Pour faire tourtes de pommes (To make apple tarts) (1604) ★★★★

This recipe for apple tart comes from Ouverture de Cuisine, which was written by Lancelot de Casteau and published in Liege, Belgium. Although there is only one surviving copy of the book, it did play a significant role in culinary history. de Casteau's cookbook has been credited as a bridge between medieval food and haute cuisine. It was also the first cookbook published in French in the Low Countries. 

I also want to make two notes on ingredients: apples and short paste.

Antique apple varieties are either very difficult to find today or are completely lost to past palates. Apparently Faro and Reinette were popular varieties in France and Permain, Costard, Blaunderelle, and Pippins were common in England. I think the best bet for today's cooks are Pippins, but I can't find any myself, so I just used a random assortment of modern varieties. I should also note that historically, apples were smaller and had larger cores, which is probably why this recipe calls for 12 (which is a lot!). I didn't have 12 on hand, and I think I ended up using 8 or so. That was definitely enough.

As for the short paste, its a fairly basic element, so I just used a modern recipe: 7 ounces flour, 4 ounces butter, ice water to bind. However, afterward I did find a more period appropriate recipe, which could be used as well. 

Original Recipe:

[Transcription, by Thomas Gloning et. al.]

Pour faire tourtes de pommes.
Prennez vne douzaine de pommes
haschées fricassees dedans le beurre, trois
onces de succre, vn satin de canelle, &
quatre iaulnes d'oeuf, vn peu d'anisse
estampé, & faictes tourte de grasse pa-

[English translation, by Daniel Myers]

To make apple tarts.
Take a dozen chopped apples 
fried in butter, three 
ounces of sugar, a quarter ounce of cinnamon, & 
four yolks of eggs, a little 
ground anise, & make the tart with short 

The Verdict:

It was pretty good. The apples were nicely spiced and weren't too sweet, actually. I am not convinced about the point of the egg yolks, however. I thought maybe they were meant to sort of cook up with the juice from the apples, to prevent a watery tart, but I'm not sure how true that really is. If that is the case, I'd rather just use cornstarch, since separating eggs is annoying AND you end up with a bunch of whites. My pastry was pretty good, but I think adding a bit of sugar to the crust would have been nice. Overall, I would eat this again, but this recipe also calls for a LOT of peeling and chopping apples, which is a pain, so its definitely one I would save for special (read: not lazy) occasions.

Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from Ouverture de Cuisine)

8 - 12 APPLES, peeled and chopped
~2/3 cup BUTTER
3 ounces SUGAR
1/4 ounce CINNAMON, ground
A little ANISE, ground

1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a tart tin (or whatever - I used a springform pan) with the shortcrust pastry.
2. In a large pot, melt the butter and sugar. Add the chopped apples, cinnamon, and anise. Stir together well until the apples are evenly coated with spice.
3. Cook the apples until slightly tender. Let cool. Stir in the egg yolks. Pour the apple filling into the prepared pastry.
4. Bake for about 40 minutes. The apples should be bubbling and the crust should be lightly browned.


Adamson, Melitta Weiss. Food in Medieval Times. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004.

"Lancelot De Casteau." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Oct. 2013. Web. 26 Jan. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancelot_de_Casteau>.

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.


  1. Looks lovely. I like that you used a spring form pan. I enjoyed the article on medieval pastry.

  2. I just used a random assortment of modern varieties.
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