Guest Author - Helen B. Wharton
One of the links in the Foods and Cooking section of the Renaissance Site (see the list to the left of the Renaissance Home Page) is to the Gode Cookery website. I was enjoying the site and looking for an authentic Renaissance recipe when I stumbled upon a Fourteenth Century recipe for custard pie.
The original recipe for this dish lists only the ingredients, but not the amount required for each ingredient. Because it was intended to be baked with a fire as the heat source there is also no baking time or temperature in the recipe. I was fascinated by the simplicity of the original recipe and decided it would be fun to update it for modern cooks. What I ended up with is a very simple, easy to make and yummy custard pie.
The Renaissance recipe calls for cream or almond milk, eggs, sugar, saffron and salt to be mixed and put in a "coffin" and "bake it well." A "coffin" is the 14th Century term for a pie crust! So I thought about what ingredients went into custard pies I have made before, and what ingredients I had available.
The first substitution I made was to use 2% milk instead of heavy cream or almond milk. The next ingredient to be replaced was Saffron. Saffron is an expensive spice which essentially gives yellow color to recipes in which it is used. I have a small flock of chickens which provide all of my eggs, and the yolks are a deep yellow-orange color, so my custard had a lovely golden color without the saffron.
So what follows is my kitchen tested, modernized, Renaissance Custard Pie Recipe:
preheat oven to 425 degrees
1 unbaked, single layer pie crust
2 cups of 2% milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
Beat the eggs with a wire whisk. Add the milk and vanilla and continue to beat. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the egg/milk mixture gradually, while continuing to beat until well blended. Pour into the pie crust. Place the pie on a cookie sheet on the middle rack of your oven. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 40 to 45 minutes more. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.
This recipe is so simple that it lends itself well to additions like fruit, cookies or chocolate, but it's delicious as it is with a dollop of whipped cream; or still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
For some great ideas about additions to custard pie look here: Home Cooking at BellaOnline.
For the original recipe look here:GodeCookery.com.