Castle Pastry Walls
Pastry from the period manuals is with out modern measurements so a bit of guess work is involved. Making a good pastry is not as easy at it sounds. The pastry has to be tasty, yet able to hold the interior ingredients if being used as a shell or in this case be able to stand up to being stood up. Working from 3 books, Pleyn Delit and The English Housewife and The Medieval Kitchen, I redacted a fairly good recipe for pastry castle walls that borrowed this or that from the suggested recipes in each book.
The first recipe is from Pleyn Delite. Here the original description for castle walls in a subtlety is “Take and make a foyle of gode past with a rollere of a foot brode & lynger by cumpas. Make iiii coffins of the self past upon the rollere the gretnesse of the smale of thyn arme of vi ynche dep; make the gretust in the myddell. Fasten the foile in the mouth upwarde, & fasten the otheree foure in every side. Kerve out keyntlich kyrnels above, in the manere of bateilllyng and drye hem harde in an oven other in the sunne… FC 197”
Hieatte , 140. (Hieatt, 140)
Translation goes “Take and make a dough with a roller a foot wide and long. Make coffins (lengths?) the width of the small of your arm and an inch deep. Make the greatest one in the middle. Fasten the dough on the end upward and fasten the other four on every side. Curve out the dough in the manner of the batteling and dry them hard in an oven or in the sun…
The original recipe that was offered in Pleyn Delite is more of a how to fashion the castle, only detailing the manner in which to make the castle…the actual dough seems to be up to the cook. Pleyn Delite does offer a recipe that seems to be from the writers’ point of view not from any actual attached recipe in the book.
The second recipe is from The English Housewife. The recipe starts as:
Of the mixture of pastes, to speak then of the mixture and kneading of pastes, you shall understand that …your fine white crust must be kneaded with as much butter as water, and the paste made reasonable lithe and gentle, into which you must put three or four eggs or more according to the quantity you blend together, for they will give it sufficient stiffening. (Markham, pp. 96)
The third recipe for dough is from The Medieval Kitchen. The recipe is not original but a translation. Cut the fat into the flour. Dissolve the salt in 1 cup of the water, then add the flour mixture along with the egg. Work with your fingers until a smooth dough forms, adding more water as required. Shape into a thick disk, wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight before using. A larger paite will require you to double the recipe. (Redon, pp. 225)
I did not agree with the cheese suggestion by the Pleyn Delite as I have yet to find a period recipe where cheese was added to a crust that may or may not be eaten. I did like the base recipe from The English Housewife, but the dough was rather bland with only butter, egg and water to the flour. After a bit of researching, I found that The Medieval Kitchen used lard with butter which makes for a tastier crust. There are pros and cons for making a tasty crust as some recipes assumed that the crust would not be eaten and some assumed the crust would be. I wanted a crust that would bake well, stand up as walls and deliver a very good taste to accompany the cheese “glue” and the candied fruits.
2 C. Flour ¼ C lard 3 Tbs butter
1 egg 1 pinch salt 2 Tbs water
The recipe I did work ended up being a bit of The English Housewife and part from The Medieval Kitchen. The measurements I used will make one wall and a quarter at ¼ inch thick. The dough is sturdy, easy to mix and very tasty, all the qualities I am looking for when researching the multitude of recipes suggested.
This makes 1 and 1/5 wall of good flavor and stoutness.
I did have to do a little experimenting first. I tried butter and lard for one batch of pastry
and a combination of butter and duck fat for another pastry combination.
My conclusion by the end of forming the pastry balls, was that while the duck/butter combination was actually better tasting, this dough formation could not hold a form with out flaking and breaking apart as I rolled out the dough. The butter and lard combination was the combination I went with for the walls.
I combined the flour and salt together and formed a well in the center.
The butter and lard was melted together. The lard used was from rendered pig fat, giving a slight pork flavor to the pastry. I allowed these to cool to slightly warmer then room temperature then added in the well in the middle of the flour.
I then added an egg and 2 Tbs of water. Everything is mixed until dough is formed.
On a lightly floured surface, I turn out the dough and roll it to about ¼ inch thick.
Now the original recipe says to 1 inch thick, however I am not making the castle as tall as a foot high so the walls do not need to be quite so thick. The dough is cut into a large rectangle where a paper castle wall cut out is used to form the battlements.
Using a paper pattern I cut out squares in the upper portion of the battlements along walls.
At this point the form was placed on the rectangular shaped dough.
Now for the cutting!
The bastion walls also have battlements cut along the upper portion, however instead of being baked flat these round portions of the castle are wrapped around a greased form and baked upright after the battlements have been cut into the wall.
For this I used a piece of paper, string and foil.
The pastry is baked for about 15 minutes at 325, until dry but not brown.
The walls are connected to the bastions with brie cheese.
This is where more cheese would be added to attached the cylinder of dough.
Any soft cheese will work and compliment the flavor of the slightly salty and slightly pork flavored pastry.
Sorry folks the full castle picture will be posted at a later date! Enjoy these steps for more subtlety information will be incoming!