In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates fake fish – a medieval apple pie for Lent.
In the Middle Ages, people were instructed not to eat meat during Lent. Yet the ban didn’t apply to fish – in fact, Dutch gourmets enjoyed serving up ‘fish’ dishes so much that they devised this fish-shaped apple pie. With no animal products, it’s every bit as virtuous as it is delicious.
For the dough:
- 500g flour
- 125g oil (I used olive oil)
- 40g ground almonds
- 300ml water
- 1tsp salt
- Saffron (optional)
- Whole/sliced almonds to make scales
For the filling:
- 3 apples, chopped
- 90g cane sugar
- 1tsp ginger
- ½tsp cinnamon
- ½tsp saffron
- 2 slices gingerbread, lightly toasted and crumbled, or 40 ground almonds
For the dough: Mix all the ingredients together, adding more liquid/flour if required, and knead it all until it’s reasonably smooth. Put the dough in the fridge for an hour before you need to use it.
For the filling: Add the ingredients into a blender or mash by hand using a potato masher.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Divide the pastry in two. Roll out the first part and cut out an oval shape. Place the fish on a baking tray with toasted breadcrumbs sprinkled on the dough. Put the apple filling on to the oval, roll and cut out a second oval and place over the filling, pressing the top layer to the bottom. Cut out an eye hole and a hole near where the tail will go. Add fins, gills, scales. Bake for 45mins.
Time: 90 mins
Recipe courtesy of Coquinaria
This article was first published in the March 2014 issue of BBC History Magazine.