Philippine Welser’s Strawberry Tart

I’m very busy and today’s recipe is brief again:

39 If you want to make a strawberry tart

Lay the strawberries on the tart base and strew them with sugar, then lay on more strawberries and sugar again, until it is full to the brim (yber let). Then prepare a cut top crust to go on top and let it bake nicely. When it is half baked, put butter on top.

I have written about strawberry tarts in history before, and the recipe in Philippine Welser is among the less interesting ones. It is, however, quite early. At this time, strawberries would have been gathered wild, not cultivated, and the recipe is unlikely to work with modern commercial varieties. European forest strawberries, on the other hand, will probably produce something tasty and cohesive.

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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