I was excited to see the theme of this month’s Sugar High Friday – The Test of Time – Desserts Over a Century Old. You see, for most of my adult life, I have been very active in a Medieval re-creation group called the SCA, so this theme seemed right up my alley! And it being my first SHF since I began blogging, I’ve been looking forward to it all month.
Eagerly, I went through all of my Medieval books. I knew I had some cookbooks in there. I pulled them out and went through them, looking for the most decadent Medieval dessert I could find.
One book was entirely in Middle English. I like to consider myself adventurous, but I wasn’t ready to be quite THAT adventurous. One book was in French. My best bet was. This is a two volume set of books – one with just the recipes in their original form and one showing modern redactions of the recipes. I’d surely find something wonderful in there!
There were only a very few desserts listed and most of them did not sound very dessert-y to me. Hmm. I knew going in that this would be an issue – you see, in the Middle Ages, dessert was not quite the decadent thing it is today. They usually just had some fruit or something similar. Light, easy, naturally sweet. There was a pie I almost did – but it was a sweet / savory mix involving marrow and parsley. I decided I wanted something more appealing to the modern mind-set (besides, I don’t know where to even get marrow).
Instead, I found a lovely little custard pie called Doucetes. A simple recipe involving cream and honey, it sounded like a winner.
The pie crust I chose for the custard crumpled in on itself miserably. There was no place for the custard to go – it was just kind of a glob of dough. Okay, how about a custard without a crust? That burned. I tasted a less burned portion – not worth redoing.
Let me say that sometimes the Gods of Baking are with you and sometimes they just aren’t. This weekend, I’m pretty sure they were in someone else’s kitchen. Just sayin’.
Into the trash it went and out to the Internet I went. You can find anything on the Internet, right? Right!
After much searching, I found this recipe for a strawberry tart. Although simple, it sounded delicious, and I very conveniently had a big container of fresh strawberries in my fridge. I had seen some other strawberry tarts in my research, but this one seemed simple, quick and delicious. I had recently been eyeing this fruit galette recipe on MyRecipes.com, and since the strawberry tart did not include a crust recipe, I decided to use this one.
Despite the Gods of Baking turning up their noses at me, I managed to at least get this one made. The crust, while delicious, was challenging. It came together quickly and easily, but during rolling became extremely soft and sticky. So sticky that it stuck persistently even to the parchment paper I used to roll it out with.
I filled it with the strawberries as instructed and attempted to fold the edges up, galette style. Sticky, globby, uncooperative. Okay, how about a chill for a while? Into the fridge it went.
After a little while, I took it out and tried again. Much firmer. Too firm, in fact, as it broke when I tried to fold it. Ookkkay, how about a few minutes to relax? After a few minutes – you guessed it – right back to sticky and globby. Sigh.
Eventually, I managed to get it folded over. Not pretty, but folded. I proceeded to follow the recipe as written. Whew! I was really relieved to be getting to that part.
After baking, the pan needed to be tilted to allow the excess juices to flow away while the galette cooled. This worked fine. Unfortunately, my camera and the lighting in the house wasn’t cooperating either (did I mention it was a very frustrating weekend?). None of my pictures came out well and even with some processing, they still look kinda weird. I have a lot to learn about photography!
The end result is that the pie is a actually a very simple and delicious dessert if made with a tasty crust you trust. The strawberries are rich, sweet and very juicy and could probably be served just by themselves without a crust – or maybe as a type of cobbler with the crust on top so it doesn’t get soggy.
Yeah, they knew how to eat, even in the Middle Ages!