Period Cooking – Apple tart

In late August the culinary group for my SCA was testing recipes for Samhain, an event in November. One of the members brought an apple pie/tart that was super delicious, and with my backyard tree producing SO many big apples this year, I kept a few for myself and made a pie/tart myself similar to the one she’d made.

I didn’t go to a period source right off the bat to make my pie – I didn’t want to spend hours trying to figure things out… Instead I started with a recipe from Anecdotes & Apple Cores, for a puff pastry apple tart.

I wasn’t feeling especially “follow the directions”-ish though – and since she was using regular store-bought apples, and I was looking at backyard apples which are smaller and more tart, I figured I could wing it a bit anyways.

The culinary member opted to leave the skins on the apples, so I did as well – which I think will improve the fibre of the dish, and lets the apples keep more of their shape.

I did three different versions:

Version one Version 2 Version 3
Used sweetener and brown sugar Used less sweetener and brown sugar than Version 1 Same sweetener as Version 2
Diced the apples to 1cm cubes approx

Used 4 backyard apples for 2 tarts

Sliced apples instead of dicing them

Used 8 backyard apples for 5 tarts

Same apples as Version 2
Only spice used was cinnamon Added cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg Added cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg

Added pecan halves

When all my pastry was used up, I added the remaining liquid from version 2 to one tart (version 2.1…) which made it really juicy, the juice didn’t spill when I ate it, but I pinched the tart a lot to keep it sealed – which is good, because a little bit of juice I spilled on the parchment burned and was unpleasant.

Apple tart/pie progress… next shot… me eating them. Not shown… cus… delicious !

A post shared by Dawn (@sadinadawn) on

Although we wouldn’t do the version with nuts for the feast (because of allergies) – the pecan one was absolutely my favourite. They were all good at room temperature, but better when warm out of the oven 🙂

Period…ish

Apple tart in a puff pastry shell - using backyard apples

Apple tart in a puff pastry shell – using backyard apples

Puff pastry was apparently invented in 1645, which puts it within the SCA period, but really late. The culinary group member opted to use store-bought puff pastry because it would be faster than making her own pie crust this time around, and the group liked it so much it’s the intention for the feast itself.

I did find several pie & tart recipes from the SCA period – but none of them used puff pastry…

From A Propre new booke of Cokery, a recipe is remarkably similar to the one I used for the apples…except I didn’t include the ginger. I also pre-cooked the apples, rather than having them cook in the shell- since I didn’t want to over-cook the pastry.

Das Kochbuck der Sabina Welserin, a 16th century collection of German recipes is likewise similar, though omits butter.

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5 comments on “Period Cooking – Apple tart

  1. Yum! We have a cooking-apple tree in our back yard (no apples at this time of the year, of course) and I am thinking of things to do with them. I don’t know about making my own puff pastry, though!

    • Dawn says:

      I need to come up with more things to do with my apples too…. this year was a great harvest, but I couldn’t even think of what to do with half of them…(goodness knows my waistline doesn’t need more pies!) – maybe next year I’ll get another good crop and come up with some more options.

  2. Josephine Washington says:

    I can smell them from here! They look mouth wateringly good. The large ones at the top with the pastry folded up around them look very present day French. I guess where I live is still in the middle ages! Cinammon, nutmeg and cloves were made for apples, do you think they were very expensive in those days? I wonder when they became more common. Great article again. Thanks

    • Dawn says:

      I’m afraid I don’t really know about cost…. I did take a class on spices once where the instructor offered up the common spices, and then spice alternatives – perhaps for cost, perhaps for availability? Not sure. I know that a lot of exploration was done to find new routes for spices along with other trade goods, so spices had a lot of value… but I don’t know which spices might have been reserved for upper class, and out of the reach of common folk…. I bet some of the folks in the culinary group would know that kind of thing though!

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