Of Coffins and Marchpanes #GBBO

Mistress Agnes has heard that there hath been something called ‘Tudor Week’ on Great British Bake Off (whatever that be). Apparently good folk doth bake pies in Tudor style and then in a most peculiar fashion they eat the pastry! Here be an extract from the book that Mistress Agnes helped write, which do speak further on the subject.

CCCC front cover“Puddings, previously baked in animal entrails, were, by the early seventeenth century, wrapped in a pudding cloth and lowered into the cooking pot for boiling. Sweet and savoury would be cooked together in this way. Meat, flavoured with herbs, could be placed in an earthenware pot, with a little butter. This was sealed with a pastry strip and submerged in the cauldron. The use of the sealed pot, or jug, reduced cooking time and was the principle behind the digester, a form of pressure cooker invented by the Frenchman Papin in 1682. Pies were baked in pastry casings or coffins. Initially, these coffins were a cooking method, intended to hold the ingredients together; the pastry would have been too hard to be eaten. Pottery pie ware was also used to make pies; even the top might be pottery. A hollow pottery handle, similar to a modern saucepan handle, provided a method of removing the hot pan from the fire safely. A stick would be inserted into the handle in order to lift it off the heat, so no oven gloves were required. Open pastry tarts were also popular and gradually it became customary to eat the pies’ pastry casing as well as the contents.

Various novelty fillings were presented in pies, of both the pottery and pastry kind, in order to impress guests. This included live offerings: hence the ‘four and twenty blackbirds’. The Duke and Duchess of Buckingham, entertaining Charles I in Rutland in the 1620s, served a child dwarf, Jeffery Hudson, in a cold pie.”

Then they did serve marchpanes on that strange phenomenon that be the Great British Bake Off. This is a favourite of Sir Francis’, the only one of us who can afford such delicacies. There be a wonderous recipe for marchpane (that you modern folk called marzipan) here and our own website doth have links to more of the food of our time, amongst other things. For those of you that can read, we recommend our book about our daily lives.

Swords and Spindles offer talks about the food and cookery of their times and are presenting a family fun day on 24 October, where folk of all ages can learn more of our time and try on armour or clothing, help Mistress Agnes with butter-churning, take part in pike drill and much more. Book a consultation with Master Christopher here.

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