Pumpkin pie from the Oeconomia

October is past, but I was still mildly surprised to find this

Pumpkin tart (Kuchen)

You cook the flesh of the pumpkin in water and then pass it through (a cloth or sieve) like boiled peas. Pour in milk and stir in a few egg yolks along with it, also add a little butter, and season it with pepper or cloves, otherwise it chills too much.

Book III, page 84 (233 in pdf)

While this is referred to as Kuchen, not, as we would expect, Torte, this is clearly a filling for a pie, not a cake. It also lacks the sugar that defined pumpkin pie today, but the ancestry is suggestive. Of course this is not the earliest such recipe (that honour belongs to Maestro Martino of Como, recipe IV.4,, as early as 1450):

Take some squash and clean well and grate as you would cheese; and boil for a little while in good broth or good milk. Take a large amount of fresh cheese, as in the above recipes, adding and mixing with it a little good, aged cheese. Take a libra of good pork belly or veal’s udder that has been well boiled and finely chopped with a knife. If desired, in place of these two things, you can use butter or rendered lard, adding a half libra of sugar, a little ginger, and cinnamon, with a cup of milk and six eggs. When it appears to you that the squash is done, remove from the water and pass through a stamine; and make this mixture yellow with some sesame oil; then put it in a pan with a thin layer of dough on the bottom, but not on the top, and apply moderate heat from below and above; and when it appears to you to be done, layer on top, in place of the crust, with some small lasagne. When it is sufficiently cooked, top with some good sugar and rose water.

(quoted after: The art of cooking : the first modern cookery book / composed by The Eminent Maestro Martino of Como ; edited and with an introduction by Luigi Ballerini ; translated and annotated by Jeremy Parzen ; and with fifty modernized recipes by Stefania Barzini, University of California Press 2005)

However, Coler’s entry suggests a widespread practice. And no doubt some Pennsylavania Dutch will be more than happy to lay claim to it as evidence of being responsible for this most American of autumn pleasures.

Johann Coler’s Oeconomia ruralis et domestica was a popular book on the topic of managing a wealthy household. It is based largely on previous writings by Coler and first appeared between 1596 and 1601. Repeatedly reprinted for decades, it became one of the most influential early works of Hausväterliteratur. I am working from a 1645 edition.

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