Renaissance Nibbles for a Pity Party II

This is the second post on the food served at last weekend’s pity party, and we are now diving into the pastries. These are both from the 1598 Koestlich New Kochbuch by Anna Wecker, my current major translation project.

Renaissance Cookies

An interesting recipe not so much because it tastes especially good, but because it is fun to play with. I tried the second kind with the almonds mixed into the dough, and it turned out all right.

Another way

Take egg yolks and rosewater, one as much as the other, sugar it, add finely ground cinnamon, ginger, saffron, white flour, and a little salt and make a dry dough from it. Roll it into any shape you want, fairly thin, and also spread the almond filling (zeug) on part of it. Fold another piece over it and press it down with moulds or pastry wheels or pick it out as you wish. You can also make shapes like sausages. Bake it in a pastry pan. You can also work a little butter (ancken) into the dough. And you can also shape such a dough into whatever form you want by itself or cut it like ginger roots (ingwerzeen) and fry it in fat, but it is better baked in a pastry pan. It is also better for the sick because the fat takes a lot of its strength and is difficult to digest.

Another way

Prepare a dough as described above and work two or three egg yolks, the same quantity of rosewater, a vierling of almonds or half a one, depending on good you wish to have it and what you can handle. Roll it out as you wish, round or long, and bake it in the pan or the oven. It is most skilfully done round like plates. Or roll it out and cut it with a pastry wheel to the length and breadth of a waffle (gofferen oder eysen kuechlein), Make it hot (the waffle iron?) as though you wanted to bake waffles, lay it on and press it together a little, as usual. Bake it slowly, These are all strengthening things if a patient desires to eat fried foods. Otherwise fritters are not suitable (?selten) for the sick because, as people say, it dries you out. And it is true, it dries you out in that you enjoy a drink with it. You can also shape or mould many different things from such a dough, such as antlers, all kinds of lovely ropes, skins, hats, seashells, hunting horns and all kinds of hunting gear, silkworms (Seidenwuerm), Nespel, Kesten, artful bags, pouches and everything else if you are skilful. Think up each by yourself or have moulds made. That way it works easiest. Bake (or fry) it as you like.

A cookie dough made without butter is strange to modern tastes, and that was the main obstacle to people enjoying it. Opting to bake rather than fry them, I took the opportunity to try two batches at different temperatures (slow at 180°C, hot at 210°C), and the second definitely turned out better. I suspect that rolling and folding this dough, even without the addition of fat, would improve it further. But the consistency was satisfying and it tasted lovely of sugar, rosewater, and spices.

Tart of Dates, Figs and Onions

This was a recipe that above all caused me to wonder whether it would ever work. It turned out fairly successful, though the flavour combination is unconventional.

A tart of dates

Take the dates and cut them open at one end so that you can take out the stone and also the white skin. Cook them with whole (undiluted/unadulterated?) Malvasier (malmsey wine) that is broken with rose or quince water.

When they have been boiled and are beginning to become soft, have cleaned figs and onions ready, cut in half so that they become like the dates (in size and shape?). Let them boil along with them (the dates) like you do for a fine thin sauce (bruehlein).

Then lay into a prepared pastry case each one fig, then one date, and the onions between. Strew them well with sugar below and above, lay small pieces of fat on it, and sprinkle cinnamon water on it, that is better for sick people than cinnamon.

Put a nicely cut lid on top, bake it, and when the pastry case hardens, pour in the broth that remained together with cinnamon water. Bake it nicely moist, but still not too wet. The broth should finely spin in it like a syrup.

And you may thus also cook such stuff as you know for Feigenpfeffer (figs in spicy sauce) or fry them on skewers like you do with figs and apples.

The sugar actually turned out nicely syrupy and the spices worked very well. Onions always go better with sweet dishes than I expect – I should be used to this by now. I had most of the cooking happen inside the pastry case because the dried fruit were quite soft already, and the result was a lovely combination of flavours and textures. A bit on the sweet side, but very pleasant.

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