Robert May, on Making a ‘Quodling Pie’

"Take green quodlings and quoddle them, peel them, and put them again into the same water, cover them close, and let them simmer on embers till they be very green, then take them up and let them drain, pick out the noses, and leave on the stalks, then put them in a pye, and put to them fine sugar, whole cinamon, slic't ginger, a little musk, and rose-water, close them up with a cut cover, and as soon as it boils up in the oven, draw it, and ice it with rose-water, butter, and sugar."

Robert May, The Accomplisht Cook: Or, the Art and Mystery of Cookery (1665)

With the horrendously hot weather we had earlier in the week – Monday and Tuesday were two of the hottest days on UK record, up to around 39°C (or more) in our neck of the woods – I’m expecting to see a lot of early apple drop when I get to the allotment orchard later today. If that is indeed the case, I might need a couple of green apple recipes to help use them up. Charlotte Mason’s 1778 recipe for ‘Green Codling Pudding‘ is one option, Sir Kenelm Digby’s ‘Marmulate of Pippins‘ is another, and this recipe from Robert May, who also provides a method for preserving green fruits, is a third.

Let’s take a look, see what’s involved. “Quoddling” is a spelling variation of ‘coddling‘, which means to cook gently in a basin, over a pot of hot water, bain-marie style. And “Quodlings” are ‘codlings’ or ‘codlins’, a generic name for apples that are considered suitable for coddling. We have ‘Keswick Codlin’ apples on the plot, so those ought to be good ones to keep an eye out for.

Simmering them until they be “very green” suggests a colour-change should occur during cooking. I’ve not tried this before, so it might be interesting to see what happens. Although peeling them afterwards would remove the green colouring, surely? The “noses” are, I assume, what we call the “eye” of the apple today, which will need picking out, although Robert would like us to leave the stalks on, which does sound a bit odd to me, but there you go. Perhaps the apples were intended to be picked out of a non-edible pastry case after cooking and the stalks would have made this easier? Although if the pie is to be iced then surely the whole thing is edible? Unless the lid comes off and then the filling is iced and the apples and icing scooped out? It’s frustratingly obtuse, as recipes of the era usually were.

Speaking of pastry cases though, this is where I would have to divert from the original recipe: putting the apples in pastry and cooking the pie in the oven doesn’t work for me (gluten issues) so I might have to eat them at the just-coddled stage, perhaps adding the ginger and cinnamon to the coddling-liquor (I don’t have any musk or rose-water and I’m not sure I’d fancy either of them as a food flavouring anyway). Icing them is still an option, although I suspect lashings of custard would be a better one.

How about you? Do you have a batch of windfalls to use up? Do you fancy making yourself a ‘Quodling Pie’ with them? If so, please do let me know how you get on. You can either leave a comment below, or if you’d like me to write up a quick guest blog post for you, please do send me an email with your notes and photos.

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