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Tarte of beans – a Renaissance recipe

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Original recipe

Source: A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye (mid-16th c. English)

Text: Frere, Catherine Frances (ed.): A proper newe booke of cokerye. With notes, introduction and glossary; together with some account of domestic life, cookery and feasts in Tudor days, and of the first owner of the book, Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Margaret Parker his wife. Cambridge: W. Heffer& Sons Ltd. 1913
Full text available online at http://www.staff.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/bookecok.htm

”To make short paest for tarte.

Take fyne floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolckes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.

To make a tarte of beanes.

Take beanes and boyle them tender in fayre water, then take theym oute and breake them in a morter and strayne them with the yolckes of foure egges, curde made of mylke, then ceason it up with suger and halfe a dysche of butter and a lytle synamon and bake it.”

My redaction of ”to make a Tarte of Beans”

Pastry for Crust
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, soften and cut up
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
¼ cup water
A pinch of saffron
I combine flour and salt. Then I cut in butter with knife. I mix egg yolks, saffron and water (by hand) and stir quickly until dough is evenly moistened. I roll it into two layers to fit a 9” pie pan. Actually this recipe is very similar to tart pastry that is made by my Mother. So I follow her method with addition of saffron and substituting water for wine.

Filling for the tarte of beans
1 ¼ cup dry chickpeas and common beans
4 egg yolks
½ cup cheese (I mix my own dry cottage cheese and commercial curd cheese for moistness)
6 T sugar
6 T butter (soft, cut)
4 t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
I cook the beans in 2 ½ cups of water, bring to boil and let sit covered for 70 minutes. Then I add another cup of water, boil about 50-60 minutes until soft. I am usually lazy and forget to soak the beans the day before and this method make the soaking unnecessary.
I drain beans and mush them in bowl. After cooling the paste and then adding the cheese, sugar, butter and spices, I mash it all to a rare paste. Then I put the filling into pie baking form with 2/3 of the raw dough used and even the filling. Then I roll the remaining 1/3 dough and cover well, combing the upper and lower pastry layers. Usually I bake for at least 60 minutes (the stick has to come clean) at 350o F. It can be served both hot or cold. I like it cold, with additional sugar on top. The nutmeg add a distinctive taste (taste less ‘beany’).

In case anybody asks, I make the cheese by culturing whole pasteurized milk with plain Chobani yogurt (2-3 days at room temperature, my apartment is on the warm side). Then I heat it until I see the curds forming and then drain in in cheese cloth. From 2 ½ cup milk I can make ~ 200 gram dry curd cheese.
I use the modern oven and commercially available ingredients. Since I do not eat meat, I am always in search of new meatless recipes. This recipe comes from Tudor England (pie) (1) but actually beans were popular in both in medieval and 16th century Italy where my persona lives (2). Dishes made of various kinds of bean (chickpeas, fava, white- probably a variety of common bean) are mentioned in connection with renaissance time Italy (3) and so it is easy to imagine a similar sweet dish made in Italian household, served at the end of simple meal.
Whole wheat flour, chickpeas, common beans, eggs, cheese, butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, saffron.


1. Frere, C. F., Parker, M., Ahmed, A., and Mizuta, C. (2002) A Proper Newe Booke of Cokerye: Margaret Parker’s Cookery Book, Corpus Christi College
2. Zambrini, F. (1863) Il libro della cucina del sec. XIV: testo di lingua non mai fin qui stampato, G. Romagnoli (free Google ebook)
3. Cohen, E. S., and Cohen, T. V. (2001) Daily Life in Renaissance Italy, Greenwood Press

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