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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