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History Cookbook: Medieval Shortcrust Pastry

This recipe is in category Normans / Medieval
About this recipe
Healthiness : (175 votes)
Preparation Time: 15 Minutes (excluding preparation of saffron)
Cooking Time: Use as in recipe for dish you are making

There has been a lot of argument about whether medieval pastry was made as a container for the food, rather than to something to be eaten. References in some books to making the pastry tender, and the occasional use of leavening agents, suggest that it was meant to be edible, at least on some occasions. This recipe is actually from a 16th century cookbook 'A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye' but pastry in the medieval period would have been similar.

The recipe was written down as follows:

'Take fyne floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolkes of two egges a lyttel salte and make it thynne and as tender as ye may.'

  • 400g flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 200g margarine or butter
  • a pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • iced water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Weighing scales
  • Tablespoon
  • Knife
  • Sieve
  • Cling film
  • Rolling pin
  • Chopping board
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. If you are using the saffron, place a pinch in a tablespoon of hot water and leave for at least half an hour
  2. Sift the flour and the salt into a basin
  3. Cut the fat into small chunks and place into the flour
  4. Using your fingers, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs
  5. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the egg yolk and a few tablespoons of iced water along with the saffron water
  6. Mix with a butter knife until it starts to form lumps
  7. Add a little iced water
  8. Roll the pastry into a ball, wrap in cling film and leave in a cold place for about half an hour before using
  9. Roll out the pastry onto a floured board and cut into the shape required for your recipe
Medieval Shortcrust Pastry - print view  Medieval Shortcrust Pastry - print view

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Name: Carole 20th August 2014
I have studied and researched medieval food (Forme of Curry, 15th century cook books etc) for several years. Some pastry is described as fayre (fair) pastry and is intended for eating and other pastry forms a coffin or container for the food. Pastry aslo included a type of puff pastry (Payn Puff - see Forme of Curry)
Name: Andrew 12th January 2012
there is an error in this recipe. the measurements for flour and fat are reversed. adding 400g of fat to 200g flour will result in a big sticky mess! Thank you very much for letting us know. We have amended the recipe. The Cookit Team
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