Sour Cherry Tarts

A bit after the first recipe for sour cherry tart, Philippine Welser’s recipe collection gives two more:

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.


53 If you want to make a sour cherry tart from juice

Take sour cherries and put them into wine. Let them boil. The wine must be sweet. When you boil it, put in a semel loaf and sugar. Then pass the cherries through and put them into a pan, let them boil and let them cool again. Then take sugar and cinnamon and put it into the above, put it on a tart base, and let it bake for a quarter hour. When you take it out, take melted butter and put it on the tart, and add sugar and cinnamon, that must always go on at the end.

54 To make a different sour cherry tart

Take sour cherries and remove the kernels. Lay them on a (dough) sheet one next to the other and put sugar, butter, raisins and spices on them. Put a thin crust (bedalin) on top and let it bake carefully.

Sour cherries were very popular in German cooking. We find them used in sauces and confections, so putting them in a tart should not be surprising. Aside from the consistency – achieved by thickening the liquid puree with fine wheat bread boiled in it and passed through a sieve – the three recipes are very similar and again attest to a the unadventurous nature of this recipe collection; sugar, cinnamon, butter. This is good, but it must have got old quickly.

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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