Two Fruit Tarts

Another brief post today:

36 If you want to make a sour cherry tart

Prepare a bottom as for other tarts. When it is finished, take a semel loaf, grate it small, and fry it in fat. Then spread it on the bottom and spread it out evenly. Break off the sour cherries (off the stalk) and lay them on this close together. Take out the pits (beforehand), that way it cooks better. Sprinkle them with sugar and cinnamon and make a fine thin cover on top. Cut this as you like and brush it with egg, and let it bake until it is enough.

37 To make a plum tart

Take plums, take out their stones, cut them in two parts and put them in sweet wine. Let them boil well in it, and when they are boiled, put them in a bowl and let them cool. Then put them on the tart base and put in cinnamon, sugar, fresh butter, and a little raisins. Let it bake for a quarter hour and serve it warm.

These are again very close in basic flavour profile to the apple and pear tarts and hints at the limits of the domestic tradition of the Welser household. Sugar, cinnamon, fruit, fat. It is not a bad combination, but it must have got old at some point. The use of grated bread (fried in fat, of course) to stop cherry juice from soaking the bottom crust is interesting, and the problem is one we still have and often solve with grated nuts these days.

I am not entirely sure whether the plums in recipe #37 are fresh or dried, given how they are treated.

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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