Another Pastry Recipe from Cgm 384 II

The fourth recipe has an interesting linguistic twist (I think)

4 A Pastry

A pastry: Take a hard and well-rolled-out dough made with eggs or otherwise, and make a tall coffin (scherben) from it, one hand tall or as tall as you wish. Have ready a young pigeon or young chicken or whatever else of meat you wish or (and?) make it the size of a pot roast (hafen brauten), chop bacon into it, spice it, and colour it while it is raw. Put that into the coffin and close it with a sheet (made) of eggs or another sheet very well so that no steam or anything else may escape. Bake it in an oven. You may also enclose good meat broth in this, or wine, or fat.

Again, you could not accuse this recipe of providing excessive detail. It adds a few points – the height of a pastry (one hand) and the fact that the coffin must be closed tightly to keep in the steam, which makes any kind of leavened crust highly unlikely. The idea is probably to make the meat juices collect and congeal around the cooked meat inside the pastry.

Grapen and Stielgrapen, image courtesy of wikimedia commons

The mention of the hafen brauten is very interesting to me, though. I have never met this phrase in any South German dialect so far, but the Low German equivalent grapenbraden is common in a wide variety of sources. The grapen of North Germany was a typically three-legged cooking pot similar to the English pipkin, though German used the word for both pottery and metal vessels. Hafen or häfen was the South German word for a cooking pot, with local varieties more typically being flat-bottomed. Now, a braden or brauten prepared in a cookpot seems like a contradiction in terms, and the situation is not helped by the fact that later descriptions of grapenbraden clearly state the meat is cut into small pieces, not cooked in one piece as it was in a roast. Here, the size of pieces for hafen brauten is used as a reference point to cooks trying to prepare meat pastries. This tantalisingly suggests three things:

  • Grapenbraden and hafen brauten are not a regional specialty, but a universally familiar way of cooking meat cut into small pieces in a dry heat,
  • The pieces would have been relatively small because large pieces would not be suitable in a meat pastry one hand high with no additional bulky ingredient, and
  • Recipes and techniques for preparing meat pastries can help us reconstruct the elusive grapenbraden.

The whole issue of grapenbraden, what it is and is not, and what role it seems to play on the tables of the Hanseatic cities, is a matter for another post, though.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

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