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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