To make fine pippen Tarts

Today it feels like fall on the east coast. The Philadelphia weather on Wednesday reminded me of September heat-waves in California (when I made this lemonade), but today, apparently, fall is here. In September I braved the weekend heat to pick apples at Linvilla Orchard and, as usual, I bought lots.  So I went through my “to make” list in search of apple recipes and saw this recipe for “fine pippen Tarts” from UPenn MS Codex 785.  (I’ve cooked from this manuscript a lot: check out our new manuscript and library tags to see what archives we’ve been cooking.) It took me a little while to get into the kitchen to try this recipe (the heat, the big talk I gave, grading), but these pippin tarts are truly fine.

Recently, my “to make” list has been a decidedly mixed bag.  I started to make this Cordial Pepper Water and I had so much trouble with the poppy infusion that I’m not sure if a recipe will ever make it to this site. (I have a half bottle of very, very poppy-flavored  brandy sitting on my kitchen rack right now.) On the other hand, I started working on some holiday recipes. I’m excited to share these mince pies with you soon.

In the meantime, I think we should eat and talk about delicious apples. They’re sharp, crisp, floral, sweet, and sometimes even savory. My farmer’s market has a wide range on offer. So does Linvilla Orchard a half hour away. But yesterday I took a ride to the Brandywine valley and found some apples that are a bit closer to British pippins at North Star Orchard. These Rubinette apples are similar to the classic variety Cox’s Orange Pippin. Eaten raw, these are dense and fragrant. It seemed like a shame to cook them so I saved a few to snack on throughout the week. Luckily, cooking only enhanced these natural qualities.

The Recipe

To make fine pippen Tarts
Take a pound of flour and half a pound of butter a
little sugar rul it in very small, wet it with Cold
water, and two Eggs, make it into a Paste, roul it as
thin as you can, and Couer your pattyes, then take
henlish pippens and pare them and cut them in
round slices, then lay a lay and two Spoonfulls of
fine Sugar beaten and some Orange peel Chop’d
Small and a lay of pippins and a lay of Sugar and
lid them as thin as you can, and take care in breaking
them, when they are bak’d, take them out of your
pattyes and open the lids, and put into every one
of them a spoonfull or two of Orange or Lemmon
Juice strain’d then put down the lids & take a feather &
some burnt butter lick over the lids, and sift some fine
Sugar our them, you must not Couer your pippens, as
you cut them put them into fair water

This recipe delights me in a few ways:  pippins, the use of fresh orange peel and juice, a feather pastry brush, and a very tasty pastry recipe. I’m also curious about the moniker “henlish pippens” to describe this apple variety. Anyone out there have any ideas?

Our Recipe

*Halved from the original, this recipe makes 12+ small tarts.

Pastry
1 3/4 C flour (1/2 lb)
1T sugar
3/4 t salt
1 stick butter (8T, 1/4 lb)
1 egg
4 T water

Filling
2 apples
1T sugar (1/4t per tart)
zest of half an orange

Garnishes

1 T butter
1 T orange juice (1/4 t per tart)
Powdered sugar.

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Make the pastry. Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Chop the butter into small pieces. Work the butter into the flour mix until a fine meal forms. Add the egg. Add the water one tablespoon at a time. Using your hands and/or a spoon, work the mix until it holds its shape as a ball. It will still feel dry to the touch.

While the pastry rests in the fridge or at a cool room temperature, peel, core, and slice the apples into rounds.

Roll out the pastry. Using a pastry cutter or drinking glass, cut circles. I used a 2 5/8 in (68 mm) pastry cutter to make nice little tarts. Make sure you have an even number of circles so that you have bottoms and lids.

Grease your pan. Lay out the bottom pieces. I used my handy mince pie pan to make a batch of 12. You can easily make these pies on a baking sheet by shaping the top piece of pastry over a mound of seasoned apple. (You can also make more pies from this amount of pastry and filling. I had both leftover.)

Fill each pie with apple rings. Given the proportions of my mince pie pans, I ended up breaking my rings a bit. Season each tart with 1/4 t sugar and grated orange zest.

Place a lid on each pie. Push down the edges of the pastry to seal. Poke a few air-holes in the lid with with a fork.

Bake tarts for 15 minutes until golden brown. (Check them at 10 minutes and see how they’re faring.)

While the pies are baking, let 1 T butter sizzle to a golden brown in a small sauce pan.

When the pies are out of the oven and on a cooling rack, open the lids with a butter knife and pour 1/4 t orange juice into each pie. Replace the tops and brush with brown butter.

Sprinkle  with powdered sugar before serving.

The Results

Delicious pure-apple flavor beautifully enhanced with citrus. Although I love my classic apple pie with cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and a handful of cranberries (my mother’s genius addition), this recipe is a beautiful combination of flavors. I think the orange brought out the floral notes and acidic sharpness of the pippins.

I tried the tarts with and without the additional orange juice and prefer them without. (My spouse Joseph liked the orange juice flavored tarts better.) Feel free to add the juice or leave it out. On the other hand, the brown butter glaze added a fabulous, nutty note so don’t skip it.

The pastry was also delicious on its own. I’ll definitely be making it again when I come across recipes that simply request pastry, but don’t provide specifics. This one is delicious and as easy to make as my modern go-to.

Finally, this would make a lovely large pie instead of individual tarts. This would save you a lot of prep time and allow you to really layer the rings (which my pan did not allow).

Whether you can find pippins or not, whether you’ve picked too many apples at an orchard or are excited to see them in your supermarket, let us know if you try this perfect fall recipe.

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To Make Marmalet of Pippins

This weekend I had some extra apples and a head cold, so I wanted to make something that felt cozy. Flipping through Judeth Bedingfield’s recipe book, UPenn Ms. Codex 631, I found this recipe To Make Marmalet of Pippins. Apple marmalade? I was intrigued, and I got cooking. (Which really, for me, sums up this project in a nutshell.)

As soon as I saw the cooling marmalade, I thought, wait, this looks familiar… Last December I made Pippins preserved at cristmas, from Catherine Cotton’s recipe book.   This marmalade is, basically, the chopped-up version of those preserved apples, plus more lemon. These two recipe books are contemporaries, probably compiled in the 1690s and early 1700s. The similarity of the two recipes suggests that this method of cooking and preserving apples was probably fairly common at the time, which makes sense: it requires few and readily available ingredients, takes little time, and yields a dish that can be served in a variety of ways.

I also like to imagine that Judeth Bedingfield and Catherine Cotton, whose books have yielded so many recipes for this project, might have been cooking their preserved apples and marmalets around the same time – and here I am cooking them over 300 years later.

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The Recipe

marmalet

To Make Marmalet of Pippins

Take to a pound of sugar a pound & half of pippins which must be choped
with a knife & put into the sugar with a pint of water they must boile as fast as
possible & when it is allmost boiled enough put in a Little Lemon Peel which must
be first boiled in 9 or 4 waters & when its Cleer enough which will not be soe till it
hath stood off the fire a while you must put in a little Juice of Lemon after which
it may have one boile /

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Our Recipe
*halved from original

1/2 lb. (1 1/8 c.) sugar
3/4 lb. apples (about 2 small-medium apples), peeled or not, and chopped*
1/2 pint (1 c.) water
1″ wide strip of lemon peel, boiled in 4 changes of water and chopped finely**
juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine sugar, chopped apples, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to full boil and keep cooking, stirring occasionally, for 30-35 mins. (The marmalade might want to boil over near the end, so keep an eye on it.) Remove from the heat and let cool for at least 15 mins., until apples are amber-colored and clear. Add lemon juice and cook over low heat just until simmering.

*Note: I wasn’t sure whether or not to peel the apples. The recipe didn’t specify, but perhaps peeling would have been obvious to seventeenth-century marmalet makers? So I partially peeled the apples, which were originally destined for applesauce and a bit dinged up to begin with. In the finished product, the peel was barely noticeable, so next time I’ll probably skip this step. However, if you’d like a very smooth marmalade, there’s no harm in peeling the apples.

**Note: Somewhat inexplicably, the recipe suggests you boil the lemon peel in “9 or 4″ changes of water. I chose 4. And while I boiled a few strips just in case, I found that one strip about 1″ wide and 2” long provided enough lemon flavor.

The Results

While I liked the preserved apples, I liked this marmalade version even better! The slightly bitter peel cuts some of the sugar, though it’s still very sweet, and this would be lovely spread on bread, an English muffin, or (if you’re like me and make a beeline for them in Trader Joe’s) a crumpet. I was glad I halved the recipe, since it yielded enough for a half-pint jar plus a crumpet slathering; that’s more than enough for me to go through for one batch, but it would easily scale up. I will make this again, especially since a small jar would make a nice holiday gift. I might play with zesting a lemon to see if I can get the same taste without the thicker rind, or with chopping apples even more finely. (I assumed they would cook down a bit, but they largely retained their original shape.) I might also throw in a cinnamon stick or maybe some star anise while the mixture is cooling.

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Pippins preserved at cristmas

In the happy flurry of holiday baking and cooking, sometimes a simple recipe is welcome. I came across these preserved apples while on the hunt for gingerbread recipes in Catherine Cotton’s recipe book, UPenn Ms. Codex 214. The recipe is in the same handwriting as those for ginger-bread and gengerbread that we experimented with – and really liked – here, so it probably dates to the late 1690s or early 1700s. All these “Pippins preserved at cristmas” require is a few apples, some sugar, a lemon, and water. Whether you make this simple dish or enjoy your own seasonal favorites, we hope you are having a lovely holiday season.

The Recipe

pippins preserved

Pippins preserved at cristmas

Take Pare them & cut them in the midle & take out thire cores
weigh a pound of them and a pound of fine sugar & put to it
a pint of water set the sugar & water on the fire & boyle it a
quarter of an hour then put your pippins into that surrop
& boyle them as fast as you can till they look clear then
squeez in a lemmon & let it be ready to boyle after the
limon is in then put them into glasses for your use /

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Our Recipe

1 lb. apples (~2), peeled, halved, and cored
1 lb. (2 c.) sugar
1 pint (2 c.) water
juice of 1 lemon

Combine sugar and water in a med. saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking for 15 mins.

Add apples and cook them at a steady boil, turning the apples occasionally. (They might want to boil over, so keep an eye on them.) Cook for about 45 mins., until apples are translucent and your kitchen smells delightful. Add the lemon juice and cook for another minute or two. Serve warm or refrigerate.

The Results

These apples are not complicated to make – or to eat! I used up a few apples that were kicking around my crisper after the last round of applesauce, I think a macintosh and a fuji. Both fell apart a bit while cooking, which didn’t bother me, but if you’d like the apples to stay in their halves, a harder variety like a granny smith might work nicely.  The end result tastes of very, very sweet apples, almost honey-like in their intensity. You probably wouldn’t polish off a large bowlful of these. (Which perhaps explains the relatively small yield of this recipe? Perhaps the preserved apples might have been used to flavor other dishes, or have been eaten sparingly on their own for a little taste of something sweet.) I topped them with my favorite maple yogurt to cut through some of the sweetness. With a cup of tea, they made a great breakfast for me and my sweet-tooth.

And while we’re a few days past December 25, as Marissa reminded me, on Christmas day in 1662 Samuel Pepys’ wife was ill, so they celebrated with take-out mince pies and she started making her own “Christmas pies” the next day. Pull a Mrs. Pepys and make these “Pippins preserved at cristmas” well into January.

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