Tudor-style Apple and Quince Pie

Ahem. I say Tudor-style because it’s a pale imitation of the incredibly elaborate pies our ancestors would knock up on feast days and it’s not an authentic recipe. But verily, it tastes really good.

I based it on one I saw food historian Ivan Day make on a television cookery programme. I’m not sure whether his original recipe was Tudor – the period ran from 1485 to 1603 – but it was common for treasured, often hand-written cookery books to be passed down the generations and they frequently contained earlier recipes.

The bulk of our house was built between about 1500 and 1640, so I’ve developed an interest in historical recipes. In fact I’ve signed up for an online course on Royal food, which I’ll probably bang on about endlessly in the coming weeks. You have been warned.

Image of raw quinces

But back to my faux-Tudor pie. It contains a quince preserve, also inspired by the Ivan Day TV segment, but you could use fresh quince or quince jelly instead or just go with apples. If you use fresh quince, you’d be well-advised to poach it briefly first as it takes longer to cook than apples and can be grainy.

Mr Day included two or three cloves in his pie. I missed them out, because they’re not my favourite spice and because I’d already put some in the spice bag for the quince preserve. Use sparingly if you include them.

And the pastry comes from Regula Ysewijn’s lovely book Pride and Pudding, used here with permission. It’s a modern interpretation of one of the earliest recorded recipes for shortcrust, the 16th century A Proper New Booke of Cokerye*:

“To maek 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.”

Tudor-style Apple and Quince Pie

  • Servings: 6, using a 21cm pie tin
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Image of apple and quince pie

Ingredients:

3 largeish cooking apples (I used Bramleys)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 heaped tspns quince preserve

1 heaped tbsp chopped mixed peel

Sugar, to taste

For the pastry:

A pinch of saffron threads

Image of ingredients for filling

Ingredients for the filling

2 tbsp cold water

200g cold butter

360g plain flour

40g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

2 egg yolks

Milk to glaze

Caster sugar to dust

Method:

First make the pastry. Soak the crumbled saffron in water. Cut the butter into small pieces. Lightly grease your pie tin with a little butter.

Put the flour into a food processor with the butter, sugar and salt. Pulse briefly until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. To mix by hand, use a blunt knife, cutting the knife through the butter and flour to work them together.

Add the saffron water and egg yolks and pulse until you get big lumps, then turn the pastry onto a lightly floured board and knead briefly until smooth. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until you’re ready to use it.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl. Peel, quarter and core the apples, then cut them into slices, tossing them in the lemon juice so they don’t brown.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and cut it in half, re-wrapping the half you’re not using for the moment. Take the other piece and press and knead it into a flat disc, then roll into a circle big enough to fit the base of your pie tin. Drape it over the rolling pin and lift it into position, pushing it gently so it fits snugly. Cut off the excess pastry.

Put in half of the apples and sprinkle with a little sugar – go easy, as the quince preserve and candied peel are already sweet. Blob in the quince preserve and scatter with the candied peel.

Image of the pie being filled

Arrange the remaining apples on top, mounding them slightly towards the centre for a more professional finish. Sprinkle with a little more sugar.

Now roll out the remaining half of the pastry to make the pie lid. Dampen the edges of the pie with a little milk and put on the lid, crimping and pressing to seal. Cut a small hole in the centre for steam to escape.

Glaze the top with milk and re-roll the pastry scraps to decorate the pie – I made a Tudor rose** – but make sure you don’t cover the steam vent.

Image of pie ready for the oven

Bake for 30-35 minutes in the centre of the oven or until the pastry is brown and crisp and the fruit tender. If it looks as though it might catch, cover it loosely with foil and put it at the bottom of the oven.

When it’s done, remove from the oven and scatter with a little caster sugar. Serve warm or cold.

Image of cooked pie *There are several repro editions of this book. The one I have was edited by Anne Ahmed and published in 2002 by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The original, created in 1557/1558, is thought to have belonged to Margaret Parker, wife of the college’s 14th Master, Matthew (later Archbishop) Parker.

** I cut my template out of an old postcard but if you are handier than me you can make your own cutters – check out this post from Ink Sugar Spice.

Image of pie cut open

17 thoughts on “Tudor-style Apple and Quince Pie

    • Lynn at InkSugarSpice puts a scattering of ground almonds on the base on the pie to help soak up juices. I always put a baking tray in the oven to heat up and cook the pie on that so the bottom gets some heat. Using a metal pie dish rather than a porcelain one also helps. And I start the pie just over halfway up the oven for at least the first 15-20 minutes, covering it with foil and putting it lower if it looks as though it’s going to catch. It depends so much on one’s own oven, I find, it’s hard to give hard and fast guidelines.

    • Thank you for the vote of confidence! I’m not sure yet what the protocols are for sharing recipes from the course but I made a very fine Tudor cheese pie the other day! 🙂

  1. It does sound a fantastic idea to add the quince preserve – I expect it’s a delicious combination. I’m not sure how many (I hope all) will appreciate that you’ve also added saffron to the pastry: that extra tang from the saffron would be so complementary to the flavour profile and an additional nod to contemporary Tudor baking. (And thank you for the link – I know the reasons that you did that when you didn’t need to. That’s exceptionally considerate and really means something xx)

    • Thanks, Lynn. To be honest I couldn’t really detect the flavour of the saffron but I only used a pinch. It did give the pastry an extra golden glow, though, and I like the fact that it’s a genuine recipe of the period. And you’re very welcome re the link … you are so inventive and creative and I’d love more people to find your blog. Linda xx

  2. I don’t know if I’ll ever prepare this pie, Linda. My one and only attempt at working with quince resulted in some not so good jelly and preserves. I’ve not seen quince preserves on the store shelves but, then again, it’s not like I’ve been searching for them. I will, however, incorporate your suggestions for preventing a pie’s soggy bottom. (No one likes a soggy bottom!) I’d like to say that I’ll try to replicate your pie’s wonderful decorations but let’s be real. Baby steps …

    • I wish we lived closer, I could give you some of ours and take the strain off the pantry shelves! The baking sheet tip is a good one … I hardly ever blind-bake these days and my bottom is … er … crisp and brown, as a rule. As for the decorations, let’s just say I don’t have a very steady hand. You should see my icing …

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