16th century

Early 16th Century German Outfit

Warning: This is a bit of a quick-and-dirty post to get the beginnings of this project out!

Several months ago, I finally put scissors to fabric and began putting together an early 16th century German dress. I’d been researching for some time, but it took a lot of mental preparation to work myself up to the idea of constructing a late-period garment on my own. For this dress, I drew inspiration primarily from two Hans Holbein sketches of a Basel woman from 1523.

I began with my own measurements and looking at patterns from both Katafalk and Reconstructing History, but found that neither really worked for my body. So I ended up fitting myself and making my own, which was a long and infuriating process — next time I’m having a friend help me fit a new pattern.

When I finished my bodice pattern (which was slightly modified after these photos), I cut an interlining of heavy linen and the wool shell, then attached them mostly following Katafalk’s tutorial. I cut the guards out of black wool and attached them after the bodice was all put together, then moved onto the skirt.

Using Mistress Genoveva’s Rolled Pleat Calculator, I came up with the length needed for my skirt, which I think was about 6 yards. I had a whole bolt of red wool from JoAnn Fabrics, and I only used a half-width of the fabric for the top portion of the skirt. I spent several hours with a ruler and chalk, and by the end of it I had my skirt pleated.

I ended up piecing the bottom stripes together in three panels of stripes, then sewed them together and attached them. Next time, I’ll likely attach the stripes before I pleat the skirt, but it didn’t create any major inconveniences doing it the other way.

It was after I completed the skirt that I started running out of time leading up to Fall Coronation of Marcus and Margerite, so I decided to put my plans for the sleeves on the back burner — it would be easy enough to take the middle-class route and simply sew the exaggerated stitching at the joints over the chemise. The proper chemise also wasn’t going to happen in time, so I pulled a cheater shirt out for the event.

The last piece of the outfit that I could accomplish in time was the hemd and steuchlein, which I made following Katafalk’s tutorials. The hemd was even more difficult to fit by myself than the bodice pattern was, and I was extremely glad to cover it and all the mistakes I made on it with the steuchlein.

There weren’t a great deal of photos of the good-enough dress I took to the event, but I was pretty pleased with it. I’m currently working on the more-correct sleeves, a pleated chemise, and fixing some general mistakes on the dress. Ideally, there will also be a structured linen kirtle to go under this dress and over the chemise.

German Pear Tarts

Sir Ian Kennovan was elevated to the Order of the Laurel this weekend, and I had the honor of contributing to his reception food. Instead of my go-to meatballs, I decided to play around with something I’ll be making for my 16th century German feast at Helvetia — poached pears.

Sabina Welserin has eight recipes for pear tarts in her 1553 cookbook: one “exotic” tart, one Italian tart, and six decidedly German tarts (one is specifically for quinces but mentions that pears can be cooked the same way). The last six all have two of the same ingredients in common: sugar and cinnamon. Three of those six use raisins, three use cloves, three use wine, and one uses ginger. These are all common ingredients found used together throughout the entire cookbook, so I decided to combine them all into one tart. I also chose to poach the pears per recipe 113 instead of letting them fully bake in the oven given the smaller serving size and shorter oven-time.

To start, I peeled and poached seven anjou pears in about a bottle of cabernet sauvignon with sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, and I tossed in regular and golden raisins to rehydrate with them. After straining the fruit out of it, I let the wine reduce further and set it aside.

While the fruit cooled, I pre-heated the oven and made short paest loosely following the recipe found at Medieval Cookery. Saffron was omitted due to cost, but the rest of the recipe follows the same. Rub butter into all-purpose flour until it makes crumbs, then bind it with a bit of water and egg yolks. Don’t overwork it, and let it rest in the fridge. At this point I remembered that I don’t have a rolling pin, so I took the empty cabernet bottle and put it in the fridge to chill as well.

I then chopped the pears and tossed them (and the raisins) in more sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. I then floured my surface and my wine bottle/rolling pin, rolled out the crust, and pressed circles out for my tartlet pan. I then buttered the tartlet pan, pressed the crusts in, and sprinkled sugar over the bottoms of the crusts. I then spooned the fruit into the crusts, poured about a teaspoon of the mulled wine reduction over the fruit, and sprinkled with more sugar.

I baked these at 375* for about 15 minutes using 12-cavity non-stick tartlet pan. In between batches, I let the dough and the bottle chill in the fridge to keep the dough from getting too sticky. I also only made three dozen and had about 2 or 3 whole pears left over. I’ll probably make a large tart with the leftover fruit this week.

 

And here are Sabina Welserin’s (relevant) six pear tart recipes that I drew from:

73 A pear tart

Take pears and peel them and cut them into thin strips, take beef marrow, cinnamon, sugar and raisins and let it bake. If you do not have any marrow then use butter or another fat.

80 A pear tart

Cut out of each pear eight or twelve slices, according to how large the pear is, fry them in fat, take them after that and lay them nicely around the tart and sprinkle them under and over with sugar, cinnamon, cloves and raisins and let it bake.

87 To make a pear tart

Then take the pears and peel them and remove the cores and divide the pears into two parts and cut them into slices as wide as the pear is and turn them over in a little good flour. Then heat up some fat and roast them therein, until they are a little browned, afterwards prepare the pastry shell and lay them on top of it, close together. Take cinnamon, sugar and raisins mixed and sprinkle them on the crust and over the top of it, let it bake a while. After wards take Malavosia, put sugar into it and cinnamon, let it boil together, pour it over the tart and let it cook a short while.

107 To make a quince tart

Take quinces and cook them well and strain it and put sugar, cinnamon and strong wine thereon. Apple and pear tarts are made in the same way.

113 To make a good pear pudding

Cook the pears in good wine and strain them and put cinnamon, cloves and sugar therein and a toasted Semmel, then it is ready.

131 To make a pear tart

Take the pears and peel them, then fry them in fat, put them into a mortar and pound them well, put rose sugar and rose water in it, put ginger, cloves, cinnamon and sugar therein. Taste it, make a pastry shell as for other tarts, make no cover for the top and bake until crisp.

Leihen Helvetia! 2016 Feast Menu

For this year’s Helvetia, we’ve decided to tone down the menu, and which is a perfect excuse to get cheeky with a pub food-themed menu! I’ll be working with THL Cas this year, and I’m pretty excited about it! There will likely be some small additions, and I haven’t nailed down which sauces I want to serve yet, so those will come in time. But for now, here’s our offerings for this year’s Leihen Helvetia! Offerings are marked GF for gluten-free and V for ovo-lacto vegetarian.

Saturday breakfast:
Scrambled eggs – GF, V
Sausage
Toast (French & regular) – V
Waffles – V

Saturday lunch:
Ale & onion soup – V
Pork shoulder – GF
Bread – V

Saturday dinner/feast:
Chicken with sauces – GF
Red cabbage – GF, V
Fladen (flatbread pizza)
Pipefarces (breaded fried cheese sticks) – V
Veggie sticks – GF, V
Italian bread pudding – V
Pears stewed in wine – GF, V

Stuffed Eggs Recipe

In the pursuit of foods that would be very recognizable to the modern palate for my 2013 Helvetia menu, I found myself with another 16th century German recipe, this time from the anonymous Mittelniederdeutsches Kochbuch. Christianne Muusers had already translated and adapted this recipe over at her blog Coquinaria, and I had great success with it. What’s not to love about medieval fried and ‘not-so-deviled’ eggs?

Stuffed Eggs

The original author used the Mittelniederdeutsches Kochbuch, as published by Hans Wiswe (edition 1956, p.36), recipe 32, and the Ehlerts translation in modern German, in the Kochbuch des Mittelalters, p.77.

32. Item wyltu maken halve eygere, de ghevullet syn, nym eigere unde sede de hart. Snyt se mydden eyntwey. Nym den doder dar uth den wytten. Stot de doder yn eynen moser. Wen se ghestot synt, so sla dartho roe eigere. Nym salvie unde krusemynte, peper unde safferan. Unde vulle den doder wedder yn dat wytte. So legge se in bottere unde brat se aff alle hart. Nym etick unde ander eygere. Make darover eyn gud so:et. Honnich, peper unde saffran do dartho. Solte dat tomathe. Unde giff dat hen

If you want to make halved eggs that are stuffed, take eggs and boil them hard. Cut them in two. Take the yolks from the whites. Pound the yolks in a mortar. When they are mashed, mix in raw eggs. Take sage and costmary, pepper and saffron. And stuff the yolks back in the whites. Then lay them in butter and bake them very well. Take vinegar and other eggs. Make a good sauce of these. Add honey, pepper and saffron. Salt to taste. And serve it forth.

Modern Recipe:

6 hardboiled eggs
Butter

1 raw egg
The yolks of the hardboiled eggs
4 leaves mint, finely chopped
6 sage leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp saffron (bruised in 1/2 Tbsp hot water)

2 eggs
2 to 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp clear honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

Peel the hardboiled eggs and cut them in half length-wise. Take the yolks and mash them together well, then add the raw egg, the chopped herbs, and the spices (and water). Prepare your sauce by gently mixing your eggs, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper.

Melt your butter in a pan over medium heat and fry the eggs, stuffing-side down first, for a few minutes on each side. Move them to a baking dish, pour the sauce over them, and finish in the oven at 300*F for 15min. Serve warm.

Leihen Helvetia! 2013 Feast Menu

Helvetia 2013 Feast Menu

First Remove
Breads
Flour, butter, oats, cranberries

Flavored butters
Butter, parsley, sage – Butter, honey

Soft Cheese
Milk, chives, onion, lemon juice, salt, pepper

Second Remove
Stuffed eggs
Egg, sage, salt, pepper, saffron, butter, honey, vinegar

Cabbage salad
Red cabbage, onion, apple, honey, red wine vinegar, cloves

Apple tart
Apple, brie, black walnuts, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar, brandy, flour, egg

Third Remove
Chicken with onion and bacon
Chicken, onion, bacon, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil

Pork
Pork, white wine, chicken broth, apple juice, raisins, gluten-free soy sauce,
ginger, salt, pepper, corn starch

Genovese tart
Spinach, milk, olive oil, salt, pepper, flour, egg

Applesauce
Apple, sugar, white wine, cinnamon, ginger

Fourth Remove
Blackstone Mountain cakes
Anise extract, almond, almond extract, flour, egg, milk, cream cheese, powdered sugar
Raspberries, apples, caramel, cream, honey

Gluten-free cupcakes
Aniseed, anise extract, almond, almond extract, gluten-free cake mix, egg, milk, cream cheese, powdered sugar

Strauben Recipe

As published in Æthelmearc’s unofficial companion to the Æstel, the Æstel Æxtra:

Recipe: Strauben
by Lady Astridr Vigaskegg

Strauben in the German equivalent of funnel cake. It was recorded in 1553 by a lady named Sabina Welserin in her cookbook, Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin. It is served with snow (whipped cream) and fruit preserves.

86 If you would bake a good fried Strauben

Then bring water to a boil and pour it on the flour, stir it together well, beat eggs into it and salt it, take a small Strauben funnel, which should have a hole as wide as a finger, and let the batter run through and fry the Strauben. The batter should be warm.

Modern Recipe:

1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 2/3 c all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/4 c white sugar
2 c milk

Mix salt, baking powder, and half the flour, then set aside.

Cream eggs, sugar, and milk. Add dry mix and beat until smooth. Add flour until desired consistency is reached. Remember, this has to run through a funnel!

Heat the oil to about 375*F, and pour in batter through funnel. Fry until golden brown, and use tongs (and maybe a spatula) to flip the cake. Drain on paper towels, then serve.

Venison in a Sauce Recipe

As published in the Barony of Blackstone Mountain’s newsletter, The Banner, and BMDL’s newsletter, The Althing:

Venison in a Sauce
by Lady Astridr Vigaskegg

While doing my research for the feast at Leihen Helvetia, I fell in love with this particular recipe from Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin. I was able to bring about ~10 gallons of venison (thanks, Dad!) to the feast, and I prepared this dish with no instructions aside from the original recipe itself. I’ve done my best to transcribe the process into approximate measurements, as “shake a handful or so of ____ over the large pan of ~4.5 gallons of venison until it looks decent” really doesn’t help anyone reading this. My two bits of advice for this are: 1.) To get as much blood out of the venison as possible, brine it once or twice in the water/vinegar solution. 2.) Play around with the spices before you add it to the venison, if you’re uncertain. As long as you keep the spices balanced, there’s no wrong way to make this, so have fun with it!

Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin, 1553
7 To make a sauce in which to put a haunch of venison

Lard it well and roast it and make a good sauce for it. Take Reinfal and stir cherry syrup into it, and fry Lebkuchen in fat and chop good sweet apples, almonds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, currants, pepper and raisins and let it all cook together. When you want to serve it, then pour the sauce over it. It is also for marinating a boar’s head. Then cook it in two parts water and one third vinegar. The head of a pig is also made in this manner.

Modern Recipe:
Venison
Apple cider vinegar
Water
1 c white wine
1/3 c cherry (or berry) juice concentrate
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1 c water
2 large apples (or pears), sliced
5 whole cloves
3 small cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 c almond slivers
1/2 c currants (or dried cranberries)
1/2 c raisins
2 T butter
Lebkuchen crumbs*

Brine venison in a 1 part-salt water and 1 part-apple cider vinegar mixture for about an hour. Rinse the meat, then set into your roasting pan. Combine the wine, syrup concentrate, and vinegar with your spices and apples and pour over the venison. Cover and bake at 325*F for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Fry the Lebkuchen in butter, add to the sauce and drippings to thicken it.

*Note: Lebkuchen cookies are a type of gingerbread cookie made with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and ginger.