamon, and a little ginger on it. You an also not put a top crust on it if you wish. Let it bake nicely, and before you serve it, let it brown (yber schlagenn) and then strew sugar on it.

30 If you want to make a pear tart

Take pears and cut slices from them, fry (schwem) them in hot fat, take them out and let them cool. Lay them on a tart base close to each other, and if you think it is too thin, put another layer on top. Put raisins on it, sugar, cinnamon, and a little ginger, and make a cut top crust to go on top. Let it bake, and brush it with egg before.

31 If you want to make a pear tart

Take good pears and cut 4 slices from them, and take the slices and cut small notches (? krmelin) into them, not all the way through, but one cut next to the other. Fry (schwem) the pears in fat before so they turn nicely brown, then cut them and lay them on the tart base one beside the other. Strew them with sugar, cinnamon, and a little ginger, and let it bake gently.

32 If you want to make a tart of chopped pears

Take pears and chop them small. Take grated bread and fry it in fat, add sugar and spices to the pears such as cinnamon and a little ginger, and pour them into the fat and fry them. Stir them and put them into a bowl, then put them on a tart base and let it bake nicely.

33 If you want to make a tart of pureed pears and quinces

Take pears and a few quinces and steam them, and grind them to a puree in a mortar. Then add sugar, cinnamon, and a little ginger, and stir it well together. If the mass (der dayg) is too thin, add a little grated bread until it is right. Then pour it on the tart base and let it bake gently so it does not turn too hard, otherwise it is not good.

These are broadly very similar to the apple tart variations found earlier in the same collection., but there are a few interesting points. Recipe #28 is noteworthy for providing quantities which we usually lack. Two pounds of pears with eight egg whites and half a pound of sugar give us an idea what size tart we are talking about at least, and do not sound entirely implausible in proportion. I find the quantity of spices difficult to imagine, though. While the ounce, like the pound, could vary regionally, even a small version of around 26 grammes seems far too much for a single tart. It may need trying out.

Recipe #31 is interesting in its presentation. I am not entirely certain, but the description suggests the quartered pears are sliced in a hassleback style. Given the tart is then baked without a top crust, the point might have been the decorative appearance as well as managing cooking time. We still do this with some versions of apple cake.

Recipe #33 combines pears and quinces in a filling, an interesting approach and probably worth trying out. As with the apples in previous recipes, the pears used here were not like the vsoft, juicy fruit we are used to. Especially the Regelbirne identified by name in Recipe #28 was tart and firm, meant for cooking and suitable for long storage. We can still buy Kochbirnen in season sometimes that come close.

Beyond that, we are again left with an impression of a limited cuisine. For all the varieties listed – and taking up expensive paper – the basic approach seems very similar and the spicing rarely varies. It is hard to see why it was necessary to write all of it down separately.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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As Augsburgian as Apple Pie

At least going by the recipe collection of Philippine Welser, it was a very popular dish:

24 If you want to make an apple tart

Take good apples. Cut about eight slices from each apples, depending on how large they are, and turn them in flour. Fry them, but not as thoroughly as other apple slices. Then lay them out on a tart base and put on another (layer) until the tart base is full. Then take raisins, cinnamon and sugar and strew that on it. Then lay on another layer of apples and strew it again as before. Then put on a thin cover (deckalin) and cut it as you wish. Close it and brush it with egg, and let it bake.

25 If you want to make an apple tart

Take good apples, peel them, and cut them into small slices. Fry (schwems, lit. float) them in fat until they turn brown. Then lay them out on a plate (struck out: on the tart base) and let them cool. Then lay them out on the tart base close together twice (two layers?). After that, take sugar, cinnamon, and a little ginger and sprinkle it all over. Also take raisins. Prepare a cut cover to go on top, brush it with egg, and bake it gently in a tart pan.

26 If you want to make a tart of pureed apples

Take good apples and steam (depf) them until you can pass them through a cloth. Then put them into a bowl and add cinnamon, ginger, and sugar, pour it out on a tart base and bake it nicely. When it firms up well and is about half baked, take rosewater and brush it all over. You can also do this with pears or quinces, or add quinces to this. Also adding a little grated bread is good. Let it bake slowly.

27 If you want to make a tart of chopped apples

Take good, aromatic (wol geschmackt) apples and peel them and chop them small. When they are chopped, take cool fat the size of an egg and melt it in a pan. Then take the chopped apples and add a good handful of raisins and cinnamon and stir it well together. Then put it into the pan into the warm fast and stir it. Take it out into a clean container and sugar it well, and let it cool. Spread it on the tart base, make a cover over it and let it bake. When it is half baked, take it out and pout marrow from the legbone (?marckt Ausem bay) on it, and if you have no marrow, take butter, and let it bake.

This is not quite as varied as the recipes for milk tart, but clearly there were many ways of putting apples into a pie. Interestingly, all of them involve what seems to have been the expected flavour profile – apples go with cinnamon. Further, even allowing for the fact that these were not the crisp, sweet dessert apples we are used to, these fried and sweetened fillings must have been enormously rich and heavy.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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Root Vegetable Tart

Another small recipe today, but an interesting one:

23 To make as root vegetable (raubenn) tart

Take roots (ryeb) and peel them. Then put them in water and let them boil. Then, you pound them very small in a mortar and add six egg yolks and freshly melted butter, sugar, cinnamon and ginger, grated semel bread and a little milk. Salt it well and let it bake a quarter hour, then sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on it.

The first thing modern readers are likely to notice is that, except for the absence of pumpkins, this is a modern pumpkin pie. That is not a surprise given the deep roots that recipe has in Early Modern European cooking, but if you ever felt like using a carved turnip in place of a Jack o’Lantern for Halloween, here is the pie to serve.

The problem or advantage when reconstructing this recipe, depending on how you look at it, is that we don’t really know what kind of root vegetables were used. The word Rüben is not very clear. Used without a qualifier today, it usually means sugar beets, but these are both thoroughly modern and an industrial crop. In old cookbooks, it usually means a turnip, a plant massively out of favour since the end of the World Wars. In the sixteenth century, a variety of root crops were grown across Germany, and the word Rüben could be used to refer to locally dominant types in the same way the English term corn could mean the locally dominant bread grain before the meaning settled on maize. Rüben is the root-y counterpart to Kraut, a term that covers all kinds of leafy greens, and Kraut und Rüben described the vegetable stew a poor family might gather from its kitchen garden. In modern German, it means a disorderly mess.

That said, the Welser family was ridiculously rich. These were people with refined palates and we have no reason to think they allowed anything coarse or tasteless on their tables. A number of root crops make credible candidates, including small turnip varieties like Mairübchen, but also parsnips, salsify, parsley roots, or indeed carrots. They may well have been used at various times during the year, changing the flavour of the dish with the season.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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