This fruit tart bears similarities to a modern tarte tatin, with apples and pears sautéed in butter before being placed in a pastry case. A sprinkling of rosewater and some biscotti crumbs only serve to enhance the floral flavor.
Per far torta di mele appie, & peré Fiorentine. Piglinosi le dette pere, & mele senza calcio, mondisine della scorza, & cauisene’l’interiori, taglisino in fettoline sottili, faccianosi cuocere nel butiro fresco; & se tal compositione siuorrà pestare, sarà in arbitrio, però io trouo eßere piu diletteuole lesciare le fettoline cosi intiere, hauendo apparecchiatala tortiera con uno sfoglio di pasta dentro, spoluerizzato di zuccaro, & mostaccioli pesti, & con destrezzasi fin’a tanto chesi sarà finito d’empire la tortiera. Cuopranosi con un sfoglio di fasta non tagliata, & con un’altro sopra tagliato a beneplacito. Facciasi cuocere al forno o sotto il testo, facendo la crostata con zuccaro, & acqua di rose, ma uolendo pastarle le mele, & pere nel mortaro, si pesteranno con esse due oncie de mostaccioli, & pere ogni libra di compositione quattro rosi d’uoua, & seruisi a benefplacito. In questo modosipuo fare d’ogni forte di pere, & mele, & mettauisi un poco di canella quando si spoluerizzeranno, & bocconcini di butiro. (Scappi transcribed from Google Books facsimile)
To Prepare a Tourte of apples and Florentine Pears without Cheese – Get those pears and apples, with no cheese; pare them and core them and cut them into thin little slices. Cook them in fresh butter. It is optional whether you grind your filling mixture, though I find it more delightful to leave the thin slices whole like that. Having lined a tourte pan with a sheet of dough, sprinkled with sugar and ground mostaccioli, carefully set down a layer of pears and apples, sprinkle them and repeat several times until the tourte pan is filled. Cover it over with a sheet of uncut dough with another on it cut however you like. Bake it in an oven or braise it, making its glazing of sugar and rosewater. If, however, you want to grind the apples and pears in a mortar, grind two ouces of mostaccioli in with them and, for every pound of the filling, four egg yolks. Serve it however you wish. You can do any sort of pear and apple that way. And put a little cinnamon into what you sprinkle on them, and little lumps of butter. (translation by Terrence Scully)
- I was unable to find any information on what made a “Florentine” pear significant or different, so I used a modern pear variety (Anjou or Bartlett, depending on availability) which I expected to cook well. Scappi notes that caravello pears, mentioned elsewhere in Scappi, are rather similar to a modern Bartlett (Scully 148).
- Scappi mentions “red apples, pink apples, russet apples and other sorts of apple” – I chose apples that bake well in the absence of other information (Scully 422).
- As defined elsewhere in Scappi, Mostaccioli are a type of anise-and-musk-flavored biscotti. I used a modern anise cookie, crumbled, to substitute, as I didn’t have time to bake cookies as well as the other entries. The only thing this affects is the lack of musk flavor, as I have no source for it. (Smithson, Harvest Days)
- Scappi, as reported by Smithson, specifies “a sheet of pastry, made of flour, rose water, sugar and butter, egg yolks and warm water” in another tart recipe. (Italian Renaissance Pastries).
- This is basically a modern paté sucrée, a sweet dough that is still sturdy enough for a tart. The ratio I used was 1 stick butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, a pinch of salt and a dash of rosewater (see next ingredient), 1 egg yolk and enough warm water to form dough – this ratio was multiplied by 3 to make enough dough for top and bottom crusts as well as decorations.
- It is unclear whether Scappi’s rosewater would be concentrated like today’s French / confectioner’s rosewater or more dilute like that one can purchase in Middle Eastern grocery stores. As the bottle I have is fairly concentrated, I diluted it slightly before use in glazing the pie and only used a small quantity in the dough.
- This is one place I departed from the recipe; I happened to find a source for cassia buds a few years ago and find they have an exotic flavor, not “quite” cinnamon, that goes very well with pears and rosewater, so I substituted it for the cinnamon.
An Apple and Pear Tart in the Style of Scappi
1/4 lb butter, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup biscotti or other dry cookie crumbs, preferably anise
Paté sucrée, 1 sheet (see discussion
1 tsp rosewater, diluted
1 tsp ground cassia buds
- Prepare dough. Mix flour and sugar, cut in butter. Beat egg yolk with rosewater, knead into flour/sugar/butter with additional water as needed. Cover and allow to rest.
- Prepare fruit. Both pears and apples were peeled, cored, and sliced thinly to encourage even cooking.
- Sauté fruit in butter. In another slight departure from the period manuscript, I sprinkled some of the sugar in with the fruit as it cooked in order to encourage caramelization (yummy, yummy caramelization.) I fully cooked the fruit to ensure no shrinkage in the final tart.
- Prepare bottom crusts. Roll out bottom crust and gently place in pie dish (ceramic, modeled after period dish) leaving significant overhang. Sprinkle with cookie crumbs and half of the remaining sugar.
- Layer fruit. Carefully stack fruit into pan, breaking pieces as little as possible and evenly distributing both apples and pears. Stud with bits of remaining butter and sprinkle with mixture of remaining sugar and cassia. If there are any remaining fruit juices in the pan, pour over the top to be absorbed by the cookie crumbs.
- Cover. First I rolled out a 2nd crust and placed it on top of the pie, touching the fruit. Since the fruit is fully cooked, the crust does not need to be pierced to prevent bubbling over. I then carefully trimmed the overhang and rolled the edges decoratively.
- Add 2nd layer of crust. I chose to interpret “Cover it over with a sheet of uncut dough with another on it cut however you like.” as providing license for decorative dough-work, as you can see.
- Bake. Since the fruit is fully cooked, I baked the pie in a relatively hot oven (375º), quickly, to hopefully prevent a soggy crust. When the crust was beginning to brown, I brushed the top with a solution of sugar and rosewater to flavor and encourage additional browning, and sprinkled with yet more sugar for a “glittery” effect.