Even in cooking, appearances can be deceiving. Following a long tradition of performative food preparation from the ancient world through Tudor banqueting, early modern cooks sometime playfully disguised food as other food. We tried a recipe for “Pease Pods of Puff Paste” from Ms Codex 631 – a recipe that in fact contains no peas at all! These sweet little pea-pod-shaped, hand-formed fruit pies were easy to make and very tasty.
Pease Pods of Puff Paste
Take some puff paste & role it out thin & lay in some cherries or any other preserv
-ed fruit in the fashion of pease & fashion your crust like pease pods & cut them with
a rowell & fry them with fresh butter then strew sugar on them & serve them up
This is a very simple recipe enlivened by creative presentation. Puff pastry and fresh or preserved fruit are combined to mimic peas nestled in their protective pods. We used fresh cherries from our local farmers’ market because we thought that they would create the distinctive pea-bumps the recipe strives to recreate. A “rowell” is a wheel or disc that would have been used to cut the pastry; to streamline the process and in an (ultimately somewhat futile) effort to prevent messy overflow, we cut the pastry into smaller squares and rolled each one around a line-up of cherries. Finally, instead of frying our pastry pods in butter, we baked them in a low oven for even cooking.
These instructions are for 6 “Pease Pods.” Adjust fruit and pastry amounts as needed.
1 sheet puff pastry (store-bought or homemade)
18 cherries (or a similar amount of other fresh or preserved berries)
flour (for rolling out pastry)
sugar (for sprinkling)
In advance, defrost store-bought puff pastry or prepare homemade puff pastry. (We used store-bought, but for homemade Marissa prefers Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Rough Puff Pastry,” duplicated here.)
When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350F and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or greasing it with butter.
Wash and pit the cherries. Roll out the puff pastry until it’s thin but still workable. Divide sheet into 6 rectangles with a knife. Place three cherries in a line down the center of each piece and wrap pastry to form a “pea pod.”
Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is puffy and golden.
They really did look like pea pods on their way into the oven, but the puffiness of the pastry pod overwhelmed the pea-like qualities of the cherries within. This may have been caused by our modern store-bought puff pastry, our use of fresh (larger) rather than preserved (smaller) cherries, our decision to roll the pastry around the berries instead of enclosing the berries between a top and bottom layer of pastry, or our choice to bake, rather than fry, the prepared pods. We’re curious to see if you, dear readers, produce more pea-pod-like results with this same recipe!
Although out of the oven these little pies did not look like pea-pods, they were very tasty, easy to prepare, and a great way to transform fresh summer fruit into a quick dessert. We think the addition of a simple egg wash would improve their presentation. Served with whipped cream, a summer fool, or ice cream, “pease pods” would add a sweet ending to any July or August meal.
12 thoughts on “Pease Pods of Puff Paste (or small fruit pies in disguise)”
Reblogged this on DailyHistory.org and commented:
Marissa Nicosia at Cooking in the Archives has another fun recipe for the summer. “Pease Pods of Puff Paste” would be a great way to serve fresh fruit during the summer. Instead frying these puff pastries, Nicosia baked them in the oven. While I am sure that is far more healthy way prepare them, I have feeling that they would be pretty good fried in butter.
Thanks for reblogging!
Butter’s good for you! There’s no reason to avoid it.
We love butter! And if we made them again we might try frying them in butter. But it was a hot Philadelphia summer day, the kitchen was un-airconditioned, and we already had the oven on to bake “carrot pudding” so we put the “pease pods” in to bake at the same time. A change in method for sure, but we’re updating for the modern kitchen and not wedded to accurately replicating historical cooking methods.
I think it’s going a little far to call it “good for you”!
There are several 16th and 17th century peasecods of pastry that contain no pease – but they’re all tasty!
This looks like another fun recipe! I’d bake it like you did, but I agree with sandvick that frying them in butter would probably be very tasty.
You should have attempted the “frying in butter” part… just for accuracy.
Reminds me of the childhood rhyme: “Pease porridge hot. Pease porridge cold. Pease porridge in the pot. Nine days old.”
That folks preserved food as long as possible back in those days, the ditty makes sense!
This looks yummy. However, I would not have used store bought puff pastry. I do historic hearth style cooking at a living history site in South Carolina and have run into this problem as well. Also, if the receipt calls for you to fry it in butter, do it. 🙂 Excuse my Paula Deen moment but butter is the best thing ever invented. Seriously, the butter (not margarine) adds another level of flavor to the pies while helping them brown beautifully. Be careful not to DEEP FRY them in butter. Rembert your pastry already has butter in it. Just a few tablespoons will go a long way. 🙂
When you see a receipt call for puff paste it is simply a pie crust. A little flour, butter, and cold water will make the simplest of puff pastes. To add a little flavor to it, one may add a bit of sugar and/or nutmeg to the mix.
I had wondered if “puff paste” then meant the same as today. I do think the “rough puff” would definitely behave better. Store-bought is engineered to act like we “expect” puff pastry to behave. First time here, and I’m already loving it!
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