Robert May’s 1665 Recipe for ‘Taffety Tart’

“First wet the paste with butter and cold water, roul it very thin, then lay apples in layes, and between every lay of apples strew some fine sugar, and some lemon-peel cut very small, you may also put some fennil-seed to them ; let them bake an hour or more, then ice them with rose-water, sugar, and butter, beaten together, and wash them over with the same, strew more fine sugar on them, and put them into the oven again, being iced dish them, and serve them hot or cold.”

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

Taffety tarts date back to the seventeenth century, as the recipe above demonstrates, and seem to consist of a pastry case wrapped around a fruity filling; in this case one of apples and sugar. In Robert May’s version the tart is then iced, apparently with butter-cream, before serving.

But why am I trying to explain a Taffety Tart when food historian Mary-Anne Boermans has written a rather superb article about how she deep-dived into historical cookery manuscripts during her quest to recreate her own Taffety Tart from the available source material? You should really head on over to shakespeareandbeyond.folger.edu right now and have a read. It’s a much more interesting piece than this one.

How about you? Have you made your own Taffety Tart? Are you inspired to give it a go? Do let me know, via the comments.

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