Home Page

Stefan's Florilegium


This document is also available in: text or RTF formats.

DYKIP-Pies-art - 7/5/09


"Did You Know its Period? Part 5: Simple Simon's Pies" by HL Rowan Houndskeeper.


NOTE: See also the files: easy-p-recip-msg, pies-msg, Period-Pies-art, fruit-pies-msg, fish-pies-msg, meat-pies-msg, tarts-msg, mincemeat-pie-msg, pierogies-msg.





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.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



This article was first published in "The Barge", the newsletter of the Barony of Three Rivers, Calontir.


Did You Know its Period?  Part 5: Simple Simon's Pies

by HL Rowan Houndskeeper


"Simple Simon met a Pieman, going to the fair,

Simple Simon said to the Pieman, let me taste your ware."


In period cookbooks you will find an amazing number of pie, tart, torte, and coffin recipes (a coffin is an enclosed pie with both upper and lower crusts).  Pies and tarts of all types - fruit, meat, fish, vegetable, cheese, egg, sweet, or savory - were extremely popular throughout all the Medieval European cultures that we recreate.  While some of these recipes might be rather odd to the modern diner (anyone for calves feet pie?), others are as familiar as the apple pie recipe I presented in an earlier article.  In this article are some recipes that should allow you to serve up a very modern meal consisting of nothing but medieval pies. J


Tart on Ymber Day = Quiche

173. Tart in ymbre day. Take and perboile oynouns & erbis & presse out þe water & hewe hem smale. Take grene chese & bray it in a morter, and temper it vp with ayren. Do þerto butter, saffroun & salt, & raisons corauns, & a litel sugur with powdour douce, & bake it in a trap, & serue it forth.

Forme of Cury (14th c. English)



173. Tart for an Ember Day: Parboil onions and herbs and strain the water from them and chop them fine. Take green cheese and grind it in a mortar and mix it with eggs.  Add butter, saffron, and salt, and currant raisins [dried currants], and a little sugar with powder douce [spice mix] and bake it all in a pie shell and serve if forth.



1 Tbs butter

1 c onion, diced

1/2 tsp dried sage (or 12 fresh sage leaves, chopped)

1 tsp dried parsley (or 2 handfuls fresh parsley leaves, chopped)

3 eggs

3 oz asiago or other well-flavored cheese, grated

3/4 c milk

1/4 c currants or Zante raisins (optional)

1/3 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 tsp ground nutmeg

1/3 tsp ground ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

Single pie crust


Make the pie crust and use it to line a 7" or 8" pie pan.  Pre-bake the crust for 10-15 minutes at 400ˇF.  Melt the butter in a pan and sautŽ the onions with the sage and parsley.  Add the cheese, eggs, seasonings, and milk.  Mix well. Add the raisins if you are using them.  Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake at 350ˇF for ~30 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.  Serve warm or cold.  Serves 6.


For our meal of medieval pies we start with an appetizer – a quiche.  There are numerous medieval recipes, across all the European cultures, for "egg pie."  This particular recipe for an Ember Day tart is so simple and well suited to modern tastes that it is a popular medieval dish for the SCA and other reenactors - a Google search will bring up over a dozen redactions posted on the web.  This particular redaction was done by Countess Comyn Hrothwy af Guilden Acumen (Ellen Bartel) for a feast a couple of years ago.


               The "pouder douce" in the original recipe is one of several different spice mixtures that are called for in various medieval recipes.  These recipes don't detail what spices are in the mixture or in what proportions they are mixed – but they were probably similar to something like Crazy SaltŞ or Mrs. DashŞ.  It is even quite probable that each spice mixture did not have a consistent recipe but that there were variations based on the culture and time period, or the cook's budget and personal tastes.  In this redaction, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg are used in equal amounts as the pouder douce, but you can alter this to suite your own tastes.


               By the way, an "Ember Day" is a day of fasting (no meat), one of a set of three days within the same week that occurs four times during the year to mark the Catholic holy seasons (Advent, Lent, and Pentecost) and in the fall (September).



MYLATES OF PORK. 162. Hewe Pork al to pecys and medle it with ayrenn & chese igrated. do þerto powdour fort safroun & pyneres with salt, make a crust in a trape, bake it wel þerinne, and serue it forth.

               Forme of Cury (14th c. English)



Meat Pie of Pork.  Cut pork all to pieces and mix it with eggs and grated cheese, add powder fort [spice mix], saffron and pine nuts, add salt, make a pie shell, put it [the filling] in, bake it well and serve it forth



~1/2 lb cooked pork, diced

4 eggs

1-1/2 c Gouda or other well flavored cheese, grated

1/4 c pine nuts

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1/2 tsp white pepper, freshly ground

1/8 tsp each of ground cardamom, cubebs, mace and ginger

1/8 tsp grains of paradise (optional)

1/8 tsp saffron (optional)

single or double pie shell


You can make this recipe as a double shelled pie (a coffin), or you can make it more similar to modern recipes for pot pie by cooking it in a casserole dish with a crust topping. Regardless of which method you choose, first mix together diced pork, eggs, cheese, pine nuts and spices in a large bowl.  

As a Coffin: Lay out bottom pie crust in a 7" or 8" pie pan.  Pour mixture into pie crust and cover with top pie crust.

As a Pot Pie: Pour mixture into a casserole dish. Completely cover casserole dish with a pie crust.  

Slice or prick the top pie crust with a fork in several places to allow steam to escape. Bake at 350ˇF for ~45 minutes or until golden brown.  Best when served warm.  


Next in our "meal of medieval pies" we need an entrŽe, in this case a medieval version of the TV dinner standard – a pot pie.  Medieval pot pies range the gamut of the meats – beef, pork, chicken or other fowl, venison, lamb, or a combination of any of these.  Often the recipes call for the meat to be cooked beforehand, diced or ground after cooking, and then put into the pie shell – making meat pies a great use of leftovers.  Eggs, fruit, cheese, and nuts are often added in the period recipes, but the addition of vegetables seems to be rather uncommon.  Some of the period meat pie recipes create quite a large pie rather than your typical modern individual serving of a 4-6 inch pot pie – there are recipes for what we would call a pot pie that required a whole chicken or the meat of a whole leg of lamb.


Here again is another one of those medieval spice mixtures, this time "pouder forte". There is apparently no description of what spices or in what proportions they are mixed for pouder forte – although all the interpretations of this spice mixture I have seen call for a strong ("forte") spice mixture containing pepper as opposed to the sweet ("douce") spice mixture of pouder douce, which usually contains cinnamon, sugar, and other such spices.  



43. Nimb ein Turten Teig/ treib jn du:enn au§/ vnnd beschneidt jhn fein
rundt/ wie ein Adler oder wie ein Hertz/ mach ein Kra:entzlein rundt herumb/
scheubs in Ofen vnd backs/ thu es wider herau§/ vnd nimb gebratene Epffel/
die durch ein Ha:erin Tuch gestrichen/ vnd fein mit Zimmet vnd Zucker angemacht
seyn/ streichs vber den gebacken Teig/ bestra:ew es mit kleinem Confect/
vnd gibs zum Obst kalt auff ein Tisch

               - Marx Rumpolt, Ein New Kochbuch (1581, German)



43. Take a Turten dough/ roll it out thin/ and trim [cut] it nicely found/ like an eagle or like a heart/ make a wreath [border or edging] around it/ slide into the oven and bake it/ take it out again/ and take fried [baked] apples/ that have been pressed through a hair [fine] sieve/ and seasoned nicely with cinnamon and sugar/ spread over the baked dough/ sprinkle it with small Confect [sugar coated spices]/ and give it [serve] with the fruits [course] cold to the table.



6 cooking apples

Cinnamon to taste

Sugar to taste

Single pie crust


Lay out your pie crust in a 9" pie tin, or cut your crust into small rounds and lay out in cupcake or tart pans. Alternatively, for a fanciful pie, lay your pie crust out on a cookie sheet and cut it into whatever shape you wish (i.e. heart, shield, etc).  Take the scrap dough cut from your shape and roll into a rope.  Line the edges of your shape and press to seal.  Prick the crust in several places with a fork and bake at 400ˇF for 15 minutes.

               Peel and core apples.  Lay out in a baking dish, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, cover, and bake at 350ˇF for 45 minutes.  Remove apples from oven and run through a food processor or mash with a potato masher until the apples have the consistency of a slightly chunky applesauce.  Add cinnamon and sugar to your preferred taste.  Refrigerate.

               Just before serving the tarts, spoon cold apple mixture into crust(s).  Sprinkle with decorative sugar, cinnamon, or comfits if desired.


To go with our entrŽe pie, we need a side dish pie.  There are recipes for many fruit, cheese, or vegetable pies in period cookbooks, but many of them are just a little exotic for this series of articles - no matter how tasty they are (e.g. parsnip pie, torte of beans, or spinach tarts).  Instead I've included the recipe that first got me interested in doing medieval cooking and redactions.  I have fond memories of my grandmother, a country farmer's wife, who in the fall and winter would bake "applesauce pie" when we were visiting.  Imagine my surprise when I found a 16th century recipe that matched my grandmother's recipe nearly word for word!


This recipe works great as small individual tarts.  As a shortcut, bake your tart shells and then fill them with any commercially sold "Old Fashioned Chunky Applesauce" rather than making your own applesauce from fresh apples.



Make a little crust as I said in the section on rolls. Put in two egg yolks that have been well beaten, milk, cinnamon and sugar, and stir it near the hearth until it thickens.

               - Platina: On Honest Indulgence (1475, Venice)



2 c milk

1/2 c sugar

3 eggs

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

Single pie crust


Make the pie crust and line a 7" or 8" pie pan.  Pre-bake the crust for 10-15 minutes at 400ˇF.  Beat eggs, cinnamon, and sugar together.  Heat the milk until it begins to steam, and whisk in egg mixture.  Pour mixture into pie crust and sprinkle with nutmeg.  Bake at 425ˇF for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350ˇF and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until custard is set.  Custard will continue to firm as it cools.


Finally, to round out our meal of medieval pies, we need a dessert – custard tarts.  These "modern" popular snacks for afternoon tea or party appetizers have apparently changed little since period – the medieval recipe only lacks measurements and temperature/time instructions when compared to a nearly identical recipe from The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook (p. 349).



Take fine floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron and the yolckes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.

               - A Proper Newe Book of Cokerye (1557, English)



Take fine flour and a bit of fair water and a dish of sweet butter and a little saffron and the yolks of two eggs [knead these together] and make [roll] it thin and as soft as you can.



2 c flour

1/4 c ice cold water

1/2 c melted butter (or canola oil)

1 egg yolk (optional)


Mix butter, water, and yolk together, knead mixture into flour to produce dough.  Add a little more flour if needed.  Roll out between two sheets of wax paper.  Makes one 9" pie crust.


You will notice that in none of these medieval recipes, and in none of my redactions, are there instructions for making pie dough.  As I mentioned in a previous article, it seems that it was assumed every medieval cook knew how to make pastry dough.  A Proper Newe Book of Cokerye (1557, English) and Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welsein (1553, German) seem to be among the few cookbooks that actually include a recipe for pastry dough.  For all these recipes I suggest a simple, yet hearty, oil crust pie dough - follow the period pie crust recipe here, but substitute canola oil for the butter and do not use an egg yolk.




Curye on Inglish: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth-Century (Including the Forme of Cury). Hieatt, Constance B. and Sharon Butler. The Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1985.


Platina. On Honest Indulgence (De Honesta Voluptatae). A little work on foods and honest indulgence by the very learned man Platina : Printed with the work and care of Father Laurentius de Aguila for the Distinguished Duke Peter Mocenicus. Venice, 1475. Evans, Susan J. Falconwood Press. 1989.


Marx Rumpolt, Ein New Kochbuch. 1581. translated by M. Grasse. 1999. Available at http://clem.mscd.edu/~grasse/GK_Rumpolt1.htm.  Original, untranslated, transcribed manuscript available at http://www.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/rumpturt.htm


A Proper New Booke of Cookery. 1575.   at  http://www.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/bookecok.htm


Cariadoc's Miscellany: A Collection of Medieval Recipes, 9th edition. Cariadoc and Elizabeth (David Friedman and Betty Cook)  at  http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/cariadoc/miscellany.html


Pleyn Delit: Medieval Cookery for Modern Cooks. CB Hieatt, B Hosington, and S Butler. University of Toronto Press, 1996.


The Booke of Food for the Barony of Three Rivers, recipes from 2006. edited by Cathus the Curious (Keith Roberts). 2006.


The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. New York: Hearst Books, 1989.


Gode Cookery website  at  http://www.godecookery.com/godeboke/godeboke.htm


Medieval Cookery website  at  http://recipes.medievalcookery.com


Copyright 2009 by Teresa Roberts, 9900 Juniper Ct. St Louis MO 63123. <tkroberts at toast.net>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible 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.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org