Chastlete-art - 4/4/02
"Chastlete, a Pastry Castle" by Lady Constance de LaRose.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
[This is the documentation submitted with the actual castle soteltie]
by Constance de LaRose
This project started when I was looking through cookbooks in preparation for a meeting of the Loch Salann Cooks Guild. Since I was in charge of the preparations for this meeting and dinner, I was searching for something new and different. In a book of redactions (1), I found a recipe for a pastry castle. I added this to the menu as a lovely way to serve the dessert (strawberries and cream). I ran into some problems in finding information on period pastries that would hold the castle shape through the baking process and finally had to eliminate the pastry castle from the menu. However, I now considered this a personal challenge and determined to find the original recipe(s) and make it work. This entry is the result.
THE ORIGINAL RECIPE:
The recipe in Pleyn Delit was more of a description than a recipe and directed the making of four castle towers about a square center courtyard. It references a recipe in "Forme of Curye" so I went to my "Curye On Inglysch" book to find the recipe:
"Chastletes. Take and make a foyle of gode past with a rollere of a foot brode, & lynger by cumpas. Make iiii coffyns of te self past vppon te rollere te gretnesse of te smale of tyn arem of vi ynche dep; make te gretust in te myddell. Fasten te foile in te mouth vpwarde, & fasten te otere foure in euery syde. Kerue out keyntlich kyrnels above, in te manere of bataillyng, and drye hem harde in an ovene oter in te sune. In the myddel coffyn do a fars of pork with gode poydour & ayren rawe wit salt, & colour it with safroun; and do in anoter crŹme of almaundes, and helde it whyet. In anoter, crŹme of cowe mylke with ayren; colour it red with saundres. Terof anoter maner: fars of fyges, of raysouns, of apples, of peeres, and holde it broun. Terof anoter manere: do fars as to frytours blanched, and colour it with grene; put tis to te ovene & bake it wel, & serue it forth with ew ardaunt" (2)
This book is actually a compilation of approximately twenty common manuscripts, all with the title "Forme of Curye". These manuscripts are supposedly the recipes used by the cooks for Richard II sometime around 1390-1395. The original manuscript was then copied and divided up among the cooks. Various copies of these manuscripts have been located and the authors of "Curye On Inglysch" combined all of these references to make the most complete listing of recipes possible. Many of the recipes have slight to major differences from one manuscript to the next. The editors placed the most complete recipe in the book with footnotes as to the differences found in other manuscripts.
In the case of this recipe, it would seem that some instructions have either been lost or mis-transcribed over time. The most major example of this is in the initial instructions. It directs that the cook should make a foyle (sheet) of paste (pastry) that is a foot wide and more than a foot long. It then directs that the cook should make four towers of pastry six inches high. The next direction says to put the largest in the center and the other four at each corner.
Yet the instructions call for only four towers of equal size. However, if we assume one small change in the transcription, the instructions can once again make sense. As transcribed it says "put the largest in the center", if we read it instead as "leave a large space in the center" the rest of the instructions now make sense.
So the corrected instructions would be:
1. Make a sheet of pastry which is 12 inches wide and more than 12 inches long.
2. Make 4 towers of pastry, as wide as your forearm and 6 inches tall
3. Leaving a large space in the center of the sheet of pastry, place the 4 towers one at each corner of the pastry.
4. Fasten the sheet of pastry to the bottoms of the towers.
5. Fold up the pastry between the towers to form walls and fasten it to the sides of the towers.
6. Cut the tops of the walls and towers to look like battlements
7. Bake it in an oven until it is hard.
The remainder of the recipe concerns the various fillings for the castle courtyard and the towers. If we read the recipe straight, it would appear to call for 3 courtyards and about 15 towers. Furthermore, some of the dishes call for being served cold while others are to be served hot and still others are to be served flaming (broun & ew ardaunt). By consulting the alternative wording again, we find that the recipe is suggesting at least four different groupings of food which might be served in the pastry castle, with a few extra tower suggestions thrown in.
A comparison to modern day would be a recipe for how to make pies which might say "Take pie dough and form a pie, then put in a filling like cherries or apples or mincemeat, or lemon cream and on some of these you might want to put a pastry crust over the top".
In essence this recipe is basic instructions on how to make a castle out of pastry and some suggestions on how to fill it. The only commonality that I could find among the fillings was that the majority seemed to comprise what we would call one full course, if they were on a menu. So what we have here is a "Course in a Castle".
HOW I MADE THE CASTLE:
I searched through all of my period sources and then some, but recipes for pastry are few and far between. Even when they are listed, they give no amounts. All they list are the ingrediants. These seem to be fairly consistent across the board, flour, lard and/or butter and/or fat, water or stock. Most recipes don’t even give you that much but simply assume that you know how to make "paste" or "gode paste". I tried several of the primary source pastry recipes that I was able to find as well as a few modern pastry recipes. Unfortunately, for this recipe, a very stiff dough is needed, one which can bake standing up and not shrink or lose it’s shape. I had very little luck with this until I read a passage in "Fast and Feast" (3) wherein it described some of the food changes necessitated by the season of Lent and mentions that "pastry could not be bound together with egg yolks". In another section it mentions that medieval pastry was very hard and strong because "it was often made with little fat". This then was the answer, by removing most of the lard or butter and replacing the water with eggs I now had a sturdy dough which would stand on it’s own and which did not shrink excessively in baking. At this point I tasted the finished sample pastry that I had made using these proportions. Although edible it was bland and dry. Since I wanted a castle that would be edible as well as serving as a holder, I tried reducing the lard/butter even more and replacing it with fat in the form of goat cheese. The new pastry continued to have the firm qualities I had worked so hard for but now also had a bit of taste and was much less dry.
In an effort to make the castle as accurate as possible, I pulled out my lava millstone and grinding roller and hand ground about 2 lbs of bulbar wheat into flour. The end recipe which I used was:
2 cups Stone Ground Flour
1/4 cup lard
1/4 cup Butter
1 oz Goat Cheese grated
Pinch of Salt
1 Egg Yolk
1/2 cup Water
Cut butter and salt into flour. Add grated goat cheese and mix well. Add eggs(well beaten) and water and stir until all of the flour mix is moistened. Roll out with a floured rolling pin.
Even with stiff dough, I had much trouble forming the towers evenly until my husband made a suggestion. He said, "They had tent poles at that time, why don’t you try a 6 inch section of a 3 inch diameter pole." He cut off 2 such sections on a pole which we no longer use and gave them to me. I wet the wood down and then applied butter to it prior to applying the dough. It worked and gave me much more even towers.
I also made a slight alteration in the directions due to the size of my oven. Rather than baking the entire castle in one piece, I baked the pieces individually and then put them onto the baked baseplate and attached them using water, flour, and egg white mixed into a paste. Once the paste dried, my castle was all in one piece and secure.
Since there were several possibilities available, even in the original recipe, I had to make a few choices in the fillings. I made the following decisions:
1. Two of the original suggestions comprised meat, fruit, sauce and a dessert type dish. In other words, and entire meal course contained in the castle. Since this sounded like a fun way to serve a course, I decided to give it a try.
2. This competition was some distance from my home and I could not guarantee the ability or the time to make all of the contents on site, much less make the castle itself and have an oven available to bake the meal in. Therefore, I decided to make all of the contents cold dishes that could be placed in the castle at the competition.
Being the largest area, this comprises the main meat dish. As the original recipe called for a pork dish in the center area, I chose a pork recipe from "Curye on Inglysch" which could be served either hot or cold:
"Sawge yfarcet. Take pork and seep it wel, and grind it smal, and medle it wip ayren & brede ygrated. Do terto powdour fort and safroun wit pynes & salt. Take & close litull balles in foiles of sawge; wete it with a batour of ayren & fry it, and serv it forth, or if ye will serv latr it wl hold" (4)
These are basically sausage meatballs coated with a mixture of chopped sage and beaten eggs and deep-fried. Not only can this dish be made in advance and served cold, it is also easy to transport and easy to serve.
Pork Meatballs with Sage Sauce:
1 lb ground pork
1/2 tsp each chopped savory, ground pepper, and cloves
1/4 tsp ground saffron
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp minced sage
Mix pork, 4 eggs and breadcrumbs. Add savory, pepper, cloves, saffron, pine nuts and salt. Mix with your hands until well blended. Form mixture into small balls (about 1" diameter). Beat remaining two eggs. Dip meatballs into eggs and sprinkle with sage. Fry meatballs. Serve hot or refrigerate and serve cold.
This tower contains the fruit dish. I chose a recipe that would go well with pork and one that was capable of standing on it’s own as a dish.
"Chardwardon. Take pear Wardons, and seethe them in wine or water; And then take them up, and grind them in a mortar, and draw them through a strainer with the liquor; And put them in a pot with Sugar, or else with clarified honey and cinnamon enough, And let them boil; And then take it from the fire, And let cool and cast therto raw yolks of eggs, till it is thick, and cast thereto powder of ginger enough; And serve it forth in manner of Rice. And if it is in Lenten time, leave the yolks of eggs, And let the remnant boil so long, till it is so thick as though it were mixed with yolks of eggs, in manner as A man seethes chardquince; And serve it forth in the manner of rhys" (5)
6 firm ripe pears, cored peeled and quartered
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups burgundy
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
Put pears and wine in a large pot and simmer covered until the pears are soft (about 1 1/2 hours). Take the pears out of the wine and place them in a separate bowl. Mash pears. Put pears back into the wine in the pot. Add sugar and spices. Mix well and simmer in pot until the volume is halved. Cool and serve.
This tower contains the sauce for the pork. This sauce can either be served cold as it is when mixed or heated in a small pot.
"Sawse Camelyne. Take raysouns of coraunce & kyrnels of notys & crustes of brede & powdour of gynger, clowes, flour of canel: Bray it wel togyder and do perto salt. Temper it vp with vyneger, and serue it forth."
2 T. Breadcrumbs
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 tsp salt1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
Chop and blend all ingredients. Serve
This tower contains fresh strawberries from my garden. I was searching for something to put in this tower and not finding many recipes for cold dishes which would fit in a pastry tower. Taking a break, I went out to sit in the garden. I was enjoying a moment surrounded by roses and strawberry plants in fruit when I realized that this was the very thing that a medieval cook might happen upon and use. So I picked the strawberries, washed them, sliced them, sprinkled them with some sugar which I had made for making period liqueurs, and brought them up here to put in the tower for a dessert.
This tower contains a cold custard pudding that can either be used as a topping on the strawberries or eaten on it’s own. It provides a milk dish and a different texture from the other dishes.
"CrŹme Bastarde. Take te whyte of eyroun a grete hepe, & putte it on a panne ful of mylke, & let yt boyle; ten sesyn it so with salt and honey a lytel; ten lat hit kele, & draw it torw a straynoure, an take fayre cowe mylke an draw yt withallm & seson it with sugre; & loke tat it be poynant & doucet: serve it forth for a potage, or for a gode bakyn mete, wheder tat tou wolt" (6)
2 egg whites, well beaten
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cream
2 tsp cream
2 T honey
2 tbsp sugar
Put egg whites in a sauce pan with the milk and 1/4 cup of the cream and stir over medium heat as it comes to a boil. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring: then add the honey and salt. After simmering for another minute or two, remove from heat and strain or blend in a blender, adding remaining cream and sugar and beat for 200 strokes. Pour into a serving dish and chill for one hour (it will thicken as it chills). At the end of one hour, remove and beat again for 100 strokes then chill until ready to serve.
After much experimentation and several failed custards, I found that this recipe works best if you beat the egg whites much more than slightly and use whole milk with 2 tablespoons of cream added. The milk and cream addition would be much closer to the "Fayre cow milke" mentioned in the original recipe.
Once I found a pastry that would work, this was a fun project. I plan to experiment yet more with the castle itself to improve the taste. I hope to be able to develop it into a course that I can serve at a feast with one castle per table and perhaps even manage the flaming castle in the original recipe for the head table. It was great to be able to turn a frustration into a finished project.
(1) Hieatt, Constance B. “Pleyn Delit – Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks” University of Toronto Press Recipe #140
(2) Hieatt, Constance B. “Curye on Inglysch” Early English Text Society pg. 142
(3) Henisch, Bridget Ann “Fast and Feast – Food in Medieval Society” Pennsylvania State University Press pg. 44 & 129
(4) Hieatt, Constance B. “Curye on Inglysch” Early English Text Society pg. 135
(5) Austin, Thomas “Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books” Oxford University Press pg. 88
(6) Austin, Thomas “Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books” Oxford University Press pg. 139
Austin, Thomas "Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books" Oxford University Press London 1888
Hieatt, Hosington, Butler "Pleyn Delit" University of Toronto Press Toronto 1976
Hieatt & Butler "Curye on Inglysch" Oxford University Press London 1985
Renfrow, Cindy "Take a Thousand Eggs or More" Volume One Cindy Renfrow USA isbn 0962859818 1991
Copyright 2000 by Debbie Snyder, 4744 W. Crestmoor Ct, West Jordan, Ut 84088. <LadyPDC at aol.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited and receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.